Rivelo Pembridge Jersey and Honister Bibshorts

I’m seriously considering a steel frame bike for commuting and touring. With disc brakes, naturally. I’ve an Ornot bar bag on the way too. I’m considering a rack, panniers, doing the Cambrian Way and buying some Giro Republic LX leather shoes. There’s a mix of the retro, the cool, the bang up to present. But it leads me to some issues. I mean, I can’t really do Assos on a steel tourer with mudguards. It’s incongruous. So, inevitably, an entirely new type of wardrobe will be needed and I will write about that in due course.

But, actually, perhaps I don’t need to worry. For, in my view, the Rivelo range does seem to be a range which is capable of being, if not all things to all men (and women), then most things to most men. The look is both modern but stylish, understated even. At home on the lurid green Supersix as it will be on the Condor Fratello disc.

When Rivelo contacted me about this review they asked whether I’d be happy to review the green Pembridge jersey and their new blue Honister bibshorts. And, I have to say, I tried to steer them away from that. I had the old “blue and green should never be seen’ phrase running through my head. I cogitated, and relented. My thinking on reflection was that there’s too much black short going on, so, why the hell not? And, you know what, it was a pretty wise choice.

The Pemridge Jersey (rrp £90) Click here to buy

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“Made with super soft Italian fabrics for comfort & breathability during those long summer rides. Understated design but loaded with technical and performance detailing and ergonomic panelling, giving the best possible fit whilst in the riding position.” That’s what Rivelo say. It’s sage green, if you’re interested. There are 3 other colours too, navy, black and grey.

Mine is a large, cited as being for 39-41″ chest and it’s spot on. It’s race fit and, given the “High stretch Xtra Life & Sport Energy Lycra” it fits like the figurative glove. Indeed, it’s worth pausing for a moment to consider the construction. This isn’t our traditional mesh like jersey. Indeed, it’s got more in common with your lycra bibshort than a jersey. It’s a super soft material that clings to every part of you. Now, of course, that might not be the best look on everyone but even I have lumpy bits, and it’s fine. It’s actually one of the most comfortable jerseys I’ve ever worn.

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Round the front it’s all very traditional, an all round elastic gripper keeping everything sorted at the waist. And on that score, it’s a medium length jersey, long enough to cover what it should when you’re standing, short enough not to bunch when you’re on the bike. The zip is quality being made by YKK. The collar is Goldilocks. I like the branding, I like the contrast arms, I love the fit.

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The arms benefit from a supersoft gripper and that meshy panel which aids breathability. It works. It’s quick drying when it’s hot. It’s probably a little warmer than a full on climber’s jersey but it’s still entirely appropriate for the hottest of days. On that score there’s also UPF 50+ treatment so it’ll protect you too.

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It’s the back that I particularly like. The mid pocket is raised to take larger items. The other two graduated slightly shorter. The white elastic trim keeps everything in place. Inside there’s a black fabric strengthener to make sure that you won’t pull it all apart when stowing loads of stuff. There’s reflective trim, at the bottom, and a zipped valuables pocket. That pocket has some water resistant lining.

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In use it’s just spot on. Off your body it tends to wrinkle a bit, especially once washed or scrumpled up. But on your body it’s all flat and smooth. And, as I say, extremely comfortable. It makes you feel good wearing it, and that’s a real plus.

As with all of Rivelo’s kit it’s currently available through Sport Pursuit. The RRP is £90 though, at the moment, the blue version is on sale at £39.99. If you keep an eye out I suspect that the other colours will rotate through that price at some point.

And that begs this question. Is this worth £90 when it’s sold at £39.99. Normally I’d say, wait and, if you like, you still can. But, for me, this is a jersey which is worth the £90. And, if you really want to know how much I like it, I took advantage of the price reduction and bought the blue one too.

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Rivelo Honister Bibshort (RRP £120) Click here to buy

So, blue bibshorts. I took a whirl because they are different and, I have to say, all the better for it.

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You may recall that I tested the Rivelo Headley 3/4 Bibknickers last autumn and came away impressed. They’ve been used for winter rides, commuting and some frankly horrifically muddy CX races and they’ve stood up well to everything that I’ve thrown at them.

