womens cyclewear

Cycle ClothingWomen's Cycling

Urban cycle wear brand As Bold As launches debut women’s collection

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Regular readers will know that it’s not so long ago that I was a dedicated urban cyclist, riding the streets of London in whatever I wanted to wear that day. I may be something of a Lycra warrior these days – but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the need for clothing you can enjoy wearing both on and off the bike. Bib tights and cycling jerseys are fantastic when you’re riding but look less good behind a desk. And don’t even get me started on the trials of changing out of bibs and jersey in a very small toilet cubicle…

Urban cyclist to Road cyclist
Victoria the urban cyclist, and Victoria the Lycra warrior…

I’m increasingly tempted to look to a more hybrid style of cycle clothing that would cut down the amount of changing time and the amount of stuff I carry to work. I do rather miss the days of turning up to work on my bike in something I could wear all day, but that convenience needs to be balanced with the desire to be comfortable and safe in the saddle.

As Bold As

As Bold As makes contemporary cycling clothing to wear on the journey and at the destination. Founder Joyce Brereton has worked to incorporate the technical design elements of dedicated cycling wear with a dose of urban chic: waterproof, windproof, breathable fabrics with sealed seams and high-visibility detailing are combined with street styling to keep you looking the part when you’re not pedalling. 

I’m particularly taken with the As Bold As Drench Coat, pictured below. It’s been designed to keep you warm and dry on the bike, with a dropped back to keep your bum clean and underarm vents for breathability. It’s not so urban that you couldn’t wear it with bib tights and cleats; but it would look great off the bike with jeans and boots, too.

As Bold As Drench Coat

The first collection is female focussed, but plans are hatching to expand. We’re looking forward to seeing what else is in the pipeline for As Bold As. 

Launched in February, the range is available now through asboldas.com, VelovixenVelorution and Skulpt.

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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.