The first of our November test kits is from Italian clothing company, De Marchi.
With winter making its presence felt, we’ve called in clothing from De Marchi’s Contour Plus collection, one that includes lined shorts, leg warmers, a soft shell jacket, long-sleeved jersey, and windproof gloves and overshoes.
Here’s a ‘first look’ before we begin the testing process.
Contour Plus 3L Soft Shell Stealth jacket
Beneath the simple grey and black design of this soft shell jacket lies a multifaceted garment. The chest panels, shoulder, collar and upper side of the sleeve are covered in a windproof fabric known to De Marchi as Thermashield 3L Sandwich. The back, below the shoulder panel, is a stretchy, fleece lined fabric (Thermolite Roubaix). The hem is elasticated, and lined with silicone spots at the rear.
The classic three rear pocket design is augmented with an additional, zipped mounted pocket at the centre, making four in all. The collar is deep, and folds over on the left to create a ‘zip garage’, which shields the throat. The collars and cuffs are deep and promise protection.
De Marchi recommend the jacket for temperatures from zero to 15 degrees so we’re looking forward to making the most of the current conditions to test it.
The Contour Plus 3l Soft Shell Stealth jacket costs £158.99, is available in black or red, and in seven sizes from X-small to XXX-Large.
Contour skull cap
Like the jacket, the skull cap is a deceptively simple looking garment that’s well considered. It’s lined with fleecy Thermolite Roubaix fabric. Externally, a central strip is slightly perforated (the same fabric is used in the knee panel of the leg warmer), and an additional u-shape indicates a doubling of the fabric over the ears. There’s a narrow, reflective strip above the brow.
The Contour skull cap is available in black, in one size (large), and costs £27.99.
The Contour jersey is fleece-lined, has long sleeves, a full zip, and three rear pockets; the last finished on either side with a short reflective strip. The collar is deep (three inches), slopes from back to front, and covers the throat entirely when bent over the bars. The hem is elasticated at the front and has a deep band at the rear lined with silicone dots, a feature of the collection. The cuffs simply fold over. Early indications are good: the fit is close and the fabric stretches well. Our only reservation at this stage are the white panels that are the undersides to the arms, which are likely to lose their brilliance fairly rapidly on winter roads in Britain.
The Contour jersey costs £74.99, is available in red, white, or black, and in six sizes from small to XXX-large.
Contour Plus bib short
Lined shorts are not as commonly available as lined bibknicks, so we’re eager to test this offering from De Marchi, suspecting the short-knee warmer combination to be more flexible in every sense. Internally, almost every part of the short bar the pad is finished with fleecy Thermolite Roubaix: the leg, the groin, seat, and even the bib straps, so we’re hoping to stay toasty during winter testing miles. The hem gripper is an inch deep and lined on the inside with silicone spots; initial trials suggest they’ll grip well. The back panel rises from the seat in a yoke design. Again, it’s fleece-lined, except for a narrow, perforated panel at its centre. The pad is De Marchi’s own, one branded as a ‘contour elastic anatomic insert’ whose most notable feature are two thick, rounded pads beneath the sit bones.
The Contour Plus bib shorts cost £120, are available in black, or black with white panels, and in six sizes from small to XXX large.
Contour Plus leg warmer
The star of the show before turning a pedal, the De Marchi leg warmer fits beautifully and looks great. The fit is excellent throughout: an unbroken band of silicone at the top grips firmly without constriction, and the deep cuff at the ankle repeats the trick in stylish fashion. The long, circular knee panel doesn’t feel restrictive off the bike, so we have high hopes for its performance on it. Its fleece lining is soft.
The Contour Plus leg warmers cost £49.99, are available in black only, and in four sizes from small to X-large.
Contour Plus merino sock
This seamless sock, a mixture of merino wool and nylon, fits well, and after some testing miles we’ll be able to tell you how well it deals with internal and external temperatures. The deep cuff (three inches) comes up high above the ankle, and both heel and toe offer a snug fit. They’re not bulky, despite their intended purpose as a winter garment, and slipped unobtrusively inside our cycling shoes during an initial trial.
The Contour Plus merino sock costs £11.99, is available in black only, and in three sizes: small, medium, and large.
Contour Plus gloves
These gloves are made from Thermashield 3L Sandwich – the same windproof fabric as the panels on the soft shell jacket – and finished with the same deep cuff witnessed on the leg warmer. The palm is reinforced, most importantly between thumb and index finder, the area of the glove that takes the bulk of the load when riding on the hoods. There’s only one gel pad: on the outer edge of the palm. Unlike some we’ve tested this year, these gloves are easy enough to get on and off despite the deep cuff.
The Contour Plus gloves cost £53.99, are available in black or red, and in six sizes from X-small to XX-large.
Contour Plus Ultra shoe cover
The shoe covers are made from Thermashield 3L Sandwich, the windproof fabric used on the Stealth jacket and the glove. The same deep, elasticated cuff seen on the gloves is used here. The toe is reinforced on the underside with polyurethane. A six-inch zip at the rear of the cover holds them in place. The teeth are shielded from the elements on either side by a reflective fabric cover which might prove to be a safety boon when riding in the dark.
The Contour Plus Ultra shoe covers cost £53.99, are available in black only, and in five sizes from small to XX-large.