Isadore Apparel

Cycle Clothing

Chapeau! Vamper rounds up the finest cycling caps of the season


September is almost upon us. It’s that time of year: summer is drawing to a close and it’s time to think about your uniform for the year ahead. The school rules are simple where cycling caps are concerned: wear the coolest one you can find. Cycling caps are brilliant: they keep your head warm when the mercury drops, and they soak up the sweat when the temperature’s high. They conceal helmet hair at coffee stops, and they add a little extra pizzazz to your cycling garb. We ❤️ cycling caps.

To help you put together a cool look for the new cycling term, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite cycling caps. Here goes, in no particular order:

PEdAL ED TCR4 Cycling Cap

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A Special Limited Edition cotton cycling cap designed to celebrate the Transcontinental Race, we think this understated PEdAL ED cap is properly sharp. It costs £14 from PedalEd.

Chimpeur Cotton Cycling Cap (Pre Order)

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The excellent new cycling cap from Victory Chimp will ship in early September. Just in time for school. Who wouldn’t want to be a chimpeur? It costs £12.00.


Isadore Apparel Climbers Cap, Fuji

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We love this elegant oriental print from Isadore Apparel. It makes us think of Mt Fuji and cherry blossom. Gorgeous. It costs €19.00.


Look Mum No Hands! Mechanics Greaseproof Cycling Cap

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Look, you know we like some bold cycling kit. But sometimes, stealth is where it’s at. And this Mechanics Greaseproof Cycling Cap from East London’s Look Mum No Hands! is cool AF. It costs £10.00.


Tokyo Fixed Arrows Cycling Cap

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It feels like we have a bit of a Japanese theme running through this post. Here’s another smart, monochrome cycling cap, this time from Tokyo Fixed. It costs £15.00.


The Pedla Head Case / Core Cycling Cap – Yellow

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If the first five were a bit sombre for your liking, how about this sunshine offering from Down Under? It’s gloriously bananas and sure to brighten even the gloomiest autumn day. A reminder of summer on your head at all times. It’s from The Pedla and costs AUD $45.


Seen some good caps that we should know about? Tell us in the comments, or head to Twitter…


The Vamper Gift List: the best Christmas presents for cyclists in 2015


If you’re anything like us, you’re now being bombarded with phone calls and emails from your family, demanding to know what you want for Christmas. You might have seen a thousand things on Wiggle or Velovixen over the course of the year, but you’ll be damned if you can remember any of them when you’re put on the spot.

Alternatively, you might be that family member, trying to find the ideal gift for your cycling-obsessed daughter/husband/grandmother/nephew.

Fear not.

We have put together a Vamper Christmas list of excellent gifts for those who prefer the two-wheeled life. Read on for our round up of the best Christmas presents for cyclists in 2015…


bauble1Rapha Silk Scarf, £50.00

A silk scarf is a versatile – and glamorous – accessory to have in your armoury. It adds colour and flare to an otherwise simple outfit; it can hide a multitude of sins as a headscarf (useful on those days when a helmet hasn’t done your hair any favours); and on the mild days we’ve been experiencing this winter, it can be tucked in to your collar to keep draughts out without overheating.

What’s more, if you’re not cycling too far and want to keep your hair looking nice, wearing a silk headscarf underneath your helmet instead of a cap will keep your hair smooth and sleek. (Not recommended for long, fast rides when all you will do is make your beautiful silk scarf sweaty). We like Rapha’s purple silk offering: it’s timeless and chic and allows you to channel Rapha style on and off the bike.



Endurance Conspiracy ‘Fit & Vicious’ Women’s Teeshirt, £25.00

The ideal post-sportive get up, when you’re keen to maintain your cycling credentials down the pub but can’t wait to get out of your sweaty kit. Endurance Conspiracy tees are made from incredibly soft, lightweight 100% cotton and they’re supremely comfortable, for either a pint with the cycling club or at home with your jogging bottoms. Fit & Vicious definitely floated our boat.


bauble3Svelte Cycles Arm Warmers, £20.00

Anyone who follows on social media will be only too aware of our penchant for bold cycling gear. We’re not shrinking violets and we won’t fade into the background. A pair of these bold and beautiful arm warmers from Svelte Cycles (in Botanical for Victoria, please) would be welcome in our Christmas stocking, particularly during such a mild winter when we’re still not quite in need of full on winter cycle wear every day.


bauble4Isadore Apparel Sleeveless Base Layer, €45.00

Victoria is a hot-blooded sort, fiery tempered and too warm for about 50% of the time. Unless it is a very cold day, long sleeved and high necked base layers are just too much. Isadore Apparel’s sleeveless base layer proved itself to be a huge hit: extremely comfortable and well fitting, unobtrusive under a huge range of garments, and easy to care for. While it may be part of the men’s range, the size Small fits beautifully (Matt has been happily wearing the same style in Medium). A practical gift which will quickly become a favourite garment, we promise.


