For my size (read weight) I’m actually pretty good at climbing. So I don’t really mind testing a climber’s jersey. Indeed I thought it would be quite an interesting thing to experience. Specific segments are all the rage now, winter jersey, rain jersey, aero jersey and climber’s jersey. So, if you spend all your time up and down mountains, this may well be the thing for you.
You might be wondering, from that title, what Haleakala is. Bloody, massive, volcano. Indeed, so massive that it forms three quarters of the Hawaiian island of Maui and all the way to the top is a tarmac road which tops out at 3055 metres. Sound hard? Let me make it harder for you. Here’s the Strava segment. 34.3 miles distance to cover that 3055 metres. And while the gradient isn’t overly steep at any particular point it just keeps going and going…… Professional Cannondale rider Mike Woods stands at the top of the leaderboard. with just over 2 1/2 hours of climbing. For some context in terms of height and distance, nothing on the Tour de France touches it, though admittedly it’s much more about hanging on rather than climbing huge gradients over shorter distances. You might like to take a gilet for the last bit of the climb such can be the temperature differential from coast to summit. Oh, and the Hawaiian for bicycle is apparently paikikala. Say that quickly. Good eh?
The name of this jersey alone suggests it’s there for the big stuff. And if the orange doesn’t float your boat then you can choose from four other colours, each of which is inspired by some of the world’s biggest climbs. How about the Mount Fuji? Or the Col de la Bonnette? The Angliru in Spain which is 24% at it’s hardest part? And finally the Albula (pass) in Switzerland. Bonnette arguably aside it’s nice to see reference to things other than the Tourmalet, Croix de Fer etc. Given that each version of the Isadore climber’s jersey has a specific colour and mountain specific theme I wondered whether I should have a word to see whether they’d create a limited edition Bwlch or Rhigos for next year, nice red one, green arms, dragons. Though I fear I know the answer….
Anyway, Isadore. Had you heard of them? I was aware of them but I didn’t really know all that much about them. And one of the wonderful things about this opportunity to review kit is discovering new brands that I’ve not really considered before. So, step forward Isadore, a company founded by riders to make kit for riders. The company was founded by Martin and Peter Velits (Etixx-Quick-Step and BMC Racing respectively) and family. It’s a Slovakian company and all their kit is handmade locally.
Let’s start here: Great Website, really easy to navigate and really easy to find all the information about what you want. It’s fair to say that Isadore exist at the premium end of the market with the big boys. So anything that they put out needs to be premium feel, premium aesthetic and premium performance. Have a look round, find something that isn’t really damn stylish. Now, you may feel that a few pieces are “out there” but, there we are. And whilst the lookbook photos are a bit arty there’s a nice realism about them as well. Cycling is about many things, cycling excites me, it’s evocative, it’s verging on the spiritual. A lot of the premium manufacturers go for the rouleur, grimpeur, gritty realism. You know who I mean, specifically. But, you know, I really liked the look of this stuff. It’s different, it has something about it. I think they’ve nailed the design ethos, you can see the same themes running through each of the items in the range.
And sometimes stuff drops through your door and ticks a massive box as soon as it arrives. We saw that with the Assos Rally Jersey, a box of delights. And what arrived from Isadore whilst perhaps slightly smaller in scale was no less exciting. Take a look for yourself. I should add from dispatch from Slovakia on a Friday evening it took only 3 working days to arrive at my door.
Nice eh? Oh and, first it’s already made from recycled materials and, second, you can do that again. So we get first rate packaging and saving the earth.
And before we see “it” in all its glory, let’s have some teaser shots of the detailing, for it is the detailing which makes it stand out from the competition. I would say that getting the right shade of orange for this jersey in photos proved particularly difficult. It has to be beholded. I guess you might say it’s marmite but I really liked it because it’s just that bit different. But there are plenty of other colours if you want, blue, green, white. Ultimately, get the one for each climb then get the flight for each climb. See, I had Ventoux on my bucket list. I’ve added Haleakala to it now, me and the wife, no kids.
The first thing to note is that this is a slim fit. It’s a climber’s jersey. That makes sense. But it’s very stretchy indeed so, Martin (yes, that Martin!) at Isadore advised me to go with a large for my 41″ chest and 80kg frame and while it is tight,partnered with bibs and a tiny bit of breathing in (which will be negated by the ongoing weight loss shortly), it fits like the figurative glove. Race fit sure, but very very comfortable. And, before we take a look at the jersey in all its splendour let me tell you that it’s partly made from merino wool. The main body of the jersey, that waffly effect, is a combination of polyester and merino. Not a huge amount of merino, in fact only 23%. That’s quite significantly less than Sports wool but the overall feel of the jersey is that bit nicer, that bit softer and, of course, it should be that little bit better at odour control. It’s naturally high in SPF as well so will provide a great deal of protection from the sun’s UV rays.
