After my Mallorca trip I was blown away by how well dressed my fellow cyclists were. I literally had no idea men could be so considered, or colour co-ordinated in their appearance.
I realised my mis-matched kit was simply not going to do and thus made a vow to dramatically raise my clothing game.
Fortunately I happen to work in a business that is lucky to partner with the very elite of cycling apparel; so I enlisted the help of Gemma to kit me out.
What was fascinating is the way these four brands differ in their ethos and brand identity and how that translates into their garments. The good news is that it's all great kit. Thankfully it's almost impossible to find mediocre high-end kit anymore.
Pas Normal Studios is a Danish brand with a serious Pro-Tour heritage.
If Fat Lad at the Back are at one end of the fashion spectrum, PNS are the Euro cool kids at the other end; smashing up cols with sub 5% body fat and looking effortless as they do so.
Make no mistake the kit is 'race' cut - but just like when you put on lightweight running shoes and are naturally forced to run quicker, it's simply impossible to go for a recovery ride whilst wearing PNS. This kit, more than any other I have ever ridden, makes you want to bury yourself on the bike. It's truly astonishing how a lycra jersey can affect your on-the-road psyche.
The jersey feels very snug, and the material feels very slippery and by extension 'quick'. The shorts are sublime; very well padded and supported. The elastic bands are tight, and everything feels like its designed for 'good' cyclists.
The kit is tight, so you need to be minimal with filling the pockets; this is not the kit I'd wear on a 7 hr unsupported ride. But when you want to batter your friends, or set some KOMs it's the outfit I would pick….
Buy for: Achingly cool, Euro pro-tour look
Don't buy: If you prefer the baggier look
I am a self confessed David Millar fan. We share a similar
background; we are the same age (ish), we are both tall and
handsome, both Scottish, he grew up in Hong Kong and I in Singapore
and we are both very tidy on a bike….Come to think of it, we could
We have proudly been selling his Chpt. /// kit for over a year now and the guys in store really like it. I must confess I have (up till now) not put in many miles in it - something I was keen to resolve.
The cool thing of this kit is the sizing which follows a
tailored approach of chest size in cms. This means more accurate,
The kit is very stylish, and whilst snug it feels wrong to get it as tight as PNS. This kit, whilst very technical, is not what I would choose for an all out race assault. However a 4 hour ride with your mates, (ideally whilst riding a bike with a level top tube and tan sidewall tyres), and you will be the best dressed man on the road.
The shorts are sublime - I put them on in the shop and then lounged around in them for the next 5 hours whilst typing emails. Gemma et al were deeply put off by my in-store appearance, but they are ridiculously comfortable, with the softest material I have ever (and I mean ever) felt on a bib short.
When I was a first year banker it was in the dot-com bubble, and banks were changing dress codes and getting rid of suits. However after my first week at work I was pulled aside by my boss and counselled that the dress code was "smart casual, not casual". Fifteen years later and I still manage to look scruffy on a daily basis. So imagine my amazement when I looked at myself in the mirror resplendent in my full Chpt./// kit - the ugly duckling had finally become a swan !
Buy for: Those glorious days when you are riding for fun, not staring at your wattage
Don't buy: If you're looking for the lightest, most aero 'race' kit
a new brand but with a huge pedigree (something they don't shout
about, but those who know know). Luigi has forgotten more
about patterns and materials than most R&D heads will ever
The cut is not quite as aggressive as PNS but it's close. Snug is the operative word, and the materials are all first rate. I love their ethos of "lightweight is never a goal, its simply an outcome of good design". It's something Bob Parlee has been preaching in carbon frame-building for over a decade know and something that resonates with me.
The jersey I liked, whereas the shorts I loved. The jersey material is ridiculously stretchable and the pockets are much more versatile than with PNS. You could do a sportive in this kit very easily indeed…
The Q36.5 shorts are probably the best I have ever ridden. They were certainly the ones I picked whenever we had a hard stage in Mallorca. If I was doing the Haute Route I would bring 5 pairs of Q36.5 shorts and be done.
If I was to wash all the clothes at the same time, the Q36.5 bibs and jersey would be the first to dry. This bodes very well for its ability to keep you dry in the heat.
Wolf shirt; - have a winter lining, good for early Spring
L1 Essential shorts - standard everyday shorts
Dottore shorts - special 'A' race shorts; with compression.
Buy for: You want to be at the very cutting edge of R&D
Don't buy: if you want the status quo
The godfathers of the cycling bibshort. However they do suffer a slight identity problem, and their market position and pre-eminence has absolutely taken a battering over the last decade. Back then the Assos kit was head and shoulders better than the competition , but since then the competition have massively raised their game.
One of the many geniuses of Rapha is that they have cultivated a whole identity. I know many Rapha customers who would rather go for a run than go for a ride without a full compliment of Rapha wear. One chap was on a ride and counted 25 (25!!) pieces of Rapha in his wardrobe (including saddlebag, toe covers, shoes...). That may be an extreme, but Rapha sell you a collection - and a fine looking one at that.
Assos are in danger of being the M&S of cycling apparel - really, really good at the basics that you then put the flasher stuff on top off. I know loads of people, myself included, who will think nothing of mixing a club jersey with Assos shorts.
The Campionissimo jersey is a much needed new introduction from
The cut and materials are second to none; its also a jersey that does not need a base layer…
The design is a big improvement on previous ones, but is still not as clean as some of the competition.
However disappointingly it still feels as if the bib shorts were created by one design studio, and the jersey by another but they never talked to one another to share design cues. I suppose if that's all you can complain about then that's an endorsement, but given the price of Assos and the quality of the competition it feels a missed opportunity.
I also tried the Equipe jersey; which is the slightly cheaper 'race fit' one. Again its really, really nice and fit and finish is excellent. However I feel it's missing a certain design freshness that the others possess.
Buy for: the history and heritage of the market leader
Don't buy: if you want cutting edge designs
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