We spotted Primal's new Helix kit at Eurobike, and couldn't wait to give it a try.
Primal create a wide range of road and mountain bike clothing, as well as creating custom kit for clubs and teams. Their designs are bright, bold, and so varied that there probably is something for everybody. Granted - every rider probably won't like every item - but then where would be the fun in that?
Both garments use Helix pattern technology, which is designed to reduce air surface and resistance, and offer a tight, compressive fit without being restrictive.
Primal Sound Barrier Helix Jersey
You know a jersey is good when you zip it up, and feel yourself grow two inches in confidence - and that genuinely was how I felt when I put on the Sound Barrier from Helix.
The light fabric stretched to form, offering a close fit without cutting off air supply (always good). I was kept cool - even when pounding my way around the velodrome at Lee Valley, shooting out for an 80 minute blast around the lanes, and spinning over a longer two hour ride.
Primal have used an incredibly lightweight SLR Ion fabric, with mesh panels on the side to aid breathability and fit. It's constructed with tiny threads of silver ion, which offer fantastic wicking properties, and allow a four-way stretch which is snug without making you feel like you've been shrink-wrapped.
The silver threads also serve a dual purpose - in killing bacteria - making sure even in sweaty moments, you remain clean smelling.
On the shoulder and sleeves, there are 'Votex panels' - which sound a bit like they might aid time travel, but in fact are designed to create a turbulent airflow, and reduce drag. Since I didn't test the kit in a wind tunnel (we MUST get one in the office..) I can't comment on this, but they did offer comfortable compression and looked pretty swanky, creating a nice shiny end to a great fitting garment.
As you'd expect, there are three angled rear pockets, and a silicone gripper along the hem keeps the jersey in place.
Primal Sound Barrier Helix Bib Shorts
The matching bib shorts offer an equally compressive but comfortable fit - with 4-way stretch 'Vero' fabric made from 20 per cent Spandex and 80 per cent polyester. This is a durable material which is designed to be opaque - so there's no need to worry about showing off more than you bargained for after a few washes.
The fabric is designed to be breathable, even when working hard, and since I tested the kit in the warm atmosphere of the track as well as on a sunny September day, I feel qualified to confirm it did the job.
As per the jersey sleeves, compression fabric is used around the thigh cuffs to reduce drag and aid comfort. I was a little worried that coupled with the silicone leg gripper, I might experience a little 'muffin thigh' - but thankfully this was not the case - likely due to the wide nature of the fabric spreading out the pressure.
The body of the jersey follows a traditional shape, using a light and breathable mesh fabric. There are no clever features to aid comfort breaks - but that does mean the design is kept simple, and there are no zippers or clasps to irritate the skin (as well as no labels and flatlock stitching).
The pad used is a high end HX8 Carbon Italian Chamois which promises a stretch designed to fit the form of the body, and carbon fabric which helps protect against abrasion and promotes blood flow. Progressive reduction means the foam is thickest where it needs to be, and I definitely didn't suffer any discomfort during my rides - and would be more than happy recommending these for endurance rides over three hours.
The lightweight fabric used in the kit means it's designed with summer rides in mind. However, with a good pair of arm and leg warmers and a base layer, you could keep this kit going strong through September and much of October.
Women's Sound Barrier Helix Bib: £130 - Sizes XS - 2XL (Size tested: Small)
Women's Sound Barrier Helix Jersey: £80 - Sizes XS - 2XL (Size tested: Small)