road cycling

Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Svelte London bring British Heritage to cycling with the Long Sleeved Jersey

The Long Sleeved Heritage Jersey from Svelte London
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It’s no secret that Matt and I are not shy of bold colours and prints when it comes to cyclewear. We embrace floral emblems and jaw dropping hues – but that’s not to say we don’t also appreciate a subtle palette and classic styling.

A subtle palette and classic styling is precisely what cycling clothing brand Svelte London have delivered with their range of Heritage cycling jerseys. Svelte sent us the latest incarnation to road test, the Long Sleeved Heritage Jersey in a wonderfully seasonal shade of dark green.

Made in England, the Heritage range is a three-season jersey for Autumn, Winter and Spring cycling. It contains merino wool for warmth and moisture wicking and has three pockets, including a button down pocket for valuables. The jersey retails at £110.

The muted shade, dull brass button and natural fibres make for an elegant bit of kit that doesn’t scream “WE CYCLED HERE!”

Both Matt and I are wearing size Medium. I won’t lie: it’s a snug fit, and if you’re planning to overindulge at Christmas, you should definitely order a size up. It’s a very athletic fit with extremely narrow arms which looks fantastic – sleek and flattering – but won’t allow much in the way of extra layers underneath. Given the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been experiencing in the South East this winter, that hasn’t been a problem: we’ve both teamed the jersey with the Isadore Apparel sleeveless merino baselayer which has been providing just the right amount of warmth on 10-12 Celsius days. On chillier outings, a gilet over the top has been enough to keep us warm.

The Long Sleeved Heritage Jersey from Svelte London

 

We both love the look of the Heritage jersey. The muted shade, dull brass button and natural fibres make for an elegant bit of kit that doesn’t scream “WE CYCLED HERE!” when you meet friends for a drink in the pub. Worn with cycling jeans rather than tights, it’s a jersey which could even be worn in the office without raising an eyebrow making it a useful addition to the wardrobe.

Both jerseys have been machine washed with a gentle wool detergent at 30 degrees and air dried – they’re spot on post-laundering.

The Long Sleeved Heritage Jersey from Svelte London

 

Svelte London have produced an elegant and useful piece of cyclewear with the Long Sleeved Heritage cycling jersey. We wholeheartedly approve of the styling and functionality, but would recommend going up a size.

You can purchase the jersey from Svelte London for £110.00.

 

Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Getting warmer: a review of the Rapha women’s winter collection

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The Rapha women’s winter collection features some very good looking pieces of kit; the long sleeved cycling jerseys and jackets are particularly smart. I’ve been testing the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket and Women’s Padded Tights in recent weeks.

The Rapha Souplesse women’s jacket is soft and comfortable to wear. It’s lightweight, hugs the body in a very comforting way and doesn’t ride up.

This is my first winter of road cycling and, as a winter creature who longs for cosy knits and boots all year long, I’ve been looking forward to bundling up and putting cold weather kit to the test. But this year, it’s hard. We’re now well into December yet the mercury remains frustratingly high: the challenge isn’t keeping warm, it’s staying dry and upright when high winds are buffeting you from every direction. For those of you reading from cooler climes, it’s been so mild this week that I’ve been able to wear short fingered gloves for commuting… So, while I’m testing winter kit, it’s not being put through its paces in brutally cold conditions and I can’t comment on its effectiveness in subzero temperatures.

The Rapha women’s winter collection features some very good looking pieces of kit; the long sleeved cycling jerseys and jackets are particularly smart.

I’ve cycled in the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket and Women’s Padded Tights four times now, in temperatures ranging from 6 to 12 degrees Celsius. They have also been worn in rain, drizzle and high winds. The jacket has been laundered twice and the tights four times.

Let’s start at the top and work our way down.

 

Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket

Style & Design Features

  • Water repellent
  • Form fitting
  • Reflective detailing for visibility at night
  • Zipped pockets on the sleeve and back for credit card and keys
  • Cosy brushed lining for warmth and softness

The Women’s Souplesse Jacket is available in black and pink, or the colour I’m wearing, which is described as blue. I can assure you it is not blue. It is most definitely purple – a lovely strong violet, with a contrasting back in a deep magenta hue.

Rapha Women's Souplesse Jacket

Comfort & Performance

The Rapha Souplesse jacket is beautifully soft and comfortable to wear: it’s lightweight and hugs the body in a very comforting way. The lining is fleecy and feels, for want of a better word, snuggly against bare skin on milder days.

The off-centre zip is sturdy and easy to adjust one-handed if you’re feeling warm as you pedal (as I invariably do).

Rapha Women's Souplesse Jacket

The jacket is fairly water resistant: not one to wear in a torrential downpour, but fine for drizzly outings. It’s breathable and the brushed lining means that it doesn’t feel damp and clammy making it a useful cycling jacket for the recent mild, damp weather.

Overall, the Rapha Souplesse Women’s Jacket is a cracking cut: feminine, flattering and not at all boxy.

