Velotec cycling clothing had its moment of fame when the brand was commissioned to provide kit for riders on the 'Tour de Celeb'. Founded by an ex-pro cyclist and offering kit made from quality Italian fabrics, they're much more than a one hit wonder.
Founder and former International cyclist Padraic Quinn launched Velotec in 2005. The brand's primary concern is creating high end custom kit for cycling clubs and teams - with some super aero creations and track and triathlon ranges created to suit racers for whom every second counts. Minimum order quantity stands at 10 per item, and all kit is made in Veneto, Italy with a five to seven week wait. Eager to offer some off-the-peg options, last year Velotec added a retail collection to their clothing roster.
Within the retail range, you'll find the ladies Elite Long Sleeved Jersey, Elite Bib Tights and Elite Gilet. Constructed from a fairly lightweight material, but with plenty of windproofing, it struck us that these are just perfect for the shoulder seasons between peak and off-peak cycling months: the fast approaching spring and far-off autumn.
We'll be putting this kit through its paces for the next few months - but here's a first look at what's on offer...
Velotec Ladies Elite LS Jersey
€69 (about ~£58) - XS to XL
Seasoned cyclists will know all about that awkward period after winter has ended, and before summer starts. It's notoriously difficult to dress for - and no rider wardrobe is complete without a jersey that solves the problem. This fairly light jersey from Velotec offers just that solution.
This jersey/jacket hybrid has been constructed from 100 per cent 'Touchdry fabric' - it's been given a hydrophillic treatment which is said to speed up the transfer of fluid and moisture - helping to keep your temperature just right when you start to warm up.
The inside is brushed and fleece-like, giving a luxurious and cosy feel. Despite this snugglyness, the overall impression is one of lightweight ease: though you could dress this jersey up with a heavyweight underlayer in winter, when I wore it on brighter days with a light vest I wasn't in danger of overheating - a promising hint of versatility.
A full zip allows further temperature regulation, with a noticeably high collar allowing you to close out the cold on a windy day - though I'm not convinced I'd run the zip to the top myself. Three rear pockets are provided as expected as well as elastication at the hem to keep it all in place.
The fit was impressive, and stretchy panels along the sides made for a close-to skin feel. Velotec have kept things notably 'Italian' - being a UK size 8-10 I went for a Medium. This left enough room for me to fit a warm base layer and an extra jersey underneath if I wanted, whilst I could shed these on warmer days. That means the fit is certainly not aero, but just right for relaxed rides - whilst perhaps a Small might offer a more race-ready fit.
At under £60 for a versatile jersey that's warm enough for mild winter days, breathable enough for sunny spring weather, with a technical fabric and great fit, this certainly represents a good deal.
Velotec Ladies Elite Gilet
€69 (about ~£58) - XS to L
If you don't already have a favourite gilet, it's time to get one. These handy lightweight vests can be rolled into a pocket when it's warm, but make the ideal barrier against cold winds that are common in spring and autumn.
This Velotec creation beautifully accompanies the matching jersey and bibs, yet is subtle enough that you could combine it with most other basic prints throughout the rest of your kit draw.
Designed to provide a little water protection, it will keep the worst off - but will by no means keep you dry. What it will do is block out windchill, and I had the chance to put this to the test at the eternally blustery Herne Hill Velodrome - t0 great effect. An 'eVent membrane' provides breathability, and I never found myself overheating when pairing this layer with the jersey.
The gilet uses 'Aero Shell Superlight' fabric - and though I can confirm it is superlight and rolls well into a pocket, I found the fit not entirely aero. I did have quite a bit of extra fabric to play with at the stomach, rear and shoulders - however the spare breathing room was uniform (eg it wasn't pulling over my chest) and the shoulder rumples were eradicated when in the riding position. All this leads me to the conclusion that a size Small might create a more streamlined fit. For relaxed weekend rides, when comfort is paramount and performance secondary, the extra fabric wasn't so noticeable that it flapped around at all. In a way, a comfy layer of air between layers (when not racing) can be more appealing than the shrink-wrapped look of an aero fit, anyway.
The collar of the gilet - like the jersey - has 'Velotec' printed on the inside. Not something that you'd get to see very much, but a nice detail none the less.
Velotec Ladies Elite Bib Tights
€85 (about ~£72) – XS to L
Blue tights? Really? Hell yes! With cycling tights almost always available in a sedentary black only, I enjoyed pulling these on for a little variety.
The primary fabric is a 'Superroubaix Endurance' material, which is fleece lined and when paired with a heavy duty jacket would do the job through winter. Now that temperatures are climbing a little, I tested them at temperatures of around 10 degrees and found I wasn't overheating.
At the outer thighs, extra durability is provided with a stretch panel that keeps those key muscles warm and ready to work. This did create a light sheen which could give the impression of being a tiny bit opaque at first glance, but closer inspection reveals this is purely down to the shine of the material.
The bib upper is a white mesh construction, with a low scooped back (some bibs offer a full back), which allows for extra breathability, though you could pair in a warm base layer on a cold day. The straps fitted me perfectly, and offer plenty of stretch for a taller rider (I'm 5ft5).
The chamois is an HP Fiandre X-Tract, women's specific design, created to cope with up to five hours of riding. I tested up to three, and didn't feel any discomfort - whilst the pad was thin enough that I wasn't aware of it whilst walking around at coffee stops.
There are reflective details at the ankles, though these would be largely eclipsed by most overshoes, and something running up to the knee wouldn't be a bad idea.
Again, I opted for a Medium, and the highly stretchy material easily snapped to my skin to fit. The high stretch content means a Small might suffice, making the maximum of Large perhaps more inclusive.
Velotec are offering some pretty pro-looking kit, that fits nicely and comes with all the technical details you'd expect, at a pretty accessible price point.
The polka-dot pattern is really appealing, and subtle details such as the logo on the inside of the collar and reinforced quad material on the bibs make for confidence inspiring kit that looks great and feels spot on for spring.
In a size Medium, I found I had a comfortable amount of breathing room, which perhaps makes the upper limit of Large on two of the three items more inclusive. However, bigger riders might hope to see a wider range of sizes available in the future.
Interested? Check out the range here.