Apparel Featured Reviews

Odlo Evolution Cool T-Shirt

Odlo Evolution Cool T-ShirtJust like the Columbia Total Zero T-Shirt (see review here) the Odlo Evolution Cool T-Shirt is not a dedicated cycling jersey – so no lumber pockets, rubberised hems and the like – but with Odlo responsible for supplying some impressive cycling apparel elsewhere and with the Evolution promising good thermal control Cyclo thought it more than worth a look…


Constructed from 100% man-made fibres (79% Polyester, 21% Polyamide) the Evolution is incredibly lightweight with thinner, meshed sections between the shoulder blades and under arm for venting. The fit is necessarily snug so that moisture (sweat) can be wicked away and this it does with impressive effectiveness even under test at near 30degrees.


Despite the close, almost second-skin feel the comfort level is good with a combination of ergonomic fit and 3D circular knitting tech (the same system used for the tubular construction of Buff Headwear), which removes the need for side seams. Unfortunately this is slightly let down by quite bulky arm seams, which we found gave some discomfort across the top of the shoulders once wicking sweat – something exacerbated by the fact that we were wearing a Camelbak for hydration during the test rides. Additionally there was a tendency for the top to ‘ride up’ at the back; a constant reminder that the Odlo Evolution Cool T-Shirt isn’t specifically designed for the bike.


This is undoubtedly a well-made piece of kit and for warm recreational rides, possibly for commutes too, it works effectively in terms of both wicking and breathability. Arguably there’s a place for this almost year-round too – as a thermal base you could find yourself layering with this right through the shoulder season months. But when it comes to pure temperature control the Columbia Total Zero T-Shirt is the hands-down winner…


The Odlo Evolution Cool T-Shirt has a RRP of £35.00 and is available in sizes S-XL and three colours: blue, white and black. For further information see


For our review of the Odlo Trail Jacket see here and for the Odlo Swiss Power Jeresy here.


Apparel Featured Reviews

Columbia Total Zero T-Shirt

Columbia Total Zero T-ShirtAlthough not a dedicated cycling jersey – you won’t find lumber pockets here for stashing those gels and bars – the new Columbia Total Zero T-Shirt had Cyclo intrigued enough to want to put it to the test. With more than 70 year’s of experience in production of sportswear and outdoor apparel, Columbia’s latest range features ‘Omni-Freeze ZERO’ technology, a system of almost invisible blue rings in the fabric, which react with sweat to actually lower the temperature of the material and, consequently, the wearer.


The Women’s Total Zero Short Sleeve V-Neck Top which Cyclo put to the ride is available in black, white, light blue and lilac (the latter two more poetically called ‘Riptide and Velvet Morning); it’s quietly stylish with relatively little branding aside from a discreet Columbia logo on one sleeve. The fit is snug, a necessity for ensuring that the sweat-activated tech actually comes into contact with sweat, and despite not featuring any rubberised banding to the hem (we didn’t really expect any – again: this is not a dedicated cycling top) it stayed perfectly put during test and didn’t ride up at the back.


And the cooling technology? On a relatively warm ride of three hours (circa 22degrees and bright) there was certainly a distinct feeling of cooling – not the artificial sense created by some garments that use menthol impregnation, but actual temperature control. Add to this the fact that it wicked sweat incredibly well away from the skin, which naturally adds to the cooling effect via wind and evaporation, and has UPF 50 sun protection and this T begins to look like a credible top for the bike.


Okay, so we missed having a jersey pocket and some of the swish branding from a ‘real’ cycling top, but as an option for a summer ride – particularly a more relaxed, non-competitive ride – the Columbia Total Zero makes perfect sense to us.


The Columbia Total Zero retails at £35 and is available in sizes XS-XL, along with more from the Columbia range, at


For more information on Columbia see


Apparel Featured Reviews

SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes

SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof OvershoesSealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes seem like such an obvious idea. Since the 1980s, when the first SealSkinz waterproof sock was invented (in a flash of inspiration whilst watching a documentary about John Logie Baird, so legend has it), the company has been keeping bad weather away from the skin of outdoors type. Now the wait is almost over for cyclists with the SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes due for release in autumn 2013. Cyclo took an early first look in the hope they would live up to our expectations…


Designed predominantly for mountain bike and road/commuting (a specific race overshoe for cleated shoes is also out later this year – read our review here) the SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes offer an exceptional degree of weatherproofing, combined with breathability and comfort. As you would expect from SealSkinz this is a true quality product, absolutely fit for purpose and with the kind of attention to detail on which the brand thrives.


