Cycling kit can be startlingly expensive. If you're not ready to dip into your overdraft for a lycra outfit made from less material than a tablecloth, Evans Cycles might have the answer.
[related_articles]FWE is the in-house brand for Evans Cycles and you'll find the logo printed on tools, accessories, and now cycling kit. The name goes right back to F.W Evans Cycles, the first store which opened its doors in 1921.
At a penny under £30 for the jersey and £35 for padded cycling bib shorts, Evans are entering the market at the budget end, but offering fashionable, understated style and 'high performance fabrics.'
I tested the kit over a few rides in the Surrey lanes, making sure I took the "Lunch Time Ride" (a tradition at Evans HQ) jersey for a quintessential Friday lunch time ride.
There's something very appealing about a proper siren red jersey
Firstly - it's proper, fire engine, postbox red. Now, we've nothing against the subtle pink and purple hues we're used to receiving here at TWC towers - but there's something very appealing about a proper siren red jersey. If it's not for you, there is also a black and mint green option.
For a jersey that comes in at £29.99 the level of attention to detail that has gone into the design is impressive. The sleeves feature a snug fitting trim, which prevents flappy arms, and is an added extra so often dropped as soon as value is included in a product description.
There's also a full zip, with ribbon detail along the neck and one of many rather smart looking FWE logos featured on the collar.
The pockets slope along the back of the jersey, with one concealed, zipped pocket for safekeeping of credit cards and keys.
My only reservation here was with the lack of elasticated hem along the top of the pockets. Most jerseys will use elastic to make fishing around for your half eaten cereal bar easy, but here the hem is solid, and doesn't offer a lot of give. Admittedly, for £29.99, that's hardly make or break.
The polyester and recycled polypropylene fabric used is quick drying and breathable - I wore the kit in humid pre-summer storm conditions and was kept perfectly cool.
The fit is designed to be relaxed, and it's definitely generously created with a leisure rider in mind as opposed to a second saving, aero-centric rider. I wore the XSmall, which fitted my 8-10 frame with plentiful breathing space, and sizing goes to XLarge, which will cater for a size 16-18.
The 'BK Bibs' are named after the Surrey Hills Strava Segment 'Barry Knows Best', not far from Evans' HQ. At £34.99, these feature mid-thigh legs which are held in place with lazer cut silicone leg grippers which feature reflective details.
The Polyamide and Elastane fabric did feel a little stiffer than the soft and stretchy treat you might get from pricey shorts, but they stayed in place and kept me pedaling happily over a ride.
The chamois is an Anti-Bacterial Coolmax affair, that's designed specifically for women and it kept me comfy in the saddle. The pad is fairly thick and was noticeable when wondering around at coffee stops, but no doubt that would be appreciated over a long ride.
There's a nice touch in the use of a Polyester mesh on the upper body, offering breathability over the standard 'Y' shape, with plenty of stretch at the straps.
A lack of pee-facility means you'll need get friendly with the foliage when it's time to take a comfort break, but that's the case with many much more expensive bibs, too.
I went for a Small, which again felt like the right fit, and sizing extends from XSmall to XLarge to fit a wide range of shoppers.
Overall, the jersey and shorts combo did what it set out to do - providing comfortable riding gear that didn't have every bell and whistle, but could certainly rival some of the more expensive mid-range gear on the market.
Sizes - XSmall (8-10) - XLarge (16-18).