Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Endurance Junkie Sportwool jersey & Sportive shorts

Having already sung the praises of the Endurance Junkie trisuits – both in ITU-legal ‘Olympic’ form and also the Sportwool long-distance suit (which makes use of a merino wool blend in the upper body to help with comfort and heat regulation), the guys at Endurance Junkie kindly sent me a Sportwool cycle jersey and Sportive shorts to test.

Sportwool Jersey

Endurance JunkieLike the trisuit bearing the same name, the short-sleeved cycle jersey is made of a merino wool blend, designed to provide both a comfortable fit and help with heat regulation on changeable weather days.

The design is simple, a single colour body with a double-contrast hoop around the chest area – in my case either a white top with green and black hoops, or a black top with white and green hoops (both have contrast colours inside the collar). The half-zip, three-pocket jersey, with its wool-like appearance (which puts it starkly at odds with the latest high-tech fibres from most apparel manufacturers) gives it a distinctly retro appearance. There’s no mesh back or stretchy side panels, just a very classy jersey.

I tested the small size, which was a perfect fit in around the mid-drift, but was a little tight under the arms (the same can be said of the Sportwool trisuit, so if like me you’re a little more built-up on top than the average TdF rider, consider sizing up). That said, once down on the bars on the bike, the cut of the jersey is actually very comfortable and the tightness around the shoulder joints relaxes as you ‘adopt the position’.

To test the claims about the merino wool, I wore the top without a base layer on a recent early morning group ride. With the addition of arm warmers, it made for a perfectly comfortable start to the ride. As I lost the arm warmers after 45 minutes or so, I was completely unaware of any change in temperature under the shirt – which I mean as a compliment! We ended the ride a sweaty mass of MAMILs, but again I felt incredibly comfortable and despite feeling sweaty myself, I wasn’t over-heating.

Sportive Shorts

Compared to the Sportwool jersey, there’s practically no obvious ‘design’ to the Sportive shorts at all. Just a plain black pair of bib shorts (with a white contrast panel for the suspenders – presumably to sit better under lighter-coloured tops). Again, compared to something like a pair of Castelli Rosso Corsa, they look properly ‘old skool’.

Pulling a small pair on, they felt very tight around the legs (almost like an old pair of Orca compression cycle shorts I still have). The leg grippers are simple silicon affairs, but seem to stick in place nicely.
Out on the road, a bit like the Sportwool jersey, the best thing you can say about the shorts is that you hardly know you’re wearing them.

Sportwool JerseyI’m the first to admit that I don’t exactly have a cyclist’s ass. I tend to get a bit fidgety and sore after 100km (if not before, depending on the quality of the shorts). I can honestly, hand on heart, say I have NEVER worn a pair of shorts that are more comfortable than these Endurance Junkie Sportive shorts. They are my instant go-to short for long training rides now. I’m guessing this is down to a combination of good tailoring and a damned good pad (I don’t know where EJ sources its pads, you’ll have to ask them!)

In combination

I confess I’m not normally a wearer of ‘retro’ kit. I prefer to wear modern-looking team kit or fancy high-tech fabrics. But Endurance Junkie has proven me wrong. For comfort, I’ve never worn anything that beats this kit (I have some team racing kit with a mesh-back jersey that’s great for wicking sweat in the heat of a race, but it’s shite on cold mornings and there are little bits around the shoulders that flap around in the wind on fast descents). You wouldn’t race in it, but for all-day riding it’s compelling. 

I’ve also been won over by the looks. It’s the sort of kit you can wear on your new Pinarello Dogma just as easily as your vintage Peugeot Record du Monde.

I’ve even taken to wearing the jersey to the pub… All I need now is the old-fashioned cycling cap to match!

Pros
- Classy kit, subtle but distinctive
- Merino wool delivers on promises
- Shorts unbeatable for long hours in the saddle

Cons
- Check fit on jersey, designed for ‘cyclists’
- Lack of ‘look at me!’ design