The outer membrane swept away water on our test rides, whilst the inner, flocked, lining did an excellent job of keeping feet warm. The design lines are clean, which, the makers quite rightly claim, reduces wind resistance and means that they get on with doing their job unobtrusively while you get on with the ride.


SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof OvershoesThe fit is snug but not restrictive (available in sizes S, M, L and XL) with final adjustments made via a Velcro strap across the upper zip, which features a raised, rubberised, branding flash and an inner waterproof flap to ensure nothing creeps in through the fastenings.


The inch-wide underfoot Velcro strap did its job equally well and, whilst we had initial misgivings about its bulk, it remained perfectly in place without any discomfort. The neon-green pull-on loop is a nicety we admired, it meant that tugging the overshoe on (or indeed off) was achievable without getting hands unduly muddy/oily or risking stretching or misshaping, and for extra safety the zip edges are lined with reflective strips.


Having already put the SealSkinz Waterproof Overshoes for cleats through their paces, we had expected these lightweight, road versions to deliver – and so they did. Their tough construction – which includes a Kevlar toe piece for added durability – should see these through many seasons and the extra niceties make them worth every pound of their £35 RRP.


Once launched in August full details of the SealSkinz Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes will be at To read the Cyclo review of the SealSkinz Waterproof Overshoes (for cleats) click here, and for a review of their Thin Socklet click here


Apparel Extras Reviews

Helmet Liner Pro Buff

Helmet Liner Pro BuffFor almost as long as we have loved bikes we have loved Buff – the perfect, seamless multi-use headwear (the name comes from ‘bufanda’, Spanish for scarf) that has been with us on virtually very ride we can recall. Juan Rojas, a keen off-road trials motorcyclist from Spain, who had worked for more than a quarter-century in the textile industry, realised a need for a simple multifunctional garment that could be worn on or around the head in a range of conditions; eventually finding a high performance microfibre that was breathable, moisture wicking and wind resistant he created a proprietary ‘tubular loom’ knitting process and the Buff was born. New for 2013 is the Helmet Liner Pro Buff – Cyclo, naturally, wanted to know more…


Designed to be worn under a helmet (which also makes it great for potholers, climbers and skaters) the Helmet Liner Pro Buff is shorter than the traditional version at 27.5cm – compared to the 52cm original – and is made from a knitted polyester fabric with a special construction similar to beehive cells for outstanding breathability, wicking and drying.


On the ride we found a comfortably close fit beneath the helmet (an Abus Airflow, which we adjusted slightly with the ratchet dial) and despite the fact that, unlike the tubular-knit traditional Buffs, the Helmet Liner Pro does have a seam, nothing rubbed or irritated. Wicking was excellent and the addition of a topical silver ion treatment to prevent odour that can result from bacterial build up was a welcome addition.


Will the Helmet Liner Pro Buff replacing our extensive collection of other Buffs? Almost certainly not – the traditional Buffs have too many multi-purpose uses to jettison and we love the winter warmth of the Polar Buff and additional safety served up by the Reflective Buff – but the Liner Pro is an excellent and welcome addition that we can see accompanying us on rides for years to come.


The Helmet Liner Pro Buff retails at £15 and is available in a range of six colours/patterns. Further details and online purchase at




Apparel Reviews

Spiro Full Zip Performance Top

Spiro Full Zip Performance TopCycling, we’re sure we don’t need to tell you, is not necessarily the cheapest of pursuits; bike aside, it’s not difficult to find money all-but physically leaking from your pocket once you start to kit up. But can the budget end of the market fulfil anything other than the most basic of requirements? With this question in mind Cyclo took a look at the new Spiro Full Zip Performance Top, a promising looking jersey with a price tag that made for a full-on double-take…


Made from 100% polyester the Spiro Full Zip Performance Top wicks reasonable well in warmer weather but lacking any elastane/Spandex in the mix lacks the closer fit and dynamic movement of more expensive jerseys and as the fabric doesn’t incorporate any antibacterial properties it becomes prone to a degree of stink if left to its own devises.


