Road Cycling Clothing

First impressions: Howies women’s cycle kit

Based in West Wales, Howies are a small company with a big focus on quality active clothing produced in a sustainable way. Founded in 1995, they’ve long been associated with sports such as surfing and mountain biking.

Feeling like they were loosing their roots, in 2012 the company was bought back from the large multinational that it had been sold to. The management team refocused their attention on developing a small, well thought-out range of kit that reflected the ethos of the brand.

Howies are advocates of venturing into the great outdoors, and produce gear to get you out there and keep you going. Their active range focuses on running, cycling and generally being outside, and they even run events like the annual Dyfi MTB Enduro.

As well as technical kit they produce everyday clothes with special features, which make being active every day a little bit easier – great news for those of us who commute by bike.

They are also known for their hand printed organic cotton t-shirts with ever-changing designs, and eye catching slogans.

A lot of their business is done online, so features like their sizing guide are particularly helpful, as is the fact their sizing seems to come up fairly true.

Their female-specific kit includes shorts, trousers, base layers, jackets and a small but increasing selection of road cycling kit. We’ve chosen a few items to have closer look at;

Check out our full gallery of images, showing all the details and features of the Howies range, at the bottom of the page.

Howies Breakaway Bibshort, £59

The Howies Breakaway Bibshorts – we can’t wait to put these through their paces!

The first item of women’s specific road cycling kit Howies have produced are these innovative seamless bib shorts.

Out of the box they looked very short in the leg, but this all changed once they were tried on. Howies have used a special knitting machine that can output tubes of material, so although not entirely seamless, there’s only one running down the inner thigh. They say the fabric provides a second skin fit, and on first encounter this seems true.

The fabric is a matt black polyamide/elastane mix, with subtle branding on the thigh in blue. The leg cuff has no silicone grip, so we will have to see how this does in the test.

A women’s specific chamois manufactured in Italy with two-layer construction has thicker shock-absorbant foam for the ‘high-impact’ areas. It also has an antimicrobial finish to help keep things fresh. On first inspection, the chamois is quite petite, shorter in the nose than the majority of pads on the market, so bunching and numbness should hopefully be a thing of the past.

The bib straps themselves sit either side of the boobs, and the back of the bib comes up high with an integrated panel of breathable material.

We have since tested the Breakaway bib shorts, click here to read the review.

Howies Crosstown Chino, £69

Stretch fabric and extra reflexives – a great commuting combo

This is one for the commuter, or for anyone who likes generally getting around by bike.

A relaxed cut, these are a flattering on a curvy female form. The 30” waist came up true to size, fitting a UK12 comfortably. The cotton chino material has a stretch to it, which should allow plenty of movement while in the saddle – we’ll see how it does in the review.

A higher waist at the back should reduce the chances of flashing the rear of your knickers at following traffic while leaning forward over the handlebars.

Howies certainly think about the extra details, and these trousers are available with a chevron printed in reflective material on the inside of either the right or left leg. This means when you roll up your trouser to cycle home, you have a bit of added visibility.

Howies Barrier Lite Jacket, £59

Howies Barrier Lite Jacket

In navy with a striking scarlet red lining, this jacket catches the eye. At first glimpse it looks warm and cosy, and Howies suggest that this jacket is ideal for wrapping up in after sport. We’re going to see how it does as a commuter jacket for those cooler evenings.

An initial try-on reveals an ample cut; the size 12 had room to spare around the torso and boobs. Sleeves are wrist length, but possibly a smidge short. The body is cut to a generous hip length, with a slightly longer back.

The slightly stretchy outer layer is windproof and water resistant, and the jacket has a man-made insulating layer and is finished with a red stretch-terry lining.

A fitted hood is edged with the same elasticated hem as the wrists and waist, which keeps it snug around the face, and its made from 91% recycled polyester so it does its bit for the environment too.

Howies Venture Shorts, £79

Women’s Venture Shorts with four-way stretch water repellant fabric

These look like well-designed shorts for mountain biking, with all the essential features taken care of.

The four way stretch fabric on these shorts feels incredible and looks top quality. Robust double stitching on the hems seems strong and durable, with contrast colour stich details in blue to complement the blue lining of the waist, pockets and vents. The fabric itself is water-repellent, which should keep splashes from muddy puddles at bay.

The cut manages to be feminine but still loose fitting around the thighs. Described as knee-length by Howies, on a 5”9 form they do indeed cover the knees, with plenty of room for kneepads if that’s your bag.

Two deep side pockets at the hip have a popper fastening, and one rear pocket zips shut, perfect for keeping keys or cash safe ready for the cake stop.

The waist is adjustable with Velcro tab to keep it snug, and a higher cut at the back should keep your rear end covered while leaning forward and pedalling.

The essential details are well thought out, with a seamless crotch panel to avoid chaffage and zipped vents on the front of the thighs for those hot summer days. Whenever they arrive.

Look out for our test reviews in the coming weeks.

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