Cycling kit has a tendency to get a bit samey sometimes, doesn’t it? Same old bold colour with one stripe, standard black with three lines across the chest. Sometimes, however, kit lands on our desks at TWC towers that breaks with convention – and that’s certainly how we felt when we came across the jersey and shorts from Cianelo.
Cianelo is a small, Surrey based brand making its first steps in the market. It was created by British Cycling qualified coach, ex-mechanic and now women's clothing retailer Adam Moreve. Moreve and his wife own a women’s fashion business with two stores in Surrey, and with his past and qualifications, plus two children racing bikes, it seemed only logical to add some Dutch style bicycles to their stock. The progression later led to the creation of cycling clothing.
The aim was to create clothing that would fill the void Moreve felt was blatant in the women’s cycling clothing market – marrying fashion with comfort and technical fabrics. Then, he sent us the products to see if we thought he’d succeeded…
Cianelo Batik Cycling Jersey
It goes without saying that this jersey and shorts combo features a bold pattern. Available in black and white, blue and black, or pink and black, it won't be to everyone's taste. However, it certainly suited my sense of style and I loved the design straight away.
One of the key goals of the brand on creation was to ensure women felt feminine in the kit. The number one contribution to this is the use of two different Italian made fabrics - one across the body of the jersey which wicks sweat and provides breathability, and a different material running from armpit to waist, to allow for flexibility and a flattering fit.
There are plenty of jersey designs out there that use a four way stretch throughout to give a close to form fit - but in this case the looser material over the body is more forgiving for those who don't want to show every lump and bump, whilst the stretchier strips down the sides add a little shape.
The full zip is well concealed, and Cianelo have broken the standard three pocket rule with two wide, side entry pockets. These are much deeper than most, enabling a smart phone to fit in easily.
There are some lovely extra details - such as a 'v' cut cuff in a nod to style, which also reduces the risk of the sleeves cutting in, and an elasticated gripper along the rear of the jersey to keep it down, without allowing for uncomfortable chafing at the front.
When riding on a warm day, I found the material breathed well and I almost forgot about it completely - generally a good sign of a well constructed material doing its job.
My only criticism would be that in a size 8, the jersey still bagged quite a bit at the waist, suggesting it should really have fitted a little more snugly. However, this would be a plus if you were after a more relaxed fit.
Sizes: 8 - 16. See it here for £65.
Cianelo Batik Padded Cycling Shorts
I do love a good set of matching shorts to go with a cool jersey, and these from Cianelo certainly go a long way to adding that little extra 'zing' of style to every pedal stroke.
The leg grippers feature double lycra, and the wide band didn't cut in, whilst the women's shaped chamois provided plenty of comfort on long and short rides.
I'm mostly a fan of bib shorts, and rarely choose waist shorts over full bibs. Cinaelo have made an effort to eradicate the need for bibs and their pesky toilet complications with the use of a high waist and ever higher back to the shorts.
From a size 12 upwards (I tested a 10), they also feature a 'tummy tuck' panel to provide extra support and prevent discomfort.
On the plus side, these shorts didn't fall down or move around - something I've found with waist shorts in the past, rendering the pad completely useless. However, I did find that though the elasticated waistband was out of mind most of the time, during tough interval efforts where I was breathing hard it provided a notable restriction.
Admittedly, when working hard over a hill or drowning in sweat on the turbo trainer, it's easy to find problems with cycling kit that cause you to turn your attentions away from the burn in your legs. However, I have worn waist shorts with wide, yoga style waistbands and met no problems. Adam at Cianelo did promise me the sizing becomes more generous up the scale, and that the tummy panel in size 12 upwards could help eliminate the problem, but I can't offer personal experience here.
For those who simply don't want to deal with the complications of bibs, the high waist design could be perfect, but I would be cautious if you've found elasticated waists annoying in the past.
Aside from this, the shorts did a great job. The material is made from a pleasantly compressive 210gm polyamide which doesn't allow for any nasty transparency (despite white details) and breathes well, whilst the chamois is thick enough for short spins right through to all day adventures - without being nappy-esque.
Sizes: 8 - 16. See them here for £65.
I love the stand-out design of this kit, and both shorts and jersey performed as they should - wicking sweat, providing plenty of breathability and compression where necessary.
Sizing is something that's really difficult for smaller brands, who don't have access to reams of body measurements and sample sizes. On the whole, Cianelo have done an excellent job, my only quibble would be with the tight elasticated waistband, but those who are more open to waist shorts might not find this to be a problem.
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