Togged Up (Just For Cyclists)

Today was just a short-ish spin – time wasn’t on my side. It was a first time out for a ‘Funkier’ brand short-sleeve cycle shirt (under a light-weight jacket I should add – this is summer, after all!). By coincidence I was also wearing some of the same brand’s shorts – they just happened to be next to come out of the airing cupboard.

The shorts have worn well and are generously padded; the shirt was very comfortable and did all the right things – fits well, gripped where it should, decent pockets and so forth. Crucially, it only cost about £25.

Over the years I’ve bought and worn clothing by Agu, Altura, Assos, Campagnolo, DHB (the online store Wiggle’s own brand), Funkier, Le Coq Sportif and Rapha. In case anyone finds it useful, here’s my purely personal, non-scientific run-down of how I’ve found each brand:

Agu: stunningly good. I have jackets by them bought in the mid-80s which are still almost 100% – all zips fine, showing hardly any signs of wear. And they’ve had a lot of use too. If I could find current Agu stuff in the UK that wasn’t team replica, I’d want to try it. I can’t comment on cost – it was far too long ago.

Altura: never that expensive, always pretty good. I just have some of their tights and track mitts. I suppose they lack that final something that makes an item exceptional, but at the price no-one should complain. Their stuff seems to wear well.

Assos: I had one pair of their mitts which the name peeled off from very quickly and the pull to enable you to get them off broke after a couple of rides. I took them back. On the other hand, their serious winter gloves are excellent. I also have two pairs of their shorts which I bought in a sale. At sale price they’re fine and have worn well, but I’ve not found them remarkable in any way. I wouldn’t be over-joyed if I’d paid full price as full price for Assos is silly money – for that outlay I would want remarkable.

Campagnolo: A few years back their range wasn’t as hideously expensive as it is now and all the shorts, tops, tights and jackets I have of theirs have been good. One zip on a winter jacket failed but that’s about it. Some of the tights are showing a bit of wear – but they’ve been worn, a lot. I’m not sure I’d pay today’s (full) prices though …

DHB: a bit hit and miss but inexpensive. I bought a pair of their shorts and they were fine; I bought a second theoretically identical pair, just a different colour, and they’re nowhere near as comfortable – the bib seems wrong. Some DHB socks have worn well.

Funkier: I’m impressed – the shorts and now the top seem technically good, in the case of the shorts to wear well, and to be exceptionally good value.

Le Coq Sportif: either of the two pairs of their shorts that I own are the ones I’ll hunt for in the cupboard if I’m doing a longer ride, they just seem very ‘right’.

Rapha: I’ve had a base layer which was disappointing – fell part very quickly – and a couple of pairs of their socks weren’t much better. I also have a pair of their leather mitts but they’re not a great fit … Rapha were an expensive option from the start and are now fantastically so – whether the current range justifies it I couldn’t say. The items I’ve had were all bought when the brand was new; on that basis I’ve not gone on to try anything else by them.

As I said, that’s just on a ‘for what it’s worth’ basis and is purely subjective – others might well have a totally different experience and that’s fine by me!