For a large part of the UK, we appear to be having an Indian summer. October's come around with an ever so slight chill, and yet the bike brands are getting their Winter collections out in time for the cold snap.
Performance clothing technology has come a long way over the years, especially when it comes to cold weather riding. Rather than layering up every jersey, glove and pair of socks you own, brands are ever developing more capable blends of fabric.
Each year there will be a number of cyclists who pop the bike away for hibernation, and turn to alternative forms of training. Nowadays, it's easier than ever to keep pedalling throughout the Winter months if you have your bike, and your body ready for it.
I've been out road testing the new thermal and weather-proof garments from Stolen Goat. With their somewhat retro design, I was all too excited to climb onto my bike and pedal it out.
Stolen Goat Thermal Long-Sleeve Jersey
Founded by Tim Bland in 2012, Stolen Goat aims to cater for all cycling lovers with a variety of clothing and accessories. Their new Autumn/Winter collections include tights, bibs, jerseys and jackets. Everything you need to see you through to Spring.
When the long sleeved thermal jersey arrived at my house, I was drawn in by the retro 70's style design. Not that I'm a 70's girl, but I love the stripy blocks of colour. The jersey feels really soft in the hand, threaded and woven to form a high-quality fabric.
The fit is really nice as well. It's shapely enough to taper to the body, but allows enough room for a base-layer underneath. Although the cuffs are finished with a stiff elastic, and not something I particularly like the feel of, they do well to ensure wind and rain won't go shooting up your sleeve.
Underarm ventilation keeps the air flowing, and the large rear cargo pockets allow for maximum stashing of supplies. There's a smaller zipped stash on the side also, which I found to be perfect for keys and monies as it's lined with water resistant material.
The thermal properties of this garment lie within the thread used in construction which has a hollow core. Accompanied by the roubaix lining, this jersey is thermal compliant and ensures a warm breathable ride.
Sizes: X.Small - X.Large
Stolen Goat Orkaan Weatherproof Tights
Not only is it important to keep your core warm when exercising, but your muscles as well. Your legs are the engines of your freedom machine, so they need to be warm, supple and comfortable during cold weather.
These tights feel lovely, largely owing to the soft roubaix lining. They stretch and compress, but remain waterproof, wind-proof and breathable. Unlike many other waterproof items which are sprayed with a water repellent coat, these tights have this property built into the fabric. This means you can wash them a number of times and the effect won't lessen.
Rather than having the usual silicone cuffs to prevent slipping, these tights have foot straps to keep the tights in place. These laser cut straps are soft, without any harsh seams to irritate the skin.
The high density chamois pad is both anti-bacterial and fast drying. Its designed specifically to withstand long rides of anything over 2 hours, without compromising on comfort. Having been extensively tested by riders, Stolen Goat have ensured the size, fit and placement are spot on.
Sizes: X.Small - X.Large
I started off by having a tough time testing these pieces, for the pure reason that it's been too warm. In order to do an accurate test of the thermal jersey and tights, I've been clocking up some night-time miles, and heading out on those chilled mornings.
Starting with the jersey: It is really soft and lovely against the skin, and the fit is very pleasing as it allowed me to wear a base-layer underneath. I found my core to be warm - once I got the blood pumping - and the breathability allowed me to regulate my body temperature, so I didn't over-heat.
When standing straight, I had additional length left on the sleeves. When adopting the ride position, I found there to be enough sleeve to cover my arms, without the cuffs suddenly stopping halfway up. Although the elastic sleeve cuffs did a great job of remaining tight, they did often slip away from my gloves. I think this is where silicone tabs should have been kept as a feature.
As for the tights: The fit of these were great. They provide enough coverage and the waist band didn't dig in or feel uncomfortable at any time. They did a great job at preventing the chill from penetrating my legs also.
I wasn't the biggest fan of the foot-straps though. This is probably more down to personal preference, but I found the tugging on the down-stroke a little annoying after a while. Although the straps are soft and comfortable on the foot, they slipped both against skin and against my socks. There were a couple of moments when I thought they would ride up off my heel.
Design wise, I'm not sure if there's a purpose for the heather grey panels at the front of the tights. Without a purpose, they unnecessarily create seams just above the knee, and the top of the thigh which adds extra tension to the fabric.
Despite this, they are comfortable to ride in. The high-density chamois pad kept my sit bones cushioned and protected for the duration of each ride.
While Stolen Goat fulfilled their thermal duty of keeping me warm, I feel there are some small functional niggles which could be improved upon. I think the long-sleeve jersey is a new favourite of mine for its performance on the bike, but also the retro vibe style that I particularly like. After multiple machine washes, the colours and shape of these garments haven't been affected either - yay!
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