endura fs260-pro sl thermal windproof jacket

endura fs260-pro sl thermal windproof jacket

years ago, i owned a multicoloured knitted jumper, displaying an amalgam of blues, reds, ochres and verdant greens in a remarkably pleasing hoop(ish) pattern. it featured nice long-sleeves and a round neck and was pretty much my constant companion day in and day out, even when it might have been better looking at the world through the round window of a washing machine.

and as if its singular wonderfulness were not sufficient, on discovering that bass player extraordinaire, the late jaco pastorius, wore a remarkably similar garment, it assumed even greater day to day importance. granted, i scarcely know one end of a fender jazz bass from another, but since jaco was flavour of the month at the time, having something even tenuously in common with such a superlative musician gave rise to admittedly inordinate satisfaction.

endura fs260-pro sl thermal windproof jacket

as with pretty much every woollen jumper in the world, it eventually began sporting more holes than mrs washingmachinepost was willing to tolerate and one sad day for sartorialism, it ended up in the bin. if i'd had my way, we'd have held a short service to commemorate its passing. i have kept an eye out for any similar jumpers that might be viewed as a possible replacement, but so far, many, many years later, nothing seems to have come close.

but i still listen to jaco pastorius recordings despite being no nearer to figuring out the bridge from the headstock on a bass guitar.

endura fs260-pro sl thermal windproof jacket

after only several days, endura's latest incongruously named thermal windproof jacket shows every promise of assuming the mantle of that jumper, albeit in an altogether different fashion. developed from their association with spain's movistar world tour team, the fit equates to the sort of comfort you always hoped a jacket would provide. the arms are of a length that keeps them around your wrists when in the sprint position, while the dropped tail has sufficient gloopy stuff on an elastic gripper to keep it in place when hurtling down an alpine descent (so i've been told).

the tall collar, however, provides something of a quandary. it's the first jacket i've come across in recent times that is bereft of a zip garage at the top, leaving the sturdy ykk zip perilously exposed to the nape of my neck. but the rear of the collar features a softer, internal flap collar more or less at the base, one that sits against the back of your neck and ensuring no untoward draughts exert their chilling nature when sprinting from cav's rear wheel. clever and welcome.

endura fs260-pro sl thermal windproof jacket

the full-length front zip is backed with a substantial and fs-260 emblazoned storm flap. though there's a degree of faff involved in zipping to the neck without catching this in the zip, it's effectiveness makes any amount of faff more than worthwhile.

maximising the jacket's pragmatic tendencies are three generously sized pockets at the rear, augmented by the mandatory fourth zipped version. despite the jacket's light weight, my stuffing of a waterproof jacket, digital camera, mini-pump, coffee money, a spare pair of winter gloves, musette (to carry home a bag of porridge oats) and a chunk of mrs washingmachinepost's christmas cake, only added to the heft without detracting in any way from the fit or out-of-the-saddle climbing ability.

endura fs260-pro sl thermal windproof jacket

of course, all the foregoing is well and good and not necessarily any more or less than you'd expect from a contemporary cycling jacket. but the hang tag makes mention of its thermal properties allied to a level of windproofing that is allegedly noteworthy enough to be highlighted. fortunately, at this time of year in the hebrides, there is no shortage of strong to galeforce winds with which to verify endura's claims. additionally, by varying the underlying layers, it is simplicity itself to take advantage of the jacket's thermal properties depending on the ambient temperature ruling at the time.

in order that i should not let the fs-260 off lightly, i tried everything from a mere baselayer all the way up to the latter accompanied by a thermal midlayer. the latter certainly tested the breathability to the max in remarkably mild weather, conditions in which it acquitted itself admirably. i really ought to mention, germain as it is to the nature of the review, that the windproofing is exemplary, verified by atlantic winds gusting to the upper forties. i do so enjoy my work.

endura fs260-pro sl thermal windproof jacket

but overall, the jacket's unique selling point is its ubiquitous feelgood factor. it's just one of those jackets that you could ride in all day long, week in, week out, as well as those hours spent supping froth and consuming caramel biscuits in the coffee shop. it's the very garment that can be worn well in advance of the day's bike ride and continue to be worn long after the bike has been cleaned, oiled and put back in the shed (everybody does that, right?).

