‘THERE is no such thing as bad weather,’ an old pro in my club once advised me on what to wear when riding in grim condition before adding ‘only bad choice of clothing’.
His wise words echo through my mind whenever I am staring blankly at my kit box first thing in the morning, wondering what to throw on after consulting the same weather app umpteen times between quick peeks out of the window.
The fact that the same ex-national champ turns up to the café during the winter wearing yellow marigold gloves and with a Primark paper bag stuffed down the front of his jersey does little to dent his sage words on what to wear while on the bike. After all, it’s all about the right layers – even if they don’t cost the earth.
With this in mind – and seamlessly transitioning to our review – those lovely people at Le Col asked us to try out their spring/summer cycling gilet. Now, we’ve reviewed the thermal jersey from them before and it still remains once of the best foul weather tops that we’ve ever tried – even surpassing the infamous Gabba – mainly due to its fit and simple-yet-stylish design.
Former Team GB cyclist and pro Yanto Barker is the main man behind the brand and he rigorously tests everything himself before putting it into production. His personal input and critical eye on all aspects of their products and service really sets them apart.
It will come as no surprise then that much of the clothing is geared towards the varied weather conditions here in the UK. After all, Yanto spent most of his career racing in this country, so it stands to reason that his own clothing line would be cope with everything weather-wise in good ol’ Blighty.
The Spring/Summer gilet is no different. Made from 100 per cent Polyester, it features a full length zip, reflective tabs, mesh rear panel for breath-ability and that elegantly simple ‘Le Col’ logo on the back. Not bad for £80.
Le Col pitch the gilet as a ‘must have’ for longer rides with changeable conditions and we’d totally agree. Admittedly, it’s been difficult for me to test this out over the last two months, as the weather conditions always seem to be more on the ‘really grim’ side when I finally have a day off work to get out and ride the bike.
That said, it’s meant that I have been able to test what’s supposed to be a solely spring/summer garment out in winter/autumn conditions to see just how far you can push it. After all, an Englishman is made for all weathers, right?
Asides from the cool aesthetics, it’s a bloody brilliant bit of kit. Take it from someone who used it during the middle of a storm. Doubled up with Le Col’s thermal jersey, I didn’t even bother getting out my rain cape. The front of the gilet is wind and shower proof – with a waxy-type-layer on the front panels – resulting in the rain beading off nicely and making sure that you don’t get too much of a chill from the wind.
Maybe testing it out in stormy weather wasn’t the best idea, but I am happy to say that it stood up to some pretty extreme weather. Add into the mix that it scrunches up to the size of a small fist and you’ve got a pretty versatile bit of kit that can be your go-to item for most weather conditions.
Ideally, this is the sort of garment that you’d put on first thing in the morning when there’s a slight chill in the air or last thing of an evening on your way home. It’s also perfect if you get caught out in a slight downpour, but the fact that it scrunches up so small and compact adds to its appeal. Stuff it in your back jersey pocket and you barely notice that it is there – even if it’s in the same pocket as you smart phone or pump, etc.
Now for the all important bit – the fit. Like most amateur cyclists, I am not stick-thin (quite the latter, really) so finding a bit of kit that fits snug in all the right places is a bit of a nightmare.
One bit of clothing that I have previously had a particular hate relationship with is gilets. I once spent an obscene amount of my hard-earned cash on a gillet/jersey combo from that certain up-market named brand that sounds like ‘jaffa’.
Despite the cash, the gilet did not fit well. Sure the waistline was great, but material around the arms flapped round far too much and, quite frankly, did my head in. Not the case with Le Col’s offering. I am pleased to report that it fits perfectly in every way. Thanks to the mesh back panel, it stretches just that little bit extra if you just happen to be carrying an extra bit of timber since Christmas and Easter.
Around the armpit area, the fit is nice and snug with no excess material waving around in the wind, so you don’t have to worry about that cold wind getting and, well, it all makes you that bit more aero, doesn’t it?
It’s worth mentioning that Le Col also do a winter gilet, so we imagine that works much better with their respective thermal jersey. However, I’d highly recommend the spring/summer one for those days or nights when the weather can be a bit unpredictable. It probably won’t hold up to prolonged rain, but it will do the job of keeping you dry enough to get home or to the cafe – plus, it’s much more stylish looking than some marigolds and torn up paper bags.
For more information visit lecol.net