i'm sure that you, like me, are perfectly familiar with the ideal of the so-called group-test, where publications of no particular hue or cry will grab a quantity of bicycles, chainsets, shorts, jerseys, whatever and subsequently compare them with each other, the intention being to produce a winner that the manufacturer of which can add such kudos to one of the ever increasing number of swing tags tacked onto the most infuriating part of the apparel. in preparation for this article, i did a modest amount of research to familairise myself with the criteria most often used in connection with group tests of this type, concerning myself principally with those relating to cycling apparel, since it is readily applicable to the item in question.
it seems not too disquieting that we, as individuals, apply as many different criteria to our choice of jersey, shorts, jackets etc., as there are manufacturers on the planet, but i'm willing to start the ball rolling by telling you mine (as if you're interested). for the sake of a dod of continuity, i shall place the humble cycle jersey at the heart of this discussion because, well just because: it needs to fit; it needs to fulfil the function for which it was designed, it preferably shouldn't upset my bank manager, but if it manages numbers one and two, that becomes of secondary importance (having spent several thousand on a bicycle, it seems churlish to skimp on the uniform). but almost as important as all the foregoing, it needs to be stylish; i know this is a subjective decision, but i figure there is only so much room to manouevre with this unless you ride for liquigas or astana.
this latter checkbox, i'm sad to stay, is probably the one that is very conspicuous by its absence when it comes to consolidating the constraints applied by these mythical (nudge, nudge, wink,wink) magazines of our acquaintance. which pretty much explains why the so-called editor's choice may well be the best value for money, yet is the sort of thing that you wouldn't likely be seen dead in, or maybe just on the cover of the comic.
semantics is described as the application of mathematics to language, but i cannot find any mathematical relation between the cost of a cycle jersey and the degree of style it imparts to the wearer. jerseys are oft times constructed from several inexplicable panels of hi-tech material, but i have yet to find the uci regulation that stipulates that each of these panels has to be of a different hue and lathered with undefined alpha numerics. it may be that a bright yellow and grey panelled top, a little baggy around the chest with pockets nigh on half way up the back is indeed spotted as the best value for money, but is that good enough reason to wear it?
so what has this all to do with a le col short sleeve jersey costing £100? quite a lot actually.
this jersey just plain fits, and fits exceedingly well in all the right departments, but considering where the inspiration came from, that is hardly surprising. the chief executive officer of le col cyclewear took third place in the blackpool edition of the premier calendar at the weekend.
having taken at least a year out of the manic world that is uk cycle racing, yanto barker resumed his racing career this year aboard a colnago eps, a bicycle we are both happy to be equally obsessive about - except he has one, and i don't. the reason for returning to the road was principally to publicise his new clothing line, the aforementioned le col, of which this jersey is the first manifestation. you may be feeling slightly concerned about the large white colnago logos that feature front, back and shoulders, particularly if you don't happen to ride one, but yanto sent this one, because i do. the jersey is also available with no bicycle preference at all. and black will not be the only colour.
the most arresting feature about the le col jersey, aside from that superb gold logo front and back, is the stitching between panels; two of my cycling companions remarked as much during sunday pedalling time. the fabric is regular jersey material, pretty much dictated by the need to print logos etc., while the build, as in the case of the eps, is carried out in italy. i know that professional cycle racers have little or no need for a fourth, zipped pocket at the rear, but i have need, and it's probably the only omission on which i feel it necessary to comment. a full length zip is always a welcome part of a summer weight jersey, with silicon gloop all the way round the hem to hold the jersey in place while on the bike. the rear pockets have been cleverly designed to minimise sprinter's droop; whatever you stuff in those pockets, the jersey won't drag on the rear tyre.
testing time was on a hot sunny day, though with the customary near gale-force wind, yet all was comfort and joy. and despite having a reputation as a designer scruff, the le col colnago jersey conferred that very degree of style that seems to be ignored in those perennial group tests with which i started the evening, many sentences above.
le col clothing will be more than just a jersey: there will be a long-sleeve for the nine months of the year when it isn't summer on islay (£129.99), shorts, tights, gilet, undervest as the weeks roll by, along with a more leisure oriented style including a 50 percent wool jersey with the le col logo embroidered on the breast (form an orderly queue). yanto is as obsessed with getting everything as right as it is possible to be, and on the evidence of this first item, he is doing as well off the bike as on.
le col clothing will be available in september of this year, both through retail outlets and from the le col website. at the moment i am very happy to be the only other cyclist to be this well dressed on a colnago.
posted on monday 6 july 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................