Universal Colours came onto the scene in 2020 and has since established itself as a brand that creates aesthetically cool kits but is also conscious of its impact on the planet. Committed to improving the way cycling apparel is manufactured, Universal Colours’ mission is to provide kits to cyclists that are high-performing, durable, and both ethically and sustainably made.
All of its collections include unisex pieces and feature the same colour palettes across genders, as the British brand wants to channel its ethos of sharing the joy of cycling together, and its latest AW23 collection is no different, featuring a range of beautiful, vibrant colours, including French blue, almond beige, fudge brown, plum purple, and soft pink, adding some warmth and brightness to our winter wardrobes.
But while it is always nice to have a beautiful-looking kit when out on a ride, it is essential that your kit keeps you comfortable and warm too, especially on cold winter days. To see how the Universal Colours kit held up, we tested it as the leaves fell and the nights drew in to see whether its kit offered fashion and function.
Mono Women’s Bib Tights
Out of the pieces I tried from the collection, the Mono Bib Tights were a favourite of mine. Firstly, because of the extremely soft, brushed thermal lining, and secondly, the ‘Nature Calls’ pee-break-friendly design.
The bib tights are made from recycled nylon fabric that has been brushed back on the inside for warmth, which I can testify to feeling super luxurious and keeping me warm when out riding in temperatures from 0 to 10 degrees Celsius. The outside has a PFC-free DWR (more planet-friendly) coating that repelled any light rain or road spray while I was riding but also remained breathable. Thankfully, I was not caught in any heavy downpours while testing these bib tights, so I cannot say whether they performed as well in the same conditions.
The other feature mentioned is Universal Colours’ ‘Nature Calls’ pee-break-friendly design, a godsend in cold conditions, saving you from removing any of your layers and basically freezing. The design features a small zip at the back of the waist and super stretchy braces that allow you to simply pull the bib tights down without removing any other clothing.
Most importantly on a bib tight or short is the comfort of the chamois, and I did find the Mono’s pad to be comfortable for a certain amount of time, then I found it to cause me some discomfort on longer rides over two and a half hours. It is not a bulky chamois, however, and this added to the sleek look of the tights. Universal Colours logos are placed on the back and middle of the thigh at the front of the leg, giving it an understated and cool look, as well as being reflective for safety.
The bib tights retail for £160, which is middling in the market for bib tights that perform well in winter conditions. They do also come in a range of muted colours – black, brown, navy, green, and purple – allowing people to pick and choose whether they want to add some colour to their cycling wardrobes. I tried the brown colour and found they were a good colour alternative to black, adding a different kind of bib tight to my collection.
Mono Long Sleeve Women’s Jersey
One thing I have always found with Universal Colours is the cut of its jerseys for women is excellent. Despite the brand ensuring it’s unisex, the brand has really nailed the women’s cut, making it very flattering to wear and just as good when in a riding position. The jersey again uses the same recycled nylon fabric as the bib tights but the brushed inside isn’t as thick as the tights. But the jersey is still nice and soft and has a very stretchy construction, which is good because it is a jersey that comes up quite small, especially around the chest and underarms – Universal Colours has even recommended sizing up one size in this jersey. I did not see this statement on the website and opted for my usual size small, and can say that it was on the tighter side and you’d struggle to fit a long-sleeved or thick base layer underneath and have it feel non-restrictive.
The jersey features three rear pockets and a secure zip pocket which has a waterproof lining. This was a really nice feature as I could relax about any of my valuables getting wet or damaged if it started to rain or there was a lot of road spray. The rear hem of the jersey also features gripper dots to ensure that the back of the jersey does not ride up at all, and I found it was kept pretty secure throughout all my rides.
The colour jersey I chose was the fudge brown and it really was a beautiful colour – perfect for autumn and winter riding. It is also available in other colours, including plum purple, mint green, French blue, and black. I was concerned that with such a light colour, sweat marks would show (something I have with the brand’s summer jerseys), but I was pleasantly surprised that no marks appeared on the jersey at all. The jersey is on sale for £120, which I think is fairly reasonable for a long-sleeved jersey in today’s market, however, do remember to size up when purchasing.
Chroma Insulated Unisex Gilet
An essential element to keeping warm in the autumn and winter is layers, and I found the Chroma gilet to be a great essential when riding during the cooler months, especially because the front panel and neck are insulated. Universal Colours says that the gilet uses a Comfortemp phase change lattice insulation that allows the gilet to use your own body temperature to regulate temperature, absorbing and storing heat during hard efforts and then releasing heat when you begin cooling off. I really liked the insulated feature of this jersey and did find that it was effective at keeping me warm, but not so warm that I was overheating.
Unlike the jersey, the gilet has plenty of room for movement due to the unisex fit, and the extra small size I wore was plenty big enough. It also had a slight stretch to it, which made for greater movement and comfort on and off the bike. With no restriction, I was easily able to reach the three rear pockets easily, as well as the secure zipper, waterproof-lined pocket. I liked having additional pockets on the gilet as sometimes it is difficult to easily reach items from your jersey pockets when other layers are on top. It also packs down really well and is easily stored in a jersey pocket.
The Universal Colours branding on the back is a nice addition to the look of the gilet, and being in a similar shade to the colour of the gilet is very minimal. I chose to try the almond beige colour which I really liked, but it also comes in a range of colours, including lilac, grey, and teal. It does retail for £155 which is a higher price point for an item like a gilet, but it is very versatile and I have found myself reaching for it over the past couple of months either to wear just over a jersey or as an additional layer between my jersey and jacket on those fresh winter days.
I really enjoyed wearing the Universal Colours AW23 kit; not only was it stylish on the bike, but it also performed well in changing weather conditions and throughout winter rides. The overall cost is £435, which is certainly an investment if you are buying all three pieces together, but you would be able to wear each of the items throughout autumn, winter, and spring, getting more use out of each piece. If I were to recommend one of the items, it would certainly be the bib tights. I really enjoyed wearing them; they were comfortable, warm, splash-proof, and enabled me to enjoy going out riding in the cold months.