Friday 10 August 2012

Vulpine Women's Merino Jersey

This is not an advertising feature - it's a genuine post about a great product made by a great company!

Not so long ago, the female cyclist didn't have much of a choice when it came to biking clothes - she could either go for men's jerseys and shorts (all very well if the cyclist in question was larger than average or didn't mind baggy, non-aerodynamic kit) or settle for anything vaguely suitable she was able to find. Thankfully, with more and more women taking up the sport, the big bike companies realised they were missing out on a vast potential market and introduced women's ranges. Great.

Unfortunately, a peculiarly high percentage of women's cycling apparel is either pink or has flowers on it - or is pink and has flowers on it. Many women, no doubt, like pink, flowery jerseys, but many others don't and would far prefer well-designed, practical kit in plain colours or with simple designs. Fortunately, British company Vulpine knows this.

Vulpine are a small and new company that can't yet afford the risk of the risk of moving into the women's market, dominated as it is by huge, multinational firms; but they've introduced the first item in a new women's range anyway, simply because they feel it would be wrong not to cater to female cyclists. That the women's range consists of one item only is "not a sign of commitment, rather harsh economic reality," says owner Nick Hussey. So in other words, ladies and gentlemen, this is a company that deserves support.

The Women's Merino Button Jersey isn't especially cheap at £75, but top quality jerseys never are... and this really is top quality: it'll last for years of hard use, so it'd be entirely possible to have just one instead of forking out for two cheaper jerseys. Merino wool has been in demand for cycling jerseys ever since the early days of the sport due to the range of benefits it offers: it's light, soft and extremely comfortable (this one uses flatlock stitching, so that the sheep's hard work isn't ruined by scratchy seams). It's hydrophilic, allowing sweat to evaporate rapidly and keeping you cool on a hot day; yet being wool it also retains warmth when it's needed - even when wet (sheep perfected that technology years ago, which is why you'll never see a sheep with an umbrella). It's also naturally stretchy, allowing a good fit whatever your body shape, and because merino sheep - unlike most other sheep - like to smell good it's naturally odour-resistant too. Wear a lycra jersey for long ride on a hot day, then take a deep sniff... actually, don't. It's not nice. Do the same with a merino jersey and it doesn't really smell of anything much at all.

This jersey has been designed by a cyclist for cycling - practicality has been the main consideration, as is made evident by the three good size pockets on the back, easily capable of holding several energy gels, a decent amount of flapjack, a banana and, since one has a zip, an iPhone and keys. It has the proper cycling cut, longer at the back, as well as a silicon waist gripper to prevent it riding up; as well as reflective panels and a loop to which an LED light can be attached. Yet it's also uniquely stylish for an item of cycling kit - you could wear this off the bike and it'd look like a really rather good v-necked (but not so v-necked as to be embarrassing on the bike) t-shirt made of far better materials than most t-shirts. In fact, it's quite possible that a few of these are going to be sold to people who'll wear it to take the Range Rover into Knightsbridge rather than the bike up into the hills. It'll look good doing both, but it'll perform exceptionally when put to its proper purpose.

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