This is Cambridge roundup: Epic and Omloop

Winter is still coming. Though it still looks fairly mild at times.  There’s always something really satisfying about getting out there in the worst conditions. And with Storms Ali and Bronagh having moved through in quick succession there’s been an opportunity to test some autumn and winter gear from This is Cambridge.

The Epic Long Sleeve Jersey (click to buy)

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Just buy one. They’re reduced from £107 (already a lot cheaper than the similar Rapha midweight) and, at the moment, they’re down to £74. This is still a fairly lightweight autumn jersey with no fleece but it’s a surprisingly warm thing indeed.

This is Cambridge say that “the Epic long sleeve jersey is an aggressively cut jersey perfect for CX racing and training.” It seems a shame to get it dirty in cross but I may well use it on the drier colder ones. There’s a green and olive colourway that is probably better for getting dirty though there aren’t any issues with washing dirt out of this one (a mudguardless run this week demonstrating just that). It’s heavier than a summer jersey but, without sticking it on the scales, it’s difficult to get an idea of how much heavier it is. Let’s go with “a bit.”

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It’s all nicely put together with a top quality zip and an elastic gripper. There’s a baffle running up the inside of the zipper which keeps some wind out but this is not a windproof jersey.

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Despite the lack of fleece it’s pretty warm at 5 degrees when paired with a suitable base layer. Stuck a gilet over the top and you’re left with, in essence, a heavier jersey with built in arm warmers. If you run warm that kind of setup could see you wear it on the warmer winter days.

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The block theme continues round the back and there are three pretty deep pockets to hold all your stuff. I have a Galaxy S8 plus which is swallowed with ease. Fit wise I opted for a large which is good for up to 41 inches apparently. I’m 40 and it’s pretty much at the range of fit (i.e. racy) so if you are at the upper end it’s best to go a size up. Personally I find form fitting right for autumn (I can get a base layer in just fine).

It is, to be fair, a pretty epic jersey. I’ve been wearing it from down to 5 degrees (with the setup outlined above) and up to about 17-18. It’s comfortable throughout that range and very breathable. That it looks great and has the usual quality you come to expect from TICC is just a bonus……

Of course, what’s really important in all of this is to make sure that you match it with….

This is Cambridge Omloop Socks (click to buy)

….the right socks.

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The closest TICC come to doing a symmetrical sock is the Grimpeur but even that one is subtly odd socked. The Omloop socks continue the proud tradition of being entirely odd pairs. Incidentally Omloop means “circulation” and these merino socks really will keep you warm. They’re also reduced at the moment to £13.65 from £19.50. Let that sink in for a moment. I know you can get cheap winter socks but a lot of the premium ones are about that (more expensive) price. Even the venerable DeFeet Wooly Booly are £18. So that reduction is quite something. They’re padded, reinforced and out of the packet feel absolutely fantastic. They’re not overly voluminous either so fit very well in all of my existing shoes without causing any feeling of pinching. The addition of nylon reinforcement and lycra stretch just adds even more comfort.

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Length wise they’re “on message” as it were coming up to mid calf. There are four colours to choose from so there should be something for everyone. And if you want to have a bit more protection then TICC do some rather fetching non matching oversocks too. These are lovely socks, I think I shall get some more for walking round the house in winter.

But, onto the star of the show…..

This is Cambridge Omloop Jersey (click to buy) 

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Let’s clear a few things up. This isn’t cheap at £155.  It really is quite racy (I thought of sending my large back but it’s just fine on the bike) and what on earth is it? Well its kind of a non windstopper windstoppery gabba-esque non gabba long sleeve winterish jersey.

Let me explain……

When you unpack this it’s clear that there is no windstopper membrane present here but neither does the jersey feel like soft fleecy fabric. There is a thin fleece lining which is what keeps you warm. The main material is a close weave knit which effectively blocks out the wind while allowing it to be more breathable than something like a Gabba. Then there’s the addition of a DWR coating which makes rain simply run off it. The arms, in particular, feel slightly rough to the touch externally but the interior is oh so comfortable. TICC describe this as a three season piece. Often that means spring, summer and autumn (which are normally all the same in the UK). They’re not specific but I think they mean Autumn, Winter, Spring. It’s a bit too warm for summer overall, even the crappy days.

The fit it outstanding provided you stick to the instructions. Again, this was about at the limit of my chest and waist but it really disappears on the bike. I’m glad I didn’t size up. In terms of what’s going at the front there’s a brilliant quality zip with an outer baffle which prevents water getting in (subject to what I say later). The neck is bang on in terms of length, arm length too is perfect and everything stays in place with that waistband. The termination of the sleeves is simple and effective, bonded cuffs which you just can’t feel.

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Oh good, another black jersey you say. Well, yes. But I trust that polka dot pattern is sufficient to make you a bit more visible than all black. When riding yesterday I wondered if TICC might consider extending that odd sock look to this jersey? An all pink and white polka dot arm would be an interesting addition. But I digress, at night, what good are those white dots?

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Well, that good. Combined with the TICC logo and “higher further” decal it positively pops. If you’re turning left and signal you can’t fail to be seen. Perhaps some dots on the back of the right would help if turning right?

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Round the back and the dots continue on the rear pockets. It’s hugely effective and should see you seen in the car headlights very well indeed.

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There are three rear pockets. They are pretty deep but not awfully wide. Nevertheless they keep everything secure. There’s also a zipped valuable pocket to the right (in the pic) of the dotted pocket.

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In use, it’s tremendous. The tail end of Storm Bronagh saw massive winds and some hefty showers. This worked brilliantly from early windchill to shrugging off showers. How long that DWR will last is, of course, the usual question but the nature of the knit suggests it should stay around, with careful washing, for a good amount of time.

At £155 it’s competing against a lot of really great kit. Comparisons with the Gabba are obvious. But this is something a bit different in terms of what it is, and, from my point of view so very much more stylish and individual. That it competes with what something like the Gabba does is testament to a fully thought out design process. At the moment they only have M and L but other sizes should be restocked in the coming weeks.

The TICC stuff is outstanding. Stylish, well made and brilliantly thought through. They’ve come a long way since being a cap company. Brilliant.

 

 

 

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