A while ago CycloSportive contacted cycle clothing manufacturer Isadore and boldly asked if they could send a couple of sets of clothing to review. ‘No problem at all’, was Zuzana’s answer, ‘what would you like to receive?’ Admittedly, not all designs are to my liking, so I asked fort he climber’s jersey Albula and the climber’s bibshort. ‘Just send me a size M and L of those.’, I answered. Again Zuzana responded very friendly: ‘Of course and I will add a matching cap, baselayer and socks.’ Does it get any better?
It’s hard to write a critical unbiased review after so much friendliness. A couple of days later I received the parcel. The packaging looked promising and patted every detail. A beautiful box with a round hole which gives away a hint of what is in it. Quickly I continu unpacking. First impressions count and mine is great. The design is fine. The shirt is dark blue with burgundy red details. The sleeves and side – both a light thin lycra – and one pouch on the back are in a lighter shade of blue with a print of overlapping circles.The shirt fits like a second skin, perfect!
Isadore isn’t the only manufacturer that uses merino wool for their shirts. Competitor Rapha also uses it. I’ve always had second thoughts about using wool for cycle shirts. What does the marketing machine of Isadore tell us about their reasons to use wool? ‘Merino is one of the world’s oldest and toughest breeds of sheep. The Merino sheep lives in tough conditions in the southern alps of New Zealand. Here the sheep have adapted to conditions ranging from +35 degrees Celsius in Summer to -20 degrees Celsius in Winter. Such extreme temperatures demand an adaptable, breathable, protective wool coat.’ Sofar their marketing story. Wool it is and wool it stays. And I only wear wool in winter. Or not?
CycloSportive tested the apparel mid June during the GF Marmotte Hochkönig. It was a hot day when I climbed the highest mountain of Austria. Nonetheless I wore Isadore’s fashionable outfit. It was hot, very hot, even without a wool coat. The shirt is thinly woven and almost translucent. This makes it very light and you hardly notice you are wearing wool. To my surprise my feeling was correct. The shirt isn’t completely wool, but according to the label a mix of polyester (77%) and merino wool (23%). A bit disappointing after reading Isadore’s site, but the look & feel compensate a lot. The shirt fits like a second skin.
The bib is of a basic black and easy to combine. The brand carries several cycle trousers. Seven to be exact, for every condition imagineable. Although the bib is basic black, that doesn’t say it all. It is divided into patches of different woven patterns. This should give you support in the right places. Do we feel that? The bib is comfortable. All the way up it stays exactly where it is supposed to be thanks to the broad legg gripper. A bib has to stay in place and although all bibs come with a leg gripper nowadays, not all bibs have that quality to stay put and therefore I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Shirt and bib excel in detail, design and quality, but the baselayer isn’t worthy of the brandname. Without using any real force, it’s easy to rip through the shirt. A bit disappointing, but it didn’t really spoil the fun of climbing the Grossglockner in Isadore apparel.