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Starting with the most important part, the pad.  Once again, it’s from elastic interface. who make pads for many of the premium bibshort manufacturers. I understand that it is once again the Bastogne Race pad good for rides of about 5-6 hours or so. Having used the shorts for rides of just short of that I can attest that it’s comfortable and gets on with the job well. It falls perhaps just short of the very best at that price but it’s still very good indeed.

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The leg grippers are of the giant elastic band type. Don’t worry, the interior branding doesn’t stamp itself onto your skin. It’s a comfortable affair. They stay in place very well.

The upper is a traditional mesh design. The belly part is pitched quite high so provides a good level of support for any cake induced baggage. The lycra is exceptionally comfortable and reassuringly premium feeling. If I had to be picky I’d say that these would be good for warm temperatures but if you’re climbing the Alps at midday they might be a little warm. That said, that slight additional thickness does mean that these are a very good all year round option too.

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There is brading present, but in a good way. The contrast black trim of the leg grippers is a nice touch, avoiding blue overload and tying in very well with the contrast trim on the arms of the jersey if you’re wearing them as an ‘outfit.’

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The leg length is pretty much mid. None of this almost at the knee business (which I’m not awfully keen on). In use they’re very good indeed. The feel is excellent.

On the subject of wearing them as an outfit…..well, that green and blue combo is, in my view, a bit of a knockout and certainly different. My wife is now a little blase about all of my kit reviews but when I appeared in the kitchen wearing this combo she actually stopped to say that the whole thing was very nice. She’s probably angling for me to get her the women’s equivalent. So I may well do. But that is a pretty good measure of this being a very good combination.

At £120 there’s a lot of competition. The Assos Mille at £100 are probably a benchmark for how good a bibshort can be. The Rivelo aren’t far off being as good but the look is certainly a little more eye catching and there are sufficient differences to be able to justify having both of them in your wardrobe.

And, if you don’t fancy the blue there are a few colours reduced to £49.99 at the moment which is, frankly, an absolute steal. In addition if you fancy one of their Hartside jerseys then you can pick up a Honister and Hartside combo for a mere £69.99.

Anyhow, I’ve settled on a green Fratello disc frameset. And once it’s built I don’t really have to worry about finding a suitable combo to ride it, because it’s already in my wardrobe.

Chapeau jerseys 2017: the Tempo and the Club

I first reviewed a selection of Chapeau kit last year and was impressed. That continued to be the case when I looked at their winter thermal jersey. They’ve refreshed their range of jerseys for 2017 and I reckon they’ve come up with a winning selection of kit.

In fact, I think that they’ve a long way in a short space of time. I was walking through a Cycle Surgery branch the other day and came across some of their jerseys from two or three years ago. They were well made, subtly styled but perhaps a little plain. Last year’s jerseys were a big improvement to something more memorable. But, I have to say, with this years refresh I think they’ve hit upon something which cements a little bit of individuality in a crowded market.

In terms of jerseys I’ve been wearing the Tempo and Club jerseys. But there’s also a new Etape jersey for those ‘special days.’ You can take a look at that here. I reckon if I were doing something like the Etape or Marmotte this year, that might be just the thing. But let’s get back to the other two.

The Tempo Jersey (RRP £49.99)

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The Tempo is available in a staggering 9 colourways! Three striped, three plain and three patterned. So there’s something for all tastes there. I opted for a medium on my 39.5″ chest as the cut of the Tempo is a little more relaxed overall. But you still get a nice fit from it.

It’s a pretty straightforward jersey overall but don’t think that means run of the mill. It’s constructed entirely of polyester and the overall effect is of a nice, meshy, airiness. It has a top quality zip and the cut is very good. So you don’t get any sagging or bulging. It wicks well, dries quickly and washes very well too. It might be simple but it’s well executed.

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The back continues the diagonal stripe theme over the three individual pockets. They’re reinforced inside and sufficiently deep for most kit. My Galaxy S7 Edge fits in the middle pocket with no issues at all. They’re elasticated at the top too so everything you carry should be held with some security.

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The waistband is pretty straightforward and works very well. For the price this is a really good jersey. It’s well made, comfortable and very good at the price. The fact that there are 9 different styles is a real plus so there should be something for you to choose from.

Chapeau Club Jersey (RRP £69.99)

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On the face of it the Club jersey doesn’t seem all that different. There are horizontal stripes instead of the diagonal ones on the club. The club ‘only’ comes in five different colourways. All are striped and there are no plain versions this time. But there’s a colour for all tastes too including a rather nice looking grey version.