Vamper Christmas


bauble5This Is Cambridge Omloop Winter Cycling Cap, £55.00

Well, this really is a thing of beauty. Designed and handmade in England, the Omloop winter cycling cap from This is Cambridge is a classic bit of kit for the colder months. Made from 100% merino wool to keep you snug while wicking moisture away, we think this is a marvellous cap. What’s more, This is Cambridge understand that one size doesn’t fit all (particularly in the household, with Victoria’s mega cranium and Matt’s pinhead). The caps come in not one, but five sizes. We’re sure you’ll find one to fit.


White Stuff Bike Print Scarf, £27.50bauble6

High Street retailer White Stuff have put together a lovely Winter range this year which features a cracking bike print scarf (and pyjama bottoms). Fine gauge double-layered merino wool for warmth, we think the navy version is a lovely gift for the cyclist in your life. It’s a nice way to demonstrate devotion to two-wheeled life off the bike.


bauble7Rapha Merino Gloves, £70.00

We keep going on about it, but it really has been a mild winter – we still can’t entertain donning heavy winter garb. Rapha’s Merino Gloves have been designed for wear in mild to cool conditions, making them ideal for the weather we’ve been experiencing recently. They’re extremely smart and they would look just as smart behind the wheel of your car or with a sharp winter coat as they do on the bike. And with a grippy leather palm, they’re functional too. At £70 they’re a bit of an extravagance – but that makes them an ideal Christmas wishlist item, we think.


Kitbrix kit bag, £42.00

Are you guilty of losing items of your kit on a regular basis? Victoria is. Every time we go away to a sportive, I hear a wail of “Maaaatt… Have you seen my <insert gloves/gels/socks>…?” – well, I’m hoping that once she has a Kitbrix of her own, it might help her to keep her cycling kit in one place. It’s a cracking bit of gear: well designed space, tough, waterproof and mud proof. You can pack everything you need in here: helmet, neck scarf, waterproof jacket, jersey, base layer, bib shorts, gloves, socks, cycle shoes, gels, small pump and any other essential bits you can’t live without. A great item for your wishlist – or a gift for someone you think needs some help keeping it all together… We particularly like the vibrant Red Coat model. Festive!


Vamper Christmas




Vélobici thermal oversocks, £30.00

Vélobici’s thermal oversocks are designed to keep feet cosy both on and off the bike, thanks to the use of the brand’s exclusive VB-Pro VR1 fabric. Breathable and odour resistant, they’ll help you get out on the bike on the chilliest of days thanks to the double layer thermal insulation. Available in black, the socks have a splash of reflective red ankle binding for visibility plus an embroidered VB logo (which has Vamper’s own VB sold). They are are available in two sizes, small/medium and large/x-large.



Birzman Maga Apogee III Track Pump, £54.99 from Evans

You know those times when you are pumping away and you feel less than well equipped? – No? – Just Matt, then! Either way, those feelings of inadequacy will melt away should you receive the Birzman Maga Apogee III for Christmas. It is to track pumps what Beyonce would have been to The Spice Girls. Once you’ve experienced true finery you can never look at Geri in the same way again…



David Tedman’s Cycling Box Hill prints, from £65.00

Do you find yourself drifting into daydream about perfect summer days riding the Surrey Hills? Do you quietly ponder descending Box Hill as you drift off at night? If cycling hasn’t *quite* taken over your life yet, why not consider hanging a glorious cycling-themed canvas at home? This great set of Box Hill-themed prints from local artist David Tedman will have you hankering for the start of the season all winter long.



Active Intelligence Urbane Compact 20L Bike Backpack, £110.00 from Neos Cycling

When it comes to Christmas gifts for cyclists, practical presents can be every bit as brilliant as luxurious ones. Much as we wish we could just ride everywhere for fun, many of us have to spend the majority of bike rides carting work clothes, Macbooks, lunch boxes and all sorts of other bits and pieces on our backs. Such is the life of a cycle commuter. Our rucksacks aren’t waterproof and they’re rather lacking in pockets, so we’re hankering after the Active Intelligence Urbane Compact 20L Bike Backpack at Neos Cycling. It sounds tough and highly functional with roll top closure and plenty of pockets to keep things tidy – including a padded, removable internal organiser which will fit a tablet. It’s 100% waterproof, and has a reflective logo and LED mount for visibility at night. We’d be happy to find one under the tree!


