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Velobici Jude jersey and bibshorts review

10 Oct 2018
Verdict:

Smart, comfortable and beautifully made kit from the UK, but the deal breaker could be the jersey pockets

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
Jersey - £175, Bibshorts - £180 (£310 when bought together)
For 
• Race fit with practical comfort • Great in a host of weather conditions • Crisp, original aesthetic
Against 
• Jersey pockets • Although you get what you pay for, you pay a lot

Not all cycling kit is expensive. But then again, not all cycling kit is made entirely in the UK. And not all cycling kit looks as good as Velobici’s.

The brainchild of a gentleman called Chris Puttnam, Velobici was founded in 2010 with a self-imposed brief to make everything in England – Puttnam’s father used to own a textile factory in the East Midlands, and Velobici in part set out to buck the trend of British manufacture being eroded by the Far East.

Of course, just because something is made in England, doesn’t make it good (and conversely, just because something isn’t made here, doesn’t make it bad). What it does make it, though, is expensive, and the cod-economist reason is that there are fewer factories in the UK operating at lower volumes with higher overheads. C’est la vie.

Buy the Jude jersey and Jude bibshorts from Velobici

I feel this is important to mention as there’s no escaping that this Velobici Jude kit is pretty dear, but I think it’s worth making the case that the ‘Made in England’ thing is a huge contributing factor (the fabric is made in Nottingham, the garments assembled in Leicestershire). The other factor, I think, is the quality. This is really top notch.

Make it your own

Velobici says its fabrics are proprietary, and in the Jude’s case it is a ‘superlight’ evolution of the original VB/Pro-VR1-2 fabrics, primarily in the sense that it’s 30g less per square metre, down to 120g psqm.

Despite this, the on-torso reality is a jersey that ‘feels’ pretty substantial – a flyweight climbers jersey this ain’t. Yet happily it doesn’t feel bulky, restrictive or overly warm because of this fact.

It regulates temperature much better than its soft, snug fit seemed to indicate, and I’ve spent many comfortable miles in it both during the tail end of the UK’s exceptionally warm summer and on a Cyclist trip to the Austrian Alps, which compromised sweat-dripping climbs followed by glove-worthy descents. The Jude proved to be highly adaptable.

It also does a fine job of feeling racy and aero, but thanks to high-stretch fabric it doesn’t get that bunching up of material around the stomach when in an aero tuck, nor does it feel like its resisting that tuck by being overtly tight. Yet there is something weird going on.

I was testing a medium, and I think the photos show it fitted me well. Yet the rear pockets on the jersey had a large amount of sag, despite how well the rest of the jersey fitted and how comfortable it felt unladen.

I’m pictured with a tube and a CO2 inflator and tyre boot (read: a strip of rubber cut from an old tyre) in the middle pocket and two energy gels in the third pocket, which is located more on the side of the body than behind the right kidney, and iPhone in left pocket.

This is normal stuff I’d ride with, but here those items felt at best annoying to have in the pockets and at worst like they might jump or slide out when in certain positions, such as a tuck on a bumpy descent.

The far left pocket hem also curves up, which Velobici says is to better accommodate a pump, which is does, but which I found made it frustrating to access – which maybe says more about my arm’s flexibility. I grew more used to it and in fairness, it’s not like you’re going to take out your mini-pump unless you stop. But I found it frustrating to use for anything else.

On the plus side there is a little waterproof zip pocket which you can just squeeze an iPhone into, and certainly cash and keys, and the stretchiness of the pockets overall means stowing rain jackets or gloves is easy. But, for all those rides where I just wanted to carry spares enough to change a flat plus have my phone and keys, I found the Jude’s pockets left a lot to be desired. Which it pains me to say.

First, because the Jude bibshorts suffer none of these problems but are worthy of all the praise.

They feel substantial too, almost thick to the touch and when first on, but they soon disappear with a glove-like feel. I found the pad particularly comfortable, thanks to a recess up the middle that allows it to bend over the nose-contours of the saddle without creasing awkwardly. It also extends further forwards and further up than many other pads (something we’re seeing more of), offering better support and protection up front too.

Buy the Jude jersey and Jude bibshorts from Velobici

Second, because I think Velobici has done an excellent job of standing out from the crowd but retaining an understated, elegant look. It’s a difficult thing to tread the classic-modern line without being conservative or without looking as though you have borrowed one too many design cues from established brands. But Velobici, I think, has done it, marrying an old-school Anquetil cool with a modern edge in a way unique to the brand.

The Jude is so nearly one of my favourite kits to date – and travelling ultra-light it nearly is. But for day-to-day, proper-miles riding, I just can’t quite accept the pockets.

I put this to the guys at Velobici, who replied that they hadn’t experienced anything like this, nor had any such rider feedback. However, it is something the brand says it will be looking into and possibly adjusting in the future.

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