Gerry Ryan is back on the radio this morning extoling the virtues of shopping in New York and the value to be had in designer clobber which can be purchased at a fraction of its normal prices in outlet shopping centres such as Woodbury common and Jersey gardens .
Cyclists tend to be a fanatical bunch when it comes to their bikes and equipment where weight and colour co-ordination along with responsiveness and sharp handling are all important . Cycling specific clothing has also of recent years become more and more technical .
The days of wooley jersies that would hang down almost touching the rear wheel when they got wet are long gone . They have been replaced by hi-tech materials which have opened up a whole new dimension to all weather cycling .
An indication of just how far advanced cycle clothing technology has progressed was when former Formula one multiple World champion Michael Schumacher turned to Assos to make the padding for his car seat . The same chamois which is used in the Assos fi-13 shorts was adapted to fit the Ferrari seat . Assos have led the way when it comes to comfortable shorts with a range containing the f1-uno for €110 and the f1-mille for €145 with the assos logo on the side which looks well . Then it is topped off by the fi-13 which at €189 is not cheap but is the ultimate in comfort . When combined with the Assos chamois cream even the ultralight Selle Italia Slr saddle can feel comfortable .
Cycling has also led the way when it comes to waterproof , breathable technology . The Assos Micro – clima rain cape leads the way in this regard . The texture of the material actually changes when it gets wet as it bubbles up very slightly . This enables it to expell any condensation caused by perspiration whilst blocking out 100% of the rain . At €169 thay are not cheap but they always prove their value . One night last winter I was doing a couple of laps of the by-pass in constant rain when I got a puncture after 90 minutes or so . A normal rain cape would have kept out much of the rain but the internal condensation would have meant that once you stopped you would quickly begin to freeze . Not so with the Assos micro-clima cape . I was truely impressed by the fact that after 90 mins of constant rain and then stopping to fix the puncture I was totally dry underneath and felt warm and comfortable . Altura has come up with a pretty good alternative in the form of the Strada cape which at €75 is good value .
The base layer is another area which has been greatly improved . The days of sopping wet cotton t-shirts have been replaced by merkalon mesh t-shirts which wick away every ounce of sweat when combined with breathable jersies and jackets . The Giordana base layer t-shirt is light and works well for €39.95 .
Finally comes the item which revolutionised winter cycling , the Assos Airblock jacket . I have often used this jacket in December / January with just a base layer underneath and felt perfectly warm throughout the three or four hour spins . The current Airblock 851 jacket is not cheap at €229 but may well be the best money spent on any piece of cycling equipment or clothing if you want to train all year round .