most technology companies spend a substantial portion of their research and development budget on creating or discovering new technologies that will presumably aid their future prosperity. there's nothing particularly new in such a revelation, nor indeed, is it in any way an iniquitous process. however, we live in a world of catchup, where the profits of many a multi-national depends on their being able to keep pace with those edging slightly ahead in commercial terms. apparently one of the simplest ways of uncovering these closely guarded technological secrets is to undertake something referred to as reverse engineering, where the boffins at one company start with the end product and attempt to figure out how curious are its beginnings.
you only need to look at the persistent litigation in the world's courts between many of these multi-nationals to realise that some of this reverse engineering was subsequently perceived by the originator to infringe their patents, requiring some form of restriction on trading and likely substantial financial compensation. not that i am in any way qualified to even think about figuring out how anything is made in a manner that might serve my own purposes, but i'd think the trick would be to alter just enough to ensure one's tracks were well and truly covered.
disappointingly, what follows is not a manual on how to build your own colnago, or how to reconstruct a garmin gps unit from two yoghurt cartons, some sticky back plastic and a few velcro dots. what it is, however, is a review of a carbonaut breakaway jersey, but from completely the wrong end of the stick. perhaps i ought to qualify that statement so that we do not misunderstand each other. carbonaut are possibly the newest kid on the block seeking to "blend casual wear with the sleek lines of cycle apparel." based in bristol, the company has introduced "a range of items for men and women that have been inspired by the tailored fit and technical features of a cycling jersey."
in today's portion of the cycling world, i believe, and have said so before, that we must surely be the best provided for activity in the known world. everything from wind-tunnel tested skinsuits to merino wool neckwarmers and cardigans are available to the active cyclist, no matter which genre they feel it prudent to inhabit. chameleon-like, many of us alter our cycling personas to suit the circumstances; the sunday ride all but dictates sportwool and figure-hugging lycra, most often at this time of year, augmented by winter embrocation and breathable waterproof jackets. the day to day, however, is more likely to recommend appropriately cut jeans and more loosely cut jersey-wear. in both of the foregoing, the choice of appropriate apparel seems almost limitless.
one therefore has to exclaim "surely you must be kidding me?" when the founder of carbonaut, paul skuse states "We identified that there was a real lack of casual wear options available to cyclists once off the bike. For us, being a cyclist means so much more than just riding, racing and training and we wanted to encapsulate this in the casual wear market."
i rather doubt the veracity of mr skuse's statement. i do think it worth putting on record that anyone in today's world who cannot find the very item of cycle clothing that they need for either on or off the bike surely has to be unbelievably hard to please. i might be willing to look more favourably on such a statement if taking into account the fact that it's possible the item (or items) of desire may just inhabit a price range outwith the financial reach of the desiree, but still...
how reverse engineering fits into this is in the way that i reviewed the carbonaut macchiato breakaway jersey. the tautology of cycling would presuppose that any garment fitting the description ought surely to be seen to be cycling before standing still? due to circumstances outwith my control, i wore the jersey on a calmac ferry (the coffee cabin on the mv finlaggan) followed by a citylink coach headed towards glasgow's buchanan bus station. in fact, in order to appraise myself of its off the bike properties, i wore it down to the local co-op (walking) and into siempre bicycle cafe as elaborately described on monday's post.
despite my misgivings over the reasons behind its propagation, they did not impinge upon the versatility of the breakaway in daily use as a non-cycling garment. though the shoulders are perhaps a tad too square, giving the impression that i may have forgotten to remove the coathanger, or providing unfettered access to the bridge of the starship enterprise, they do have a certain style about them. the breakaway jersey is composed of a high percentage of cotton with a smidgeon of elastane to give it a bit of give and is easily machine washable.
according to the carbonaut website the macchiato coloured jersey "Boasts a unique shape that mirrors the lines of a long-sleeved racing jersey', something with which it would be hard to argue. the sleeves are of a perfectly adequate length, longer on the top of the cuffs than on the bottom. it features a commendably high neck with a quarter zip closure. though it's possible the original race jersey from which it as derived was owner of three rear pockets, the breakaway has no outward pretence as performance wear in that sense, so has only a small, zipped rear pocket on the lower right, large enough to hold onto a compact digital camera with ease.
if i'm allowed, however, to regale you with just one more misgiving, i'd like to point out the sizing factor. in the many years i have been reviewing cycle clothing, two factors have remained almost steadfast; bibtights and shorts are size small, baselayers, jerseys and jackets are medium. this remains true across virtually every cycle clothing provider you care to mention. why then, have carbonaut decided to eschew that which is all but writ in stone, and make one small step to the right?
the situation came to my attention when the media representation mailed to say they only had a size small in the colour i had requested. perusing the sizing guide on carbonaut.cc gave credence to the fact that size small was indeed the very fit that i required: everyone else's size medium. given that the company sells via its website, would it not have made more sense to have checked the market and followed suit in this department? in point of fact, the small size sent fitted particularly well in every respect both on and off the bicycle. i think it likely its natural habitat would be more likely accompanied by cappuccino and carrot cake, rather than energy bars and carbo drinks, but in truth this is no less than it professes.
in the flesh, it is far more impressive than the posed images featured on the website; comfortable and practical for this time of year, with just a soupcon of hinted performance at a determinedly amenable price. you wouldn't wear it on a sportive, but you'd probably spill latte on the sleeve if you did.
in truth, a rather fine first step into the quasi-cycling market for both 'real' and 'faux' cyclists alike.
the carbonaut breakaway long-sleeve jersey is available in macchiato or carbon grey in sizes ranging from xs to large, always bearing in mind that these are a step down from the jerseys you might order from a 'pure' cycle clothing company. the cost is £57.
wednesday 14th november 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................