However, the fit – despite the absence of elastic stretch – is surprisingly good; available in S to XXL for men (chest size 37-49inch) and XS to XL for women (UK 8-16) the jersey isn’t especially long in the back, but sits well and pretty much stays put thanks to an effective rubberised ridge system at the hem. Despite being reassuringly lightweight, the biggest issue with comfort is the seam quality – you don’t need to look inside to judge the bulkiness of stitching, spend a couple of hours on the bike and you’ll feel it. We found, even without a substantial sweat factor, and particularly under the arms, that the seam size and quality resulted in mild irritation – bordering on chafing – in the kind of time frame we would barely consider a leg-stretcher. It’s probably unreasonable to expect flatlock seams at an entry-level price, but this remained the one area where we felt a case of ‘you get what you pay for’ came into play.


Two open lumber pocket – not the biggest we’ve seen, but ample for a gel or two – are complimented by a mid-back zipped pocket for keys/cash and a commendable amount of reflective detailing, particularly in the back, an area sadly lacking in many jerseys we’ve ridden in. Another welcome addition is UV protection, which never goes amiss. In terms of looks the Spiro Full Zip Performance Top delivers either a black/white or much higher viability green/black combo and complimentary jackets and legwear are available if you fancy building yourself a team kit vibe.


Yes, pros and cons – but the price? Drumroll… £15 for the men’s, £13.50 for the women’s. That alone almost (almost) nullifies the seam criticism. At this price you could build yourself a near complete kit (shorts £16.50, base layer £5.90) for the cost of most jerseys alone. The Spiro Full Zip Performance Top certainly isn’t the most technical or robust jersey available – nor did we expect it to be – but it far outperforms its exceptionally modest price tag


Further information at and online purchase at


Apparel Extras Reviews

SealSkinz Waterproof Overshoes

SealSkinz Waterproof OvershoesFor years SealSkinz have been the go-to manufacturer of waterproof apparel; their gloves, hats and socks have kept a generation of ourdoors-types safe from the elements and the only thing really missing for cyclists has been overshoes. That is all about to change with the launch in July of the highly anticipated and long-overdue SealSkinz Waterproof Overshoes – Cyclo got a first look at these and put them to the test. Did they live up to expectations?


Initial impressions were of a truly substantial looking overshoe – as tough as the kind of rides we like to take – constructed from a medium-thickness neoprene material that near-recalled a scuba boot. At the ankle a close-fitting, but not restrictive, silicone leg gripper is included to help keep everything rock-solid in place and ensure water doesn’t enter from the top, whilst the openings for cleat and heel appeared snug and featured Kevlar (which also extends to the toe) for added toughness and to prevent abrasion.


Available in S, M, L and XL; Cyclo was testing the Large which pulled on easily over the shoes (UK size 9 Specialized BG Comps) thanks, in part, to the pull-down loop – the kind of attention to detail that makes all the difference, particularly when kitting up in cold weather and with numb fingers. The heel-to-top zipper, with reflective tab, all tucked away neatly behind the integrated storm flap – which, as the name suggests, further keeps weather at bay – and final adjustments were made with the adjustable Velcro ankle strap.


Cleating in for the first time proved initially tricky. The closures around the cleats are very snug – a necessary feature of such complete attention to waterproofing – but with practice this became easier and a slight amount of ‘give’ (not enough to worry about long-term we felt) also meant the task became less of an issue. Riding in both wet and near-freezing conditions we repeatedly found that the SealSkinz Waterproof Overshoes performed to – probably even beyond – our expectations; warm(ish), dry feet at the end of a long late-winter ride is always something to aspire to and the Sealz certainly helped deliver that.