The main part of the jersey is, again, polyester. But it’s the arms of the Club jersey that get a little more interesting.

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They’re essentially a very thin piece of lycra type material and they are super stretchy. The arm length is mid long which is very on message right now. It’s among the most comfortable sleeves I think I’ve worn on a jersey. So I used this one on a recent 110 mile charity ride and it performed brilliantly. I particularly like the striped branding on the sleeves and that changes according to the main colourway.

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The back is essentially the same construction as that on the club jersey. The stripes only appear on one pocket. If I were being super critical it would be nice to see the stripes continued around the back (from the chest) or along the pockets as a whole.

In terms of sizing the club is cut a little tighter than the tempo so I went up to a size large. They are all sufficiently stretchy but, with this colour, I found that the medium changed colour ever so slightly when fully stretched,  whereas the still close racy fit of the large had no such issues.

The club has fast become one of my go to jerseys simply because it does what it says on the tin. It looks good and feels good. It’s very reasonably priced and those sleeves are outstanding.

It’s great to see Chapeau developing as a stylish and good value brand. If you’re a lady reading this too I’d urge you to have a look at their women’s collection which is, arguably, even more stylish than the men’s collection! Hats off to them.

Bax Carbon disc wheelsets

The disc wheelset has pretty much arrived now. The dearth of choice is finished. Regardless of discs ability to cut through skin, shoes and hardened steel they look like sticking around for a while. And they’re not just the preserve of the commuting or CX bike now. No, the premium and even super hyper premium disc brake bike really is a thing. Whether they make their way into the Peloton again (and in, and out, and in, and out again) remains to be seen. But discs make an awful lot of sense in the UK. And, if you care for them, they should last for ages given that you’re not sanding down a rim constantly. Last for ages, hmm, I wonder if the manufacturers have thought that through?

Choice? Well, yeah, there’s a lot of choice now. But there are still gaps. So, the CX, commuting and general purpose wheel is alive and well. Pay more, get lighter. My Fulcrum Racing 5 Db are still going strong. Those are circa £300 now and not especially light. Up the price a bit, get to £450 or so and you have a 1500g aluminium wheel, jump to £900-£1000 and you have the Fulcrum Racing Quattro disc and the Hunt Aero Carbon. So, despite the existence of the premium disc brake sportive or aero bike, there’s not really much in the middle of the market.

When I reviewed the Bax Carbon 60mm wheelset last year I was impressed. They came in at sub £500, were in the ballpark for weight at that price and made my bike quicker and better looking. They were durable, good on the mountains and the flats, and very effective at what they set out to do. In terms of value, they were excellent.

In thinking about that review and considering what to write for this one, I started to consider what the best depth of wheels is. Can 60mm ever be said to be an every day wheel? Almost certainly not, though they look very fine. 50mm is probably a better balance overall. Slightly lighter, almost certainly as fast, a little cheaper. And, if you’re climbing all the time, then 38mm might make a better choice. But it’s complicated, because if that all transfers quite well to a rim braked road bike, is it equally applicable to a disc braked bike?

Well, there are different considerations. It would be easy for Bax to offer the 38, 50 and 60mm rims that they already did and just add a disc hub. But we need to consider the type of bike they’re being used on. And while the rocket ship aero disc bike does exist I do think that limiting choice, for now, to 38 and 50mm is probably right way to go.

I’ve been testing the 38mm version. These are a pre production model. If you pre order then the 38mm will be £575 and the 50mm £595. Deliveries start in June. After that the prices go up to £699 and £729 respectively. Even after the price ‘rise’ these will be cheaper than similar offerings from the established brands. There will be some changes so, for example, the slight ridge that appears in the photo (where the brake track would have been) will be deleted and the graphics will extend to that section as well. Other than that, they will be the same.