i would, however, be in breach of the reviewer's code if i failed to come up with a flaw, no matter how minor. in this case it's a flaw that cannot solely be laid at the feet of endura, but i'd really rather they fitted a loop at the collar to allow me to hang it on a coat peg. i have made mention of this on previous occasions, but it hasn't happened yet. i'm hoping that persistence pays off. despite such a minor tribulation, in my opinion, this jacket is pretty darned ginger peachy.

endura's fs260-pro sl thermal windproof jacket is available in black, red (as reviewed) and lime green, in sizes small (in case you're nairo quintana) all the way to xxl, retailing at a very amenable £129.99.

endura fs260-pro sl thermal windproof jacket

monday 25 january 2016

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where's will?

cycling in odense

as i may have mentioned at least once previously, many years ago i received a visit from a chap affiliated with scottish natural heritage. he was part of a mission to dispense environmental funding to worthy recipients. at that point in time, rural cycling was deemed to fit the necessary parameters and apparently i had unwittingly become islay's spokesperson for my people, a mantle that probably surprised me every bit as much as it surprises you now.

in retrospect i was probably a bit too naive and deferentially honest; i couldn't see any need for anyone's money to be spent on cycling. those of you who have visited the isle by bicycle would perhaps agree, for we are hardly inundated with the motor car to the level experienced in both urban and inner-city areas. but doubtless i should have smiled politely and concocted some thoughtful scheme that would have seen islay's cycling receive cash that could doubtless have been put to good use.

however much we might have garnered (and i confess i neglected to enquire just how much was on the table), it would have been but a pittance against that required to remodel the country's inner-cities in favour of both walking and cycling. reading the daily papers, i have come to the conclusion that it is rarely lack of finance that prevents this happening; more than likely a lack of political will. the inference is usually that of a powerful motoring lobby, one that quite obviously would be less in favour of city-centres inhabited predominantly by bicycles than very slow moving motor cars.

yet there are european cities that have managed to achieve cycle superiority despite any potential motorised meddling, cities such as odense in denmark. featuring on the guardian's website odense appears midst others across the world that have made the effort to minimise four-wheeled intrusion in favour of two.

cycling in odense

with a population of just under 200,000, odense features 350 miles of cycle lanes and 123 bicycle-only bridges. 50% of all journeys are made by bicycle, 81% of the city's school pupils ride to school and there are training schemes in place to have children as young as two years old learn to trundle on a balance-bike alongside a proud parent. that compares very well to even as small a village as bowmore; with a population of approximately 1,000 and an end to end length of only one mile, no pupils here regularly ride to school and more than just a few adults actually drive to and from their place of work.

perhaps i really should have accepted snh's money.

as a vegetarian, any time the subject surfaces in conversation (and i am rarely guilty of being the protagonist), the carnivores in the party take great pains to point out just how little meat they do eat, almost never of the red variety. invariably the discussion ends with protestations to the effect that they too could happily embrace vegetarianism. pretty much the same situation occurs regarding the subject of cycling. "i used to cycle everywhere, when i was young..." goes the stock remark, with no satisfactory explanation as to why that situation no longer exists. elderly citizens in odense take a different approach altogether. according to the head of cycling projects for the city, troels andersen,

"Some people, when they can't cycle any more because of their age, push their bike along as a walking frame, leaning on it. They don't like to use a normal walking frame, as then you look really old and frail. They walk around the city with their bike, and they feel normal."

cycling in odense

this contrasts starkly with the uk, at least in my experience, where it's well nigh impossible to entice the majority anywhere near a bike at any age.

the existence of what sounds like cycling nirvana in the city of odense, while offering a tantalising glimpse of what could lie in all of our futures, also serves as a major disappointment. for who amongst us can see the present government reading the guardian website and realising just how wrong their inner city transport policies have been?

particularly when recent news headlines have trumpeted record numbers of cars having been produced in this country in 2015. 'where there's a will, there's a way' is an oft repeated maxim. if only we could find will.

