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Neon Velo Pro Fit Aero Jersey, Pro Fit Bib Shorts and Lightweight Gilet review

3 Jul 2019
Verdict:

Perfectly fine race-level kit, but the price isn’t justified

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
• Well-made and well-fitted race-orientated kit • Easy on the eye bibs and jersey comfortable for warm days and long miles • Gilet does what it says on the tin
Against 
• Jersey very much for warmer days • Bibshorts pad may be too thin for some • Expensive for what it is

British-based Neon Velo has been offering clothing since 2014, using input from a variety of riders from its sponsored teams in road and cyclocross, including multiple 'cross national champ Ian Field. It is, in its own words, ‘A boutique cycling brand… with a strong race heritage and ongoing race programme.’

As such, this UK designed, Italian made kit has a true race fit. The Aero Jersey is compressive bordering tight (although admittedly I’m much chunkier than your average whippet), with long, sharply finished sleeves cut by laser and finished on the underside with silicone bands.

The bibshorts are slightly more relaxed, with a lightweight seatpad that also speaks to a racing heritage, wafer thin straps that sit pleasantly against the skin and a generous mesh back.

The three usual pockets are in attendance on the jersey, which being on an aero top hold their shape well with little sag, and there’s a bonus zipper pocket. This is a warm weather garment and is vented accordingly, with mesh-style material sides and upper back that do a good job of being breathable while still maintaining SPF50+ sun protection.

The gilet lives up to its Lightweight name and is easily packable in a pocket. It is also nicely colour matched to the rest of the kit, even sporting the same white rear panel logo as the jersey so you don’t lose any of the aesthetic when you put the gilet on.

Simply works

In essence, the Neon Velo kit is simple, but it does those simple things well. The cut and fit is what you’d expect and the construction quality seems to be there – in that it looks good but I’ve only been riding the kit for a month so can’t attest to its longevity.

What with the weather having taken a turn for the better, the overall feel is what I’d hope for in a racy summer kit – comfortable and airy – and paired with the gilet it copes with a chillier morning or long descent. That said, I’d say this kit is best suited to the middle months of the year, especially the jersey, which even when twinned with a Neon Velo baselayer (£39.95) offers sparse insulation.

Aesthetically, this is as pleasing kit to look at as it is to wear, and Neon Velo offers lots of on-trend colourways besides this blue and white. So far all ticks in the right boxes then?

In the main, yes, I can’t fault what this kit does because it sets out its own brief – racy, aero, considerately styled – and fulfils it. But I just can’t get over the price.

Value

Put the Neon Velo kit up against other brands and I can’t see why you’d plump for it over some other brand charging £290 for a bibs and jersey combination. Because (a) £290 is a huge chunk of cash and (b) even if that is now the going rate for premium kit, there are other brands out there doing much more for the same or less money.

Case in point is the Rapha Pro Team Aero Jersey and Pro Team II Bib Shorts I reviewed recently. Those bibs are truly tried and tested, having been around in some evolving form for years, and are to my mind the benchmark of comfy bibs. The jersey has techie fabrics and construction methods borrowed from Rapha/Team Sky’s WorldTour ridden and wind-tunnel tested skinsuit. This kit is now also ridden WorldTour team Education First.

Basically, there is a lot going on with the Rapha kit in terms of R&D and envelope-pushing materials that doesn’t seem present in the Neon Velo kit. Yes, both items are £25 more than Neon Velo’s, but bought together you get a discount that makes the Rapha aero strip £20 less than Neon Velo’s, and there’s arguably £25 more stuff going on in each garment.

But that is just one example, because compare Rapha to dhb, say, and dhb looks like a great prospect – some good R&D going on, thoughtful design and quality execution all at a fraction of the cost. Or Sportful, to cite another brand for the same reasons – really top notch kit at the forefront of current trends and materials but under £100 for a good jersey, under £200 for a perfectly good – and good-looking – kit.

However, I don’t want this to come across as singling out Neon Velo. There is a heap of other brands out there – the list in the office is well over a hundred and still growing – who offer perfectly fine kit but at really premium prices.

I understand such pricing strategies revolve around turnover and overheads, which are wildly different for a small brand as a big brand, but ultimately, why should the consumer care about this? Surely riders deserve the best bang for their buck? And it’s here the Neon Velo kit falls short.

Ignore the price entirely or at least knock a few quid off and this kit starts looking enticing, but as it stands this is expensive for what it is, and there’s a huge amount of competition out there.

Price: 
Neon Velo Pro Fit Aero Jersey: £120 / Neon Velo Pro Fit Bib Shorts: £170 / Neon Velo Lightweight Gilet: £99

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