Review: Chapeau! Ladies' Summer Cycling Collection
May 26th, 2016
May 26th, 2016
Anna is a jack-of-all-bikes, and has been riding and racing in a myriad of genres for over seven years; from World Cup level cross-country, to grass roots coaching kids on the road.
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Right down to their website ending ".cc", Chapeau! have a real club feel to their company. They offer good quality cycling clothing that leans more toward style and comfort than aerodynamics and tech gimmicks. That being said, performance is still at the utmost of importance to the brand and, having the pleasure of previously sampling their skincare range, I knew a sense of quality and attention to detail would shine through.
I instantly took to the tame coral colours of the Soulor Jersey in Caviar Block, That being said, the slightly brighter Blue Geo Polka pattern from the Madeleine Jersey did eventually grow on me. It's worth mentioning that there are around five colours-ways and patterns for each of these jerseys, ranging from demur whites and classy pin-strips to colourful shapes and polka dots. They even have arm-warmers to match.
The main difference between the two tops is the storage; the Soulor has two large pockets, suitable for arm-warmers and gilet storage, with reflective trim, and the Madeleine has this, but with an extra waterproof zip pocket in the rear for valuables. Both benefit from a full zip for easy access and variable ventilation; however, the Soulor had a more classic appearance thanks to the front zip being hidden, a feature I wish all my jerseys had.
The fit was close, but not skin tight on both jerseys. The material was not super lightweight, but it wasn't heavy or claustrophobic either. I'd say that the fit and comfort was smack bang between a Time Trail skin-suit and your favourite pair of pyjamas; they offered excellent performance from moister wicking and good movement, but without sacrificing the comfort of something a little more relaxed.
I never had to adopt a John Wayne walk to get to the cake on coffee stops
The Pave Bib Shorts were also a relaxed style, but being the essential point of contact between you and your bike, moving legs and all, they are quite rightly a snug fit. That being said, they had a few stretchy panels that made them feel more like my favourite pair of leggings than a nappy and a set of compression tights. They are long in the leg and have slim silicon edges to prevent "sausage leg" syndrome, which also offers more protection from saddle rub and the silicon stops things riding up into places they shouldn't.
While the pad appears flush and flat, there are concealed high-density pads inside to offer extra comfort on the key boney areas. While this works, I prefer pads that have an airy gap in the middle, but I'm also aware that many don't. What's really different about these shorts is that they are aimed at audax and club riders that prefer a more upright position on the bike. This meant that I never had to adopt a John Wayne walk to get to the cake on coffee stops, but they felt a little unusual in a racey drop-down position, so be sure to choose the right set of shorts for your style of riding.
With Chapeau! you can expect great style, good comfort, and plenty of attention to detail, be that waterproof pockets or little exclamation marks on their zips. It'll never be the lightest or the tightest kit you own, but that's not what they're going for here. Both jerseys on test were fitted, much like a race cut jersey, but they're weren't a second skin, which I found to be both comfortable and flattering; two words that aren't often in the same sentence when it comes to lycra. The shorts were purposely designed to suit upright riders, and they served that purpose well. I am absolutely in love with the peachy 'Caviar' colours in their new Summer Collection, coral is so in right now (did I just say that?), and the Soulor has become a favourite for me for weekend road rides out to cafes and back. I love sitting in the sun, chatting to friends in clothing that doesn't make me look like a gymnast.