photo credit: cycling embassy

sunday 24 january 2016

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bridie odonnell hour record

yesterday afternoon, with a windproof, thermal jacket to commence reviewing, i opted to once again play hooky from the office and use the thought of a decent cappuccino as a legitimate excuse. the two factors that had me leave aside work in progress until the beginning of the week were an almost cloudless blue sky (a very rare occurrence of late) accompanied by a near gale-force wind. put in print, tat latter statement might seem a tad odd, but as you quite probably are already aware, riding in the wind is an hebridean occupational hazard. but when it states windproof on the hang-tag, it makes sense to me to ride in a strong or very strong wind, just to check the veracity of its credentials.

bridie odonnell hour record

it did occur to several of us that a blue sky in late january was probably destined not to remain for too long. in this prognosticative assertion, it turns out we were darned well right. with the road between here and debbie's curving round the loch, leaving with a tailwind soon alters to a crosswind, ending the outward trip straight into a headwind. but the intriguing factor added to this situation is the notable change in temperature at various stages of the route. between uiskentuie farm and foreland road end, not only the windproofing was under examination, but also the jacket's thermal properties.

you'll have to wait awhile before the review has been considerately composed, but suffice it to say, initial impressions are looking good.

bridie odonnell hour record

yet one particular factor missing from this and many another cycle jacket, is any serious attempt to provide a means of cutting through the air resistance; no mean feat in the face of gale force oppression. that, however, cannot reasonably be levelled as a pertinent argument, for such advanced windcheating is really only of major benefit to those competing for some distant prize such as time-trial honours or an hour record perhaps.

scotland's endura have invested heavily in understanding the requirements of the speed specialists by combining with drag2zero to produce the cutting edge aerosuit used by alex dowsett to set his own hour record last year. and now their design technology has grabbed the women's hour record, achieved by australian bridie o'donnell in adelaide yesterday.

bridie odonnell hour record

when previously bringing bridie's attempt to light in relation to the frictionless coating on her cervelo's chain provided by muc-off, i mentioned almost in passing, that the photos illustrated the australian riding in endura clothing. it seems my observations were correct, for endura yesterday announced that bridie's record breaking aerosuit contained "innovative new features developed with the aero experts at Drag2Zero and which have been extensively tested in their facility at the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One wind tunnel in Brackley and made at Endura's Headquarters in Livingston, Scotland."

the important bit in that last statement is the location. even though endura reside on the opposite coast to thewashingmachinepost, one that is ravaged by the north sea rather than the atlantic, they do perfectly comprehend the weather conditions that impinge themselves upon the land north of the border. (their classics jersey proudly proclaimed 'if you think the spring classics are bad, try scotland') in a matter of months, they will introduce an endura drag2zero qdc triathlon range, of which we will likely ignore the word triathlon, if only because it means not being able to cycle in a straight line.

bridie said of her new hour record (46.882km, beating america's molly shaffer van houweling's previous record by 609 metres) "All this wouldn't have been possible without the crowd and the team that supported me throughout the project. I can't believe I broke a world record... I tried not to think about my feelings. On Thursday I felt very nervous, but on Friday people reassured me, telling me that it was all about the pacing. I tried to focus on that and not to be distracted by anything else"

soon we'll all be able to go riding in gale force winds.

endura cycle clothing

Photo credits: UCI (bridie o'donnell image) and endura.

saturday 23 january 2016

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time to cross this on your list

balint hamvas cyclephotos copyright 2016

several years ago, calmac ferries announced that islay was to receive a brand new ferry, one that, at the time, was to replace the boat plying the route all on its own. this bigger ferry was to offer an improved service, with greater passenger accommodation and more space on the car deck with the addition of a mezzanine deck that could be raised and lowered as required. unfortunately, the crystal ball at gourock appears to have been on sabbatical, for a mere two years after the aofresaid ferry was commissioned, it became necessary to add a second boat to the route to cope with an ever-increasing number of visitors to the isle.

balint hamvas cyclephotos copyright 2016

so when the ferry finally arrived, it had need of being augmented by the ferry it was intended to replace, just to keep pace with demand. the fact that this new custom built ferry didn't fit any of the piers on islay and had made serious improvements necessary at kennacraig on the mainland was almost dismissed out of hand. but the indications that the boat was not ultimately destined to remain solely on the islay route had begun with the name, calmac refusing to accept isle of islay as a possible title on the bows.

