Café du Cycliste is a young brand, located in Nice, and stocked in the UK by London’s Mosquito Bikes.
We’ve tested garments from their “Sur le Bitume” rang of roadwear, one they claim will withstand the rigours of racing. The more casual, Sur le Zinc, range is perhaps intended for more casual riding or commuting.
The insert is a Multi-D Comp Carbonium pad from Elastic Interface. This Italian manufacturer supplies pads to some of the biggest names in cycle clothing, including Assos, Bergamo, and Rapha. The Josephine has an insert designed for long distance endurance rides and tailored with different foam densities, which delivered good weight distribution and comfort.
Our test pilot’s favoured short has a pad containing a consistent layer of foam rated at 80 kgm2. The Multi-D Comp in the Josephine varies between 40 kgm2 and 120 kgm2 (squeezing either between thumb and forefinger is a simple way to appreciate the difference). Personal preference will play a part, and we’ll report from time to time on its performance in blogs by way of longer test, but our initial experiences have been favourable. This is a short we’d pull out of the box for rides of 70 or more miles, confident of avoiding numbness later in the day.
The legs are laser cut, creating the sharp, crisp look exhibited in the WorldTour. The flat lock seams elsewhere were comfortable, and the fabric panels well cut for a comfortable fit. Our test pilot has a 32 inch waist and reported a good fit from the medium sized sample received at RCUK Towers.
The shoulder straps and back panel are mesh with a high linking section at the top of the straps to avoid side slippage; an infrequent occurrence with most shorts, admittedly, but one of the few immediately notable differences from the feel of our ‘go-to’ bibs.
The inner thigh is cut slightly higher than the outer; an unusual feature, but not one that caused any discomfort. Excellent silicone grips kept the marginally longer-than-average thigh sections in the same position throughout the ride, whether hunkered down behind the drops, or upright on the tops.
The Violette Jersey is a polyester and merino wool mix with a classic look augmented by a full length zip. The gently elasticated arms and silicone waist band proved comfortable. The small size was a good fit without being constricting on our 37.5 inch chested tester.
Details abound on this jersey. The usual three rear pockets have additional helpful features; the central pocket has a stitched hole in for a team radio or ipod/phone, and a zipped pocket on its outer edge for keys and change. The right hand pocket contains a sewn in elasticated strip to hold a pump. Both side pockets have angled tops to make removing its contents while riding a little easier. Reflective strips and the racy Cafe du Cycliste logo finish off the rear of the jersey.
In use it did all that we have come to expect from good quality merino wool garments.
In this case, the 66 per cent polyester and 34 per cent wool mix worked well, proving neither too hot in the recent changeable weather conditions, while keeping out the cold on early starts. Cycling in temperatures varying between 16 and 21 degrees, and with very light weight base layer underneath, the Violette performed well.
A good gilet is one of the most important and useful bits of kit to have in your pocket or on your back; as useful on an early morning start as an Alpine descent.
Contrary to most of the Cafe du Cycliste range, this is a bold garment. The polymid shell is finished in shiny petrol blue and is certainly a head turner. The material provides some water resistance and is able to withstand a light shower, but its key benefit is the wind resistance. Keeping the chill from your chest is crucial and the Madeline does exactly that. It’s very light and can be packed very small, making it a stalwart for all rides.
Of particular note is the mesh back panel which meant that it can be kept on a little longer than less well vented competitors.
The designers have left a convenient opening at the bottom, allowing the wearer to reach their jersey pockets. This considered addition proved a great boon on rides where we wore the gilet for extended periods.
Elasticated sections and a slim fit reduced the potential for the fabric to flap in the wind to a minimum. The back is finished with reflective strips, and the cheeky logo makes a further appearance. This is a useful, high-quality garment that could quickly prove invaluable; its appearance, however, may not appeal to everyone. While on the topic of appearance, the red gingham lining, a partial feature of each garment tested, was an appealing nod to the brand’s Cote d’Azure heritage.