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Isadore Shield jersey and Ovada bibtight review

22 Nov 2016

A classy outfit from Slovakian brand Isadore, the Isadore Shield jersey and Ovada bibtight will set you right for winter.

The Velits brothers, both professional cyclists on the WorldTour in 2016 with Etixx-Quickstep and BMC, created Isadore in 2011.

‘To start a cycling clothing brand seemed logical as we both have many years of experience wearing cycling kit, so we wanted to create apparel that pro cyclists would want to wear if they didn’t have to wear sponsored stuff,’ says Martin Velits, CEO of Isadore.

The Shield jersey and Ovada bibtights are the latest additions to Isadore’s collection, both with the aim to keep riders on their bikes through winter in comfort and style. At first glance you can tell the Ovada bibtights are designed, as the name explains, for deep winter - they feel akin to putting on a wetsuit. It makes them exceptionally warm, but also a touch inflexible - initially my pair were tight over my lower leg and knee, and as a result baggy at the crotch, but happily the fit relaxed slightly after a few uses.
The bibtight’s features are well thought out - there are reflective sections over your lower leg, placed for the highest visibility, which complement panels of extra-thick Schoeller elastic membrane on the front of your thighs, to make sure your quads stay warm enough to keep working well. Both fabrics are finished with NanoSphere technology, which is a weather-resistant surface treatment Isadore claims mimics the self-cleaning effect of certain plants. In reality the treatment isn’t quite as prolific as the hype but the tights do repel water and mud uncommonly well and it stopped them looking too ransacked after particularly rotten rides.
Tested in combination with the Ovada tights was Isadore’s new Shield jersey. It’s casual aesthetics are a marked departure from other designs currently on the market, but it’s performance is no less technical. The jersey is a merino bi-component material blend composed of 53% polyester, 44% merino and 3% Lycra, and in an age of technical, synthetic super-fabrics, merino wool is a refreshing addition to the jersey’s make-up.

The natural properties of merino fit ideally with the premise of the Shield jersey -  it offers a combination of breathability and insulation that is still unsurpassed by synthetic fabrics. In the jersey, with one of Isadore’s 100% merino baselayers underneath, temperature regulation is much more dynamic - if you work hard, the jersey has the insulation to warm you up, but when you ease off - on a descent let’s say - the merino element allows a level of breathability that stops you overheating way more effectively than a synthetic garment, where more often you get hot and can’t cool down all that quickly.

I tend to run hot, so for me the jersey functioned brilliantly in a temperature range of around 5-10°C, yet the tights are so heavy duty they didn’t come into their own until the temperature flirted with zero. So as it stands, the Ovada bibtights and Shield jersey-plus-baselayer outfit feels a little imbalanced in British conditions - when it is cold/grotty enough to wear the Ovada tights, you’ll need something extra like Isadore’s Essential jacket on top, and likewise when it is mild enough for the jersey without the jacket, the tights seem a tad overkill. This should not detract from the quality of the individual garments though - 3 top layers and the Ovada tights will see you through the depths of winter, while the Shield jersey, baselayer and something like Isadore’s Thermoroubaix tights will do brilliantly for autumn and spring. Both in style and substance, Isadore dares to do things a bit differently, and in this kit that risk has paid off.

Shield jersey £140

Ovada bibtights £180

£180 / £140

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