It washed well at 30 degrees and dried overnight easily.

 

Fit & Sizing

The Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket errs a little on the small side: I’m wearing size Large which is comfortable but comparable in size to a Medium at Isadore Apparel or Rivelo. I’d definitely recommend ordering one size up from your usual.

I can comfortably fit a baselayer and jersey underneath the jacket which has plenty of stretch: it doesn’t feel restrictive with extra layers underneath.The sleeves are very nice: close fitting, plenty long enough and featuring a comfortable contrast cuff which feels and looks good.

Rapha Women's Souplesse Jacket

I would like the jacket to be a little longer in the front: the back is spot on but an extra inch on that front hem would be welcome. I’m not unusually tall at 5’7″ but it feels a little bit skimpy in body length.

Overall, the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket is a cracking cut: feminine, flattering and not at all boxy.

 

To buy, or not to buy?

£190 isn’t cheap, but for a good winter outer layer, you can expect to pay upwards of £150. If we compare it to the well known Castelli Gabba and the lesser known Isadore Apparel Women’s Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket, I would say it is more versatile and comfortable than the former, and more flattering but less robust than the latter.

The Rapha Women’s Souplesse is a beautifully cut, comfortable women’s cycling jacket which is flattering for feminine curves with plenty of well thought out design features. I like it a lot – it makes me feel foxy when I’m out riding, which has to be a good sign. I would say it’s a Buy. (Or one to put on your Christmas list).

  

Rapha Women’s Padded Tights

Style & Design Features

  • High-rise waist with grippy waistband to keep them in place
  • ThermoRoubaix fleece-lined fabric for warmth
  • Back pocket
  • Reflective calf stripes for visibility

The Rapha Women’s Padded Tights come in one colour, black. They’re a really true, solid black and they’re not remotely see-through which is always good. (Nobody needs to see my cellulite rippling through flimsy Lycra.) I do think it’s a shame the tights don’t come in navy like the ¾ version; I’d happily switch it up from time to time.

Rapha women's winter collection

 

 

Comfort & Performance

One of the nicest things about these tights is the absence of any uncomfortable zips around the ankles. Zips to the side hurt my ankle bones and zips at the back hurt my Achilles tendon, so I’m very happy to wear a pair of women’s cycling tights that have a stretchy enough opening that no zips are required.

Rapha Women's Winter Tights

The waistband stays put nice and high thanks to the cut and the silicone grippers, so there’s no danger of a gap appearing between top and bottoms. (Nobody likes a gap between their top and bottom when they’re pedaling).

That said, for those of us with – let’s say – less-than-perfect abs, there is no escaping the fact that waist tights result in muffin top in a way that bib tights never do. I think I will be probably stick to bib tights in the future for a smoother silhouette (at least until the, erm, 100 stomach crunches I’m doing each day take effect….)

(Oh, who am I kidding? My squidgy abdomen is here to stay…)

The chamois pad is very comfortable indeed, and the tights have washed well (four times now, at 30 degrees and air-dried overnight).

The waistband stays put thanks to the high cut and silicone grippers, so there’s no danger of a gap between top and bottoms. (Nobody likes a gap between their top and bottom when they’re pedalling in the cold).

 

To buy, or not to buy?

The fabric is superb. The pad is very comfortable. They sit nicely on the waist, and they don’t have any irritating zips around the ankles. They get a wholehearted thumbs up for quality and comfort.

If you’re a dedicated winter warrior in need of comfort and warmth year round, the Rapha Women’s Winter Tights are a sound purchase – despite the slightly wince-inducing £150 price tag.

You can buy both items from the Rapha.cc website.

 

Cycle ClothingReviews

Isadore throws down the quality gauntlet with its Marsala Merino gilet

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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

 

Cycling TipsWomen's Cycling

Five things I wish I’d known when I started road cycling

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  1. Being saddle sore is not something to just accept. It is not a given. A lot of women labour under the misapprehension that cycling is inherently painful but it needn’t be this way – a saddle mapping session can put an end to that particular pain in the backside. Being saddle sore is markedly different for women than for men. Yes, your actual bum might ache – but it’s the chafing and tears on that exposed soft tissue which does the damage. A saddle mapping session can ensure that your weight is on your sit bones, not that delicate tissue.

  2. I needn’t have worried so much about not being quick enough. When I started road cycling, I was concerned that I would be too slow for Matt to want to ride with me. I thought it would make his rides boring and that he would be frustrated. But I was wrong. Sure, to begin with I wasn’t the fastest cyclist on the block; but riding with my Matt consistently spurred me on to build my speed and stamina. I trust him implicitly when we’re riding and after a few months we began practicing draughting. That means he takes the brunt of the wind while I tag on to his rear wheel, spinning quickly without it killing me and allowing me to keep pace. And now, we ride together so much and push each other so hard that he sometimes ends up draughting me, because I’m really quite fast now….

