Just entering its second year HOY Vulpine has expanded. The kit we know and love now consists of two ranges - the sportive collection with a more forgiving fit for those after relaxed adventures and the Senko selection that’s cut closer for added aerodynamics.
The collaboration between British track cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy and clothing experts Vulpine launched last year and has always impressed us with its equal offering for both men and women and impeccable quality.
We caught up with Vulpine founder Nick Hussey and Sir Chris Hoy to find out what’s new and of note.
"We want to create all kinds of cycling gear for every type of ride and rider" - Sir Chris Hoy
HOY Vulpine set about from the beginning to make cycling kit that was accessible, but worked hard for its riders. Describing their goals, Sir Chris says: “Our kit is for any rider. That's our outlook on cycling. No snobbery, however you like to ride. We make high quality, very detailed kit, so the price isn't low - but it offers huge value. We want to create all kinds of cycling gear for every type of ride and rider, as long as quality, style, performance and comfort are to the fore."
The new Senko range, like most of Sir Chris’ creations - gets its name from a nod to his career on the bike. ‘Senko’ is the Japanese term for a daring attack during a Keirin race – the event where our rider-turned-designer scored two of his six Olympic Gold medals.
Continuing with Vulpine’s gender parity, they’ve upped their game this season – with an added garment just for the girls – the Senko vest (£85). This isn’t on offer for men because, as Hussey puts it: “most male cyclists wouldn’t pull it off." We like his style.
The range includes the vest in white and purple, as well as short sleeved jerseys (£99) in purple, white, and blue plus plain black bibs and an option with purple splashes (£125).
We can’t help but notice the stand out hue matches Vulpine marketing guru Jools Walker’s new ride perfectly. Asked if Walker played a guiding role in the colour choice, Hussey laughs and says: “We all discuss it, including Chris and I. Jools has input too, as do all the men and women in the company. And yes, Jools is definitely a fan of purple!"
Discussing the brighter option only on offer for women, Hussey adds: “Women buy differently from men, we've found, and indeed the clothing industry confirms. Women wear colour with a lot more confidence compared to men, who are quite nervous or conservative."
"Women wear colour with a lot more confidence compared to men, who are quite nervous or conservative"
Hinting at what’s to come, Sir Chris added: “We're creating more women's specific products and ranges all the time now, and you'll see that in the coming seasons."
The Senko jersey in navy is our track champion’s favourite – he told us: “I love the way it looks and it’s the first performance road jersey we’ve made. It has the understated HOY Vulpine style but leaning much more towards performance and aerodynamics. I’m delighted with the way it’s turned out, from both a style and a performance point of view."
“It’s all about fit. Not having lots of little flowers on everything!"
Discussing how the brand went about making sure the jerseys hit all the right buttons for the women’s market he added: “It’s all about fit. Not having lots of little flowers on everything! Joking apart, [we used measurements for women’s] breasts, waist, hips, back length, shoulder width, neck size....Everything. Then you have to take a flattering mid point where the stretch works for as wide a range of body shapes as you can, without compromising."
On the sportive side, there are the same three colour options in the looser fit jersey (£75), and the bibs (£89) still feature a pro level Cytech pad. We wanted to know which range was expected to attract the most female sales – and the pair aren’t sure, or aren’t giving anything away. Sir Chris told us: “Its entirely up to the public! We can never quite tell what you will prefer. That makes the process exciting - and a bit daunting at first."
"We sell a higher proportion of women's gear than other brands, we hear, I guess because of the time we spend trying to get it right"
There's one thing they do know, however – and that’s that they’re certainly attracting a female crowd – Hussey said: “We sell a higher proportion of women's gear than other brands, we hear, I guess because of the time we spend trying to get it right, and the accessible brand that we wanted to create."
Both the Senko and Sportive bibs feature a full bodice style top, with sweat wicking material over the body and printed care instructions to avoid chafing as well as a high end pro-level Cytech pad. The slightly more expensive Senko bibs also benefit from soft laser cut straps as well as super wide leg grippers to prevent ‘muffin leg’ and extra quick drying and ventilation technology on the chamois.
Getting the finer points of the shorts just right took a lot of careful market research and questioning – Hussey tells us: “We talked to a lot of women about what they wanted. No preconceptions. With regard to the bodice top most women felt exposed by bibs that went between or around the breasts. We therefore wanted a lightweight, breathable bodice that gave comfort and security."
Getting that fit just right isn’t exactly an easy feat – a brief look at the myriad bra sizes available on the market tells us some of us have little rib cages and little boobs, others large rib cages and small boobs, whilst some have tiny ribs and large boobs – that’s before we’ve even started looking at hip and thigh width. So how did HOY Vulpine go about getting this right? “We use a range of fit models, with different torso and breast sizes. We spent an awful lot of time and money on fittings! Then we use high stretch Coolmax to accept varying shapes and keep you cool," explains Hussey.
Moving on to the bottom half, he says: “The leg grippers are wide and soft, but still have the right amount of grip, to prevent muffin top. And of course we use women's specific CyTech pads. Women clearly have different pelvic physiology, and it would be crazy to use unisex pads."
The pad for Sir Chris was of upmost importance – straight and to the point in that Hoy style we know and love, he adds: “Not enough is talked about with regards women's pads, because a bad pad is a bad set of shorts, is a bad ride - full stop."
Along with the key items – shorts, jerseys, bibs – HOY Vulpine also have caps, socks, and some new Sportive mitts that they seem… well… disproportionately happy about. This said, over a long ride, good gloves make all the difference and the duo believe they’ve cracked it with their £39 pair.
Hussey says: “Well Chris and I have spent decades wearing them [mitts], and you know a bad pair, because on a 100 mile ride you will be chewing the bars if they're rubbish! Either too light, uncomfortable seams, too heavy padding so you can't grip. We wanted to fix it."
Hoy reckons these mitts are something else though, saying: “We obsessed over them. We think we've nailed them, but let's see."
The brand offering has grown every season – as Vulpine’s founder confirms, that can only be a good sign: “Growth of range is pretty simple way for a customer to see if a brand is doing well or not, because its a big investment!"
We're looking forward to testing out the kit - and you can take a look and browse the range too, here.