Sir Chris Hoy and Vulpine apparel collaborated this year with a shared aim: to provide stylish, comfortable performance cycling kit that riders would feel great in.
They also wanted to do it all at a price point that wouldn't make your average cyclist feel guilty until the next pay day - and with their winter range, I think they've hit all the targets pretty admirably.
The autumn/winter road range includes a softshell, roubaix jersey, waterproof jacket, and bib tights. It's a capsule wardrobe, consisting of the key essential items a rider needs to get through the colder months. In fact, if you were buying a HOY bike ready for your first winter of riding, you could pretty much snap up one of each item and find yourself basically ready to face the wind, rain and other wonders ahead. Add in the accessories and you've got a self-sufficient HOY branded rider.
As per previous HOY Vulpine line-ups, all designs are carbon copied across the genders, with the same colour schemes used alongside the obvious fit adjustments.
We tested the Roubaix jersey, in Cobalt Blue, and the Roubiax bib tights - the kind of outfit designed for long, ambling autumn rides, or perhaps faster paced outings in the middle of winter when extra warmth is almost always welcome.
HOY Vulpine Women's Long Sleeve Roubaix Jersey
First impressions mean a lot - and I fell immediately in love with the Cobalt Blue of this jersey. For starters, it matches the accents on my bike, and the bar tape, so quite frankly that's always going to get it off to a good start.
The fabric is comprised of 87 per cent polyester, and 13 per cent elastane - the elastane makes itself known in the easy stretch as the jersey goes on and snaps to form. The fit is nigh on perfect, and I get the feeling that's not a personal comment but one that would echo across a range of riders, based purely upon the high degree of stretch.
All washing instructions are printed on the inside, so there are no labels to chafe - though I did wonder if it might be wise to snap a photograph for future reference, as I'm not sure the white text will outlive the jersey. There's a silicone gripper just on the rear, holding the jersey down but ensuring that the front section is free to find its fit on the rider's hips.
There are three rear pockets, and one compartment in the middle that is secured with a horizontal zip. It's common practice to go for a vertical zipped pocket - I'm not really sure why as this often gives the rider an odd shape at the hip and leaves phones and the like susceptible to falling out upon un-zipping, so I appreciated this extra touch.
In terms of breathability - the jersey is quite warm, and best for slower rides when you're not planning to work up a sweat. I did wear it once for a bit of a power-hour with four repeats up a local five minute hill, and found myself rolling the sleeves up after round one. This said, I am quite a warm bod and I was setting out with the intention of getting hot and bothered. Worn over longer rides of 2-3 hours, and a couple of cyclocross night rides, I was kept perfectly insulated.
The sleeve length was just right for me, though a waterproof might have been a smarter option on the day I chose to take these pictures. This kit isn't really designed for the rain and the jersey did suck up some of the water - it's probably best paired with the matching waterproof on such occasions.
HOY Vulpine Women's Roubaix Tights
Once again, these were a hit the first time I tired them on. I tend to find full bodied bib tights are a fantastic idea, often poorly executed. It's pretty difficult for a brand to create a 'body' that fits every female form - I can appreciate that, we're a varied bunch. However, HOY Vulpine did a really good job for me. The zip needed an extra tug towards the top, and maybe provided more compression than intended - but that did mean it added nicely to the support my sports bra already gives me.
In terms of fit, my only gripe is that the zip finishes quite far above the belly button, which isn't that low for an item that needs to squeeze over your hips. This meant that I was a little nervous getting them on and off, lest the zip struggle over the widest part of my body, so a suggestion for future versions might be to offer a little extra room for getting in and out.
Once on, these felt like a well loved glove - there was no bagginess or restrictive tightness anywhere. The fabric mix is identical to the jersey (87/13%) and the label is once again printed on the inside in white lettering.
I wore these for an evening track session at Herne Hill (the women's one - 5-7 every Sunday, come along!), when the sun had long descended and it was pretty cold, and a long three hour excursion. They're best suited to cooler days, and will certainly provide the warmth you seek come mid-winter.
The stitched in pad comes from market leaders CyTech, and is a fairly thin but nicely padded foamey affair. It's quite wide, and lacking in the ornate patterns and grooves you see in some chamois pads.
I certainly found the pad did the job and I was comfortable on long and shorter rides. There are no ankle straps or zips, the brand instead opting for a simplistic finish, and these stopped bang on the ankle for me so wouldn't leave any gaps if worn sans overshoe.
The entire HOY Vulpine range is beautifully understated - and logos are usually kept to a minimum. However, the makers have decided to take a brief detour from the low-key design and add an unmissable logo on the right calf. And you know what? I kind of like it.
In the depths of winter, when you're pounding out the miles in the hope of a faster new you next year, it's a pretty encouraging symbol to see the emblem of an Olympic champion churning away with you.
A resounding 'good job guys' from TWC on this kit. Warm, stretchy, comfortable kit that will keep a rider happy on those long and ambling winter rides. Not the cheapest, but far from the most expensive and more than capable. My only criticism is that the zip on the bibs could be a little longer, to make them easier to get in and out of, but once in I'm more than happy to overlook this.
HOY Vulpine Women's Long Sleeve Roubaix Jersey: £79.99 (sizes XS - XL, size tested: small)
HOY Vulpine Women's Roubaix Tights: £109 (sizes XS - XL, size tested: small)