We had expected good things from the SealSkinz Waterproof Overshoes and good things we got. When launched they will retail at £30 – comparable to something like the dhb Extreme Weather Overshoe – but for our money looking set to compete with the likes of the Castelli Estremo, just at a third of the cost. Sealz will also be launching their Lightweight Waterproof Overshoes specifically for MTB, Cyclo will bring you a review soon…


Once launched in August full details of the SealSkinz Waterproof Overshoes will be available at – to read the Cyclo review of the SealSkinz Waterproof Thin Socklet click here.


This review, in adapted form, is also published on our sister site

Apparel Reviews

The Odlo Trail Jacket

The Odlo Trail JacketWhen it comes to cycling jackets there seem to be as many options, permutations and styles as there are routes and roads to ride – but the Odlo Trail Jacket, a full-zipped high-collar, is distinctive enough to stand out amongst the crowd in more ways than one. Odlo have been around since the 1940s and hailing from Norway, a country not noted for its balmy weather, you would expect them to know a thing or two about keeping their customers warm. And so it is with the Odlo Trail Jacket.


The fine mesh material (the whole jacket is 100% polyester) does an excellent job of venting yet keeping chill at bay even at speed on the bike; the front inner panels have a softer almost fleecy-quality that further help to keep wind in check, whilst the cuffs and waistband, although not elasticated, are snug enough to help here too.


The fit is close yet comfortable – available in S to XL – but doesn’t feel constrictive in the least, always a bonus given the near-straightjacket qualities of some jackets we’ve tried over the years. The full-length zip is really the only snagging point we found; it features a good-on-paper ‘parking garage’ at both the top and bottom to keep the zipper in place, but this proved more than a little fiddly to negotiate, particularly in the saddle and especially one-handed. No such problem with the zipped (non-‘garaged’) rear pocket – generous in size and easily accessed.


That small main zip gripe aside the Odlo Trail Jacket was a pleasure to ride in – the styling is bold, verging on the brash but, so long as you don’t mind the fully emblazoned look (we rather liked it), then it’s a pleasure to wear. Arguably more a BMX, MTB or trail jacket (as the name implies) – perhaps because the styling has a slightly punk/skate attitude – there’s nothing to stop you wearing this on the road – and indeed much to recommend you do.  Odlo founder Odd Roar Lofterød apparently lived by the legend ‘always make sure you’re one step ahead’ – we rather like that. We rather like his name and jackets too.


Online prices seem to vary wildly – ranging from around £80 to well over £100 – so it clearly pays to shop around; features a comprehensive store locator if you prefer shopping in the real world.


Apparel Reviews

Altura Thrermocool Base Layer

Altura thermocool base layer long sleeve top rated best Arguably nothing beats natural fibres for pure comfort, but when it comes to outstanding man-made tech we haven’t found better than the Altura Thrermocool Base Layer. This long-sleeve top – a blend of 73% Thermocool Eco (basically polyester), 22% nylon and 5% Elastano (Lycra) – not only fits snuggly without compromising movement, but comes close to being an on-board thermostat with an outstanding ability to keep the ride temperature regulated.


Fast drying, wicking away sweat from the skin and with a 10% antibacterial ‘Body Fresh’ yarn to deter bacteria and help keep ride-related stench at bay, the Thermocool’s real secret to success is its variable knit ‘body mapping technology’. Stripping away the sciency speak this basically means that the top is constructed with a range of fabric densities – a little like panels with a mesh-look – thinner along the sides and under arm, thicker across areas more prone to cold such as the back and shoulders.


Comfort is paramount, particularly when you’re battling the elements as much as the terrain, and Altura have worked hard to ensure this top is almost second-skin comfortable. The fit is incredibly close – almost compression gear close – yet it moves completely fluidly with the body and with no side seams to irritate and the why-doesn’t-everyone-do-this idea of embroidering the care instructions to the waistband rather than sticking in a flappy label the Thrermocool is as close to perfection as a base layer comes.


This is, by far, one of the most comfortable and responsive tops that Cyclo have ever had the pleasure of riding in. You’ll stay warm when the temperature drops and cool when the heat is on – that, surely, is the point of a temperature regulating base layer; if only all manufacturers realised this simple truth.


The Altura Thrermocool Long-Sleeve Base Layer has an RRP of £44.99 (short-sleeve alternative at £39.99). Further details and retailer information at