So, welcome to the last round! I’ll be looking at the last of the kit that Chapeau sent me to review and some of my stuff as well. I’m grateful to Chapeau for sending this stuff. They’re a brand that I was aware of but didn’t necessarily automatically go to. That’s changed and if you’re in the market for simple, classy kit, just have a look at their site before you go elsewhere.
Chapeau Leather Track Mitts (RRP £34.99)
Like the Cafe Jersey, the Welsh expression for these is lush. They ooze class and take care of every single little detail, mostly. They’re constructed from Pittards leather (on the top section) which is beautifully soft. They come only in the colour that you see here. The thumb section is a micro fibre material which is useful for wiping the sweat off your brow. Underneath is a perforated mesh section. The material between the fingers is a little lighter and assists with ventilation.
These gloves don’t have any velcro fastening so it’s a case of, initially, squeezing your hands in and letting them close over your wrists for a snug but never uncomfortable fit. The under wrist section is elongated and reinforced making them really easy to pull on.
Chapeau have gone for a quite deeply padded double mid section and a lesser padded forwards section. It’s a very shock absorbing set up. The remainder of the mesh is springy and provides some cushioning as well. The construction of these is superb. They look bombproof.
In fact, there’s only one omission, a finger pull loop to get them back off again. It’s a slightly weird one but, looking round the ‘net, it’s not uncommon, even with the most premium of manufacturers. They’re a little bit harder to get off as a result but it’s a minor point.
In use they’re really nice indeed. Again, they look best partnered with the club bib shorts and cafe jersey on your nice steel bike. But, these are actually pretty versatile and wouldn’t be out of place on your sportive or, of course, on the track! Inevitably they’re not quite as breathable as a mesh backed pair it’s only marginal and the perforation does provide more ventilation than you might otherwise expect. The leather is also resistant to rain and sweat and stays dry.
The RRP on these is £34.99 and I think that’s actually great value. The detailing and construction is first rate. They’re a superb addition to your summer wardrobe, whatever your road cycling discipline.
Being a cyclist means that you have to explain all sorts of weird stuff to people. No, you don’t wear pants underneath. your shorts Yes, that is a pad that looks like a giant internal nappy. No, it doesn’t chafe. And then we volunteer the information that on longer rides we first slather our bits in cream to keep everything feeling good. Some of us rub it on us first, some of us rub it into our shorts (pad only guys, don’t rub it on the lycra!). It’s no wonder that we are viewed with the suspicion normally harboured for the deviants.
Chamois cream is an essential armament for the long distance ride. It does work. And there are many brands to choose from. The question you need to ask yourself is what consistency do you want and how do you want it to smell. I started years back with Assos. It’s great stuff and smells fairly neutral. It has the consistency of hard cream and has a tendency to harden when left in the drawer so you might need warm it slightly so that it doesn’t have to be rubbed in too hard. I’m wondering how many of you are reading this with some sort of innuendo now. Anyhow, I also have some Rapha cream as well, it’s a bit gloopier and smells like the flowers at the top of the Ventoux. No, seriously, look that up. That’s the claim they make. It smells quite nice actually, but I’ve never been up the Ventoux. That said, my wife confirms that it smells of geranium and lavender, so if they’re up there then they’ve nailed it. I also have some of their winter embrocation. Same tin design. Best not to confuse the two.
Chapeau’s offering comes in a tube. It’s a different way to approach the issue, easy to get out but, like toothpaste, you may struggle to get the last bit out. They do an original “flavour” and a menthol one. I didn’t test the latter but I’d imagine it might be more tingly as described. Menthol cream to rub on your bits. Cyclists.
Anyway, I’m a big fan of chamois cream and, to be honest, I use it for all sorts of things other than cycling (as I read that back it sounds awful). But it’s good for running (and chafing) for a start.
How does Chapeau’s offering compare? Well, it’s really nice actually. Smells good, doesn’t try to evoke any particular flora, goes on well, then works. It has a really nice consistency to it. I’m not going into detail of whether it’s silkier than the rest, it works. Price wise it’s a little better value than some of its competitors. Whilst the market is not especially crowded it’s fair to say that we’re talking about a few quid difference and variations in the volume of cream provided. The amount provided here marks it out as especially good value in that segment. Tube’s recyclable as well. It’s good stuff.
Chapeau Lightweight Socks (RRP £10)
There’s not a lot to say, other than, at the moment, they are three for the price of two. So I bought a variety of colours in the urge to be a bit different. These are the “above ankle” version and there is also an ankle length as well. I opted for this one because I do like a longer sock most of the time. Most of the time I end up wearing them for all sorts of other things as well including under my work suit (but only the pink ones on this occasion).
They’re polyamide and have coolmax in them. I found them a nice and airy sock overall. The sole is padded and they provide a nice snug fit with no slipping around. If you do want to go for a shorter sock then I found that you can fold these down and make them look shorter than they are. Obviously you will need to ensure that your folding skills are a match on both pairs!
Above all they seem pretty durable. I’ve been wearing and washing them and they come up just fine afterwards. The only shame about socks is that they lose that out of the box folding that you get on the new ones and instantly get bunched up in the sock drawer. I might get the cool iron out. In terms of value, given the present offer, I think they’re pretty hard to beat.
Chapeau aren’t alone in providing “lifestyle” wear alongside the rest of their range but it’s still good to see manufacturers doing this. It fits within the brand ethos so I was quite happy to dip into my own pocket and pay for it (along with the socks). As much as I love Assos, for example, I don’t think I’d want an Assos Polo shirt. Indeed, I struggle with polo shirts generally. I have some Joules ones which seem ok but don’t wash well at all. Great initially, get to look a bit rubbish. I have a Crew one which seems a little better. And some Next ones which are comfortably better, in terms of care, than the rest. So when I saw a nicely designed polo shirt from a brand I’ve come to really like I wanted to give them a whirl.
There’s nothing overly complicated here. Just a nice, clean design and 100% cotton as you’d expect. Fit IS relaxed, as stated on the website, and the medium is a good fit on my 41″ chest (though my chest does, finally, appear to be shrinking with the summer cycling regime).
Three colours are available and I opted for the red and petrol. Black doesn’t work on me I am afraid. They’re comfortable and seem as well made as the pricier options in my wardrobe. So far they’ve washed well and resisted shrinking (I tend to take more care with polos now though).
They’re on offer as well. Buy two and you get them for £52.49 rather than £69.98. That’s not the cheapest polo ever but it’s a good price for a nicely designed, good quality one. They’re also, in my view, a smart looking polo and partner up well with a pair of chinos and some boat shoes. Wow, I’m into actual fashion advice now. I should probably stick to cycling kit I guess. But, anyway, good polos in my view. Indeed, I’d like to see them offer a few more colours. I think they’d do really well.
And there you go. That was Part 3. It’s not quite as in depth as the rest as it doesn’t need to be. Please don’t think it’s cursory either. This is top quality stuff and I hope that Chapeau have a really successful summer with this kit. They deserve to. And with my writing Chapeau on, thoughts turn to their winter range, I’m really looking forward to what they come up with!