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London Cycle Show -
London, UK, October 11-14, 2007
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Part 5: Things to keep you warm and dry (or wear when it's warm and dry)
By Ben Atkins in London, England
Gore Bike Wear
Bucking the trend of most other clothing manufacturers, Gore Bike Wear highlighted its Spring/Summer '08 line at the London Cycle Show, which included a number of new additions to its high performance road and off-road ranges.
Gore's off-road Alp-X range now includes a short-sleeved jersey. Like Gore's other jerseys, the new top uses flatlock seams and a three-quarter length zip, but also silicone patches on the shoulders to both protect against the straps of your hydration pack and also to help keep it in place. Complementing the new jersey is a matching pair of novel baggy shorts. The new Pro shorts turn the performance baggies design on its head, with the stretch insert forming the inner leg in order to keep the shorts in place. In this sense, they are more like a Lycra short with a baggy outer than a baggy short with a form-fit inner.
Gore's Phantom Jacket adds to its range of convertible jackets. Outwardly it is a soft-shell jacket made from the company's superb Windstopper fabric, but the raglan sleeves zip completely off to leave a windproof vest with short t-shirt sleeves.
Gore has also updated its Power range of clothing, including the new Power jersey. The flatlock seams are supplemented by a full-length zip and reflective materials on the back and on the sleeves for low light visibility. The Power jersey is available with short sleeves, or as a sleeveless singlet for those who want to avoid a cyclist's tan, and the new Power range also includes shorts and knickers.
Sitting at the top of Gore's road range is the Xenon family of products, which had a number of products added this year, particularly for women. The new Race jacket is made from lightweight Gore-Tex Paclite fabric cut using 'Gore Comfort Mapping Technology' to give it a tight, but comfortable fit while cycling. The high collar is ergonomically shaped and has abrasion resistant material on the front, and the whole jacket is scattered with reflective logos and patterns. Like the rest of the Xenon range, the Race jacket is available in a variety of colours.
Gore's cold weather range was somewhat oddly hard to come by at this year's show, but one item we did manage to track down was its Concept jacket. The futuristic piece features inflatable panels that allow for variable (and lightweight) insulation.
Fun (one hesitates to use the word "novelty" due to their high performance) jersey maker Foska has once again added some original designs to its already extensive range. Old favourites like their Marmite "Hate Jams", Fuller's London Pride beer, and national flags are still very much in evidence, but there are also plenty of new ones to choose from.
Despite being a relatively young company, Foska is entering the retro market with its classically simple black "Retro" jersey featuring white - or pink for the ladies - stripes and Foska's name written in an old fashioned font. Foska will release the Retro jersey alongside the long-awaited "Test Dummy" jersey. Seemingly designed for the cyclist that falls off a lot, it is plain yellow and features an appropriate selection of circular symbols and chequered lines.
A new women's specific design has been produced, for the ever growing market of women who want to remain a bit "girlie" in what can be such a macho sport. The Fuchsia jersey is cut specifically for women, features a large single fuchsia flower on both the front and rear, and comes in either pink or pale blue
Based as it is in Livingston, Scotland, clothing specialist Endura should know a thing or two about riding in the cold and wet. New to its range of performance waterproofs this year is the Stealth Jacket - what Endura claims is "the world's first ever fully waterproof, breathable soft-shell cycling jacket".
Made entirely from Toray Entrant DT fabric, the Stealth eschews the use of stitching entirely in favor of ultrasonic welding to ensure as waterproof a joint as possible. To reinforce this - but more, Endura says, to help the jacket's structure - all seams are also externally taped.
The Stealth contains most of the usual features that one would expect on a quality cycling jacket, like a snug fitting collar and waterproof cuff zips, but there are some interesting innovations that Endura is particularly proud of. For instance, a lot of waterproofs have a "pit-zip" to allow the wearer to let in a bit of air when the temperature rises. Endura has decided that, since a lot of riders use backpacks - particularly off-roaders using hydration systems - they would split the zip in half so that it doesn't interfere with, or get obstructed by the shoulder straps.
To go alongside its new Stealth jacket, Endura has also introduced a new pair of Stealth bib tights. Like the jacket, the bib tights are made from Entrant DT fabric, with fully welded and taped seams, except that here the tapes are more flexible and stretchy. Inside the waterproof membrane is a layer of Fieldsensor microfleece to add insulation as well as additional protection against water. Innovative features include slightly wider than usual zipped ankles that can be worn over the top of your overshoe cuffs to prevent rainwater running down the outside of your tights, straight into your shoes.
In addition to the plethora of jackets, tights and other waterproof and insulating items, Endura is expanding its performance summer range, at the top of which sits the FS-260 jerseys and shorts. This new clothing - available in a variety of colours - is squarely aimed at the ever expanding market of riders who don't belong to a club - and don't want to wear replica kit - but who still want to colour coordinate their riding outfit. Both jersey and shorts are made form Fieldsensor fabric and the jersey includes stretch panels under the arms to maintain a close fit. A women's specific version of the shorts is also available.
Endura is also making considerable additions to its range of cycling specific base layers from both synthetic and natural fibres. The Transmission base layer is made from a polypropylene fibre designed to wick moisture away from the skin and has an anti-bacterial finish to keep the wearer fresher for longer. Like the FS-260 jersey it features shaped areas around the armpits to maintain a close fit when in the cycling position. Alternatively, the "BaaBaa" Merino wool undershirt has a similar fit to the Transmission base layer but adds wool's unique ability to retain heat even when wet, and both are available with either long or short sleeves.
Norfolk-based company Sealskinz feels that it offers a totally unique product to cyclists - and indeed all outdoor types: totally waterproof socks and gloves. Made with its own three-layer system, all products feature an inner lining that wicks away moisture and, where applicable, also provides insulation. The middle layer is made up of its own seamless, waterproof, breathable Porelle layer that keeps out the water but still allows sweat to escape. The outermost layer is there to keep things in shape and make sure the product is durable.
Sealskinz' Waterproof Socks range from thermal knee-high to lightweight ankle length socks, which are specifically aimed at cyclists and available in either black or white. The socks feature a Coolmax lining for effective moisture wicking and are supposed to be thin enough to be worn with road cycling shoes. A slightly thicker "Hi-Vis" version is also available, which features a fluorescent green/yellow strip around the cuff.
In addition to its socks, Sealskinz offers an array of waterproof gloves. Its most popular glove by far is the Ultra Grip, a knitted glove featuring merino wool and the same seamless membrane as the socks. The Ultra Grip is not a cycling specific product, but features dozens of rubberised "grip dots" on the palm and fingers, meaning you can still grip your bars on the wettest of days.
There are, however, three pairs of gloves designed specifically for cycling: two for mountain biking and one for road cycling. The Mountain Bike Glove has gel padding on the palms and is said to be light enough for three-season use. As well as being 100% waterproof and windproof, these gloves feature grippy patches on the tips of the thumbs and first two fingers for braking and shifting, as well as that all essential nose-wipe area. The Technical Mountain Bike gloves share all of these characteristics, but are made warmer with the addition of Primaloft insulation.
Sealskinz' Road Cycling gloves are similar in many ways to their off-road counterparts, but feature non-gel padding and grippier palms. They also have an extended neoprene cuff for greater protection from the elements, and a couple of reflective strips across the back for greater visibility on the road.
Finally, Sealskinz has produced a windproof skullcap that will fit under a cycle helmet on cold days, as well as a waterproof beanie for those wet days of the bike.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Ben Atkins/Cyclingnews.com