The nice Hawaiian printed sleeves and side panels are a polyester and elastane mix. Obviously the whole thing weighs virtually nothing.
So, you were expecting pics? Sorry to disappoint. I just can’t take a photo that I’m happy with. This is a jersey that needs to be seen, outdoors, on a mountain, in the sun. Here’s a few images from their website. It’s the best representation in my view, it’s what it looks like outside, in the sun.
The front is very thin indeed, no surprise there. And whilst there is a see through quality to it I didn’t find that you could see bib straps rather than discern the outline of them. The zip is pretty good actually, I’d read a review where the zip was a concern. I found it fine to do up and one handed climbing type operation was easy. The collar was a good fit though, naturally, you may find that you don’t have it done up all the way given the nature of the intent.
The sleeves are quite lovely. The pattern is complimentary to the colour and to the theme, they cling nicely and the end is a double layered effect. No grippers needed, it just does what it does. The sides replicate the sleeve pattern. As stated it’s a Hawaiian theme here. The Fuji has a Japanese theme, the Angliru a nice leafy effect, some swirls on the Albula.
And round the back we have three very deep pockets indeed, plus one for valuables. And despite being lightweight there’s a heft to the strengthening here to ensure no sagging when you’re hauling a loaf of stuff in the pockets. The ribbing on top of the pockets is very strong indeed and the inside has a strong piece of fabric sewn onto the middle pocket to ensure more strength. Add in the side reflective stripe, Isadore metal logos, flock Isadore logo on the front and it’s all about the details.
It’s class. Utter class. And not all that unreasonably priced given the demographic that it falls into. At current exchange rates it comes out at around £100. Certainly not the most expensive jersey ever made. Given the company it moves in one might even say that’s reasonable.
Actually, I did manage one photo that was good, and here it is.
It’s been hard to test its upper limits I am afraid. But you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that lightweight material will work well in the mountains in the high sun. And despite its lightweight nature there’s nothing to indicate that it won’t still be looking great after a few years of heavy use.
In the conditions I’ve tested it so far, which I am afraid have been a little chilly, it’s performed just as expected. It sits well, which is hardly surprising given its clingy nature, and disappears once on.
In terms of its brief it nails it. It’s a stunning addition from a company that deserves to do really really well. Indeed the only issue I can see is that a wardrobe of each colour is something that would be really nice to have, though perhaps only if you live in a warm(er) and dry(er) climate than we do.
If you want to go full on there are also matching socks and caps for each mountain theme that you opt for. And to top it all off there’s a set of lightweight climbing shorts to match the entire ensemble. Take a look at them, they’re pretty good looking in my view.
Oh and before I forget, I was having a browse of the website and came across this Bundle. £200 for a jersey, bibs, base layer, socks and overshoes. I mean, that’s a bit of a bargain, isn’t it? Free shipping as well, I’m hugely tempted to press the button myself, but I am eyeing up their climber’s bib shorts. Decisions, decisions.
And if the climber’s jersey isn’t for you then there’s a big selection of other jerseys to try including some with a bit more merino and a lot of class.
I was able to ask Martin some questions about the company so here they are along with his answers.
Q: What made you and Peter decide to start a clothing company?
Q: Is it an all family affair now, does the family bike shop still exist?
The bike shop had to move out, Isadore now took all space with its offices. Our father is also helping Peter with his other project – mountain resort development so there was not much time left for the bike shop.
Q: How difficult is it to juggle racing and running a company on a day to day basis?
It’s doable. Sure it’s difficult and to be honest when we started we thought we have more time to spare after all training and recovery is done, but soon we realized that we will need to manage our time pretty well.
Q: Isadore has a fairly bold design ethos. What kind of things influenced the design choices?
The main influences has to be that the design must be clean, minimalist and elegant. Basically we design clothing that we would wear if we would not have to wear our team clothes.
Q: What’s your best memory in professional cycling and what is your worst?
I have great memories riding with my brother, his U23 World Championships title, Vuelta where he finished second or the Tour de France 2012 when is the only time we did that one together. The worst moments are quickly forgotten, I have a good ability to filter those away.
Q: Your favourite race is the Paris Roubaix (I agree!), what makes it so good in your view?
It’s one shot for the whole year. It’s just crazy day and the experience of the cobbles is just unique.
Q: Isadore has an extensive range for such a young company, where do you see the company in, say, 5 years?
We don’t set goal in terms of sales, number of products or revenue. We are trying to create company that is sustainable and great place to work for everyone.
Q: Finally, what’s your favorite piece of Isadore clothing
The Essential jacket at the moment.
You still want pictures? Go on then. Apparently it’s going to be 23 degrees Saturday. I might find a mountain.