  3. Clipless pedals and cleats are not something to be afraid of. It does seem counterintuitive, to attach your feet to your bicycle. I’ll admit that the prospect filled me with horror. But the benefits far, far outweigh the disadvantages. Early doors, I’m not saying that you won’t forget to unclip, and then fall off, probably in an embarrassing fashion. And probably in front of people. It happens to the best of us. But in a very, very short space of time, unclipping becomes second nature. Matt taught me to unclip the moment I see something that may cause me to stop: a queue of traffic, a roundabout looming, a pedestrian crossing. If you don’t need to stop, you can just push down and carry on. But if you do need to stop, you’re prepared. Don’t be scared – clipless pedals are a wonderful invention.

  4. It doesn’t matter how slowly you go up hills: the point is that you go up them, full stop. I managed to work myself into a panic early doors about hills. It didn’t help that I hadn’t really got to grips with my gears and had a miserable experience trying to get to the top of a grade 4 climb in the big cog. I’ve sorted that problem now, but  I still worry about gradients sometimes. On group rides in particular, I have a tendency to worry that I’ll be too slow and might hold other riders up. Well, so be it. If the rest of the group have to wait for me at the top, chances are they’ll be glad of a sip of water and a bite of flapjack. It’s not about getting up there quickly, and if you try, you’re more likely to get into difficulties. Just take it steady. Use the easiest gear. Keep to the left so that people can overtake you. Don’t keep looking for the top of the hill; I find it easier to just keep my head down rather than looking at the gradient. Remember to breathe. Let the weight of your legs do the work. And, it takes some practice, but get out of the saddle if you possibly can – it really does make climbing easier.

  5. It never gets easier, you just go faster. How right Greg LeMond is. After completing a hilly sportive in Yorkshire and the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, I really thought a 63 mile sportive in Cambridgeshire would be a doddle. Well, I was wrong. I sweated, my legs were sore, I ached, and I was fed up. But my average speed was 16.3mph, compared to 15.5mph for the 100 and 13.8mph in Yorkshire. It wasn’t easier; but I was faster. And it was worth all of the pain for a Gold place!
Vamper's Victoria took up road cycling in April 2015 after agreeing to take part in the Prudential. It swiftly took over her life and now she is a regular sportive rider and spends more time thinking about bikes than anything else.
Vamper’s Victoria took up road cycling in April 2015 after agreeing to take part in the Prudential. It swiftly took over her life and now she is a regular sportive rider and spends more time thinking about bikes than anything else.
Cycling Tips

Lessons learned: Five things I’ll take from cycling in 2015

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  1. You will get faster. Two years ago the idea of a sub-twenty minute lap of Richmond Park was unthinkable: now, it’s normal. You might think that your current average speed is about as good as it gets – but trust me, you’ll look back at your old Strava times and be amazed at how far you’ve come.

  2. Don’t fixate on a single training strategy. To become a better rider, you need to alternate: sometimes you should focus on speed, but sometimes it’s about pushing yourself to ride further. Distance and endurance are vital building blocks on which to increase your strength and therefore build speed – while practising those sprints on shorter rides will boost your power for long outings.

  3. It’s no use waiting for the mood to take you. No matter how much you love cycling, you won’t always feel like riding. Yes, you’ll be tired; hungover; the weather won’t be ideal… but you have to ride. If you wait for ideal conditions you’ll never get any better. What’s more, you’ll be amazed by how often your best rides will be those you didn’t much fancy.

  4. Don’t be a lone ranger. Riding with others is a really enjoyable experience, and joining a cycling club will help you improve your technique and road craft. Take the plunge – you might not love the first one you try, but there are plenty around so ride out with a few groups until you find the one that suits you.

  5. It’s not all about the bike. You might tell yourself that you’ll be faster on a better bike – but actually, what will make you a better cyclist is a better you. Losing those excess pounds and taking care of yourself will make you faster, fitter and stronger. (That doesn’t mean you won’t want, or need, another bike as well. But don’t buy it until you deserve it.)

Vamper’s Matt took up road cycling in 2012 but 2015 was the turning point when it went from hobby to lifestyle.
Vamper’s Matt took up road cycling in 2012 but 2015 was the turning point when it went from hobby to lifestyle.
Cycling AccessoriesFeatured

KitBrix builds on core success with launch of winter 2015 accessories range

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Following the successful launch of its military inspired kitbag solution in 2014, British cycle accessories brand KitBrix unveiled its Winter 2015 range of bags and accessories at a packed launch event last week.

Hosted at the very impressive Rocket & Rascals cycle café and shop in Poole, Dorset, the brand showcased a range of accessories designed to complement the flagship product, the KitBrix kitbag.

The event featured guest appearances from British Olympic cyclist Simon Lillistone, (an interview with Simon will feature on Vamper.cc in coming days), the team from road cycling tour specialists Ride25 and representatives from Team Raleigh GAC, with whom KitBrix have signed a partnership deal.

