i have never considered spain to be a cycling country. as a bald statement, that probably seems either a bit strange, or a target that will suffer big time from arrows of discontent aimed at it. taking into account the five years of demolition derby performed at the front of the tour de france by miguel indurain, the contribution to the sport made by pedro delgado, the now slightly doubtful pleasure of watching alessandro valverde and the awkward looking climbing position of fernando escartin, i think it likely that the opposite argument could be levelled without much hesitation or concern.
and surely the fact that one of only three grand tours in the whole world is held across the iberian peninsula has to count for something?
i suppose you'll now expect me to defend my position and in any number of wily ways, disambiguate my initial argument. well, no, not really. when it suits me, i can invoke the ambiguity of the term 'cycling'; in this case, it suits me just fine. that is not to say that my polemic is not wide of the mark; while i am responsible now for my own education, i cannot deny that there are gaping holes in its firmament. this could well be one of those holes. however, i will qualify my opening statement by pointing out that spain does not strike me as a country in which the bicycle is at, or near, the centre of its culture. i find it hard to mentally picture scores of spanish youth astride their fixies, cheerfully wending their way through the allegedly notorious vehicular traffic of either madrid or barcelona of a sunny summer's evening, with the express intent of enjoying friendly banter and endless cappuccinos around a kerbside table.
the latter colourful scenario is more likely associated with that of italy. indeed not so very long ago, i was sent a few photographs of single gear steel colnagos with flat bars and platform pedals leaning casually against a handily placed lamp post adjacent to one such trattoria. i have no difficulty in associating this form of cycling with that of italia. but, before any indignant spaniards feel need to vent their e-mail wrath in my direction, let me just say that i may just have had cause to have my opinion diverted in the direction of the contrary.
designed in barcelona, but subsequently constructed in neighbouring portugal, muxu clothing has a basque inspired name pronounced moo-shoe, a piece of information that will keep you one step ahead of those who ask for moox-oo. the affinities with cafe society and sitting en masse around small wooden tables may well have alerted you that muxu does not inhabit the bibshorts and lycra part of the retail therapy scenario. and you would be correct. sent in the welcome direction of washingmachinepost cottage were a pair of threequarter cotton shorts, a rather natty cotton short sleeved shirt, a pique polo shirt, a pair of short socks and a cap bearing a perforated centre stripe.
i have had cause to point out my total lack of sartorial excellence on more than one occasion in previous articles, but i fear you may have to be relatives of wurzel gummage for muxu clothing not to achieve more than the desired effect. both the shirts give their cycling heritage away by virtue of a compact and bijou side-zipped rear pocket, a receptacle that belies its size by storing more than expected. there's even an internal gap through which to thread that ipod headphone cable.
cafe society indeed.
worn in context but infiltrating areas generally out of context, the cyclist is subtly catered for in the most practical ways; the shirts have dropped tails and shorter fronts, while the shorts comply in reverse by sitting lower front and higher back. both style and practicality in three packages. unlike what may be termed competing products, the muxu shirts are baggy rather than race-fit; not so baggy that one has cause to question their aerodynamic influence, but a degree of casual that is often forgotten in the shadow of a steel frame. both shirts have been worn regularly on and off the bicycle and whatever street cred i may have acquired over the years may even have been enhanced. and it's worth mentioning at this stage that the colouring of all the clothing is impeccable, an area that often plays a distant second fiddle when casual comes to town.
if the shirts have impressive written all over them, that of the threequarter shorts would have a capital i if i used such typographic niceties. these almost felt like those moleskin style breeches that one has only heard of, but never placed a leg inside. when it comes to threequarter shorts, the bottom of the leg seems to provide a challenge for the majority of designers; some are more successfully implemented than others. the muxu shorts are amongst the best yet. fussy is obviously not a word derived from spanish, since these are commendably plain with four and a half pockets (there's a small pump type pocket inhabiting the outboard area on one of the larger front pockets), freedom at the knees, good length and a relaxed fit that complements that of the shirts. and the all-important comfort zone where comfort zones are most needed. if i'm hypercritical, i'd point the finger at the sizing: i generally reckon to inhabit a 30" waist, the size sent for review, but a size that proved to be a smidgeon on the large side. recent exertions may have slightly trimmed this honed, athletic profile, but i'm more inclined to lean on a slight oversizing. i'm not dissing muxu in this, simply mentioning that it may be worth trying before buying, if that's at all possible.
the cap continues this overall relaxed muxu demeanour by the employment of a softer than usual cotton, the absence of a plastic half-moon inside the peak, and a ventilated polyester strip from front to back to keep the cool, cool. the other end of the athlete keeps miles away from big tex territory; the socks are short. in fact shorter than short, a position that is regularly alien to me, and one that did take a bit of getting used to, though purely in aesthetic terms. merino plays its 60 percent part in these, while a panel at the rear has had a woven reflective strip incorporated that you would only know was there if you were in a following car at night. it's a style i'd need to get used to, but there are worse crosses to bear near the pedals.
i have no knowledge of muxu's prior history or period of gestation, but it's very comforting to note that every consideration taken has allowed for a very impressive debut, in a market that is rapidly becoming very well populated, if not just a touch crowded. differentiation midst the competition can be a hard act to follow; muxu do it very well. and yet another fine logo added to the cycling panoply.
muxu ride threequarter shorts sell for £70 in either camel or chocolate and from 30" to 36"; the muxu ride shirt sells in blue and stone, from small to xl also for £70; the muxu pique polo shirt reaches from small to xl in a colour described as chocolate by muxu but which i'd figure is closer to mulberry. it costs £60. the cap is black and costs £15 while those merino socks that are growing on me by the minute inhabit the same retail value at £15. this means the sartorially decisive amongst us could be kitted out in muxu top to toe, for as little as £160 with all the practicality of cycling cut and material. it simply remains to find that spanish phrase book.
many thanks to peter harrington at always riding for supplying the above selection of muxu clothing.
posted friday 11 june 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................