From £60 via

craftsportswear.co.uk

craft/

handmade

cyclist

From £85 via

thehandmadecyclist.com

Another review impacted by our back injury. Meh! We had never worn anything from Craft before although we would often find Chris Detsicas caked out in their gear. So when there was a chance to test out 2 special kits (we'll explain the special tag later!), we jumped at the chance, just a shame the Summer testing was cut short and we battled through the early Autumn weather to give you our lowdown...

First Impressions

Craft Essence

So let's explain the special tag first of all. What caught our eye with this range was Craft's eco attempt to reduce it's water useage. We say attempt with respect because brands can go one step further and use recyclable materials to manufacture clothing, it's been done before with other brands and for us, that would be the full on eco' revolution society is going to need. Remember Team Sky's Ocean Rescue jersey? That was made from plastics recovered from the ocean. But Craft's Solution Dye process uses 75% less water, 67% energy and 39% less chemicals so hats off for making the change.

With it being eco' based, we were expecting basic quality and subtle design. The subtleness is there but the quality is much more impressive. There is definitely a shine from the jersey you only really see with more premium jerseys. The shorts which came with the jersey were bib based rather than waist, it seems Craft might have pulled the bib shorts from their range but the Essence jersey goes well with any black shorts.

Handmade Cyclist Specialiste

So what's special about this range? Well Craft have teamed up with Handmade Cyclist for the Specialiste range. If you have never come across HC before, they are the team behind the classy prints that pop up in the cycling community. They now have branched into apparel and beyond applying their style to cycling attire. There's a lot going on within the jersey without it being over complicated. A good combination of colours and rigid shapes results in a smart look. The white gives off a casual race look whereas the other options in the range we feel gives a more aggressive impression.

Performance

It's all about fit. Is it too constricting and stopping blood flow? Is it too loose and about to send you into the clouds? Both sets of kit you can class as race fit. You definitely feel this around the sleeves and the quads. The HC kit is a little more loose than the Essence but we felt more of a performance focus in the Essence kit which is slightly surprising considered it has an eco' focus.  

The HC bib shorts make up for it though with good quality padding and flexibility in the fabric so the shorts do not rise up when you're pedalling but at the same time, not flapping around which you shouldn't get anyway with cycling shorts. The bib shorts which came with the Essence is simple in design and does the job, the padding is not poor by any means but there's definitely a premium feel to the HC shorts which might tempt you in making the investment.

1/1

Verdict

So which kit do you choose? Difficult one. Both sets put up a great argument. On one hand, you have a classy design from Handmade Cyclist which you can now get in a range of different colours (think the white was only for Summer) or you can make the eco' choice and go with the Essence which provides really good value for money. Either way, Craft has proved themselves to us that we've been missing out all these years and we need to start taking fashion tips from Chris Detsicas... now that's a statement!

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