Vamper Christmas


Don’t forget to check back over the next few weeks to see more cycling Christmas gifts for cyclists – we’ll be sharing all the ideas we find…

Cycle ClothingReviews

Isadore throws down the quality gauntlet with its Marsala Merino gilet

Isadore 4

When I first started this cycling malarkey those many moons ago I thought my seasonal wardrobe would be quite a simple affair: a few pairs of shorts and a few jerseys for the summer; a winter jacket and long tights for those really chilly days. Done!

Oh dear. I can be so naïve…

As it transpires, a combination of factors have converged to prove just how wrong I was.

My own personality for starters.

I should have known better. Never get into anything that has lots of stuff, Matthew! It is like a moth to a flame – temptation will always get the better of me.

Secondly, the weather. Yes, I am blaming the weather here. It really has been uncommonly mild – though sitting here writing that seems a little odd in the aftermath of Desmond (the storm, not the fictional barber from Guyana).

I’m slowly labouring towards the point. I’ll get on with it…

We believe Isadore Apparel is right up there with the very best in cyclewear brands

Anyway, it has become glaringly obvious to me with the benefit of hindsight that any good cycling wardrobe must behave like an orchestra: to get an outfit exactly right for any given occasion you must have the ability to conduct individual elements and bring them together into an ensemble.

Autumn/Winter/Spring/Summer – these are all just terms in retail designed to shift more product – but what makes a piece of gear vital to the orchestra is its ability to become cross-seasonal: to be important no matter what the weather.

The Isadore Marsala Merino gilet, designed and developed by the professional Slovakian riding siblings Martin and Peter Velits, does just that… This cycling vest revels in its role as part of the ensemble.


Marsala Merino gilet

It looks just as good over a softshell jacket as it does over a short-sleeved jersey. It can be used to bring additional warmth or can be layered with something light to provide wind-resistance without too much heat.

It breathes new life into summer kit with the aid of arm/leg warmers and it reinforces winter gear with an added layer of wind and rainproof security.

Style, comfort & performance

I have ridden in a variety of conditions with the Isadore Marsala Merino gilet: it’s been from the Surrey Hills to the sharp peaks of the North. It has kept the chills away on evening rides around Richmond Park and has kept my core as dry as a bone when Yorkshire had other ideas.

The fit is exemplary, as is the detailing from Isadore. In my opinion, as a brand they are right up there with the very best in cycle wear.

The Isadore Marsala Merino gilet features a lower back panel that can be unclipped to extend for even greater protection from rain and road spray. It has reflective logos to improve visibility and a waterproof rear pocket for personal items. The zips are sturdy and purposeful and indicate an attention to detail, workmanship and craft that is sometimes lacking in Isadore’s competitors.

The material choices (the gilet is a 30% merino, 65% polyester and 5% PU membrane) are pinpoint accurate and provide a windproof and waterproof garment that delivers highly in both function and form. Incidentally the Marsala Gilet carries a waterproof rating of DWR 10,000mm and a breathability rating of 10,000 g/m²/24h for those of you with more than a passing regard for raw stats.

The Thermoroubaix side panels have been treated with a Teflon protector to further enhance the water-repelling nature of the cycling gilet.

I am riding a large and it is perfectly cut, close enough to retain warmth yet not overly restrictive so as to hamper my riding position.

I’m 183cm, weigh 75kg (165lbs) and with fairly broad shoulders I’m a 38-40 inch chest. The large is a very comfortable slim-cut fit. For those that prefer a slightly looser fit it might be worth going up a size, although there is some room left in the large up to a 40.

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To buy, or not to buy?

The short answer is a simple, straightforward and resounding yes.

For the longer form answer I’ll revert again to the quality of the Isadore Apparel range. The fit, sizing, detailing and design work really are exemplary. Brands have earned almost mythical and untouchable reputations for quality within the cycling community for producing gear that doesn’t hold a candle to this.

While this sort of quality does come with a price tag to match, it is worth every hard-earned penny.

