Le Col was launched in 2009 by Yanto Barker and the company’s clothing, including the Kuro winter jacket and bib tights tested here, is the result of thousands of hours in the saddle as a professional cyclist.
And it shows in the attention to detail. It’s not rocket science but Barker has got the simple things right in these two pieces, with an excellent fit, elegant styling and a host of well thought out features.
Both the Kuro winter jacket and bib tights, which, like all Le Col clothing, are made in Italy, have been updated for 2013 with an emphasis on visibility. Le Col have always been big on black and that hasn’t changed, but their trademark triple stitching is now in high-viz, while the inside of the high collar shares the same colour and there are reflective panels on the rear of the jacket, and on the bottom of either leg.
The clothing will still be too black for some but Le Col have managed to update both pieces while retaining the stylish, understated look that is typical of their clothing. Otherwise, the all-singing – and more expensive – Le Col B3 winter jacket (£249.99) – has larger high-viz and reflective panels.
Le Col Kuro winter jacket (£169.99)
First, the Kuro winter jacket. The fit reflects Barker’s day job as a pro cyclist (his Team UK Youth squad will wear Le Col clothing this season) and it’s an aggressive cut designed to mirror your position on the bike. That means when you slip on the jacket and zip it up, the cut pulls you in and the jacket feels restrictive across the shoulders. Jump on the bike and the thinking behind the cut becomes clear as the jacket closely follows the contours of your upper body.
It may not suit every body type – it has been designed by a racing snake, after all – but this is a jacket for hard winter riding, not standing around in the cafe, and the cut reflects that, with a close fit throughout, which therefore does a great job at trapping air between the jacket and a base layer to keep you warm, and ensuring there’s no excess fabric flapping about in the wind.
The jacket uses a windproof material on the top half of the chest, shoulders and the front of the arms, and a stretchy softshell fabric on the rest. It’s also fleece-lined throughout and that, combined with the windproof panels, has made the Kuro jacket suitable for all but the very coldest of winter riders over the past month. Combined with a good base layer, the jacket has kept us warm at temperature close to freezing. The jacket is also water resistant enough to shake off light rain – the kind which so often falls in the UK – and road spray
There’s a simplicity about the Kuro jacket, in that it’s designed to be worn exclusively with a base layer and keeps you warm in doing so, but it’s packed with neat features, the best of which is an ‘invisible’ zipped chest pocket, found on the inside of the jacket, which makes it a cinch to answer your mobile phone, grab a couple of coins for that mid-ride coffee stop or reach for your keys once home.
Otherwise, there are three pockets at the rear, big enough to stow winter riding essentials, as well as an additional waterproof zipped pocket and a soft, high collar with an oversized zip garage to ensure there’s no chase of catching your chilly chin on the zip. Attention to detail is also excellent, with the jacket as neat on the inside (no loose thread, immaculate stitching) as it is on the outside and all logos embroidered so they should stand the test of time.
Le Col Kuro bib tights (£149.99)
Like the Le Col Kuro jacket, the bib tights from the same collection are warm, water resistant and, by and large, the fit is excellent.
The tights are made from an Aquazero fabric, which is a popular choice for winter clothing among high-end manufacturers. It’s water resistant and, according to Le Col, has increased thermal properties over a conventional Roubaix-lined fabric. It therefore proved a good choice through our test period, when the roads were often wet, be it from falling rain or substantial snow melt. Aquazero is by no means a waterproof material but it comfortably shakes off light, steady rain and road spray, although prolonged, heavy rain will still see the fabric penetrated. Like the Kuro jacket, the bib tights have kept us warm in the coldest winter rides of late.
The Roubaix-lined fabric continues onto the bib straps, rather than being replaced by a mesh material, and that ensures the tights remain as warm as can be on the upper body without, in our experience at least, compromising breathability. The bib straps, by the way, are more than two inches wide, which make for a very comfortable fit on the upper body, whereas thinner bib straps can sometimes dig into your shoulders.
Elsewhere, the fit is, on the whole, very good. I found my medium sample to have a little excess material at the bottom of the back but, most importantly, the fit on the leg is spot on, with a dart added at the back of the knee to ensure there is no bunching of material. The bottom of each leg is well fitted and sits close to the ankle, allowing the silicon grippers to do their job, but be careful when pulling the tights on so not to pop a stitch or two.
The Le Col Kuro winter jacket and bib tights come with a hefty price tag which puts them at the upper end of the market but both pieces are warm, stylish and comfortable – ideal for a long winter’s day in the saddle.
Website: Le Col