So you’re getting the following spec:

  • Material – Toray T700 Full Carbon – U-shaped Aerodynamic Profile – UD Matte Finish
  • Width – 25mm
  • Depth – 38 mm or 50mm
  • 38mm Wheelset Weight – 1674 +/- 30g 50mm Wheelset Weight – 1745 +/- 30g
  • Rear Hub – 135mm axle, Shimano/SRAM 11 speed freehub, 24 straight pull, Pillar,Aero bladed spokes.
  • 6 bolt disc standard. Front Hub – 100mm axle, 24 straight pull, Pillar, Aero bladed spokes. 6 bolt disc standard. Spacer provided for 9 & 10 speed compatibility
  • Free 5mm Quick release skewers
  • Free 12mm Through Axle converter end Caps, to convert from 5mm quick release set up to 12mm through axle.
  • Free Rim Tape
  • Free Valve extenders
  • Warranty – 1 year

The rims are full carbon and, as discussed, on the production version that brake track will go. So they’ll be a smooth U shaped profile with no bumps. It’s a wide rim so you’re going to get a better profile with wider tyres. In terms of fitting on your disc brake frame, given the nature of most of them, clearance should not be an issue with 25c tyres.

They’re compatible with 10 and 11 speed cassettes. A spacer is supplied for 10 speed along with a shed load of other bits and pieces such as valve extenders etc. QR skewers are supplied and the wheels are QR as standard. But they are convertible to thru axle and all the necessary parts are present for that, though you will need to obtain some thru axle skewers if that’s your thing. They’re also tubeless compatible. You will need to fit your own tubeless rim tape. They still have a hooked rim but that’s fine. There’s a move now towards hookless rims on some tubeless wheels. We’re a way off from that being a new standard.

The hubs are Powerway CX32. That’s a 24 hole straight pull hub with 4 seal bearings. There’s the option, if you wish, of sticking some ceramic bearings in there but, really, they spin ‘forever’ as it is. Spokes are once again supplied by Pillar and are made by Sandvik. As I previously noted those are the same spokes as on my Pro Lite Revo and, 1 1/2 years later, they are still going strong. Out of the box the wheels are true and spoke tension appeared uniform. I’ve used them for over 1000 miles to date and they’re still in the same condition as they came out of the box. In the event that you break a spoke, sourcing a new one should be relatively straight forward. Bax have now branded the hub with their own design which adds a little to the overall look. Aesthetically they are  good looking hub.

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The weight is pretty much as expected. My pair came out at 1681g. I’d imagine the production version will shave a few grammes off that. In terms of weight, that’s not bad. My Fulcrum 5 DB are 1715g and only 27.5mm high. Fulcrum’s similarly profiled Racing Quattro save you about 75g but the RRP is £1199. These are even lighter than my Racing Quattro which, despite being in excess of 1700g are very rapid indeed. In short, weight isn’t everything.

I’ve fitted three types of tyres to the Bax and they’re a pretty normal wheel in relation to fit. Conti Gp4000ii S went on by hand, ditto Schwalbe S-One (now the G-One speed) with only the Schwalbe Pro One needing a little teasing, fluid and the use of a lever (that’s pretty much the case with all wheels I try them on). Obviously you will need to use the adapters to extend the valves or buy longer inner tubes. If you want to go tubeless you will need to look at your tubeless valve length. I’ve not tested these with tubeless tyres (I ran inners in the Schwalbe) mostly because a) they need to go back and b) it was easier to keep swapping the tyres over to get a sense of what the wheels were like with a larger variety of tyres.

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And, once they’re all happily set up. It’s time to add the discs, of course. These are the 6 bolt standard so I partnered them with a set up Shimano XT rotors in 160mm diameter. With all that done, let’s take a look at how they look, for that is, surely, for many, a very important consideration!

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They’re a pretty purposeful looking wheel. Obviously, if you plump for the 50mm version then the effect is a greater one. For me, given what a disc brake is generally all about, I think that the 38mm version makes the most sense. But, if you have an aero disc braked bike (and yes, that’s fast becoming a thing) then the 50mm version adds a mere 75g. From my experience with the 60mm rim brake versions I have to say that overall weight is far from the issue that you might expect. I set one of my fastest climbs up the Rhigos on the 60mm versions. Much depends on what you plan on doing. For every day riding the 38mm are probably the sweet spot but without testing them back to back with the 50mm, it’s hard to say. Given that the 50mm add very little weight, are probably slightly faster and will look exponentially nicer(!) I might be tempted to plump for those.