balint hamvas cyclephotos copyright 2016

all those of us who had remained suspicious throughout the introduction period were vindicated when, at the first need for a ferry elsewhere on the network, the mv finlaggan was despatched north, leaving us with the two boats we'd lived with for the previous five or six years. the only satisfaction to be gained was realised when passengers on the outer hebridean route then being served by our boat, decided they didn't really like it as much as we did and would be really appreciative if they did not get it back in subsequent years.

balint hamvas cyclephotos copyright 2016

you see, each caledonian macbrayne ferry has to be placed into dry-dock on an annual basis for a refit, necessitating a shuffling of the boats to keep all sailings running to some sort of timetable. it's a period that is now current; the mv finlaggan is the sole ferry on the islay route at present, a size of boat that seems more than equitable given the passenger numbers at this time of year. soon, the finlaggan will have to head into dry-dock for its own re-fit and we'll be back to the oldest two ferries on the fleet.

balint hamvas cyclephotos copyright 2016

the world has worked in this cyclical way since time immemorial. predicated by the seasons, there are many factors that become endlessly repetitive, a situation with which many of us are quite amenable, if only because there's dash all we can do about it.

however, there's a potentially inordinate situation that might be about to occur if we stand by and let it. for the past five years, photographer balint hamvas has compiled a book of the previous season's race photography in time for july distribution. these have been superbly produced and printed, displaying all the finer points of balint's pin-sharp observation and of great succour to those of us who like to obsess over the 'cross milieu.

balint hamvas cyclephotos copyright 2016

a bit like the inevitability of calmac's re-fit season, these cyclocross photo books could be relied upon to arrive only a few weeks ahead of the following season, providing added impetus, were such needed, to get out and get muddy. that is, until this year.

if you've ever taken a quick count of the number of races at which mr hamvas has been in attendance, you'd quickly appreciate that he's a very busy chap. adding to his photography workload: "Producing these books is a labour of love. It can be hard work pulling everything together, but at the same time, it's always really rewarding and great fun. It is a one-man show and the one thing that has been tricky in recent years is juggling work-related travel and the logistics of getting books to all those wonderful people who bought them. I've relied a lot on friends and family to keep things going. But this year, I wanted to try something a bit different."

balint hamvas cyclephotos copyright 2016

that 'something different' has taken the form of a kickstarter campaign, offering each and every obsessive cyclocross fan the opportunity to contribute towards the production of the 2015/16 photo book. once again, assuming the target of £17,500 is reached, each book contributor will receive a copy come july of this year. once again those winter evenings and sunday afternoons can be bolstered by leafing through pages of excellence which, this year, will importantly document sven nys' final season. you need only pledge a minimum of £30 (approx $45) to receive a copy later this year, assuming several others do likewise.

i do have a habit of wielding the word compulsory perhaps more often than advisable, but in this case...

balint hamvas kickstarter campaign

all photos copyright balint hamvas 2016. reproduced with permission.

friday 22 january 2016

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get off my cloud

driverless cars

a couple of years ago i was fortunate enough to be invited to watch the revolution meeting in glasgow's sir chris hoy velodrome with vip benefits, one of which entailed unfettered access to the track's infield. in retrospect it was hardly he best of places from which to view speeding track cyclists and i cannot deny that i awoke with a bit of a stiff neck the following morning.

however, given that the public portion of the infield was immediately adjacent to the riders' area, it was simplicity itself to hang over the barriers chatting with ned boulting and the king of scotland in between events. this provided at least a few minutes of relief for those overused neck muscles.

having never previously attended any sort of track meet, it was something of a scary experience to walk to the base of the turn and look up at the steepness of the boards at that point. i'm well aware of the need for both curves on a velodrome to bank steeply, allowing the riders to turn at high speed without fear of skiting sideways into the advertising hoardings, but viewing the towering height from the bottom (or the top, for that matter) is hardly for the faint of heart.

