IT’S that time of year when the clocks go back, leaves turn various shades of golden brown and winter cycling clothing starts getting its annual airing.
A few months ago, Le Col – the company owned by British pro Yanto Barker – got in touch and asked if we would like to review any of their products.
Being the cheeky fellows that we are, naturally we asked for a very plush looking thermal jersey worth £150.
According to the spiel on Le Col’s website, the thermal jersey has been specifically designed for ‘all weather riding’ and offers the ‘optimum combination between warm thermal and aerodynamic speed’.
Obviously, Yanto knows a thing or two about riding in pretty dire weather here in the UK, so it stands to reason that his own clothing line – especially winter kit – would also be ideal for competitive club runs or early season racing and training.
Something we are always in favour of here at Spin is a no-nonsense approach and the Le Col range does just that. In fact, it pretty much embodies it.
Unlike some other manufacturers, Le Col haven’t mucked about with ‘creative’ marketing and given the jersey a daft-sounding name, trying harder than it should to stir up visions of far flung cols in some exotic location.
Nope, the thermal jersey is just called ‘thermal jersey. The name does the job – just like the jersey itself.
Fabric-wise, it’s waterproof, light-weight and wind-proof, as well as boasting a water-repellent finish that provides maximum breath-ability, great comfort and good thermal exchange.
Roughly translated, that means it can pretty much deal with all the bad weather conditions that can be thrown at it here in good ol’ Blighty. Well, minus biblical snowstorms, but that’s what indoor trainers are for.
Right about now, you’re thinking ‘this sounds a bit like a Gabba jersey’. You’d be right – well, sort of.
Le Col’s offering has similar features to the original ground-breaking Gabba – including what I affectionally like to refer to as the ‘bum flap’, which protects you bottom area from water spray – but with quite a few innovations of its own to make you consider buying it instead of the much-loved jersey from Castelli.
One of them is that the material they use in their own jersey is much thinner than the Gabba. Yes, this raised an eyebrow with us, too, but after a pretty full-gas ride to the cafe there was none of that post-coffee-freezing-cold feeling you sometimes get with other thermal jerseys.
In fact, Le Col’s offering aided with cooling down much quicker, dispersing heat effectively and effortlessly, so there wasn’t a great deal of that horrible ‘sweaty faced’ look you have after sprinting for a much-needed latte.
Another nice touch is the rear pockets. All three have drainage for when the weather turns wet and there is even some reflective rear trim on the aforementioned flap and central pocket for high visibility.
But what sets the Le Col apart from the likes of the Gabba is the depth of the central pocket. Nowadays, most people own smart phones. They haven’t got any smaller and, instead, have actually got bigger. So trying to find a suitable jersey that has decent enough sized rear pockets to store your ultra-expensive smart phone can be a bit difficult.
Thankfully, Le Col’s thermal jersey has space in abundance. My OnePlus One phone, which is roughly the size of the iPhone 6-Plus, fitted snug and had plenty of clearance from the pocket entrance to ensure it stayed put – even when I took an unfortunate tumble on some diesel while riding out in the back lanes of West Lancashire.
Yup, the thermal jersey is a tough cookie. Post-fall, I did expect it to be a bit scuffed up – especially considering the thinner material – but it survived completely unscathed and it’s resilience is definitely a bonus.
All-in-all, this is a quality thermal jersey that lives up to its name and will last for many winters to come. Yes, it costs a wee bit more than its main rival, but for that extra cash you get a top that will cope with the rigours of the darkest winter and be right at home during early-season races.
I’d expect nothing less from a company run by Yanto. He battles again the winter weather more than us mere mortals and its clear that he has put as much effort into designing this jersey as he does with his training. Oh, it’s bloody stylish as hell, too.
We’re going to be putting Le Col’s thermal jersey through its paces over the next few weeks, so don’t miss our full review coming soon. In the meantime, head over to Le Col and check out their range for yourself via lecol.net/