When it comes to cycling kit there are one or two items that you can manage perfectly well without, but once you own them you wonder where they’ve been all your life. They’re the accessories that help you deal with all the shades of weather between wet, dry, hot and cold.
I’m talking about arm-warmers, cotton caps, and my favourite of all: the gilet.
The beauty of a good gilet is that it’ll keep the wind at bay, keep out a rain shower, take the worst out of a chilly morning or a summer evening as the sun goes down, and then roll down easily to slip into a jersey pocket.
If I head out for a long summer ride when there’s the vague threat of showers often it’s the gilet I reach for rather than a full waterproof. It’s a nice little insurance policy, and it works equally well off the bike when you take a break mid-ride, to stop you chilling down too much.
This offering from Irish brand Tadaias is a fine example of the gilet.
It’s a super lightweight version that feels as if there’s nothing to it in your hands, but zipped up and on the bike the front panel offers excellent wind protection and the collar zips up nice and snug to add a bit of cosiness.
Talking of the zip, it’s a well-designed affair; one of those double zips where one piece fasten upwards, and the other stays at the bottom around the waistband. If you want to ventilate a bit, or loosen the jacket to reach inside for your jersey pockets, you can click it loose from the bottom. It then clicks down shut again and, slightly implausibly at first glance, holds firmly in place.
The back panels of the gilet are ventilated mesh, designed to keep your upper body breathing with a flow of air. Despite the fragile appearance of the mesh it’s anything but, and is more than sturdy enough to cope with the zipping, unzipping, rolling up, and stuffing in pockets that is the life of gilet.
The fit is snug on me (in my usual size Large) but with enough room for your layers underneath – not aero tight but fitted, comfortable, and practical. There is a zipped pocket around the back, and reflective piping to help in low visibility.
Despite it’s almost flimsy lightness, the quality of this offering from Tadaias is impressive, and having had plenty use from it I’m more than happy that it’s far more robust than first impressions suggest. It also looks great, with the Tadaias design familiar to other items within their range.
Overall, the mesh back section is the compromise here, with added breathability coming at the expense of some of the shower protection, but for a lightweight gilet designed to keep the wind off and deal with any chills in the air, this is a lovely piece of kit.
In a UK summer I rarely head out for a ride without it.