i have little idea whether there are undercurrents within the world of cycle clothing; whether it becomes necessary to come down on one side of the fence or the other. i am referring to the employment of either technical fabrics, or the woolier end of the market. which you prefer depends very much on how you view your cycling, though obviously it's possible to have a wardrobe that contains a modicum of both: there will likely be very little assos on london's tweed ride, but i've seen remarkably little sportwool in the current tour series or nocturnes.
mavic, generally better known for their wheel products were the manufacturing and possibly designing source behind adidias cycle clothing when the latter were happy to be supplier to the late lamented t-mobile pro tour team. when the team disappeared from the peloton, adidas disappeared from the cycle world, so mavic's purple period (well, magenta actually) disappeared too. well, not really, because having gained valuable experience and expertise over the adidas years, mavic were loathe to lose this, and elected to continue under their own banner.
while no longer a much vaunted, but seemingly slow-burn launch, mavic clothing has started to infiltrate the retail pipeline, so it seemed a good idea to take some out for a ride. while the clothing is available at a variety of different price points, mavic sent me a jersey, bib shorts, gilet and socks from the altium infinity range which, if i understand correctly, sits right at the very top, something that the prices for each would tend to indicate.
the jersey is almost impossibly thin, with a lined collar, full length zip, three, large rear pockets and a further two smaller pockets on the side panels, which are ideal for a mobile phone, small camera, keys or half a peanut butter sandwich. the back features a fairly large mesh panel between the shoulder blades, and there are tiny laser cut holes under each arm, extending to front and back. unfortunately, there is not a zipped pocket, though the two side pockets almost make up for this omission. the ultra neat, almost hidden feature is the silicon printed m logo along the hem at the rear, designed to prevent the jersey riding up when on the bike; it works very effectively. the closed zip displays the mavic clothing logo full length, which is a nice touch, as is the little rubberised yellow mavic logo thoughtfully positioned at strategic locations. the infinity jersey is very much a summer weight item, designed to keep the rider as cool as possible: sadly islay wasn't quite that warm, and i'd to resort to arm warmers and the accompanying gilet.
the gilet is almost thinner than the toilet paper we have in our bathroom. it's semi-transparent, the word lightweight is almost too heavy a description and as maybe inferred from such a description, it packs away into a matchbox (well, not that i've tried, but it looks as if it could). again, there's a full-length zip that slopes off to the right, avoiding that nape of the neck problem, and a large, full-width zipped rear pocket, though the flimsiness of the fabric would mitigate against carrying a stilson and a track pump, though it should be fine for a mini pump, an inner tube, and an energy bar. the only problem i had with the gilet, and it's something that also occurred on the jersey, was undoing the zip. yes, it zips down from top to bottom, but the joining part (sorry to be so technical) is plastic, and often refused to undo; i had to take the gilet off over my head on one occasion. i have since discovered that pulling from the inside gave more success, but it's still harder than it ought to be on such fine garments.
the jewels in the crown, however, are the bib shorts; these have rather striking pinstriped panels on each leg, and the same silicon printed m logo inside the hem to prevent them riding up and have you emulating sean yates. the bib section is of string vest similarity, which didn't seem like a favourable solution until i tried them. the straps are of such an open weave that no pressure is placed upon the shoulders whatsoever, while the insert is undoubtedly the most technical my bum has ever had the good fortune to sit upon: three different densities of foam in six different thicknesses mean that it resembles the topography of hills on an ordnance survey map. luxury.
it almost seems a shame to leave those poor socks till last. made from a fabric that mavic call microlon, they are marked left and right, and feature open mesh sections on the top for sympathetic cooling of the feet. strangely, despite my having small ankles, and the socks being size large, they were quite difficult to get on and off, though in use they are indeed, the bees knees (or toes)
mavic's sizing is a wee bit of a mystery: everything arrived in large size, which i generally am not, but while the jersey was a bit on the big side for a slim chappie like myself, the gilet and the shorts were just dandy. yet i'm a small in shorts from almost every other manufacturer on the planet (though not the swiss). if you're buying, try the clothing for size first. the altium infinity jersey is available in xs all the way through to xxl at a cost of £140; the helium gilet can be had in the same sizes for £70, and the shorts in the same sizes for £170. visit your mavic dealer next weekend.
posted on saturday 13 june 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................