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Chapeau Winter kit review

25 Nov 2015

Decent value, sensible sizing and subtle style characterise Chapeau’s winter range.

Cyclist Rating: 
Versatile winter kit
Extra wind-proofing would be welcome

To win the war on winter weather, many brands nowadays trust in lab-based research and development protocols. Technologies are tweaked to produce numbers that satisfy pre-determined thresholds for product efficiency and effectiveness. However since the inception of its clothing brand, Chapeau has adopted a rather refreshing take on kit development. The brand consists of cyclists that use first-hand experience, not spreadsheets of data, to create cycling apparel that combines technical functionality with distinct style. Its 2016 winter range builds on what it has learned over the last two years, while remaining competitively priced – coming in at £210 for all three items listed below (although £190 if you buy the jersey & tight bundle) for a full outfit is a pleasant surprise.

‘Chapeau has always been about delivering good looking gear at the right price - great style doesn't need to break the bank every time,’ says Rob McCreedie, marketing manager at VeloBrands, Chapeau’s UK distributor.

Chapeau logo

‘Our new head of design Nick Classick (formerly of Nike and Paul Smith) clearly shares our view and this winter collection is the first that has his stamp on it. He's given a nod to retro sportswear in the design, and blended it with an overall classic style that we are all really pleased with.’

What is this nod to retro sportswear? Well the design cues have changed. Where once Chapeau clearly channeled French style and the Riviera, it's now channeling British style and the English Riviera - which actually makes sense, as that's where they're from. But is it all just style over substance?

Thermal Jersey - £79.99

Chapeau thermal jersey

Chapeau’s Thermal Jersey is the best example of Classick’s sartorial injection; the patriotic red-white-and-blue colourway catches the eye while remaining understated. Fit is regular, rather than Italian, and the four-way stretch ThermoRoubaix fabric provides a supportive fit. ThermoRoubaix is a fleece-lined polyester that is soft next to the skin and retains heat well, although the jersey would benefit from some wind-proofing on the chest and shoulders.

Chapeau thermal jersey zip

The ¾ zip is a strange choice but it does mean the bottom of the jersey sits neatly around your midriff but silicone grippers would make the hemline even more secure. A weatherproof pocket, plus the standard three at the rear, ensures valuables are kept safe in wet weather, which is where this jersey is best used - an ideal mid-layer under a waterproof shell.

Merino Baselayer - £44.99

Chapeau’s Merino Baselayer is a particular highlight of its new winter gear. The natural properties of merino are well known – merino is insulating yet highly breathable and sweat wicking while remaining odourless after extended use. The baselayer has a long, slim fit that creates plenty of overlap with bibtights, so it doesn’t ride up or become uncomfortable.

Thermal Bibtights - £89.99

Chapeau thermal tights

The Thermal Bibtights are not as substantial as Chapeau’s deep winter Repel tights, however the weather protection they offer belies their svelte appearance. The tights would, like the jersey, benefit from some wind-stopping fabric on the front of the thighs but, that aside, the ThermoRoubaix fabric is really comfortable and warm. The fleece lining traps warm air against the skin in the same way as the Thermal jersey.

Chapeau’s use of large panels minimises seams and provide plenty of supportive stretch, although it may be worth going up a size from the jersey if you have big thighs. The Elastic Interface pad used in these tights is near the best you’ll get at this price point, providing support and comfort in the right areas, although this is of course very subjective. Stirrups divide opinion in the Cyclist office but the welded fabric of these went unnoticed and held the cuffs securely. The zipped midriff is a nice touch too that makes toilet breaks a little less of a palaver.

Chapeau thermal tights logo

As a complete outfit, the pieces compliment each other well and account for some shortfalls – i.e. the jersey could drop further at the back, but the high-rising tights and long baselayer make up for it. The resulting ensemble is great to wear but perhaps lacks the technical features you get from brands such as Sportful or Gore.

For more winter tight options, check out our guide for the best winter tights under £100.


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