driverless cars

i have only reviewed two fixed gear bicycles in my career, neither of which enhanced my local reputation to any appreciable degree. i doubt they did much in the cycle community either. on the first occasion, a flock of sheep crossed in front of me and i stopped pedalling; the second bicycle featured clipless pedals into which i was unable to clip without hanging onto a wall when stationary.

cover myself in glory i most certainly didn't.

however, both the above featured front and rear calipers, designed to slow me to a tidy halt, should my puny leg muscles fail to do so by attempting to resist the pedal rotation. i can but mention those brakes were used more often than my faux hipster/courier persona would like to admit. yet those racing on bona-fide track bikes would blanche at the thought of attaching any sort of brake, though entirely on safety grounds.

driverless cars

not that i have any comprehension as to how track officials score either the madison or points race, but it does appear particularly logical that, amongst several dozen racing cyclists, it would need only one to become nervous and pull on the brakes to create a massive pile-up on shiny boards. though hard to conceive, none of those bikes being equipped with brakes is a far safer option.

it's this fish shoal approach to individual avoidance that looks like it might have associated consequences when considering the impending future of the driverless car.

imagine, if you will, a busy road system populated by a large number of driverless cars, all programmed to avoid each other based on the rules of the road and the programming of those adjacent to observe such rules. theoretically, all would be calmness, comfort and joy. however, insert a few variables that we often refer to as cyclists and pedestrians, and all might be considerably less than well. renault cars' chief executive, carlos ghosn has told american tv station cnbc that those two variables could delay the arrival of driverless technology.

driverless cars

"One of the biggest problems is people with bicycles," he said. "The car is confused by cyclists because from time-to-time they behave like pedestrians and from time-to-time they behave like cars." he then marked his card somewhat, by stating "They don't respect any rules usually."

it is surely something of a technological oddity that, rather than finesse their automotive lines of code, renault (in particular) are keen to remove all other potential road users? if any manufacturer's driverless car is unable to drive safely along the roads in their current state, then the technology is not yet ready for public use. even though a track derny bike is equipped with brakes, the guy in the pilot seat is specifically aware of those sat in line behind; his programming accommodates that.

driverless cars may be in the future of personal transport, but until they can carefully avoid alternative forms of personal transport, simply put, they're not ready for public consumption. google's driverless cars incorporate a warning system, but quite whether that's to warn the car or the hapless individuals behind its lack of a steering wheel, i'm none too sure.

thursday 21 january 2016

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delivery killed the video star

bicycle shop

i recently made mention of the wonderful doug, whose surname escapes me entirely, the fellow who occupied centre stage behind the counter at thomson's music store in aberdeen when i were a lad at college. by the time we'd made it into second year, at least five of us were quite obviously headed for rock stardom, even if the rest of the city seemed totally oblivious to this future state of affairs.

as befits those of consummate musical flair, it was incumbent on at least three of us at a time (more usually the guitarist, bass player and yours truly) to occupy the less obscure corners of thomson's upper floor, making sure not to stand too close to the white goods over by the window. come to think of it, this may have been where the washingmachine connection first originated.

fact is, for at least two of us, saturday was a difficult day. our landlady preferred that we wandered elsewhere after breakfast; the warmth and coffee at thomsons' music department offered a particularly shiny alternative, coupled with the knowledge that to be seen deep in earnest conversation with doug by aberdeen's other wannabe rock stars, did little harm to one's reputation.

delivery van

the store was a decent source of information as to goings on in the local music scene, perhaps an opportunity to pick up a saturday night gig with a band in need of a drummer, guitarist or bass player and also afforded the opportunity to play expensive musical instruments with the tacit approval of the man behind the counter, yet with no expectation of a direct purchase. when i was on tour with bon jovi, it was days such as those that i fondly recalled on the tour bus (i may have made that last bit up).

i am not now, nor was i ever in the habit of carrying out a similar level of loitering in a local bike shop. currently, the absence of such a local emporium has pretty much put paid to that opportunity. however, aside from the rise and rise of the local coffee shop, i think it possible that there are many members of the pelotonese who hang about in bike shops, dressed in something ostentatious to demonstrate their ascendant place in the velocipedinal pecking order.

