Sometimes the hardest part of a spring bike ride is getting out of the front door in the right cycling kit. There’s often nothing worse than overheating or feeling goosebumps prickle on your skin as you head out in to the countryside. Le Col’s latest long sleeve jersey and bib shorts aim to solve this age-old conundrum and aim to offer the ideal choice for spring-like conditions.
The British brand has long been one of the front-running kit manufacturers when it comes to women’s specific offerings, creating apparel that is tested by female pro riders long before it becomes available to the public. This precise method of kit development is clear when wearing Le Col – its Pro range is aerodynamic and compressive, while remaining comfortable and practical.
Designed to offer protection from the cold while maintaining a lightweight feel, we were able to test Le Col's Pro Long Sleeve Jersey and Pro Bib Shorts throughout the unpredictable British springtime and ascertained if it lived up to the British brand's good reputation among the female peloton.
Le Col Pro Long Sleeve Jersey
While technical aspects of the Pro Long Sleeve jersey are, of course, important – and we’ll get in to that shortly – the aesthetics of this garment warrant the first mention. The peachy pink shade finished with the white Le Col logo is eye-catching without being too loud, and, for me, it’s an ideal colour for spring riding. As is customary with Le Col, the branding is understated, featuring just the Le Col emblem on the rear and logo on the chest – embroidered for an extra premium feel.
I found this jersey to perform exceptionally well in temperatures ranging from around 14 to 20 degrees Celsius, depending on what was worn underneath. Pairing the jersey with a thin mesh base layer worked at temperatures on the higher end of the scale, while a thicker one did the trick for when things got cooler.
While the garment has a race-cut fit, it still offered just enough room to fit a long sleeve base layer underneath without becoming uncomfortably bulky. Even when doing harder efforts, I found it to be breathable and successfully wick away sweat, without becoming heavy with moisture retention. The brushed back lycra fabric provided a little more warmth than in a usual summer jersey while still keeping that desirable, lightweight feel.
The fit is compressive, and this is something that you’d expect with garments in Le Col’s Pro range – they’re made for racing and aerodynamic gains. However, this didn’t lead me to feel restricted and still left enough space for me to feel flexible while out riding. The women’s specific cut is well-contoured and flattering on a female shape. If you’re looking for a looser jersey, Le Col’s Sport range is probably a better choice, however, as this is made with more forgiving materials.
The attention to detail on the Pro Long Sleeve is impressive; it features three large rear pockets and a concealed, waterproof, fourth pocket with a zip fastening, ideal for protecting valuables.
The silicon band at the hem of the jersey ensures it is kept in place throughout the ride, as do the low-profile cuffs at the bottom of each sleeve. The cut of the jersey’s collar moves away from the more traditional shape, it's a low stack ergonomic collar which ensures that there is no friction or discomfort around the neck while riding.
Le Col’s Pro Long Sleeve retails at £140, which, although not cheap, seems like a reasonable price when you consider the amount of wear that a garment like this could get throughout the year. If, like me, you don’t like the bulk and inconvenience of arm warmers, this jersey is a perfect alternative.
Le Col Women’s Pro Bib Shorts
Le Col claims that its bib shorts were developed with insight from some of the world’s best female riders. As title sponsors of Le Col-Wahoo, a UCI registered women’s team, and with the likes of Victoria Pendleton as ambassadors, we can see the merit to Le Col's statement.
The British brand’s choice to use pro athletes while developing their kit shines through when wearing the garments. Every small detail has been considered, from the chamois, to the short length, to the bib structure. The Pro Bib Shorts sit at the top of Le Col’s offerings, and it would be fair to say that they have a premium feel.
Like the Pro Long Sleeve, they have a compressive fit that’s made for racing. I didn’t find this awkward, however, and liked feeling secure as well as comfortable. Unlike many kit manufacturers, Le Col have stuck to traditional mesh bib straps that don’t offer any solution for nature breaks. While Le Col do sell the women’s Sport Waist Shorts that come without bib straps, I would prefer something built into the current offering. The lack of assistance for an easy removal while on the move was my only gripe with the Pro Bib Shorts, but it was outweighed by the supreme comfort I did feel when riding them.
Thanks to the lightweight fabric and women’s specific chamois the shorts do have a ‘barely-there’ feel, even when I tested them on rides creeping over the four hour mark. The reflective detailing also gave me some peace of mind as the light began to fade, ensuring that I remained visible on the roads. Silicone grippers on the legs meant there was virtually no movement of the garment at all throughout the day, avoiding any rubbing or friction – and helping to secure sharp tan lines.
Overall, Le Col’s Pro Bib Shorts are frontrunners when it comes to the best on the market for female cyclists at the moment. They provide optimum comfort and compressive fit, without feeling restrictive, and this supreme ride-feel makes up for the lack of a solution for nature breaks. Sold for £170, we would ascertain that the price is worth this high-end feel.
Le Col’s Pro Long Sleeve, paired with the Pro Bib Shorts, is great for changeable weather conditions. It’s a top of the range offering and the price reflects this, but the variety of conditions where you could make use of the garments means the cost per wear is economical. Le Col’s matching socks in the same pink colour complete a perfect spring cycling outfit, bright and uplifting with the technical capabilities to match.