The wheels arrived about 2 weeks ago with the express purpose of doing an 85 mile sportive around the hills and dales of Newport and Monmouthshire. I don’t have a disc ‘sportive bike’, but two CX ones, the SuperX and a CAADX. Now, clearly, for such an ‘endeavour’ one must put the good wheels on the good bike. This presents an issue of comfort. CX bikes really aren’t intended to be comfortable for such long distances given their aggressive set up. But it’s a tidy test to carry out nevertheless, given the mixed nature of the surfaces and, most importantly, some pretty steep descents. I wanted to test a number of things really, comfort, climbing, durability. The sportive provided all of those things so it was a very useful introduction.

So, we had the short, sharp climbs, the flaky surfaces but also some of the good stuff too, long sections of fresh, black tarmac. And the wheels coped with everything that I could throw at them. They were sufficiently fast on the flat, easy to keep up to a very decent speed. Good on the hills with no sensation of being held back, good when out of the saddle with absolutely no perceivable flex. In terms of comfort, very good indeed. The SuperX is a bit crashy, where my Supersix has a much plusher ride. So the wheels took a bit of a sting out of the ride overall. I hit about three hidden potholes with no issues caused. On the downhills, naturally, they fly and where those downhills really pitch steeply there was no twisting or torque of the wheels under pretty hard braking. They did what they said on the tin, stiff but comfortable. Oh, the freewheel is a loud one too. Campag level. Very useful on shared paths for telling people you’re coming. I finished the day with a number of Strava PR’s (the previous ride having been carried out on a Canyon with Ksyrium wheels).

With that ride done, I put them to other uses. Over my 18 mile each way commute with 25c tyres on, they were fast and comfortable. Swapping them out for the 30c Schwalbe S-One saw comfort levels increase further, the vibration damping combination of the carbon wheels and greater volume tyre working well. There was still a little bit of harshness with the SuperX over the absolute worst surfaces but less than with comparable aluminum wheels and the same tyre setup. They’re probably not the last word in outright dampening but still good overall. Then I swapped the wheels onto the CAADX to see how they dealt with the aluminium frame and that created a very nice setup indeed. In some ways the CAADX is a less harsh frame than the SuperX so the added damping was welcome. I’ve used them in the rain too, with mudguards. It does create a very interesting looking bike, particularly since the wheels are worth more than the bike!

I’ve not tried them for CX. The conditions don’t warrant it (it’s absolutely bone dry) and there are no events at the moment to try them on. I have tried them on some short off road surfaces and they handle that too. But, here’s a thing. There’s no reason, cost aside, that you couldn’t use these for CX. Being tubeless you can run tyres at a lower pressure so the only issue is whether you’d ding or dent the rims if you hit the inevitable stone. Being laterally stiff they will be very effective for CX. There’s also the added advantage that deep section rims may track better through mud and sand, chiefly because the section will remain above the surface of the mud or sand and cause less drag. I say may because there are competing theories that the added weight and the greater surface area to which mud can stick, will slow you down. On this matter, the jury is out. For CX I’d probably say no. But for a long, off road gravel type event? Yeah, I don’t see why not. But, as I say, if you do take a chunk out of them, you might be a bit upset. I think the natural home for them is as the sportive disc brake wheel.

Overall? They’re very good, particularly at the current price. So if you want to jump on that, jump on now. They’re still very good at the more expensive price but that does move them into the territory of other brands there. Still cheaper, clearly, but verging into “for £200 more…” I’ve stuck a very decent amount of miles onto them and they’ve come out well. As a sportive wheel, they’re excellent. If you’re TT’ing on a disc brake bike then the 50mm are well worth the investment. Sure, you’re still getting drag from your disc brakes, but you’re offsetting what the previous wheels did or did not do. And, quite clearly, the 50mm are very sexy beasts.

 

Assos ij.Tiburu insulator jacket

As I was finishing this bit of writing another website ‘got there first.’ Their conclusion was that the Tiburu was great, but limited in the wind and rain, ergo 3 1/2 stars. And that got me thinking about how such things are reviewed. I’ve made no apologies for putting pieces of kit through more than they were designed for in the past. Where they pass, that’s to their credit. But, if they fail at something they were patently not designed to do, does that diminish them?

And if it seems that we’re all reaching for our Alpha jerseys, Gabba jackets, rain repellent wear or water resistant summer jerseys because, well, they do everything, does that mean that the place for the traditional piece of kit that does one thing is under threat? Should our cycling wardrobe essentially be 3 season with a few additions for the very hottest and coldest of days. I can see some merit in that. But it would also be oh so very boring.