campagnolo poster

from the bike shop's point of view, this state of affairs could be seen as either an imposition or a potentially commercial situation, perhaps depending on the amount of floor space available. however, for the technically-minded cycling geek, you can see the attraction of spending many a pleasant hour considering every piece of shiny componentry held within those glass cases upon which the so-called mechanic has a tendency to lean while drinking coffee.

that dubious pleasure may, however, be about to take a nosedive.

in a world that seems to be assuming the possibly dangerous mantle of 'instant gratification', it seems we are no longer willing to wait more than a few minutes to acquire our latest heart's desire. amazon offer same-day delivery assuming you reside within a certain postcode area, while many others offer at least next day delivery. it's a fair cop, but society is to blame. for now cycle distributors fishers are offering their dealers the chance to place a direct order on behalf of a customer for items they may not currently hold in stock and fishers will deliver it to their home next day.

granted, the iniquities of next day delivery are few and far between in the highlands and islands, (unless ordering from prendas), but in the absence of a local bike shop in many areas, we're hardly being seriously disadvantaged any more than is already the case. but for the confirmed bike shop loiterer, fisher's home delivery service could be a 15mm spanner in the works.

on the other hand...

wednesday 20 january 2016

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rapha shadow jersey and bibshorts

rapha pro team shadow kit

there is something of a technical fallacy that appears not only in the original series of star trek (the one with william shatner and leonard nimoy), but in the subsequent star trek: the new generation. in fact, now that i think of it, the same inexplicability (i just made that word up) exists throughout the entire star wars franchise, though i may have to amend that claim when i finally get round to seeing the force awakens. we all suffer from deprived childhoods over here.

the oft-used command "shields up!" barked by any number of characters in any of the above, usually indicates an incoming barrage of photon torpedoes or phaser or blaster fire. these invisible shields have the capability of repelling the majority of incursions for at least a short period of time, before a science officer informs the captain that the "shields are down to 30%, captain...". that, in future science fiction terms, is the equivalent of announcing there may be something worth worrying about.

rapha pro team shadow kit

the glaring problem with all this is based on a question of individuality. for if it was possible in the orginal series of star trek to protect not only a starship with such a device, but those cute little shuttles mostly used to visit distant planets populated by peoples such as the vent-axians (think about it), surely technical progress could have made them smaller? therefore, instead of leaving themselves wide open to personal attack by such as the vent-axians, each member of a star fleet landing party could have access to a personal version. that would have meant captain picard, commander riker, han solo and luke skywalker could have attacked any empire stronghold they fancied without fear of personal harm?

rapha pro team shadow kit

meanwhile, back in the 21st century, force-fields are still the construct of science fiction; personal protection still resides with the wearing of a so-called stab-vests by many police forces and soldiers across the world. in a sense, those are a tad more believable, for i have always been concerned as to how the star trek/star wars force fields know what to keep out and what to let through. for instance, though they seem perfectly capable of repelling phaser fire, i'm pretty sure that any craft would get wet when it rains.

rapha pro team shadow kit

it's a problem that afflicts all of us with the temerity to venture out in weather that will immediately bestow rule nine certificates on the clubhouse wall. i know of many a so-called cyclist who will very rarely go cycling when it's raining. in fact, michael hutchinson attests to that very fact in the current issue of the comic. though it's a situation that is hard to avoid for pretty much anyone in the uk (or portland, for that matter), it affects some more than others.

what we need is cycle clothing with its own built-in force field, but one that has the ability to repel a swift or persistent dowsing of precipitation.

rapha pro team shadow kit

i have to admit that we're not quite there yet, but the recent release of rapha's shadow jersey and bibshorts goes quite some way towards the sort of thing i'm looking for. though you may already be tired of hearing it, bear with me while i explain further. the fabric used in both current items of the shadow range originally consists of nylon thread which is coated with a durable water repellency. it is then woven into lengths of fabric before being shrunk to achieve minute gaps between the threads, spaces that could not be achieved by regular fabric construction.

rapha pro team shadow kit

as if that were insufficient to offer an effective barrier to the elements, the fabric is then given a second coating of water repellency before rapha's italian producers create a rather stylish jersey and bibshorts.

