Many years ago I started cycling and bought some cheap team kit. I was oblivious to the rules. But there were real advantages to buying the kit that I found, it was cheap, it wore well, it was nice. The kit in question was CSC Nobili kit and I thought I was the man. That was 2005. 12 years later and I don’t think that kit has yet reached retro status yet. It’s not awfully special, perhaps it never will. But I remember it pretty fondly as my first ‘proper’ cycling jersey. A few months later I bought a white world champion jersey, knowing no better. Once again it was cheap, and comfy and I thought it looked great. Then the council resurfaced a local road. Cue the end of that jersey, a pair of tyres and some pretty hefty scratches on my chainstays. Fast forward, I learnt the rules. I eschewed team kit and went for, well, something a little more boring…..
Personal evolution is a funny thing. You start oblivious to the rules, learn them, fervently respect them, then say screw them. I really don’t care anymore, I wear what I want and what feels right. Retro for retro sake isn’t always successful but it’s fair to say that the guys at Prendas have turned the identification of what constitutes good retro into a bit of an art form.
I’ve always been fascinated by jersey design. The variation is enormous for what is essentially a fancy t-shirt with a zip. And if I’m fascinated by that wealth of design then for Prendas’ Andy Storey it’s practically a religion. He literally wrote the book on it.
It’s a fascinating read through the evolution of the cycling jersey from the first wool jerseys shorn (sic) of the rampant sponsorship of the modern jersey bang up to date. It isn’t every jersey, but it does cover all the important ones with commentary from Andy on each page. It’s an excellent read with a nod to the design ethos sprinkled with a bit of history. Within those pages lurk a variety of jerseys that were either stupidly cool to begin with or have gained cult status over the years. And it’s from those that Prendas have built a huge following in recreating iconic jerseys.
They’ve always had a knack for identifying the iconic ones, the Mapei, the (Lemond) Z, the Molteni, the La Vie Claire, the Reynolds and, my current fave, the GIS Gelati. And there’s a hell of a choice, as you can see here Prendas Cycle Jerseys
Because the majority are made by Santini and because Prendas’ size guides are great it’s easy to predict getting the right size. And, once you do, it’s then easy to order another design in that size knowing that the new one will fit.
Prendas have been doing this stuff for 20 years from that place down gravel lane in Poole. Even that has retro charm. Down gravel lane is part of the address. And in celebration of that 20 years they’ve recently launched the Anniversary Jersey. If you don’t fancy a long sleeve right now then there’s a short sleeve version, bibshorts, caps and socks (click here)
I’m currently rocking the roubaix fleece backed long sleeve version in an XL. That’s sized for 39-41 chest. It’s accurate so there’s no surprise when you order. Prendas have always been super helpful in relation to sizing, so if there’s an issue, drop them a line.
It’s a striking orange thing. Which is nice, as it matches my new Giro Empire VR90 slippers, watch for a review of them soon. Being made by Santini and having Prendas’ name on it is pretty much a cast iron guarantee of quality. Stitching is excellent and I have no doubt that this will last for many years. It washed predictably, dries quickly and is just the perfect spring/autumn piece.
Indeed, I gave it a bit of a baptism of fire doing back to back 30 and 40 milers on one particular day into some particularly nasty headwinds and finding every muddy back lane it was possible to come across. Armed only with a short sleeve base layer underneath. And it performed very well indeed, keeping me warm, snugly and, crucially, the accumulated road grime was easy to remove with a 14 minute cool wash.
The ska and dogtooth patterns are a nice addition to this design. The Mrs remarked that I looked like a policeman. On the roads, that’s not really a bad thing. Prendas signature stripes are all present and correct. You can see the micro roubaix fleece in the pics above. This isn’t a jersey for the coldest winter days but given how rare they are, this is something that you’ll get a lot of use from.
Round the back and we have a tidy array of pockets including a central zipped one. There’s no weather proofing here but that makes no appreciable difference. If you’re running sans mudguards I’d always recommend that a phone be put in a bag anyway. Sleeve length is generous and will cater for those with longer arms without drowning those with shorter ones. The waist gripper is simple, straightforward and effective.
This is a good design, visible, and distinctive. It’s a suitable commemoration of a remarkable little supplier that just gets on with being great on a daily basis. If you don’t want this colour, then a Molteni, Rocket or La Vie Claire are one of the other long sleeve jerseys available. All will be similarly if not identically sized so you can buy with confidence. The price is a very reasonable £69.99 with the short sleeve (non thermal) variants being between £55-£59. That represents great value for some vibrant reproductions which are comfortable, durable and smart.
I’ve been once again impressed by Prendas’ offerings. This is a no nonsense roubaix jersey that does what it says on the tin. It performs well, looks good and is great value. Here’s to another 20 years, at least.
Of course, evolution is also about moving forward not just updating and, with that in mind, I’ve just received a supply of Andy Storey’s new chamois cream, a side project he’s set up called ontherivet. You can buy some of that here. And, if you used the code StoreyRT at the moment it’ll take 20% off the RRP of £9.99. I used this for the first time on the weekend at Battle on the Beach and, can I say, that’s a damn good test of a chamois cream given the huge differences in surfaces, constant in and out of the saddle and the fact that riding singletrack on a CX bike really does cause havoc to those parts. It smells nice, goes on easy and works very well. Indeed, my only real concern, with all chamois cream, is that it may well last a little too long. So I guess I need to get out more this year so I can order more and keep what’s a fantastic new project going. Andy tells me there are plans for other things such as embrocation in due course, so keep a look out for that. And never, ever get them mixed up.