When it comes to summertime cycling, we make high demands of our performance apparel to work with us and not against us. For us Brits who aren't attune to hot temperatures, we seek highly breathable materials, soft unrestrictive hems and cooling colourways that don't leave us in a sticky boil-in-a-bag situation.
So when it comes to summer cycling and performance apparel, we look to the brands who know what they're doing. The brands that live and breathe summer throughout the year and execute stylish garments with excellence and sophistication. One such brand to tick all these boxes and more is Café du Cycliste.
Where better for a cycling brand to be born than in a cyclist's café. Mulling ideas over a mid-ride brew, Café du Cycliste was conceived in the rolling hills above France's Mediterranean coast. The brand has since set-up base in Nice, surrounded by some of the best roads for cycling on in the world.
This brand has one simple aim: the desire to produce high-quality, technically excellent cycling apparel with a twist of classic French style. So when Café du Cycliste's Micheline Jersey and Odile Bib Shorts turned up on my doorstep just in time for the changing of seasons, I was all too eager to monter sur mon vélo. Allez!
Café du Cycliste's Micheline jersey
The Micheline jersey from Café du Cycliste has to be one of the most stylish and understated jerseys I've had the pleasure of riding in. Straight out of the - luxurious - packaging, this jersey oozes excellence in every manner of the sense. It's incredibly light and soft to the touch, but what set this jersey out from the rest is the attention to detailing, varied pattern and fabric panelling and the crisp elegance dusty blue and white hue.
Firstly, let's take a look at the technical features. The Micheline jersey is constructed from ultra-lightweight Italian polyester which is brilliant for temperature control as the dual mesh combination maximises airflow. This provides superb moisture transfer to allow rapid evaporation as you sweat coupled with strategic ventilation to aid temperature regulation.
Contrasting white horizontal meshing makes up the sleeves and neckline, and the full-length zip runs flush down the length of the jersey. There are three cargo pockets in the rear for your ride essentials and a low-cut collar is in keeping with its warm weather riding intentions.
Riding in the jersey was a welcomed pleasure. The race-fit cut felt snug to my body but not enough that I felt restricted or suffocated on the warmer days. The low profile collar was an absolute blessing as personally, I really dislike collars brushing the front of my neck as I ride. The subtle pattern on the blue front and back panels is discrete, and yet, perfectly compliments the striped sleeves and neckline giving it a real touch of class.
The only area of the Micheline jersey to be somewhat irksome was the transparency of it. Café du Cycliste describe this garment as: "[The] jersey has a classic, non-transparent, mesh body", which it most certainly did not. As you can see in the photos, the blue panel body clearly shows the black piping of the Café du Cycliste's bib shorts beneath. A majority of bib shorts on the market are black with black straps, so if you were to couple this jersey with your own bibs and sports bra for that matter, you may struggle to find a seamless fit.
Café du Cycliste's Classic Odile bib shorts
Bib shorts are notoriously difficult to get right. They're a personal garment to comfort and support your personal bits, so it's important to find a pair that works for you. While there are helpful guides and tips to finding a great pair of shorts, it ultimately comes down to what you prefer.
The Odile bib shorts are constructed from a blend of polyamide and elastane. They have a mesh upper body, silicone grippers on the leg cuffs and most importantly, a quality chamois pad for hours of comfort in the saddle.
The four-way stretch fabric moves with your body as you ride, feeling unrestrictive and almost like a second-skin to the body. The cut of the shorts allows for the chamois pad to sit comfortably without bunching and certainly offered support and relief to the delicate areas.
The upper body mesh is breathable and thin, however the black piping around the outside contrast so much so that it's easily seen through the Micheline jersey.
At first, I wasn't sure If I liked the strap and breast clasp style of these bib shorts. I thought there could be too much coverage which isn't what I look for in summer cycling apparel. However, this additional coverage came as a blessing in disguise on the hottest of rides. Female cyclists can suffer from the "stripper effect" which is when you're cycling in the heat and you want to undo your jersey without flashing your boobs. So when riding in the Odile bib shorts, I felt comforted by the additional breast coverage and on the stickiest of climbs, removed my jersey altogether without feeling overly exposed.
As far as summer cycling kit goes, the new summer collection from Café du Cycliste is certainly the crème de la crème of performance excellence.
It's impossible not to feel like a pro athlete on a cycling adventure in this kit. The elegant cut, technical fabrics and subtle detailing exude luxury so when you're feeling good and looking good, you ride your best - or so I found.
But of course, excellence comes a price and Café du Cycliste sits firmly at the upper end of the pricing scale with their £150 bib shorts and £114 jersey, it's a lot to shell out for one kit alone. However, having ridden in, washed and re-worn this kit a number of times, by following the care instructions, you'll get many miles out of this ensemble.
For more information and to check out the rest of the summer collection from Café du Cycliste, head over to their website here.
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