Robert Aldous and Simon Lillestone
KitBrix Founder and Director Robert Aldous with
British Olympic Cyclist Simon Lillestone discuss competitve cycling’s past, present and future

 

KitBrix Winter Accessories 2015 Range

Available to order now, the new range of accessories features:

MiniBrix – A smaller 24 x 17 x 19cm polyester and PVC version of the main KitBrix bag. It features an ID card holder, military inspired reinforced grab handle, webbed outer pockets, water-resistant double lined tarpaulin construction, reflective strips, robust base and insulated double membrane material.

The MiniBrix has a UK RRP of £19.00

DobiPak – A 30 x 2 x 59cm dry bag designed to hold muddy and wet cycle gear in a water resistant roll-down pouch, which then neatly sits inside the KitBrix bag. It features inner water-resistant double membrane fabric, a reversible inner for easy cleaning, military-style instructions, a guide to heart rate zones and a roll down top forming an easy-grab handle with a clip fastening.

The DobiPak has a UK RRP of £14.00

WashPak – The 25 x 9 x 12.5cm WashPak is an easy-to-clean and light toiletries and wash kit solution that carries on the design ethos of the main KitBrix bag, allowing you to find items quickly and easily. It features a leather grab handle, water repellent fabric, a large pull zip, an easy clean double-layered tarpaulin inner and an inner transparent pocket.

The WashPak has a UK RRP of £16.00

MicroDry – The 100 x 150cm microfibre towel is designed to be an essential part of an athlete’s kit, whilst also being ideal for use at the gym or pool. The windproof towel is constructed using natural fibres and is generously sized in comparison to many other microfibre towels.

The MicroDry has a UK RRP of £17.00

The KitBrix Winter Accessories Range
The KitBrix Winter Accessories Range features the MiniBrix, DobiPak, WashPak and the MicroDry

The CitiBrix Coming Soon!

Also announced at the event was the forthcoming introduction of the CitiBrix, a commuter-focused version of the KitBrix which has been designed to provide a solution to those who cycle before or after work and need to transport fitness kit as well as business items on their daily commute. The Citibrix will launch in Q1 2016 with pre-orders already being taken.

Rocket & Rascals Cafe
Rockets & Rascals in Poole can give any cycle cafe/store a run for its money.
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
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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.
Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Vamper warms up with Primal’s winter cycling kit

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Victoria

Tested: Primal’s Covi Women’s Black Tights, £65.00 and Lucerne 2nd Layer Jacket, £90.00.

Until now I’ve only cycled in bib shorts and tights, liking the smooth line they create underneath a jersey with a midriff prone to a spot of muffin top. However, every day that I dress in my cycling kit, I invariably have to dash to the loo before leaving the house, and have to strip off my jersey to get my bibs down, then carefully tuck my baselayer in again and pull my jersey back on before I can get on my way. It’s a bit of a rigmarole when you’re trying to get out of the house for work and I’ve toyed with adding waist tights to my commuter cycling wardrobe for versatility.

The tights sit high enough that there’s no danger of a gap between my jersey and waistband – and there’s barely a hint of muffin top.

This month I’ve been testing Primal’s Covi Women’s Black Tights, which retail at £60.00. The tights are a true black with reflective zip detailing at the ankles for added visibility pedalling at night. The brushed back thermal lining is soft and cosy, and while the pad doesn’t appear particularly robust, it’s actually very comfortable for commuting. After four washes it hasn’t moved and has retained its shape and firmness. The tights sit high enough on the waist that there’s no danger of a gap appearing between my jersey and waistband, and it’s also high enough to prevent much midriff overhang. My only criticism of the tights are the zips down the back of the legs which have a tendency to dig in to the Achilles tendon.

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I wore the tights with Primal’s Lucerne 2nd Layer Jacket. The Lucerne sits somewhere between a long sleeved jersey and a jacket. It’s warm, making it comfortable on cool autumn days, but not water resistant. It’s comfortable for the mild November we’ve had this year with just a baselayer underneath.

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Primal sizing is generous. I’m wearing size Medium in both garments and there is plenty of room; the cut is looser than Castelli and Dhb. I’m 5 ft 8″ and generally wear UK size 12.

 

Matt

Tested: Onyx Bib Knickers, £75.00 and Lexicon 2nd Layer Jacket.

It’s been an unusually mild start to the autumn. It may be mid-November, but several days have been too mild enough for full tights and jackets. In this weather, three-quarter bib knickers fit the bill nicely and I’ve been testing Primal’s Onyx bib knickers.

In the mild weather we’ve been experiencing this autumn, three-quarter bib knickers fit the bill nicely.

They’re really comfortable to wear: the fabric is thermal and very soft, and a true jet black which looks sharp. I particularly like the white inverted V detailing on the back of the leg – it’s a nice design feature which would be even better with a reflective finish for added visibility at night. Hopefully Primal will incorporate this in the future.

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The bibs are nicely designed with broad straps across the shoulders; they sit well. And, crucially, the chamois pad is comfortable. It hasn’t been tested on any long rides, but for commuting it definitely fits the bill. At £75 these bib knickers represent good value for money for a comfortable and nicely designed product.

