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Svelte Lightweight Heritage kit review

16 Jan 2019
Verdict:

Being made entirely in the UK means a premium price which is just about matched with quality

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
• Excellent jersey that is both comfortable and well-fitting • Hi-vis detail across the range
Against 
• Thin leg grippers are not good on thicker legs • Socks could be at least an inch higher

You know what Coco Chanel once said. She said ‘The best things in life are free. The second best are very expensive’. I think she was talking about cycling when she said that. I mean, these days, do we even bat an eyelid at new shoes retailing at £350? Or a helmet for £250, or bibshorts for £180 or sunglasses for £150?

Cycling’s an expensive pastime but for many of us, it’s the one thing we really enjoy in our lives so the begrudging feeling of digging deep into the pockets for something new and expensive is almost always left at home.

Instead, it feels like you’re treating yourself to something, proving Coco right I guess.

Check out the full range at Svelte

Svelte’s Heritage range is expensive. All in for the three items - long sleeve jersey, bibshorts and socks - you’ll be set back over £250.

But, cycling’s an expensive sport so this shouldn't be surprising, plus, if it’s good enough kit, you probably will have forgotten about the rather significant outlay by your second use.

Plus Svelte can also boast that its entire range was designed within London’s South Circular and manufactured within the M25.

Top of the class 

Of Svelte’s Heritage range, one item stands out from the rest: the long sleeve lightweight jersey. Although, this should come as no surprise.

After all, Svelte is a brand that was built around the Heritage Jersey, its flagship product. This is a jersey developed with a range of cyclists that it claims ‘provides the security and performance of an athletic fit, without losing the relaxed cafe culture styling that we love so much’, the claimed ‘core belief’ of the brand.

This has led to the Heritage jersey partnering a pro-fit design that hugs the body in a ‘secure’ way with ‘ColdBlack’ technology which provides warmth in the cold and keeps you cool in direct sunlight.

Despite feeling lightweight and unbulky - unlike other long sleeve jerseys - the Heritage jersey kept true to its word and kept me warm.

A mild start to winter saw me comfortably riding around in the jersey from the beginning of September, matched with just a sleeveless baselayer, to the beginning of December in which a sleeveless baselayer had been swapped out for a long sleeve and has occasionally been finished off with a gilet.

At no time did I ever find myself regretting my outfit choice because of being too warm or cold, which I consider a testament to the tech that Svelte claims to have introduced and a nod to the versatility of this jersey.

It’s yet to hit spring but I’m confident that I’ll be digging this jersey back out come the end of February and using it until at least the end of April, meaning it will have served me across seven months.

With that being over half the year, for a piece of cycling kit that isn’t your shoes, helmet or sunglasses, it's very rare.

The jersey is also ‘secure’ as promised, close to the body providing the racey fit desired without being too constrictive, sharing a similar cut to Rapha, British rather than Italian but not quite American.

A good halfway house that provides the best of both worlds.

Bottom half of the league

While the Heritage jersey has been somewhat of a revelation for my spring/autumn wardrobe, the bibshorts were, unfortunately, a bit off the mark.

It's not that they aren'tt good, they are, I just found myself left slightly wanting considering the quality of the jersey. For example, the silicon grippers used to keep the shorts from riding up your leg are incredibly thin.

Now while this wouldn’t be a problem for the likes of Nairo Quintana or Julian Alaphilippe - miniature men with lean legs as small as matchsticks - if, like me, your thighs are large from years of doing stuff that isn’t just riding a bike you will struggle.

The silicon isn’t enough and you’ll soon notice that any forceful pedalling will bring the shorts up the leg which is not only annoying but also affects those perfectly cultivated tan lines you’ll be starting off in spring.

The shorts are also quite thin which is good for really hot conditions but not so much in the UK where our average temperature is just a modest 18 degrees.

It’s a shame because some aspects of these shorts are quite good.

Such as the Hybrid Gel System chamois used by Svelte. I found it to be padded enough to keep my 90kg rig comfortable on long rides while not too voluminous that it became a hindrance, a balance that can sometimes be hard to find.

I also liked the two reflective stripes on the rear of the shorts - which are used across the range - helping you gain greater visibility.

It gives you an added sense of safety when riding without really trying too hard and not detracting from the sleek design of the kit.

Although, whether these two positives outweigh the problem I experienced with the silicon leg grippers and them being slightly thin for the UK climate, I’m not sure and at a price of £130 I would be unwilling to gamble.

That said though if you do have quite lean legs and ride in the sunshine exclusively then these shorts won’t do you wrong.

Sock Doping

Socks, although the cheapest part of the outfit, are in many ways the most important.

They have to be the right length - six inches above the lateral malleolus - and predominately white. They can incorporate some other colours but they should be mainly white. Those are the rules, Brian Holm told me so.

Luckily, Svelte is most of the way there with its Heritage socks.

Check out the full range at Svelte

The socks, out of the packaging, are crystal white but for a blue stripe across the top of the ankle, matching the jersey and bibshorts, tying the entire outfit together as well as a statement brooch on your mum’s wedding outfit.

The rear of the sock also has a reflective strip, similar to those on the jersey and shorts, which again is a nice addition that does that little extra in helping you stay seen.

The only problem with the socks is that I found them too short, an inch or so away from the magical position on my ankle. A shame considering they were so close to being perfect.

You may find that a harsh feature to pull up but sock length is important to me, and I think Coco would be inclined to agree.

Price: 
Jersey - £110, Shorts - £130, Socks - £7.50

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