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REVIEW: Vulpine women’s merino V neck tee

The claret tee (click for high res)

The claret tee

This review began with a false start. I received my parcel from Vulpine (complete with complementary green Vulpine musette) with excitement, and decided to wear my new tee that evening for a road ride. The claret merino fabric matched the red on my socks and bib shorts, so it would have been rude not to put it to the test right away. When it came to leaving, I grabbed my usual assortment of necessities: energy bar, pump, inner tube, tire levers, keys, phone, money. I went to put them in my jersey pockets like I always do….and realised that I only had space for my phone, and maybe a bit of money.

Having realised that the tee isn’t designed to be used as a jersey (clue is in the name!), I opted to wear it for a 4 mile ride across the city instead. I usually take a satchel when I’m riding about town, so pocket capacity isn’t a problem.

vulpine-tee

With arm warmers, for a cooler ride.

The beauty of this item (and I think the appeal of much of Vulpine’s gear) is in how it doesn’t look like ‘cycling apparel’, but has plenty of the technical features that make it great for wearing on the bike. Notably – it has a dropped hem at the back and a little reflective lining on the pocket. Then there is the fabric. Merino is brilliant – and this particular wool is very stretchy and very soft, which is a good start for comfort whilst cycling. I definitely noticed how much comfier it was than wearing a cotton t-shirt whilst on the bike.

Now for a few words on SWEAT. It’s something I do lots of, especially whilst riding a bicycle. It’s one of the reasons why I kit up in lycra, even if I’m only doing 10 miles. If I wear a “normal” t-shirt, it’ll be soaked in a few minutes. Enough on body functions – the point it, whilst the merino didn’t stop me sweating, it drew the sweat off my skin – eliminating that horrible clammy feeling. The tee also dried off quickly at the end of the ride, and once it did, the jersey felt fresh and didn’t smell. Magic.

I’ve since worn my Vulpine tee to work, to the pub, and to a BBQ. And haven’t had to worry about smelling. Thanks, merino sheep.

In Vulpine’s own words: “The Merino keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the heat. How so? Merino is hydrophilic, drawing water from the skin quickly and allowing it to evaporate, cooling your body. When it is cold merino traps warm dry air next to your skin, keeping you toasty.” 

There are also no labels – so no itching required.

The women’s tee is cut in at the waist and out at the hips, and has a slightly lower V than the men’s version. So it is actually a women’s top – as opposed to a men’s top in “women’s” colours. I have a size Small, and it fits me nicely (I’m a women’s size 10).

The current colour range

In conclusion: brilliant for short rides/commuting – but definitely not a replacement for your cycling jersey. Very comfy. Nice design. Gorgeous colours. Excellent at wicking sweat off your skin. A bit pricey perhaps, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. 

What I like most about it

The comfortable fit and stylish, women’s specific cut. The fabric, and it’s sweat-wicking, odour killing magic.

What I like least about it

The fact I can’t fit much in the pocket, which feels more like a decorative feature than a functional one.

Best for:

Riding to the pub. Commuting to a city job (you won’t feel gross when you change back into it at the end of the day because of the magic merino wool)

The details:

Price: £55.00

Material: Merino wool

Colour: claret (also available in fern green and grey)

www.vulpine.cc

Matrix Race Academy launch

Say the words ‘cycling team launch’ and what comes to mind? Cyclists in their team kit, stood in a line, all matching hairstyles and fake smiles. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional team launch, but…yawn. We’ve seen it all a thousand times. So I was pretty excited to be involved in what promised to be a day like no other with the Matrix Race Academy on Friday.

Stef Wyman, Team Manager of Matrix RA and a champion for women’s cycling, was keen to create a day that would be interesting and fun for all involved, as well as creating a social media buzz. I think it’s safe to say that the aim was achieved.

Starting the day at Vulpine HQ

The day started bright and early for me – a 7.30am train (an unearthly hour for a Brighton freelancer) whisked me to Vulpine HQ in London. A big green ‘V’ told me I was in the right place and I was greeted by the lovely Jools (aka Lady Velo, and Vulpine’s sales manager), who was clearly just as giddy as me about the day ahead. A gradual stream of writers and photographers arrived, and of course the team themselves, along with manager Stef Wyman and European CX Champ Helen Wyman, who is a mentor to the younger riders on the team.

Much slurping of coffee, munching of croissants and introducing of friends later, the team took some time to drool over the Vulpine clothes and choose what they wanted to wear for their photos. I may have also tried on a women’s merino jersey for size. Important business research, you understand.

Whilst the photographers worked their magic I took some time to admire the new team kit. I was more than a little excited about the #fanbackedwomenscycling logo which I designed featuring on the kit. If you don’t already know about #fbwc, go do your reading, it’s a brilliant initiative that the team are backing, and the force behind some excellent training sessions for female novice racers like myself.

New season Matrix RA jersey, featuring the #fanbackedwomenscycling logo

The On The Drops girls liked their new Vulpine caps

I had the pleasure of stealing the fantastic Jo Tindley, a new Matrix RA member for 2013, away from the camera for 20 minutes to chat about cycling and her involvement in the team. Each rider chatted to a different writer, another way to insure a bunch of different perspectives and angles on the day and the team.

You can read my interview with Jo here.

Team issue trainers? Yes please.

After lunch we all set off in different directions accross London. We trooped off in three’s – one rider, one writer, one photographer. Where we went was completely up to us (Sarah Connolly took Harriet Owen to the zoo..) in the hope that at the end of the day we would have a variety of unique photos which would reflect the individual personalities of the women that make up the team. Awesome plan, I thought. Myself, Jo Tindley and photography Andy Woodhouse headed off into the quirky lanes near Old Street for our photos. Check out Andy’s set of snaps here.

Jessie’s photoshoot with Guy Collier

No bikes?! Jo isn’t too pleased about that.

Everyone met back up Look Mum No Hands for the evening launch. It wasn’t long before the cafe was full to the brim with people – the staff had to remove the furniture to make space for us all. Belgian beer, bikes, lots of familiar faces..and a whole bunch of new ones.

As well as Matrix RA, we also heard from Stef about #fanbackedwomenscycling, the launch of London Women’s Cycle Racing league and the Bonita women’s team. I could just about hear the team presentation over the buzz of the cafe!

What a day. Thanks everyone: I had a ball, and I feel more inspired than ever to support the awesome sport that is women’s cycling.

Team Presentation at Look Mum No Hands

Massive good luck vibes to the whole team for the season ahead – not that they need it, these girls have got serious talent.

Follow the team on Twitter: @onthedrops