I’ve been wearing the Onyx bib knickers with the Lexicon 2nd Layer Jacket. As Victoria found with the Lucerne, it falls somewhere between a jersey and a jacket. For damp British climes, it isn’t versatile enough for everyday wear; it’s warm, but wouldn’t replace a Gabba-style outerlayer because it isn’t waterproof or windproof. The sizing is extremely generous: I’m wearing size Medium which in other brands is a snug fit. (I’m 6ft tall and usually wear a 38″ chest/32″ waist). It would probably be worth ordering a size smaller than your usual.

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FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

UnitedHealthcare Pro Team announces 2016 women’s lineup

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Following a successful second season, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team has announced the roster for its 2016 women’s racing team.

A number of riders from the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s debut season will return for 2016, including team captain Lauren Tamayo and track and road racer Cari Higgins.

Coryn Rivera returns to the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Blue Train on the back of several sprint victories in 2015, including a stage three win and the sprinter’s green jersey at the USA Pro Challenge where she earned a place on the 2015 World Championship road race roster.

Katie Hall will return following her breakthrough season with the team in which she took 2nd overall at the Tour of the Gila. That success was followed by a high-profile win in the opening stage of the Women’s Amgen Tour of California.

Rushlee Buchanan, Abby Mickey, Laura Brown, and Linda Villumsen will also return for the 2016 season. Villumsen will sport the coveted Word Champion’s rainbow jersey throughout 2016 in time trial events with the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.

Speaking about the 2015 season, General Manager Mike Tamayo said: “When I look back at the season, I see wins from many different riders, in many different types of a races. As a director and general manager, a record like that shows depth, adaptability, and most of all, effective teamwork. That makes us at the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team immensely proud of these riders and this program.”

The team is also set to welcome five new riders in 2016.

Reigning British national time trial champion Hayley Simmonds (pictured below with Vamper’s Victoria at a recent VoxWomen event) boosts the team’s time trial lineup for 2016. Simmonds commented: “I am incredibly excited about starting my professional cycling career with UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. The team has a very strong roster and an extremely professional set-up which I think will provide me with the perfect environment in which to develop further as I make the move to full-time rider.”

Hayley Simmonds (right) pictured with Vamper's Victoria and fellow pro cyclist, Sweden's Sara Olsson.
Hayley Simmonds (right) pictured with Vamper’s Victoria and fellow pro cyclist, Sweden’s Sara Olsson.

All-rounder and former two-time junior Canadian National champion Annie Ewart joins the team from Optum Pro Cycling following her breakaway victory on stage two at the Tour of the Gila and her win at the Dominguez Hills Criterium in 2015.

Former Dutch national champion and veteran racer Iris Slappendel will bring years of high-level racing experience to the team. Slappendel has wins at Thuringen Rundfahrt (2010) and Route de France (2014) under her belt.

Colombian rider Diana Carolina Peñuela, who was victorious at the 2015 Criterium Manizales Fair, will bolster the team.

Finally, American cyclist Shawn Morelli, 2014 UCI Para-Cycling Road Race World Champion and 2015 World Championship Para-cycling Track Pursuit Bronze Medalist, will complete the 2016 lineup.

 2016 UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Roster, Women

  • Abby Mickey
  • Annie Ewart
  • Cari Higgins
  • Coryn Rivera
  • Diana Carolina Peñuela
  • Hayley Simmonds
  • Iris Slappendel
  • Katie Hall
  • Laura Brown
  • Lauren Tamayo
  • Linda Villumsen
  • Rushlee Buchanan
  • Shawn Morelli
Cycle ClothingNews

REDWHITE APPAREL LAUNCHES THE RACE BIB SHORTS AFTER A YEAR OF SUCCESS WITH THE BIB

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It’s just over a year now since RedWhite Apparel, based in Singapore, entered the market with their flagship product, The Bib.

The company, which was built around the need for long distance bib shorts, have secured dealers in US, UK, Australia, Korea, Japan and several Southeast Asian countries to bring The Bib to a wider market.

Now entering their second year, and following feedback from their customers and racers, they have launched The Race, a brand new bib short with a focus on long distance needs but also with more aggressive riding positions in mind.

The Race was 8 months in the making. Tested by riders around the world, it retains the key elements of The Bib with added refinements for racers.
The Race was 8 months in the making. Tested by riders around the world, it retains the key elements of The Bib with added refinements for more aggressive riding positions.

The Race was a product 8 months in the making. With several iterations and prototypes made and tested by individual riders and teams around the world, RedWhite has delivered a product that retains all the key elements of its flagship, The Bib, with added refinements for racers.

The key difference in The Race lies in the chamois.

The chamois follows the same design as the highly popular version in The Bibs, but with two new features: a dimpled surface for better heat dissipation, and a reduction in density and thickness at the mid layer.

 

The Race chamois features a dimpled surface for heat dissipation and a reduction in density and thickness at the mid layer.

