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Le Col HC shorts and Pro Air jersey review

20 Jun 2018
Verdict:

Le Col’s newest range offers an excellent racey yet comfortable outfit, troubled by some minor niggles

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£180 (bib shorts), £110 (jersey)
For 
A very comfortable, stylish and performance-orientated outfit
Against 
Some slight rough finishings, Bib short grippers slightly disappoint

Le Col’s has had a big shakeup of its line this year, off the back of over £1m funding from its floatation on Crowdcube and a partnership with Bradley Wiggins, and the Pro and HC range represent the very top tier of the brand’s work.

The Pro Air jersey, which is subcategory of the Pro range, is primarily geared toward riding in hot condition where weight is also a factor – so could well be a favourite for a hot day on the Marmotte.

Le Col’s HC Bib Shorts, are a the very top offering from the brand, sitting in the premium HC range, are intended to offer low weight, excellent heat dissipation and a racey fit.

Le Col’s focus on rider-orientates design, led by founder Yanto Barker’s personal testing with the kit – he is indeed a regular fixture of the cycling crowd in South West London – has always resulted in highly comfortable and well thought-out designs.

This kit feels comfortable from the outset, with pleasant soft fabrics and a carefully crafted cut. How it performs on the road is where it really matters though.

Pro Air jersey

The Pro Air Jersey was a pleasant surprise from the outset. I’m always skeptical of ultra-thin and mesh-lined kit for sacrificing material quality to gimmicks, but the Pro Air jersey is a lot sturdier than its thin appearance suggests.

The benefits of the mesh are immediately obvious on very warm rides, where it shed heat easily and remained light and never bulked with sweat. As a pale Englishman this has become increasingly important to me in warmer climes where I’m prone to overheating and occasional heat exhaustion.

With the string-vest like pattern within the fabric, the material seems to insulate enough too, as I wore it on mild days too and there was enough insulation that coupled with Le Col’s base layer it was comfortable down into the low teens in centigrade. 

The fit was very well suited to my body shape, and I found the jersey held itself against my hips well, and the arm grippers were just the right balance of grip and elasticity – meaning it doesn’t constrict the bicep.

Pockets are nicely sized for sportive loading, with ample space for several bars and arm warmers but never bordering on the cavernous or flapping freely.

My one complaint is some slightly rough finishings, around the bottom of the zip for instance. That may allow it to slightly fray here and there, and in the past the slight wearing-down of the kit has been one of my major complaints, though still not a serious issue.

Details here

HC Bib Shorts

Le Col’s HC Bib shorts very much retain the DNA of the brand’s shorts since it began in 2011. The simple black lycra material and oversized hem emblazoned with the Le Col logo has created an almost iconic look to the shorts.

Le Col have kept things simple, avoiding numerous panels and different materials, and importantly the chamois inert is just the right thickness to offer support but never bunch up. 

The shorts are comfortable and aid mobility and movement, and the seamless laser cut bib straps offer just the right amount of surface area to spread the pressure out but also avoid any extra warmth. 

That is also helped by the mesh material on the upper. Together it means that the shorts simply felt comfortable, and often almost went unnoticed.

Details here

The bib shorts are slightly let down by the grippers, though. While these are championed as a big strength by Le Col, mine regularly floated up the leg, and I often found the shorts beginning to bunch around my thighs. 

While it’s possible that these shorts may represent a one-off which was slightly below Le Col’s normal production standard, I think it may be more broadly down to the light and stretchy texture of the lycra legs, as well as slightly shorter cut than we see generally.

That point aside, the shorts were certainly high performance and always comfortable. Alongside the best offerings from Assos and Ale, these have worked their way into my regular rotation of distinct favourites. 

Importantly, also, where many brands have had no qualms slipping over the £200 mark, these shorts represent good value for a luxury offering.

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