British brand Le Col has launched its 2014 winter range of innovative cycling clothing designed for both performance and comfort through the harsh winter months, whist still maintaining style. The British clothing and accessory company was formed by professional and elite cyclist, Yanto Barker, with the aim of bringing Italian made style to the British climates.
Le Col has been growing in popularity and reputation since it was founded, finding its way in to the hearts of more and more cyclists and their clubs. Most recently, Yanto Barker has also featured in the news as the Team Captain of the newly formed ‘One Pro Cycling Team’ established by professional cricketer, Matt Prior.
I was able to get hold of the 2014 Winter Sport Jacket in order to put it through its paces together with a pair of the Le Col Leg Warmers. Perfect timing as temperatures have plummeted here in the UK over the past four weeks.
Construction & Fit
As I’m relatively svelte, I tested the jacket in a size small. Although I was slightly worried as saw it on hanger, it fitted perfectly and was in line with the size guide on Le Col’s website, which identified 38″ and 65kg as a ‘S’. All sizes are catered for ranging from XS all the way through to XXXL. Once on the torso, the fit hugged the contours placing each weather designed panel exactly where is was supposed to be.
The front of the jacket has a wind stopping (yet breathable) water-resistant panel together with full thermal protection. The construction is impressive as the jacket remains extremely lightweight without any uncomfortable seams or stitching protruding in crucial moving areas. I’ve found it extremely comfortable even when only accompanied by a single base layer underneath.
To the rear there are three vertical pockets to house larger items and/or water bottles. There are no issues with functionality of the pockets which remained comfortable even when full. On furthest right-hand pocket there is an additional (smaller) zip pocket to secure items such as keys, coins etc. I also really welcomed the reflective strip in the lower centre, which is well positioned to remain visible even when you are in a TT or tucked position.
The overall comfort of the jacket is exceptional due mainly to the quality of the fabric and components used. It’s really the finer details that set this jacket apart. The collar area is ultra soft (yet tough) with a high neck line providing protection from the elements. It’s the quality of the zip which really seals the deal in the top area as it’s strong yet small enough to stay unnoticeable even when fastened up to the chin.
I’ve ridden with the jacket on many medium length training rides but also jumped at the opportunity when one of my club mates agreed (it didn’t much persuasion!) to wear the jacket for the full 61 miles of the Wiggle Wight Winter Sportive on 30 November 2014.
The front panel (pictured above) does a good job of withstanding wind and rain whilst remaining breathable. You can see from the fabric detail (above) that it is technical with breathability in mind. The fit keeps it snug to your body which also helps the jacket to remain in place and not ride up the back. I not only found it comfortable, but enjoyed wearing such a lightweight jacket that provided the warmth I needed without adding bulk or a requirement for excessive additional layers.
The jacket lives up to its Italian styling with the combination of colours also offering good winter visibility. This version is also available in blue & yellow in the same design.
The report (by Ben Heaney) back from the 61 mile sportive was that the jacket performed flawlessly throughout the (cold) event. It was a tough course but must have helped as he managed to cross the line as the third finisher overall! The jacket remained comfortable for a full 3hrs 10 minutes (or 03:09:59 I’m reminded) of constant winter riding plus a thorough washing afterwards. There were no freezing or overheating issues reported.
Both of us are agreed that the jacket is as comfortable as it gets when out in the cold, but that the comfort does come at the higher end of the price scale (although it is comparable with other such technical jackets).
In short, the Le Col leg warmers are simple yet effective. This test actually proved to be my first time using leg warmers as I’ve previously owned traditional tights and/or bib tights. What I really liked was the ability to continue training in my usual cycling shorts (or even my trisuit) with the simple addition of the warmers positioned underneath (from the thigh).
The elasticated gripper at the top of each leg is sufficient to keep the hem in place without causing any unwanted constriction of the thigh. This feature helped the leg warmers to remain both convenient and comfortable during both longer and shorter rides. I have to say I am now a convert to leg warmers simply for the consistency of my using my standard shorts and the convenience of having the option to remove and pack away if needed.
They also have a well positioned reflective area above the ankle and a the Le Col logo to one side. At £44.99 they are fairly competitive against other brands.
These two items from the Le Col 2014 winter range have really been put through their paces and come out with flying colours. I really like (as you can see from the pictures above) that with two items I’ve been able to transform my usual summer gear to an all year round compliment to continue training in the feel that I’m used to. I say ‘feel’ as I prefer, as far as possible, to wear the minimum of layers and not have any clothing flapping in the wind. The Le Col Winter Jacket is designed for exactly this purpose and performs without any complaint at all. It’s now my ‘go to’ jacket for the winter months.
The leg warmers have proved a revelation partly because of what they are but also due to the quality of these particular Le Col accessories. They are definitely designed for warmth and performance use.
Both items are undeniably at the premium end of the spectrum. Having said that, however, if it’s performance that you want then the extra cost will definitely serve you well as there’s no doubt that this winter range is built to last and will be with you for several winters to come.
The Le Col range is available in selected bike shops and you can also head over to the Le Col website to find the Sport Winter Jacket at £170.00