Part of the ‘issue’ of reviewing Assos’ tiburu jacket is just that. Jacket. But Assos are not alone in declaring that a winter weight jersey is a jacket. So that preconception of heft should be jettisoned. The Tiburu is simply, if one can call Assos kit simple, a roubaix jersey. And I like those things so very much.

It’s worth adding that I’m testing the ‘old’ model. But the new one differs very little other than ditching the arm patterns and, crucially, coming in at a much more reasonable price. For where this tested version has historically sold in the region of £180 despite having a £145 rrp (I paid £90 in the sales) the new one starts at £145 rrp and is available for quite a bit less. Obviously, that’s not cheap, but it’s worth noting that it’s high quality and Assos will try and fix it if you try too hard and end up breaking it.

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It is a striking thing. I actually own two. The python green above and a black front version. The new model adds orange, yellow and an all black version, profblack even, but the new model ditches the asymmetric sleeve design.

It’s made of proprietary fabrics much like its ‘matching’ Tiburu bibshort.  In this case the tech is Assos’ RX607 low volume, high permeability, thermal fabric, flat on some parts and raised/patterned on others. The idea is that you get something warmer than a regular thermal jersey, hence the jacket moniker. But also something that won’t overheat you. For something that weighs so very little, that’s a huge challenge.

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The collar is mid height and also made from the waffly RX fabric. For me the height is spot on with just the right amount of protection awarded. The zip is high quality and the grabber makes it easy to operate with even a decently thick winter glove.

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The sleeves consist of two types of material. The outward facing section is the waffly type and the inner facing a smoother fleece type. The theory here is that what you ‘lose’ in windproofing you gain in warmth. It’s not just theory, it does just that. Like the Bonka jacket this older design, with it’s geometric shapes, is very useful for catching the eye when moving and, crucially, when indicating.

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The back is the usual setup. So you get Assos’ structural support down the back which makes sure that things don’t sag. There are three open pockets. The middle one is slightly thinner than the other two so that makes a good mobile phone pocket. They’re all sufficiently deep. There’s a zipped valuable pocket which is fairly easy to access on the go. It’s not waterproof, but it’s still an effective ‘filter’ for your goodies if wet. There is a lack of reflective material, the only concessions being two small tabs at the side.

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Like a lot of Assos gear, the Tiburu is very versatile. Because Assos take great strides with their ALS approach (Assos layering system) you can be sure that the other bits of kit that Assos offer will integrate. So, chuck this under a Falkenzahn or a Team Vest and you can be sure that it will fit and operate seamlessly. Alternatively, on those very cold days, you could wear a Tiburu under the Habu jacket turning the ensemble into something very warm indeed, though perhaps that’s overkill. The lengths of the arms, collar and waist sections will always mesh.

But, in general, you’ll be wearing this with a long sleeve base layer in spring and autumn or, at the most, with a gilet in winter. And in the absence of windproofing, is it realistic to recommend the Tiburu when something like the Mille jacket with a heavy base layer could do a similar job? Well, that’s a question.

It’s nice to have a choice. It’s nice to be able to put this on when it’s chilly and get warmth. And in that respect it’s very effective indeed. When do I wear it? Well, overcast days, chilly days, breezy days. Much like the Castelli Potenza Long Sleeve Jersey it’s useable in a wide variety of conditions providing it’s not wet or damp. The lack of windproofing isn’t an issue. In terms of value, is it worth more than the Castelli? Well, actually, it’s priced less at RRP, quite a lot less actually. It’s just that the Castelli ended up at around the £100 mark, similar to what I paid for the Assos. It’s not quite as warm because it’s much less bulky. But there’s only a few degrees in it.

One of the great features is just how comfortable it is. There’s a little bit of pulling when standing upright but, that usual but true cliche, on the bike it snaps into position. No bulging, just a bang on fit.

It’s another great piece from Assos. It’s not quite a jacket on a figurative construction but pretty much there on any literal one. Sure, if it’s cold, windy or damp, get the Habu. If it’s freezing, get the Bonka. But for all those other days this and the Mille are nice things to swap around. It does the job that it’s intended to, no point moaning about the stuff it’s not intended to do.