The Race will be available for pre-orders through www.shop.redwhite.cc and dealer stockings will be announced shortly.

For more details on the race, please visit http://www.redwhite.cc/the-race/

Cycle ClothingCycling Accessories

Lumo aims to light up the world of city cycling apparel

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Fledgling British apparel and accessories startup LUMO – fresh off the back of becoming the highest-grossing cycle clothing project on Kickstarter and having secured equity investment via Crowdcube – has now launched its debut range of jackets and bags.

The ‘London Collective’ range of jackets and bags is inspired by the capital and designed to make cyclists safer on their bikes and more stylish off them, said the brand.

Discussing the inspiration for the collection LUMO Co-founder Lucy Bairner said: “Cycling in London is like playing a game of Snakes and Ladders. Whilst riding a bike in a city certainly has its challenges, we believe there is simply no better feeling than the freedom you get from getting around on two wheels. The London Collective is inspired by, and in some cases, made in the capital,”

“The look of the garments has been very much influenced by classic British designs, with cutting edge technology subtly integrated for less snakes, more ladders. The launch video is called ‘#freedomofthecity: London’ and aims to showcase the city as well as our new collection.”

The jackets and bags contain ultra-high brightness LED strips on both the front and back, subtly hidden within the construction of the design. The lights are visible from 400 metres away and they have been deliberately positioned to ensure they’re visible regardless of riding position.

The LEDs are waterproof and washable and are powered by a removable USB-rechargeable battery unit that is tucked away in a small inside pocket.

The jackets use Schoeller fabrics to deliver water-resistance, dirt repellence and breathability and the waterproof bags are made from hardy waxed cotton from Halley Stevensons.

The jackets also feature dropped hems, inner cuffs, stretch shoulder panels and lots of useful zipped and magnet closure pockets, and the bags come with an inner laptop sleeve.

The jackets and bags contain ultra high brightness LED strips on both the front and back, subtly hidden within the construction of the design.
The jackets and bags contain ultra high brightness LED strips on both the front and back, subtly hidden within the construction of the design.

Discussing the evolution of the range Co-Founder Doug Bairner explained: “After I was knocked off my bike, yet was still too vain to wear fluorescent clothing, came the realisation that city cyclists don’t just dress for our journey, we dress for our destination too.”

“We gave up our jobs and set out to design garments that would make cyclists more visible on their bike yet allow them to step straight off it into a business meeting or nice restaurant,” he added.

The London Collective is inspired by, and in some cases, made in the capital

“Speaking about the brand’s plans for the future, Bairner concluded: “The plans go way beyond visibility. Through the design process we’ve uncovered ideas for building various technologies into garments to make life easier for city cyclists. Imagine a day where you can charge your mobile phone in your pocket as you cycle to work, navigate from your jacket sleeve or ultimately contribute to the grid by pedalling from A to B.”

LUMO jackets are available now in both men’s and women’s specific cuts and are priced from £250, with the backpack available from the end of September at a price of £200.

LUMO’s online store can be found at www.lumo.cc

They are also now available in Cloud 9 Cycles, Velorution, Selfridges, Fully Charged and soon to be in Frame’s new retail outlet and online at Cycle Chic.

News

Primal revealed as 2016 Team Raleigh GAC clothing sponsor

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Cycling clothing and accessories brand Primal has been revealed as the 2016 clothing sponsor for UCI continental cycling team Raleigh GAC in a move which demonstrates its support of elite cycling in the UK.

Team Raleigh GAC will be wearing Primal’s Elite QX5 cycling clothing, part of its Custom Range, throughout the 2016 season. Primal will work with the team’s professional riders throughout the year to develop its product offering.

“Elite cycling in the UK is continuing to gain momentum and we’re delighted to be a part of such a successful team like Team Raleigh GAC.”

James and Judith Smith, Directors at Primal Europe, said: “Elite cycling in the UK is continuing to gain momentum and we’re delighted to be a part of such a successful team like Team Raleigh GAC.

“The professional cycling team has a whole host of incredible riders and we’re looking forward to receiving feedback from them to continue to improve our products at the highest level. We’re certain that our cycling clothing and apparel will play a part in helping to achieve the team’s goals and aspirations for the 2016 season.”

Team Raleigh GAC has had a successful year: for the third time running, the team had a rider in first place in the British Cycling Elite Road series with Steve Lampier picking up the Star Trophy.

Raleigh GAC also came second in the series’ team competition.

Team Raleigh GAC Owner Cherie Pridham added: “We are particularly excited about working with the company on their innovative product development programme to improve aerodynamics. There is a real buzz amongst the team and we are very proud to partner with Primal.

“We are can’t wait for the 2016 season to begin and we of course hope that Primal will play a major part in helping us emulate and build on the success achieved this year.”

Team Raleigh GAC Primal
The team kit designed by Primal, featuring World Championship stripes on white. We like it!

