As a cyclist living in northern Lancashire, in England, I have a lot to be grateful for. With some of the best cycling in the country on my doorstep, and even more just a short hop across either border into Cumbria and Yorkshire, I’m not short of choice.
What we don’t quite have is the weather, the hint of glamour, and the decades of cycling folklore that other places do.
Like, say, Lake Como in northern Italy.
Lancashire is a great place to live but I can’t help occasionally dwelling on the fact that some cyclists get to live by Lake Como. In the sunshine. In the shadow of climbs like the Madonna del Ghisallo and the Muro di Sormano. Distant legends to me, training roads to them.
And some of these cyclists also make cycling kit: the folks at Breva, for example.
I got the chance to test their Stelvio jersey recently, and couldn’t wait to see how this very Italian kit translated over here in the north of England. In particular, that eye-catching mountain design against the pure white jersey; no doubt it blends in beautifully against a sky of Italian sunshine and with Lake Como shimmering away in the background, but how will it work on a grey day over here in the UK?
I suppose it’s possible I was imagining it, but out on the bike I got the distinct impression that the ‘Stelvio’ jersey caught the eye of just about every cyclist I passed. It’s the design, of course, which is bold, an an antidote to some of the less imaginative kit on the market.
Beyond the styling its the detail and obvious quality that stands out.
The single most striking thing is the way it feels; it’s beautifully soft, with a stretch to it, but still it holds its shape properly. The material is described as ‘super opaque nylon stretch fabric’. As Breva describe it: “it’s designed to ensure an extremely pleasing sensation on contact with the skin.”
I’d go along with that – it’s luxurious, and very comfortable.
The cut is very appealing too. The sleeves extend down to the lower part of the upper arm, which I love. When zipped right up I found it snug and comfortable but not restrictive around the neck, and my usual size Large was a perfect fit; not small, like some Italian kit can be, and for me it strikes that balance perfectly between slim and racy, but practical.
In other words, it works for those of who are slim but not quite skinny!
The zip is sturdy with a cool metal ring pull, and a well-designed flap of material sits between zip and skin (or base layer), which is a lovely touch – aiding comfort, and an indication of the attention to detail at work here. The three standard pockets do the job they’re designed for, and a zip pocket for valuables finishes things off nicely.
In short, this is a real winner of a jersey.
The quality is easily comparable to similarly priced premium kit, the cut is stylish and flattering, and it provides everything you need in a summer jersey. Sure, the mountain design requires a dollop of self-confidence to carry off, and it probably helps if you’re at least a half-decent cyclist, but on a sunny day when the legs are good this is already a go-to jersey for me.
I’m sold on the ‘Stelvio’ in every way.
Breva are a new brand on the market, and currently offer two further jersey designs; the extravagantly pattered ‘Lario’, and the interesting geometry and sharp black/flouro colour scheme of the ‘Race’. I will definitely have an eye on how this Italian brand develops.
The questions is, if you own a jersey inspired by Lake Como, is that enough of a reason to take a cycling holiday to Italy to wear it in its natural habitat?