Sunday, 7 April 2013

Review: Solo Cycle Clothing

Solo is a New Zealand based brand, available in the UK direct from Solocc.com or from select retailers. Their range of high quality jerseys, shorts, jackets and accessories is beautifully designed and made; over the last month I've been testing out a few of their products in the UK "Spring" weather, and have been very taken with the designs and quality.


The Solo Retro-Tech Winter Jersey
The Winter Jersey from Solo is designed to be a versatile, warm and luxurious top. It certainly fits those criteria well; made of a close fitting, fleece backed thermal fabric it is beautifully warm, and has been my top of choice on many occasions this spring.

The jersey's 'Retro' label alludes to the subtle classy touches on the jersey; the striped track-top style collar and cuffs, and the red zip baffle. The close fitting silhouette is perfectly tailored to a cyclist's physique, and the stretchy fabric means it is comfortable even when pushing it hard.

The design details are what set the Solo kit apart from others; one of the features that I really like about the Winter Jersey is the pockets. There are three deep rear pockets, made of a strong reinforced material; this is a great feature, winter rides are when you stuff your pockets full of food, tools, a rain cape and spares, and it's great to have the confidence that the jersey will hold it all securely. There are two zippered pockets as well; one waterproof one on the back and one discrete fabric one on the side of the jersey; the waterproof pocket is pure genius, perfect for keeping your valuables dry in an unexpected spring shower. I have found the small zippered side pocket surprisingly useful as well; great for putting light but valuable objects in, with the assurance that they are safe.

The Winter Jersey is a great bit of kit then; built to last and designed with functionality and style in abundance. It will keep you warm and comfortable on your spring rides for certain, and will carry all your riding essentials securely for those sunny, if slightly chilly miles that compose our spring time climate. 



The Solo Retro Cap
Cycling caps are such a simple item of cycling clothing, but when the manufacturer gets them right there is something very pleasing about it; so much so that many of us will just have one turn-to cap that tops all others even when it is old and worn.

The Retro Cap from Solo is definitely a great cap; it fits perfectly, it has the right sized peak, it hasn't shrunk after washing it (it is best to hand wash your caps in warm water to avoid damaging the peak). It also matches my team kit!

That's pretty much all the boxes ticked that I can think of!

The cap comes in four great classic colour schemes, so hopefully you too can find one that fits your team kit.







The Solo Winter Beanie
Early mornings out on the bike are still cold, and wearing a fleecy beanie under your helmet is a sure-fire way to conserve vital body heat and stay comfortable. The Solo Winter Beanie is a great cap for this purpose.

The fleece backed thermal fabric is lightweight enough that it fits under a helmet comfortably, yet is very effective at keeping you warm. Unlike a skull cap the beanie has the traditional fold-back design; the result is that the front area covering your forehead is effectively double-cuffed and so has added warmth and protection from the wind. In my opinion this is what really sets this cap apart from similar skull caps.

The Beanie is beautifully made, highly breathable and when it does get a bit moist, it is machine washable. It's a great accessory for the winter and spring, and well worth investing in to keep your head warm.



Solo Luxury Socks
A good pair of cycling socks is much like a good cycling cap; hard to find, but once you do, you sure know it.

Pull on these socks from Solo and I'm pretty certain you will know you've found a good'un. They are indeed luxuriously thick, soft and well made; with a ribbed ankle cuff, a breathable mesh upper and reinforced toes and heel; they are built to last, and keep you in comfort throughout their long life.

The socks come in a twin pack with a black pair and a white pair; so you don't have to worry about wearing white socks out in the rain and finding that they are grey when you return. At £21 the pack presents fantastic value in my opinion; you can be sure that these socks will carry on going strong all season long.


Solo Merino Wool Baselayers
Merino base layers are quite likely my favourite piece of cycling kit; they are warm when you want them to be, cool when you start to heat up, and if they are a good quality one they will last for a long long time. 

Solo's merino wool baselayers are definitely a class act; they come in both a sleeveless and short sleeved version, and are made to the highest level. Perhaps it's no surprise that the New Zealanders have selected the best quality merino for these vests; after all it is on the New Zealand hills that many of the world's merino rams graze. One thing is for sure, these are the best quality merino that you'll find; they are soft, strong and subtle. A good test of the quality of merino is how well it washes; the Solo merino hasn't thinned, bobbled or shrunk with many 30'C machine washes.

Get some merino base layers this spring and you'll be thanking yourself throughout the year. There is nothing else quite like them. 


All of the Solo CC kit that I have reviewed shows some fundamental qualities; these products are designed by cyclists, for cyclists; the result is luxurious, robust and beautifully tailored kit, well worth investing in.

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