For more information about Primal, visit www.primaleurope.com and to learn more about Team Raleigh GAC, visit www.teamraleigh.co.uk.

Cycle ClothingReviews

The Proviz PixElite Gilet – cycling apparel that literally stops traffic

Proviz PixElite Softshell Gilet
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Has anyone ever pulled up alongside you in a Porsche at traffic lights to ask where you bought your reflective gilet? – no, I thought not. But that, quite seriously, happened to me the other day.

Let me backtrack for a second…

All of us cyclists (ok, most of us) (oh, alright, some of us) resist facing up to an inconvenient truth: that being visible on these increasingly dark autumn/winter rides is marginally more important than our sartorial sensibilities would generally allow.

It can seem like a bit of rum deal – a fly in the ointment – to be forced to contemplate spoiling the aesthetic of your beautifully considered kit choices by making concessions towards your visibility on the road.

I can’t imagine there are many cyclists in these enlightened times who relish dressing up like a trainee Police Community Support Officer in order to feel a little safer on the roads.

While super high-viz neon does have its place within the cycling community, for those of us with more than a passing regard for style as well as function its adoption can seem like a compromise too far.

It is show-stoppingly bright, giving you a sense of security that – while not being something to take for granted – is a welcome feeling on roads where you need every bit of help you can get.

British sportswear brand Proviz has come up with the definitive solution to this issue with the launch of its latest PixElite collection, a supremely eye-catching range of refelctive garments that satisfies the desire to be seen in all senses.

The PixElite range features a jacket, jerseys (long sleeved and short sleeved), gilet, bib shorts, arm warmers, gloves and shoe covers. The jacket and jersey are available in both men’s and women’s specific cuts.

The PixElite Softshell Gilet (the focus of this review) is billed as a “high-performance, Italian-manufactured garment for those chillier days when you need an extra layer.” It is those things and more.

 

STYLE, COMFORT & PERFORMANCE

Having bought the PixElite Gilet initially to improve my overall safety and visibility on evening commutes, I have found myself wearing it on almost every ride since it arrived. It has elongated the lifespan of my summer kit (with the aid of some great Sportful arm and leg warmers) and kept me warm on cold-snap days. It is an incredibly versatile piece of kit that marries great visual appeal with warmth and protection against wind and showers.

The PixElite collection is a supremely eye-catching range of high-visibility garments that satisfies the desire to be seen in all senses.

The PixElite reflective fabric built in to the shoulders, sides and lower back is astonishingly effective in car headlights. The micro-beads which make up the reflective element of the fabric bounce headlight beams back toward the driver; it should be impossible to miss a cyclist in one of these garments when it is illuminated by a car’s headlights.

The PixElite Gilet features rear pockets giving ample room for all your ride essentials and with a lock-zip middle pocket you can keep valuables secure.

FIT & SIZING

The sizing of the PixElite Gilet is a little closer than garments from some of Proviz’s other ranges (360+ and Switch in particular). If you are usually a large in either of those styles, I would consider going up a size.

The bulk of the gilet is made from a soft-stretch mix of polyester, elastane and brushed thermal microfibre. Think race fit, especially if you are going to be wearing it over another long sleeve softshell or gabba-style garment.

I’m 183cm and weigh around 75kg (165lbs) and with fairly broad shoulders I’m around a 38-40 inch chest. The large is comfortable, but might be a little tight or short for those above a 40 inch chest. If you prefer your fit a little looser then it might be worth going up a size or two.

VALUE FOR MONEY

The PixElite Gilet is available on the Proviz website for £69.99, putting it in competition with gilets from many other brands. What sets this apart, however, is the additional safety functionality. In daylight it looks just as good (if not better) than most cycling gilets, but at night it really comes to life. It is show-stoppingly bright, giving you a sense of security that, whilst not being something to take for granted, is a welcome feeling on roads where you need every bit of help you can get.

Which brings me back to the intro of this review…

Having a sports car labour slowly behind, pull up beside you – the window already on its way down – might lead you to expect a terse exchange (although my riding is always exemplary of course). In this instance however nothing could be further from the truth: a polite gentleman simply wanted to compliment me on the visibility of my ‘top’ and ask where I bought it.

It made me love the PixElite Gilet even more.

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REVIEWER STATS

Height: 183cm

Weight: 75kg

Measurements: 38 inch chest, 32 inch waist

Cycling activity: 80-150 miles per week, in moderate British conditions.

Cycling TipsFeaturedWomen's Cycling

From high heel-wearing casual cyclist to sweaty sportive rider: #thisgirlcan

Sedate to SportiveFrom sedate cyclist to Strava-obsessed sportive addict. Times change.
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In a recent article about cycling participation in The Guardian, one paragraph in particular caught my eye.

