Cycling is beautiful in the summer. Riding through clear skies and glowing green landscapes on dry tarmac that allows you to attack descents without fear of slipping is something we can only dream about in the dark depths of winter. Forget mudguards and waterproofs, summer marks the time to bring out fresh white socks and crisp up those tan lines.
Bikes and sunshine are really a match made in heaven, but there is probably no feeling more uncomfortable than overheating on a long climb, feeling the sweat drip into your eyes and having your jersey soak up the heavy moisture. Overheating can also have a profound effect on performance. Losing salts will lead to dehydration, as well as fatigue and a lack of concentration.
This means that finding cycling clothing that wicks sweat and is breathable is crucial for high performance and comfort during sunnier days. With this in mind, Le Col’s new Lightweight collection uses fabric that is unobtrusive and aids air flow in the warmest of climates, reducing the need for worries about overheating.
Owner of the British brand, ex-professional cyclist Yanto Barker, claims that with the Lightweight collection “you'll arrive cool and confident at your cafe stop, rather than hot and flustered.” It’s a bold claim that certainly sells it to us, but the only way to truly test this kit's merits is out on the road.
So, here’s our first look at Le Col’s Lightweight collection for women.
Womens Hors Categorie Lightweight Jersey
Le Col’s lightweight jersey has clearly been designed with comfort at the forefront of the brand’s priorities. The attention to detail is impressive, with grippers on both the cuffs and hemline on the jersey specifically placed to ensure that it stays in place throughout the ride. Put to the test over a long stint on the bike, the jersey stayed put for the entirety, with no excess material bunching up and causing sweat to gather. This was also helped by the women’s specific fit which hugs the body well and is moulded specifically to suit a female shape.
Details like an additional zip pocket for valuables on the rear pocket and elasticated top of the pockets come in handy. Taking out a bar or gel and having keys or a phone fall out with it is a common annoyance on a long ride, so this extra security allows a welcome peace of mind. The large size of the pockets is also a bonus for endurance rides, as is the reflective detailing which ensures visibility if the light is fading in the final kilometres of a big hack.
Perhaps most importantly, the jersey does a great job of keeping you fresh, cool and dry. The simplicity seems to be key here – Le Col has used one fabric all over giving a minimalist look that doesn’t over-complicate things with different panels. The lightweight material works very well, so why use anything else? The FeelFresh technology does what it says on the tin: it controls odour and wicks sweat, fast.
The material is thin and feels soft against the skin, even the label is made out of a gel-type material which ensures there is no friction or discomfort. The understated logos finish off a jersey which looks, and feels premium. With that, though, comes a slightly more premium price tag, one of the only downsides of Le Col’s offering.
However, we’d argue that it is worth the cost. As a high quality, well-made piece of kit that looks durable enough to last for multiple summers, the Hors Categorie Lightweight jersey does a perfect job at keeping you cool and fresh when you need it the most.
A pair of crisp, fresh white socks is an absolute essential in any summer cycling wardrobe. While we’re partial to a pop of colour, white socks will always be old school cool, and Le Col’s Lightweight socks fit the bill perfectly.
The black lining and subtle branding give a sleek look, but, although they look great, these socks also perform very well under hot conditions. The lightweight mesh weave construction wicks sweat and the ribbed cuff keeps them in place. The only thing that might ruin a nice pair of white socks is them slipping down throughout the day, a fashion faux pas! Luckily, this isn’t a worry here.
Despite the thin, lightweight material the socks are also supportive by being compressive on the foot without feeling overly tight. Plus, the reinforced toe and heel seams make them durable and long lasting, ready to go for the long miles that lie ahead. Overall, they’re simple, but highly effective.
Womens Pro Lightweight Bib Shorts
Bib shorts are always a tough one to get right. The overall fit, chamois and bibs are elements that need to be perfect for optimum comfort through a long ride. Having to deal with discomfort in the nether regions can really ruin your day, so finding shorts that work for you is essential, especially for riding long distances.
Le Col has somewhat thought outside of the box with its Lightweight bibs in a design that we’re yet to see on any other women’s cycling shorts. Mesh side panels run from the top to bottom of the shorts, something we were a little skeptical of at first. However, this innovative design has actually created some of the most lightweight shorts we’ve ever come across. Not only do they reduce bulk, they also allow much more airflow than a basic pair of lycra bib shorts, making them perfect for hot weather rides.
The leg grippers use the same material, creating a tight, second skin fit that gives a barely-there feel to the shorts. This material does lack stretch, however, so we’d advise opting for the bigger size if you’re unsure what to go for. The bibs themselves also use an extremely lightweight, mesh material. They’re soft against the skin, so much so that they are barely noticeable when riding along, a desirable feature for long days in the saddle.
Perhaps the most important element to a good pair of bibs is the chamois. Le Col uses a Pro Dolomiti chamois, the same one as in its original Pro Bib shorts. It has a thicker padding on the rear which becomes thinner towards the front of the shorts. We found this to be a good combination for long rides, providing enough comfort without becoming overly bulky.
Women's Pro Air Short Sleeve Base Layer
There’s always been a longstanding debate about whether a base layer is necessary to keep you cooler on hot days. Le Col argues that wearing its Pro Air baselayer is better than not wearing one at all, with the 3D mesh fabric wicking sweat away from the body to increase breathability and ensure that the garment never gets weighed down by excess moisture.
The base layer sits very close to the skin, something that we found to be a great help to fit under the tight Lightweight jersey. Despite this, it still had a natural stretch and wasn’t restrictive, making it comfortable for the duration of the ride. The Le Col branding on the collar is a nice detail that makes the garment more interesting than a plain base layer and adds a bit of jazz if your jersey is unzipped on hot days.
Le Col’s lightweight collection is optimal for summer riding. The innovative use of new materials in the bib shorts create a garment that is far more breathable than normal lycra shorts, while the jersey and base layer combination keeps your top half cool.
Performance-wise, the collection does a great job, but the understated and classy design really finishes off the kit with a premium look and feel. It’s a collection which has clearly been designed by people who know the demands of endurance riding in the heat, with the minute attention to detail ensuring that you get the quality you pay for.