We’d had spotted some interesting looking designs from small upstart Laché London last fall and reached out to them for a bit more detail. Their designs seem to balance the fine line between a sensible solid-color kit and something a bit more flashy. Around the same time, we had been talking with Czech clothing maker Kalas Wear about their new fabrics and what they had planned for 2015. Since the Laché kit is made by Kalas, this was a unique chance to get ahold of some of the new unreleased pieces, with the bonus of getting to ride in a more unique kit. Plus, it lets us give a little exposure to a small European company which is always nice.
Some advance samples arrived back in November and we’ve been giving them a run through during cross season and winter training to let you know our thoughts now that the new line has just opened up for preorder this past Monday. Come past the break to see some more photos and what we think.
The clothing we’ve been testing is a bit of a mix, but mostly cool weather kit. This includes Roubaix fleece bib shorts and arm warmers, a light polyester cap, and a lightweight packable wind jacket, plus the more summery mesh short sleeve jersey.
We’ll start with the shorts, since thermal bibs are a bit of an underrated piece of cycling gear. The fabric is the thin, industry standard Roubaix fleece that you will find from just about everyone in arm and leg warmers. It stretches nicely in these well cut shorts, and is soft against the skin. The bibs use a good quality sex-specific Cytec Endurance Carbonium chamois. It isn’t the best pad I’ve ever used, but it is certainly one of the better you’ll find in a winter short, and didn’t have any complaints from our male or female testers. Their leg grippers are pretty traditional as well, meaning a narrow silicone-lined band, but they did the job well never creeping up.
The lightly insulated bibs were nice in cooler temperatures paired with a good set of leg warmers (0-5°C), but I think everyone could benefit from thermal shorts up to almost 15°C. It’s a pleasant feeling to come home after long cool rides and not have cold hips and thighs. These thermal bibs don’t have any revolutionary designs or features, but for £115 they offer a pretty good value and a splash of color in a piece of kit anyone riding this time of year should have.
The other standout item would be the wind jacket. Even though it seems like a basic item, its good fit makes it sit tight to the body and not move around in the wind. The bulk of the jacket is a superlight rip-stop-like polyester fabric from Swiss specialists Eschler without stretch that definitely kept the wind out, but also kept us dry on wet winter roads. Its close fit uses stretchy panels down the sides of the body and along the backs of the arms, which double as effective ventilation in cooler weather. As it should, the jacket packs down small enough to easily stuff in a jersey pocket.
We’d second Laché’s suggestion to order down a size vs. your typical jersey size. The stretch panels have a lot of give, and the close well-cut fit prevents flapping in the breeze. At £110 it isn’t much cheaper than other similar wind jackets on the market, but if you like the design it’s hard to find something that works so well and as nicely detailed. We had a white women’s and black men’s jacket, but it looks like now both are available only in black.
The summer weight jersey so far has got the least real-world testing by us. It hasn’t been a deep freeze in central Europe, but still not much call for a mesh jersey yet. So it served mostly as a layering piece, protected under heavier jerseys and jackets. But I did give it a go at an unseasonably warm 15°C (and wet and windy) cyclocross race a week ago. Paired with a light merino baselayer the Chervon jersey did well to keep me dry and comfortable. Made up of 4 different lightweight fabrics, with very open meshes on the side panels and armpits (and supposedly some knitted in carbon fiber for heat transfer), it breathed and wicked well, and was completely dry after a 55 minute cross race that Strava was kind enough to remind me was a Sufferfest. The jersey has a couple of nice details too, like: wide reflective cuffs and trim, plus a water-resistant clip-in pouch to protect a phone or wallet from sweat or spray.
As transparent as it looks, the jersey is probably more suited for rides 20°C or warmer. It is also worth noting that it probably isn’t really suited to cyclocross and mountain bike riding, either. While the jersey looked new after 4 or 5 rides when it was a mid layer, just one intense cross race and the mesh has some visible scrapes. Mud didn’t seem to be an issue, but the race included a total of 16 runups, 8 shouldering the bike and a lot of close encounters with low handing branches and brush. There are no holes or major issues, just a couple of pulled threads. At £95, it is probably more of a fair weather road jersey for when the sun comes back out this spring and summer. Both men’s and women’s jerseys come in white or black.
Lastly we tested the lightweight Roubaix armwarmers and winter training cap. The armwarmers were pretty basic; the same light fleece you get from most manufacturers. The straight cut and silicon grippers were run-of-the-mill. The sizing was good though offering a small that really fit our small testers arms without sliding down, and size-specific lengths that meant my long arms didn’t leave my wrists exposed. (Just for comparison the white cap and armies are size S; the black ones L.) One pair we received had a tag on the seam that scratched the arm enough that it required a bit of work to remove, after which there was no longer an issue. But what will likely sell you on them is the design. For £25 they come in Laché’s simple geometric logo in either white or black.
Lastly, the cap is made of a smooth light polyester that has a bit of stretch to it, and includes a mesh rear panel to help venting. It seemed pretty lightweight for something named ‘winter training’ and definitely let a lot of cool air through. Paired with an aero helmet it worked to wick sweat away and keep the head mostly dry, but with a well-ventilated helmet it was too light below 10°C. Its wicking was certainly better then a normal heavy cotton or poly-blend cap, but at the expense of wind protection. It probably will be nice once spring comes around, but we were hoping for something more wind resistant for those cool days when we didn’t need to cover our ears. At £15, the 3 size range is nice, plus the matching white or black options.
Laché London is direct order only and running a presale from their webshop for the new kit from now through January 31st. Based in the UK, the clothes are all made in the Czech Republic and they are happy to ship around the globe. Delivery is expected for the first two weeks of March across the UK, and by the end of March for the rest of the world. UK shipping adds about £3 to accessories, £5 to a jersey, and £8 to a full kit. Worldwide shipping would be £5, £7.50, and £12.50, respectively.