With a number of our readers getting in touch, expressing their dismay at the lack of cycling gear that flatters, fits and doesn't resemble the colouring of a flamingo, we thought it time to up our game. Total Women's Cycling bring you more women's specific kit with technical features and sophisticated styling that will have you champing at the bit to buy.
Welcome then, Café du Cycliste, an 'alternative cycling wear brand' located in Nice, France. Launched in June 2011, the company was founded by André and Rémi - respectively an Ironman triathlete and former canoeing world champion.
From what we've seen of the women's range, the essence of Café du Cycliste is to produce luxurious, retro styled clothing with thoughtful feminine features. Distributed in the UK though online women's cycle clothing retailers VeloVixen, you can also find the range in store at Mosquito Bikes and the recently re-branded Kinoko Cycles (formerly Tokyo Fixed), London.
Admittedly, the women's range is lagging behind in terms of breadth of choice compared to the men's, but we'll let them off due to their current jersey range being so sophisticated while still packing a punch in the technical department.
Check out our full gallery of images, showing all the details and features of the Café du Cycliste range, at the bottom of the page.
Once out of the musette styled sleeve the retro-styled jersey came in, a lovely little touch, the first noticeable feature of the Henriette jersey was the soft, almost polo-shirt type fabric. It was hard to believe when we read the label, to find the jersey was made from 100% polyester, like the majority of cycling jerseys on the market.
Café du Cycliste worked with an Italian fabric maker to create a 'piqué' fabric, so although it's 100% polyester, it feels lightweight and breathable due to a slightly open weave.
Don't be fooled by the Henriette's classic, sophisticated design, as it's ram packed with high-end technical features.
The usual three rear pockets have additional helpful details; the central pocket has a stitched hole in for a headphones to fit through, and a zipped pocket on its outer edge for keys and loose change. The right hand rear pocket contains a sewn in elasticated strip to hold a pump. Both side pockets have angled tops to make removing its contents while riding a little easier. Reflective strips and the cheeky Café du Cycliste logo finish off the rear of the jersey.
In terms of fit, the small Henriette jersey sent through was comfortable on our UK size 10 model, a close, but not 'race' fit.
The off-white arm cuffs are not elasticated, so fit loosely around the arms, while the collar too is roomy and unrestrictive.
Other thoughtful details include a small opening on the stitching of the right shoulder to allow for your headphones and a the usual strip of silicone gripper along the rear hem to keep the jersey in place.
The Violette jersey includes all of the well thought through features of the Henriette, however this time, it's made from a polyester and merino wool mix with a classic look augmented by a full length zip.
A tighter weave of fabric means the size small Violette jersey sent through has a slightly snugger fit than the Henriette, however it isn't restrictive with the wool mix offering enough stretch. The gently elasticated arms offer more structure than the arm cuffs on the Henriette, so if you're looking for a more form fitting option, then this is it.
Described as a spring/summer jersey, it will be interesting to see how the wool mix fabric will perform in the warm conditions we've been experiencing over the past few weeks. Hopefully the wicking properties of the merino wool will step up!
Overall, it's a chic, sophisticated looking, technical jersey packed with features that we can't wait to start testing.
Straight out of the musette (bag), the first thing that strikes you about the Yolande women's jersey is the attention to detail. You really get the feel that the designers have thought through every element of this piece.
Handling the Yolande jersey, the merino Tecnowool fabric is soft to the touch and not itchy at all. Constructed from 72% polyester, 24% wool and 4% polyamide (nylon), you would think it had a much higher wool content. We tried it on without a base layer and it didn't agitate the skin at all. With a high content of manmade fabrics, it did make the jersey feel more durable and able to withstand many washes, but we will see how it fairs as we put it through its paces.
Starting at the top, the collar is ram packed with technical details. There is a button-up tab over the zip to keep the chill out, a reflective strip down the back of the neck and even a stitched hole on the shoulder with fabric tab to run headphones through if you cycle with music.
The shoulders have subtle quilted padding, adding both a retro feel to the styling and extra durability to the jersey. The full length zip (with one of those cam-lock zips that snaps into place - attention to detail or what!) has a mustard yellow suede flap on the inside, to help keep the breeze at bay. The same colour and material is used for some rather fetching elbow pads, a retro touch, that looks great contrasted against the grey jersey material.
Moving down the arms, the cuffs have integrated thumb loops. As this is a jersey aimed at most seasons apart from summer, it's an understandable feature, however I think they're quite a marmite detail. I'm in the camp that's not too keen on them, but because the loops are integrated in to the thinner fabric on the cuffs, they're easy to just push up your wrists and forget about.
The set up of the rear pockets is slightly different to the short sleeve jerseys. The central pocket has a meshed elasticated pump holder inside that runs the full length so you won't be worrying about your pump wavering around. In the right rear pocket the stitched headphone hole is perfectly situated to meet the matching hole at the shoulder. There's more reflective strips on the back and round the silicone gripper that holds the jersey in place runs the entire length of the hem, instead of just at the back.
On top of the three rear pockets, there's also a pocket on the chest - a detail we love, as we find it really difficult to source women's specific jerseys with this. This is a real classic piece, warm and comfortable - we may just have to wait a while for the weather to cool down before we get testing.
Look out for our test reviews in the coming weeks.