dhb softshell jacket, roubaix tights and s'cafe long-sleeve baselayer

dhb windslam

is it not something questionable, and worthy of our further investigation, that the amount of news that occurs in the world each day, is just sufficient to fill a newspaper? the fly in the ointment would be the obvious variation in the content of say, the guardian and the daily record, suggesting that each has its own agenda as to what constitutes news, and whether it will be printed in their respective pages. i'd love to know whether there's another complete newspaper altogether sitting in an office each evening, comprising all the stories that were left out. or do each of the above, and their brethren, simply not acknowledge the news that suits them not to acknowledge?

a philosophical impasse.

it may seem a strange concept with which to commence a review of cycle clothing from the darlings at wiggle, but the corollary has to be the availability of apparel conducive to the riding of the season. basically, how come when we want to be clothed in cosy warmth, is that those are the very items on offer? oh, they'll tell you it's marketing and seasonal, but i happen to know that the design of such cycle clothing, and for any other active sport for all i know, is designed, tested and critiqued when short sleeves are the order of the day, and the windows are left open to the sunny world outside.

it's a tospy turvy world as a cycle clothing designer, and no mistake.

windslam jacket

it is incumbent upon me to continue to labour the point about islay being remarkably snow free, while the rest of the uk suffered under mounds of the white powdery stuff. i have consoled myself that the monthlies, just as we enter the new year, will have fewer pages than is their custom, since i figure i was likely the only one able to continue reviewing unabated. it was cold though, so don't think that everything was plain sailing; i still had to suffer (just a little bit) for my art.

there's a degree of decorum to be observed in cold weather, one that should stretch from head to toe, and one that i prefer to be garnered from a single source. this isn't always possible or practical, but in the case of dhb, the only item i can think of that is missing from their extensive range, is a casquette bearing the corporate logo; not a great miss at this time of year to be sure. from inside to out, an aerofit baselayer ostensibly manufactured from a coffee bean viscose, alloyed to regular polyester.

coffee bean viscose?

dhb windslam

baselayers sit next to the skin (tell us something we don't know) and as a result, have a marked tendency to get swot and hetty; polyester, as a fabric, manages that reasonably well, particularly with the soft fleece lining on the aerofit s'cafe version. however, due to the nature of polyester fibres, the bacteria that make us smelly and therefore unattractive to our better halves post-ride, have places to meet with each other and do the sort of things that bacteria do. by adding the coffee viscose, the hope is that the odouresness will be negated.

i consider myself something of a baselayer consultant, if only because i'd like to be a consultant of some kind, well practiced in the art of finding out how long one can be worn before people start to cross the street. the current mode d'emploi is to wear the baselayer under consideration to work for a week before heading into the hinterlands at the weekend on the cielo. sometimes they never make it as far as the bike before being thrown in the wash, but at least it's a standardised test of sorts.

in the case of the aerofit, it lives up to its name, being very close fitting; lumps and bumps in that physique you most certainly do not want; they will be on show. the aerofit made it from monday to saturday, but i could see myself being excommunicated from the peloton come sunday, so it went to meet its washing powder. however, it did prove itself worthy, managing to remain dry even when wet, if you follow my drift. the long-sleeves (there's that predilection again) are easily long enough; and it kept me warm.

dhb s cafe baselayer

the warmth was partially kept in place by the substantial upper construction of dhb's super-roubaix winter tights. these, i must confide, are something of a revelation, being a remarkably good fit, well-built (unlike their occupant), and lined with what wiggle describe as "the daddy of winter brushed fabrics". they're not wrong. the red pad to sit the bum cheeks in/on is another from cytech, and while remarkably pliant and comfortable, a smidgeon more padding would not have gone amiss from my point of view.

this isn't a serious criticism, for i will admit that i have little but bone in that department, and i was resting upon a thinly padded race saddle at the time. as the saying goes your mileage may vary. there's a substantial if short zip up the front, easing those calls of nature, and a back that reaches all the way to the collar, giving the baselayer a harder time than usual. more brownie points for s'cafe.

the legs of the bib tights feature a windproof fabric that proved very effective; windproofing is another thing that i could be a consultant on. in similar form to their threequarter brethren, the seams are slightly chunkier than would should really be displayed in polite company. fortunately, the velo club consists of little of that. cleverly, the lower calves have sensible length zips to aid getting them on and off, coupled with footloops to keep them in place once rouleuring and grimpeuring commences.

dhb roubaix tights

very impressive.

to top out my winter collection, i encased my upper physique in the aggressively named dhb windslam softshell jacket. i am a great fan of softshell, and spend many a minute trying to figure out what we wore before softshell was discovered in mines in north america (i made that bit up). rather than provide scarily naked softshell bereft of lining, the windslam has lovely fleece, increasing the sense of cosiness provided by the entire ensemble. the sensibly lengthed sleeves have velcro straps to vary air ingress or outgress (is there such a word?) if that cosiness proves too great or verging on the inadequate.

pocketwise, the windslam is well featured, with two side pockets pointing backwards (internally); when stuffed with a clif bar in one and a digital lumix in the other, there was nothing to impede superior souplesse on the sram chainset. for larger, chunkier and perchance, heavier items, there is a single large pocket across the back, zippered along the top, and sheltered from water ingress by a flap over that zip. i carried two spare wheels in mine (well, not really, but i probably could have). dhb sroubaix tights and aerofit baselayer

sadly, as seen on some competitors' softshells, there are no zippered vents under the arms, something that would have been most welcome in the combination tested, even allowing for the sub-zero temperatures all day. similarl to the dhb southsea waterproof jacket tested around a year ago, i found the collar slightly too high and definitely too wide. i recall pointing this out regarding the southsea, and it's a bit of a disappointment to find that a year later, nothing much has changed. considering roadies have a distinct tendency to lean forward into the wind, it seems a shame to emulate a high bypass turbine and scoop in more cold air than seems strictly necessary. additionally, the collar is higher at the rear; is it not more logical to dip at the point where the head leans back?

in mitigation, the softshell material accommodates both of these misdemeanours with aplomb, and while riding, the effects are minimised to the best of its ability. however, it would be a boon to society if the 2012 version featured a slightly lower and tighter collar. and at the risk of adding insult to injury, how difficult would it have been to pop a tab in that collar allowing the jacket to be hung on a peg when slouching on the sofa at debbie's? a minor detail, but you know what they say about details.

despite all the foregoing, i rather liked this jacket, and while it's not necessarily a way of letting it off the hook (pardon the pun), much can be forgiven for such a favourable price point. overall, the quality is somewhat impressive, and layering these three items, with the addition of a jersey makes for ideal winter fare.

the aerofit s'cafe baselayer retails at a meagre £30 in sizes from small to xxl. dhb pace super roubaix padded bib tights (these are also available pad free) cost a highly favourable £79 in sizes from extra small to xxl, and the dhb windslam softshell jacket is priced at £70.


posted wednesday 29 december 2010

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