Review and detail photos: Iain Treloar. All other photography: Hormuzd Khodaiji.
Cycling clothing is a competitive space. It seems like a new social-media driven brand pops up every other week, usually with either obnoxious colour palates or sepia photography and gurning models. Most of the time, these brands have little to do with the development of the product – a third party OEM manufacturer basically provides a template to print a design on. Actual innovation is harder to come by, and usually comes at a higher price-point. Of this narrowed field, there are a few making great clothing, but losing on the style front. You’ve got brands with vast men’s catalogues that cater for women as an afterthought – or are actually a step further behind than that, with hypersexualised representations of women. More brands still are silent when it comes to the environmental or ethical stance behind their manufacturing. And on we go, until there’s surprisingly few brands worth rooting for.
Velocio is one of those brands.
The brand was founded by former Australian pro, Kristy Scrymgeour, who’s something of a hero of women’s cycling. She’s worn a number of hats over her time in the sport, from national champion to team owner (Velocio-SRAM) to apparel brand co-founder, and brings a wealth of practical insight to Velocio’s clothing. The brand are rare in that they started out specialising in women’s clothing, and although they now have an equal amount of clothing for both genders (we have the men’s gear on test) they continue to design and prototype for women first. This – paired with much of the rest of the cycling industry failing to put in the hard yards for women’s clothing – has meant that their female gear has been almost universally well-received. But (unfortunately, because of what it represents) there’s more competition in the men’s space, and we were interested to see how their gear fared on test.
We were sent a selection of products from the Spring/Summer 2017 collection to put through their paces – the Luxe bib short ($329), the Ultralight jersey ($179) and the Wind Vest ($199) – and spent a couple of months riding hard in all conditions to see how they stacked up.
Luxe bib short ($329)
A new product for Velocio, the Luxe sits at the top of their bib range. Price-wise it’s at the upper end of the market, competing directly with top shelf offerings from longer-established brands like Rapha, Assos and Castelli. For the money you’d want it to be pretty good, and it is; the quality is obvious and the fit is refined. And while the pricing may have you spluttering into your muesli, if you’ve ridden an ill-fitting pair of bib shorts before, you’ll understand that this is not an item of clothing you want to skimp on.
The Luxe is highly compressive – easily the most figure-hugging pair of bib knicks I’ve ever worn. At 70kg and 181cm tall, I’m usually somewhere between a small and a medium, but found the medium Luxe to be a snug fit. They take a fair degree of effort to squeeze into, slowly pulling the shorts up over the curves of your knees and thighs and encouraging them to sit in the correct spot. It’s a pretty minimal set-up – because there are only three panels, there are very few seams to draw your attention, and the fabric is soft, matte and smooth with beautiful hand. The cut gives a true ‘second-skin’ feel, and the leg length is neither too long, nor too short, with effective leg bands that stay where you put them. The bibs come up quite high on the torso which on one hand means that you’re not constantly flashing your belly, but on the other hand makes toilet breaks a little more awkward (the women’s equivalent has a clever zip at the back to improve access). Because the fabric is so compressive, there’s excellent support for the muscles.
The straps cross over at the back, which is a bit different from the norm. Whilst the fabric is a soft microfibre, it took a few uses to work out the placement of them – I found that you need to position them outward and low for most comfort – and the upper seam of the knicks dug in ever so slightly on the waist. I need to make more of a concerted effort to get rid of those love-handles, clearly.
The chamois is a new model exclusive to Velocio, featuring high density padding with modesty-preserving coverage over the crotch. It’s very comfortable in use for the most part, although my preference is a slightly thicker pad; my sitbones got a bit weary a few hours into a mixed-surface ride. This aspect of knicks is pretty subjective, so your results may vary on this front (my preference for a thick endurance chamois is a bit unusual – many others find them to negatively impact on ride-feel).
What is less subjective is the near-perfect patterning, the lovely fit of the knicks. The Luxe stands out not because of how they feel, but how they don’t – they’re noticeable in their absence, as a closely-fitting, pyjama-comfy pair of knicks that move with the body without drawing attention to themselves.
Ultralight jersey ($179)
This jersey does what it says in the name – it’s very, very light indeed, at an almost imperceptible 100g. This perception is heightened by the close-fitting but flattering cut, which drapes attractively over the body. The sleeve length is among the longest I’ve seen on a jersey, almost stretching down to the elbows; longer sleeves are quite in vogue at the moment but I found them almost a little too long and wonder how less lanky riders would find them. The jersey’s pared back to the essentials – just a standard three-pocket layout at the back (thankfully of a decent size capable of taking a decent load, and also thankfully resistant to sagging whilst doing so).
Constructed from a synthetic blend, the Ultralight jersey is a wispy fast-drying affair with capabilities far extending hot weather. I’ve tested it from 10-35 degrees, and although I always wore it with a base layer, I was never conscious of excessive dampness to the fabric, broadening its appeal in cooler conditions. A good fabric wicks the moisture from the skin, and transports it outward for evaporation. The reason you want a jersey to dry quickly is because dampness causes chill; if a jersey stays clammy, you’ll quickly know about it.
There are a number of nice details to be found on the jersey – reflective strips on the back of the arms, a zipper garage at the neck, and a low profile collar. The design is a stylish and distinctive mosaic pattern in charcoal or green, with a burnt orange lining on the inside of the neck. It’s really smart looking, super comfortable and is that rare thing – a lightweight jersey that maintains a sense of structure when loaded up.
Wind vest ($199)
A vest (or gilet, if that’s your preferred parlance) is a sadly overlooked item in the cycling wardrobe. However, when it’s done right, it is pretty close to being essential – the one item of gear that you might take with you on every ride. That said, it’s an easy garment to get wrong. Here’s why –
- the cut needs to be perfect, otherwise the windstopping material can flap noisily in the breeze and billow about, slowing you down.
- it needs to be compact enough to fold down into a size that you can stow in a jersey pocket if you get too warm.
- it either needs to have pockets at the back to stow supplies, or be able provide easy access to your jersey pockets. The problem is that pockets add bulk, which can reduce the packability of the vest (see #2).
All of which makes Velocio’s wind vest a very happy surprise, because it gets everything right.
Starting from the top, you’ve got a high breeze-thwarting collar, which is also lined with a luxuriously soft fleecy lining. There’s a two-way zipper, a detail that doesn’t crop up all that often but one which I find really useful; being able to unzip the vest from the bottom gives quick access to your jersey pockets and means that you are quickly able to close the vest up again one-handed. The cut is flap-free and flattering, with close cut arm-holes that don’t bunch at the armpit. And finally, there are three well-proportioned pockets at the back, enhancing your stowage capabilities.
The men’s vest is available in two colours – a celeste green and a pinstripe navy – but although I’d ordinarily be a little critical about the darker colouring of our test sample, the pinstriping detail makes it quite eyecatching on the road. In function, it’s the most practical, useful, and best-fitting vest I’ve come across, pipping well regarded models from longer-established brands, and it has quickly become my go-to for changeable conditions.
All in all? Velocio’s men’s offerings are strong indeed, and well worth considering if you’re in the market for your next high-end cycling kit. There’s nothing flimsy about the products we reviewed here – they’re showing no signs of use after extensive testing and many wash cycles, and I would have no qualms advocating for their long-term durability. Velocio’s inclusive brand identity, customer-focused approach (there’s a 30 day test ride guarantee on many of their products) and technical innovation make them that much easier to recommend.
For more information, visit velocio.cc
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