While it is still plenty warm in most places we reach, the Scandinavians over at Craft are preparing for a long wet winter of riding with a new full Shield range of cycling kit that promises wind and water protection for when the temperatures drop. The Shield kit offers a modular system based on their lightweight ISPO 2015/16 award winning jersey and a matching pair of bib tights designed for high intensity efforts and trainings in freezing temperatures. Added to the base kit are then a couple pairs of gloves, arm and leg warmers, and booties all made from the same fabrics that are designed to block out the cold and rain, yet allow proper breathability. Spin on past the break for the details on the fabrics and a sampling of the range…
The Shield kit is designed for cyclists dead set against sitting inside on a trainer all winter, and who need to get out and push it to build form, no matter the weather. It was developed together with the Craft-sponsored Orica-GreenEdge cycling team, who were training last winter and racing in the spring in team-color versions of the kit. The pro-team focus is an important point to note though, as this gear is not intended for low-intensity easy riding in the very cold months. The fabric is relatively thin and retains heat well, but doesn’t really offer insulation on its own, but that should give it even more transition season usability.
It looks though, like it is designed to truly shine in high pace efforts in nasty conditions, like cyclocross or winter intervals. If you are thinking about logging a bunch of base miles, you’ll probably need to add some insulating baselayers (which Craft also does a lot of.) The line up is a hybrid between a standard set of race kit and full-on winter rain gear. It only comes in black for now so that it doesn’t look too dirty through winter grime, but every bit of the kit gets a heavy dose of reflective detailing to keep visibility high.
The Shield Jersey is the centerpiece of the kit and gets 3/4 length sleeves, which look to be a new cold weather norm (like the Rapha cross skinsuit) to keep the entire upper arm warm and protected from cold wind, even when worn alone. It is seen to replace the need for a rain jacket, while keeping an aero fit and breathability. The fabric claims to be both totally wind and waterproof (with a Water Column/Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate of 15,000 mm/10,000.) The jersey itself also adds some secondary fabrics in the armpits for extra flexibility and ventilation, and gets a 3+1 pocket layout out back and water sealing cuffs at the arm and butt. It will sell for $160/1200SEK.
The Shield Bib Shorts share the same weatherproof fabric throughout, and add in a lightweight pair of mesh bib straps. The bibs cover a bit higher over the hips to ensure a warm, weatherproof and seamless transition from shorts to jersey, but provide a large rear ventilation opening where a lot of heat accumulates under jersey pockets. The shorts also get an extra water-repellent treatment to increase their water resistance due to constant spray and pressure/movement against the saddle, and retail for $180/1600SEK.
A big obstacle in cold and wet weather is keeping fingers warm, so Craft has two Shield glove options. Both options build off the base Shield fabric with a Ventair X Wind upgrade for fully wind and waterproof gloves, and add in a Thinsulate fleece lining for insulation and silicone printed-on grippers on the palm and fingers. Both gloves also get long velcro-adjustable cuffs and fleece nose wipers, plus plenty of reflective detailing. The standard gloves offer traditional construction, while the split-finger model opts for a lobster-claw layout. Both also get thin palm reinforcements with a light gel pad. Unlike the rest of the line-up, both gloves are also available in a high-vis yellow option too. All of the glove options will run $75/600SEK.
Ergonomically shaped Shield leg and arm warmers will also be available from the same basic fabric (adding a brushed inside finish for a soft feel against the skin) and are designed as add-ons to the base bibs and jersey to extend their effective temperature range, but will also work with regular shortsleeve jerseys as well. The arm warmers will sell for $50/500SEK, and legs for $60/600SEK. A Shield pair of booties use a wind and waterproof layer of polyurethane over 3mm neoprene to give more solid insulation and protection where breathability is less of an issue, versus just keeping toes from freezing. They get a special brushed inside finish as well, and a pair of pull tabs to make them easier to put on, then a special flex section at the ankle for a better overall fit while pedaling. no word on their pricing yet.
We spent a lot of time over the last year in cold weather kit and have seen how versatile the better products can be into the cooler days of fall and spring riding. We’ve especially done time in wet weather-specific gear; and with their Swedish background, if our past experiences with Craft cross country ski gear are any indication, this should turn out to be an excellent kit to ride through the winter. Even though we would never wish for cold and wet weather (especially while holding out hope for several more weeks of summer), when it does come this fall we’ll try to get ahold of a Shield kit to test out and report back.
The entire Shield range is anticipated to be ready to buy in the next weeks. It is already available from the US and Swedish sites. Craft couldn’t lock down a date for everyone else yet, but assured us that it would all be ready before the temperatures dropped in Europe. US/SE pricing is set, but UK/EU pricing was not yet available, but we’ll try to do an update when we get more info.