You may have noticed that, here in the UK, there are cyclists everywhere.
Possibly inspired by Team Sky and the ‘Wiggo’ effect, spending large chunks of your free time pedalling up hill and down dale no longer marks you out as an oddball, and as cycling in the UK has edged slightly further towards the mainstream it has branched out into areas of style and fashion.
For those who choose to get involved in this kind of one-upmanship, choice of kit has become a serious business.
Here in my neck of the woods, in northern England, the roads are awash with cyclists wearing Castelli, Rapha or Endura, to the point where it’s become quite a challenge to pick out some kit with a stamp of originality; Castelli is lovely kit, but it loses its appeal somewhat if every man and his dog is wearing it.
This is where the Le Coq Sportif Tour de France Yorkshire Jersey comes in.
As you might imagine, the jersey has been produced to mark the fact that, in 2014, the Tour de France visits the great county of Yorkshire in northern England, and I decided to investigate how successful this jersey might be in setting me out from the crowd, whilst still doing a good solid job of, well…being a cycling jersey.
Being a Lancastrian, the large white Yorkshire rose splashed across the front of the jersey took some getting used to (quick history lesson: the War of the Roses) but I soon got over such pettiness; after all, the route for the Tour de France 2014 passes within 50 miles of my home town, which suddenly makes Yorkshire seem like home turf.
I must admit, at first glance I wasn’t convinced by the suggestion of a shirt collar around the neck of the jersey but actually, once fastened up and in context (i.e. worn by a tanned cyclist, on a clean bike, on a sunny day) I decided it looked very subtle, and quite dapper.
I was also quite taken with the jersey’s overall simplicity too; black and tight fitting, with small yellow ‘Le Coq Sportif’ and ‘Yorkshire 2014’ logos, giving it an understated and classy look. I’m not one for whacking great big logos and writing all over my kit so for me, looks-wise, this jersey fits the bill.
Of course, if you need to be seen on a murky day, black is never a wise move, but in the mid-July sunshine I, for one, am happy to wear it.
It has a full-length zipper which feels sturdy and hard wearing, the obligatory silicone grippers around the waist to keep the thing in place while hunched over the bike, and the standard issue three back pockets. Overall, quality wise, I’m happy; it doesn’t quite have the luxury feel of a £100 jersey, but then I wouldn’t expect that for £65.
And the negatives?
Being picky, I would say that the material has a tendency to bunch up very slightly where the zip passes over the stomach. It’s not hugely noticeable or uncomfortable, but it’s the sort of detail that, to me, sets apart a mid-priced jersey like this from the top-end stuff. I’ve found this to be a common problem on jerseys with full-length zips, so maybe it comes down to personal taste, zip-wise.
The sizing chart from Le Coq Sportif also confused me somewhat; not a difficult task, some might say, but I concluded from the guidelines that if I bought by chest size, I would be buying a ‘men’s small’. Now, I’m by no means a big man, but I haven’t been a ‘men’s small’ for over 20 years, and so I stuck to my instinct, ignored the sizing chart, and plumped for a ‘large’.
It proved a good fit – not exactly ‘race fit’ in the way that some of the slicker jerseys on the maket tend to be, but comfortably snug. Unless I’m missing something glaringly obvious, someone might want to double check those French sizing guidelines.
As for Leisure Lakes, they’re worth a look. In terms of summer jerseys, which I was focussing on, they have a decent selection of Castelli, Endura, Specialized and Gore Bike Wear, among others, and they delivered mine free of charge in about 48 hours.
Their VIP club offer also brings the prices down nicely.
The deal is: join the VIP club for £30, and you get a selection of Muc-Off bike cleaning products for your money plus, as a VIP member, good discounts on all future purchases. For example, the Tour de France jersey that I picked up comes down in price from £65, to a tempting £56.87.
Even for those of us who are a bit cynical about these kinds of ‘memberships’, if the range in Leisure Lakes is your kind of thing and you buy kit regularly, for my money that’s a good deal.
But back to the Tour de France jersey and the overall verdict: if you want something understated to set you apart from the Castelli’s and the the Rapha’s, and you don’t want to break the bank, this might just be the jersey for you.
Of course, if every man and his dog goes out and buys one, we’re back to square one.