the shadow material is very unlike anything you've met before, though i can perhaps think of a singular exception to that statement. as with pretty much all rapha's pro-team range, the fit is not only impeccable, but remarkably close to being sprayed-on. if you have lumps and bumps you'd prefer to keep to yourself, either move up a size, or stick to sportwool. though you really do have to question the logic of releasing a short sleeve jersey in the first week of january, in mitigation, the sleeves are neither short nor long, reaching just past my elbow joint.

rapha pro team shadow kit

in the light of the above, i have come to choose my armwarmers carefully. a pair of rapha softshell warmers offered a smidgeon of discomfort at the inner arm joint, while the original black and white version was just ginger peachy. the bibshorts share the bib portion with rapha's thermal bibshorts, while the shorts themselves offer the same very close fit of the jersey, but a level of comfort that goes a long way towards justifying the rather thigh watering price tag.

the jersey features a full-length front zip as well as the usual complement of three rear pockets, each of which is augmented by an eyeletted hole at the bottom to allow the water to exit. it's the sort of feature that i often think is added more to reinforce our waterproofing expectations than for any real practical purpose. i may, however, have cause to rescind that opinion.

rapha pro team shadow kit

however, despite all my technical and fit-specific meanderings, what you all really want to know is: does it work in the rain?

on almost every occasion i have had the opportunity to ride an electronic gear equipped bicycle, the slick way in which the front mech shifts from the inner to outer ring has become my mojo. i could ride for endless kilometres staring down at that front mech; the sort of behaviour that crashes you into parked cars with alarming frequency. however, that mojo has now been replaced by dint of the shadow kit. to watch heavy rain simply pour off the front of the jersey and the shorts is a marvel to behold, made all the more dramatic by the fabric's deep black cover.

rapha pro team shadow kit

many of my initial forays into the hebridean hinterland, clad in shadow from neck to knee were, of necessity, carried out under cover. both the pro-team softshell and rapha's hardshell were pressed into service, for let's not be shy; it's far too ruddy cold to be riding around in a short sleeve jersey, albeit with armwarmers, in the freezing rain. the bibshorts were paired with a pair of rapha's thermal legwarmers and it is probably the shorts that fare less well out of the two when confronted with persistent, driving precipitation. while the jersey features a liberal peppering of internally sealed seams, that's a less than practical concept when it comes to shorts.

so i cannot but admit that there was some water infiltration around the nether regions, most likely through the sewing that keeps the pad in place. this was, however, considerably less than was the case in a pair of rapha's regular thermal bibshorts (i did a thoroughly unscientific comparison) and even after an hour in the rain, the exterior of the shorts was mostly dry to the touch. no mean feat in itself.

rapha pro team shadow kit

the jacket, however, was something of a marvel to behold. i should state that, when ridden under cover of the pro-team softshell for a few hours, even when the latter eventually soaked through, the jersey remained completely dry. when i did pluck up the courage to ride for about twenty-five minutes, al fresco (with no outer jacket), the water just rolled off. on return, the underlying baselayer was totally dry.

even though those 25 minutes were highly impressive, i'd be particularly keen to ride for much longer in driving rain to find out just how good the shadow jersey might be. but no matter how badass i become, how much character i build, nor how often i use the #braverthantheelements hashtags i use on twitter, it's still too flipping cold to ride without a waterproof or thermal jacket. impressive windproofing, however.

rapha pro team shadow kit

though the fabric is apparently not equitable to dye-sublimation, it has already been put to good use during last season by both team sky and team wiggins. admittedly, they don't have to pay for theirs and there is little doubt that a combined price of £480 is a lot more than some 'ordinary' folks would think of spending on a bicycle, let alone jersey and shorts. the cutting edge in any walk of life is always going to be more expensive for the early adopters; new technology rarely comes cheap. however, as i have often been at pains to point out, if this is what you want, that's what it costs; moanng about it won't bring the price down.

and as far as i can see, it does precisely what it said on the attractive black box in which my shadow jersey and shorts arrived.

rapha's shadow pro-team jersey is available in sizes from xs to xxl at a cost of £220. the shadow bibshorts are also available in xs to xxl at a price of £260.

rapha pro-team shadow clothing

tuesday 19 january 2016

twmp ..........................................................................................................................................................................................................