“For several female participants in the study, being a cyclist – or choosing not to be one – was very much entangled with concerns and convictions about femininity, appearance and their inclusion in a highly visible minority transport culture – a sort of club. One, Rachel, new to cycling, described uncertainties about what to wear: “I swing between, should I go all in Lycra or should I go for a more girlie look.” Others recognized the dilemma but felt they handled it quite comfortably, and some fully embraced the cyclist look: “I’ve got the kit, I’m a cyclist, yeah.” There was also outright rejection: “The women that do cycle are probably more blokey than feminine.”

I understand those concerns about appearance and femininity.

Only 18 months ago I was cycling to work at a gentle 12mph so as not to get sweaty in whatever I planned to wear at the office that day. A skirt and blouse with heels; a dress; a pair of skinny jeans and a blazer. I was always safe in a helmet and a fluorescent sash at night, but I was adamant that the only way I wanted to ride was at a comfortable pace in my regular clothes. And I enjoyed it.

It’s safe to say my view of cycling has changed in recent times.

Why would I want to ride fast and get sweaty on my way to work? Why would I want to wear specific cycling clothes, and have the rigmarole of getting changed at the other end? Couldn’t cycling just fit in with my lifestyle?

A leather jacket and sandals used to be my typical cycling outfit...
A leather jacket and sandals used to be my typical cycling outfit…

Well, of course it could.

But it’s safe to say my view of cycling has changed in recent times.

Fast forward a few months, and a persuasive Matt – co-founder of Vamper – convinced me to put my name down for the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 mile cycling event. Quite how he managed it, I still don’t know; but sure enough, I entered the ballot – and was so disappointed to not receive a place that I immediately signed up for a charity spot instead.

It gradually dawned on me that to ride 100 miles – up some hills! – on my steel-framed single speed would be a challenge. I wasn’t sure Leith Hill was really made for a cyclist with a basket on the front of her bike. And I was fairly sure heels weren’t going to be the most appropriate footwear.

That aversion to sweat? Gone.

I realised I was going to have to make some concessions to practicality.

With Matt’s guidance, I settled on my first road bike. With a budget of £1,000, I wanted the best bike I could possibly find for that money. We decided that Sheffield-based Planet X was my best bet, and I opted for the Pro Carbon SRAM Rival 22 Women’s road bike.

Happy with my Planet X Pro Carbon SRAM Rival 22
Happy with my first road bike – a Planet X Pro Carbon SRAM Rival 22

I couldn’t very well ride a carbon road bike in heels, though, could I?

With some coaxing, I agreed to go the whole hog on the pedal front. I duly bought a set of Shimano SPD-SL pedals, and a set of cleats. They weren’t going to fit on my stilettoes, so I bought a pair of road shoes. And road shoes would not look good with a skirt, so I ordered a pair of padded bib tights. Which required a coordinating jersey… and a sportier helmet……

I couldn’t very well ride a carbon road bike in heels, though, could I?

I spent some time in a state of panic, practising clipping in and out on our private road until I felt reasonably confident that I could free my feet in case of emergency. And off we went. Me, riding a road bike, with gears, in Lycra.

I enjoyed it.

My hands hurt a bit, so I ordered a pair of cycling gloves. And a cycling jacket.

I enjoyed it all the more.

My first cycling event - the 38 mile Le Petit Depart in the Yorkshire Dales.
My first cycling event – the 38 mile Le Petit Depart in the Yorkshire Dales.

We put our names down for the 38 mile Le Petit Depart recreational ride in the Yorkshire Dales. I acquired a Garmin, and a cadence sensor. I started caring about Strava sections – and realised that I have a little bit of a competitive streak.

And by ‘a little bit’, I mean that it transpires my competitive streak is a mile wide.

I spent some time in a state of panic, practising clipping in and out on our private road until I felt reasonably confident that I could free my feet in case of emergency.

That aversion to sweat?

Gone. That’s what Muc-Off Dry Shower is for. And hell – if my hair is a bit messy at work, I can always tidy it up with the straighteners I keep in my desk drawer in case of emergency.

Riding casually is great - but riding hard is much more satisfying
Riding casually and looking nice is great; but riding hard is much more satisfying. Give me sweat and aching muscles!

Having a physical, competitive outlet has given my life a new direction. I worry far less about my appearance than I used to: I’m happy to have a body which is active and healthy. I’m happy to have strong legs that allow me to nail sections and keep up with Matt.

I like to sweat.

Sweating keeps my skin healthy, and it tells me that I’ve worked hard.

I like my legs to ache after a 17mph commute or a hilly sportive.

I like my cycling tan from a summer of long rides, and I like the tell tale oil mark on my leg when I’ve been messing about with my bike in the house.

I like road cycling, and I’ll never again be content to ride at 12mph in heels again.

“The women that do cycle are probably more blokey than feminine.” Riding hard, challenging myself, breaking a sweat and dressing the part don’t make me feel blokey, that’s for sure. I feel like a stronger woman than I did before – and that makes me feel better about my gender than adhering to any modern constructs of what constitutes femininity.

This woman can.

One of the greatest days of my life - completing the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 with Matt.
One of the greatest days of my life – completing the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 with Matt. Sweaty, achey, and utterly elated.