The Isadore Apparel Marsala Merino gilet is cycle wear that not only talks the talk, but very much walks the walk. With the concept of planned obsolescence seemingly becoming all-pervasive, it is beyond refreshing to see a brand firmly hanging its hat on quality, durability and style. At the back of my mind there is a nagging suspiscion that the Isadore Marsala Merino gilet might actually outlast me, it is that well constructed…

The Isadore Apparel Marsala Gilet is available from the Isadore Apparel website for €179.

Marsala Merino Gilet


Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Isadore Apparel strikes gold with Merino Membrane Softshell Women’s Jacket

Womens merino membrane softshell jacketThe Isadore Apparel Merino Membrane cycling jacket is waterproof, cosy and really, really chic

I spend half of my life being much too warm and sweaty – and the other half being much too cold. My body’s temperature regulation seems, frankly, poor. In the absence of a thermostat engineer for the human body, I make as much use of natural, wicking fibres in my clothing as possible – particularly merino wool which dries quickly, doesn’t retain odours and insulates well.

The Women’s Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket from Isadore Apparel is a very smart piece of women’s cyclewear. Harnessing the breathability and warmth of merino is common for baselayers but unusual when it comes to outer layers. It’s a good move by the Isadore Apparel design team: it’s all very well wearing wicking base layers, but if your outer garments trap moisture, no amount of merino technology in your undergarments will keep you fresh and dry. As a particularly sweaty human being, breathability in all layers is important to me. It’s not that I mind sweating: it releases toxins and keeps my skin healthy. But on cool days, my temperature drops quickly once I stop pedalling and within five minutes I’m shivering in damp, sweaty garments.

The designers at Isadore Apparel have worked hard to develop a jacket that regulates temperature.

Isadore Apparel Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket
Victoria sporting the Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket. We particularly like the soft grey suedette and neon reflective detailing.


Style, Comfort & Performance

The waterproof and windproof Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket is beautiful. The fabrics are lovely: the merino mix lining is soft and smooth and glides over a long sleeved jersey without friction. The soft grey suedette detailing on the shoulders and zip placket adds interest to a simple style and the brushed lining inside the collar is soft and cosy for rides on cool days.

With style credentials to boot, this is one garment for which it’s worth raiding those rainy day savings.

The design features are really well thought out: reflective logos and a neon zip add visibility for night riding and a waterproof, chunky zip which is easy to manipulate with cold fingers or in wet conditions. I particularly like the nifty lower back extension which tucks away neatly when it’s not needed, but in wet conditions adds another layer of protection to keep your bum dry. And alongside the merino fibres which aid breathability, there are zippered ventilation pockets to increase airflow as required.

On its first outing, the weather was unseasonably mild but damp and blustery. I regretted wearing both a baselayer and a jersey beneath the jacket, but with the vents unzipped and the jacket partially open, I was only marginally too warm. Its second outing was at zero degrees Celsius, and I was a very comfortable temperature with a baselayer, jersey and jacket vents zipped shut.

The pockets are generous and secure with a zipped compartment for valuables and reflective details for visibility in headlights.

Isadore Apparel Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket
The jacket features a merino mix lining which is both warm and moisture wicking. The pockets are generous and secure with a zip fastening for valuables.


Fit & Sizing

The jacket is generously cut: the sleeves and body are plenty long enough and the elasticity of the fabric provides ease of movement.

Isadore sizing is surprisingly generous compared to other high end cycling brands. I’m wearing a size medium jacket and it is perfect for my 5’8”, UK 12 frame – even on the chest, where tops are usually a little too snug for me. The elasticity of the jacket means that you needn’t order a size up to be able to fit an extra layer underneath on cold days.

Isadore Apparel Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket
The fabric has high elasticity making it comfortable on the bike. The added stretch also allows extra layers to be added on cold days.


Value for money

The Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket doesn’t come cheap. At €255 (around £180) it is an investment piece on a par with the Castelli Gabba and Rapha Souplesse jackets, for cyclists who are determined to ride throughout the winter.

The Vamper team think Isadore’s cycle wear warrants the high price tags: the quality is second to none and the styling stands out for riders who want something a little bit different. This is a very well cut, robust jacket which will keep you warm and dry in winter conditions.

In terms of both practicality and style, this jacket deserves top marks. I hope the Isadore Apparel team launch another colour option: the softshell gilet in Marsala from the men’s range is a gloriously Autumnal shade that I’d love to see in the women’s collection.

Isadore Apparel Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket
The jacket is comfortable on milder days worn with only a jersey. When the mercury drops, it is roomy enough to easily accommodate extra layers for warmth. We can’t fault the Women’s Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket.