Have you ever woken up from a hangover and it's too early to see the sun, like a scene out of a vampire movie, someone walks in, opens the blinds and your eyes suck themselves back into their sockets to protect themselves?! Well Proviz are known for that but in a good way. Their clothing range has a 'be seen' philosophy at the core. Obviously when it comes to road users, you can only be seen if people are actively looking for you but with their reflective designs, think the DVLA should really request licences to be returned if you struggle to spot someone wearing their gear! Now, it was the back end of the heat wave when we had the opportunity to put their Sportive set to the test. But it's not dark I hear you say? Yeah we get that so this will be a 2 part review, a performance based approach from the Summer rides and a commuting one for the Winter so check back in a couple of months time to see what the overall verdict is...
We have never owned a piece of Proviz kit but come across their range especially their jackets and bags a lot on social media. They seem to be trusted by commuters alike and with their reflective power, you can understand why. So unwrapped and unfolded, we gave the wife a treat with a little catwalk (always do with new clothes!). Immediate response from Mrs Notinthepeloton was 'no need for a spotlight to search for you if you ever go missing!'. The strong bold green stripe down the arms which then continued on into the bib shorts should show you up in a snowstorm. Interesting to see no stripes or reflective designs at the rear, everything was primarily focused on the arms and legs. We have read somewhere someone claiming wearing reflective overshoes whilst cycling will focus a driver's attention to the cyclist as this is in a constant motion. Not sure how true that is but maybe planting the bold design on the arms and legs has this thought process too?
The jersey is not tight fitting. It's not race fit, the sleeves are a little baggy and bearing in mind this was a medium fit on me, I do have the odd love handle which I've been trying to get rid of for decades now, it was airy on me. But I've had medium jerseys in the past where it felt like I was wearing a corset so fit all depends on what you're looking for in terms of comfort when riding. The bib shorts fared a bit better in terms of fit. the downstairs region wasn't constricted and the chamois padding felt of a good quality. I suffer from sores now and then and only with the constant use of chamois cream can be get them under control. The bib shorts did however feel a little odd at the back, it's hard to describe but it feels I've got it on backwards but haven't?! Get me?!
Chris D wanted to hit a few hills in Surrey and I haven't seen a hill at this point in months so it would be a good test to put the kit under different stresses from the sweat pushing up a climb to the cool draft of a descent. I kindly asked Chris to grab some shots of us coming up Box and it's interesting looking back how subtle the kit actually is. There's a subtle lightning style design on the left thigh, I'm curious why this wasn't carried on throughout the kit, it would of given the kit more character.
In terms of feel, happy with the bib shorts. Once you get over the feeling that you've put it on wrong, legs feel relaxed in them allowing you to focus on just pedalling rather than wondering if you've been developing DVT on your ride. The jersey is comfortable...if you're looking to cruise. The arms were flapping on the descents, if you're an aero geek, this is not for you. But then because the fit is airy, we did feel a coolness whilst climbing Box, zip open a little, it was like having a mini fan down there! So again, with jersey fits, it all depends what you're looking for, already you can see who this jersey is being marketed for, the relaxed commuter or sportive rider.
We've been down to the circuit quite a bit lately as we've booked ourselves in for a race soon so practice makes perfect as they say! Pushing the pace around Hillingdon would be a good test to see how the kit deals with sweat as there's usually a lot with us when we ride.
No photographer along with us today so it was all selfies and dodgy angles! Weather was good on test, we do try to avoid wearing black in warm weather for obvious scientific reasons. It's casual feel does make you feel quite relaxed, like we said before, if you're looking for a skin hugging fit for those marginal gains, look elsewhere. We were also expecting a sweat fest at the back of the jersey but possibly due to the airy fit, relatively dry and smelling like roses.
You might be thinking for your commute, just throw any old kit for a short ride where you'll end up changing anyway? Well we have changed our mindset recently due to a very sore chafing problem. A cheap pair of bib shorts had literally made our walking into more of a waddle. Those went into the bin! The chamois had started to rub into our groin, every time that area pressed against the saddle whilst riding, we had to shift around the seat just to tone down the pain. There's not too much you can do for a saddle sore apart from avoiding the bike and slapping on lots of cream. Point we're making is that even for a commute, you want a comfortable ride. Your skin round the hidden areas of your body does not appreciate the constant changing of clothing and the friction demands from exercise so it requires a bit of TLC.
Which brings us on to the chamois area of the Proviz shorts. First feel of the padding needs a little adjusting, it's not made to be walking around in so don't expect to stroll down the shops to get your bread in it. The chamois itself sits lower than other brands so where you might lose or gain a little flattery in the frontal area, you make up for it with a comfy bum!
The sun is also starting to rise a little later now in the morning so our rides into work are starting to require the use of our lights. The bright green strips of the arms are bold and solid, there should be no excuse for any driver not to notice that you're a hazard in the road even though the kit is mainly black. That green strip carries on the side of the thighs to compliment the design. We would recommend though the strip to be at the rear along the hamstring. Having the green strip on the back and the green strip along the side of the arms should give you a more all round illumination. Obviously and as we've said before, drivers need to actively look for you to be spotted. It'll be interesting to see what affect this has on our night time commutes...