While it might be cruel to say that most cycle clothing studiously ignores mainstream fashion in favour of doing it’s own ‘parrot bathed in cyalume’ coloured thing or just endlessly recycling 1950s road jersey designs, Charge Bikes‘ clothing spin-off Surface has set themselves apart by making kit that you’d happily wear off the bike as well as on it. They’ve just launched their new website where you can buy online too at www.surface-clothing.com…
Their trademark stripy Crew socks are pretty much everywhere (including the feet of that Chris Akrigg chap) and their cosy and water resistant Snugflex hoodie is as common in 24hr race pits as your local fixie hipster café but for 2013 they’ve expanded their range with some new cosy things, waterproof stuff and even some luggage, which brings us nicely onto their new rucksack.
It’s a simple but voluminous design, made from tough nylon with reinforced synthetic cow in areas of high wear. It’s definitely an urban/commuting bag rather than a serious off-road pack, with some neatly done reflective detail integrated into it plus a rear light holder. Inside there’s a suspended laptop compartment and the double drawstring design should keep the rain out and you kit in when you’re commuting. It’ll cost £69.99.
Hand made in Dorset, these realistic looking Surface Gnomes can bring a touch of class to any garden – sorry, wrong caption. These are the new Surface Wool Hats (£14.99), modelled by the lovely lads of CSG. We imagine that the hats will do all the things their socks do (warmth, comfort, complimenting your skin with nice colours, a sense of deep inner peace), but to the other end of your body. We like.
New for 2013, the Surface Parka is their most waterproof jacket yet. Styled on the classic mod/Mancunian indie singer parka, we reckon it falls firmly into the love or hate category, complete with elbow patches and a load of zips and toggles. The cuffs are elasticated and adjustable to keep weather firmly on the outside and the inner has a mesh lining to stop it getting clammy. It’ll cost £109.99.
If you prefer the look of 1980s hip hopper to 1960s scooter rider, then the windproof and water resistant Wind Jammer will be more up your street. You can take your pick from orange/brown, white/blue and a red/blue mix.
Along with the showerproof Pertex jacket, the Aquaphobic waterproof is unchanged for 2013, with all the features and the extremely nice cut remaining. Blue liner and herringbone weave, mmm.
Can we mention the socks again? They’ve got new colours…
A new brand to CSG is Fuse Protection, who do a simple range that’s aimed at BMXers but has plenty of dirt jump crossover potential. Their knee and elbow pads come in easy to understand ‘Light Defence’ and ‘Full Defence’ versions, coming with and without hard shells respectively. Their Icon lid (£39.99) is clean looking pisspot style helmet with plastic outer co-moulded to an EPS inner. There’s plenty of venting directly above the head, so wearing it should be less like having your head boiled in summer months.
Since we’ve done heads, shoulders and knees, it’s probably time to move on to toes. Almond are yet another BMX brand and although probably not idea for riding about in the mud, their footwear range looks like a nice casual alternative to the usual names.
If you’re more interested in technical, pure riding clothing then Sugoi’s new RSX Shorts (£110) will be more to your taste. They’re made from a nice lightweight ripstop fabric with super lightweight seam welded mesh panels to aid venting. We’ve got on well with Sugoi’s fit in recent tests but these shorts have another couple of stand-out features. The liner is infused with Xylitol – yes, the stuff they put in chewing gum that gives it a fresh and clean tasting flavour – which Sugoi say gives a 40% cooling effect when it reacts with your sweat.
The second tidy feature is the BOA adjusters, more usually seen on shoes and helmets, above the hip, allowing you to quickly and easily cinch in or relax the waist.
The detail continues with the Shift gilet (£70) which, as well as being windproof and shower resistant thanks to the DWR coating, uses magnets as fasteners, meaning it should be nice and simple to adjust on the fly.
The Virsa jacket (£100) takes the idea a stage further, with the joined (dare we say bolero?) sleeves being removable in a similarly magnetic way. We’ve always liked the idea of removable sleeves but never the faff of having to unzip them, so we’re looking forward to getting one on test for this Indian Summer we keep being promised…
This is the Ladie’s Hydrolite jacket (£75) which is really designed for running, but with as a highly breathable and water resistant shell layer, we reckon it’d be an excellent bit of multi-sports kit – nevermind the fact the pattern is really nice.
While we’ve focused on Sugoi’s higher end kit, they also do some much more affordable mountain bike clothing, in the form of their their RPM X range. The shorts (£50) are nicely cut and they come with a removable liner with quality pad. There are a paid of zipped pockets at the sides plus one on the side and the back.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that cycling isn’t really about the kit at all. While we were being distracted vy product, Team GB’s Paralympic track team were circling the velodrome at a staggering pace. Here’s Aileen McGlynn and Helen Scott, who are aiming for gold in the team events…
If you missed the first part of our coverage, including the new Charge Bikes Faucet hardtail and Freezer Ti with printer dropouts, take a look here.