To confess all, I bought these Sheila Moon fleece jackets to match my new cycling bottoms.
When I first got into cycling, I expected to do most of it in my ordinary outdoor gear – Crivit walking trousers from Lidl; Craghopper microfleeces, Eddy and Fiske merino wear from Finisterre and country jackets from Lands’ End and Rohan. And I still, at present, have no intention of buying specialist shoes because the idea of clipless pedals scares me to death.
But nor do I need an excuse to buy new clothes, especially for sport.
Four years ago, I took up swimming for the first time in about 30 years and I invested a lot of money in costumes. Being not the slimmest girl in the world, I didn’t want to be self-conscious in the pool, and I’m glad of every flattering detail I went for with my Speedos, Bohns and Zoggs, with their slimming panels, contrast trims and longer legs. I also like having multiple costumes to ring the changes, depending on how I’m feeling on a particular day, just as you do with your normal clothes.
I want the same thing on the bike – ie: to look reasonable while simultaneously not hampering myself.
For instance, I thought when I first got into this that I’d have no need for specialist bottoms, but even the little cycling I’ve done in the past two months has convinced me that life is more comfortable with a chamois and without trouser legs flapping about the place.
However, the world doesn’t need to see me in cycling shorts and it possibly never will. Even if I could take a tan or hide my blue veins, I’m always covered in bruises because I’m terminally clumsy and I have two dogs. So it will be cycling knickers and tights that hide the evidence, though I’ve also bought a few pairs of liners to wear under stretch trousers, should I find any suitable.
Anyway, to the jackets. I chose two styles – hoodies with contrast stripes and thumbhole cuffs, and jerseys with raglan sleeves. Both styles have full-length zippers. The hoodies have two large rear pockets and a mobile phone pocket on the left sleeve, while the jerseys have four rear pockets, one of which closes with a reflective zip.
I got two items in black and pink (pink being my preferred colour on the bike) and four items in black and red to match my tights, knickers and skorts, which all come in black or red. Two are black with red details and two are red with black details. Why? Because I couldn’t make my mind up, is why. If I could have tried them on, I’m sure I would have known instantly, but there you go. They were all massively reduced in the closing-down sale.
The hoods strike me as a really good idea on the bike, at least for low-velocity cycling. After all, I like to have hoods on my coats, and out on the voies vertes I won’t be wearing a helmet. The stripes up the sleeves and hood are a natty touch, and the phone pocket on the arm seemed (at first glance) handy for an iPod (I don’t own a mobile).
One thing I really like about all the jackets is the full-length zip, so that they can be worn like normal clothing, without having to be taken off over the head. The hoodies have set-in sleeves but the jerseys have raglan sleeves and on the latter I really like the seam-defined patterning, which feels sporty without being specific (they look, actually, a bit like skiwear). These have a higher neckline than the hoodies.
When the items arrived, the first thing that struck me was how immensely long the sleeves were. This is an issue for me even in fashion clothing – I’ve never owned a modern jacket whose sleeves I didn’t have to alter – but because cycling tops tend to have long sleeves for forward-position riding, there is about eight excess inches of fabric dangling off the ends of my hands. I can’t see anything I can do about this except live with it, or cut it off. I could, I suppose, put a tuck in the sleeve above the elbow, or take some of the excess up and inside the sleeve at the cuff end, but simply trimming the excess off, I think will be a better option.
The black and the red don’t quite match the black and the red of the brushed supplex bottoms, which I was a little disappointed about, but I don’t think it can be helped because the fabric is polyester, not nylon and so takes colour and reflects light in a different way – the poly fabric is noticeably duller than the nylon, and the black has a greenish tinge. I also don’t like the way the sleeve pocket on the hoodies breaks up the line of of the sleeve pattern, so I have now removed these pockets altogether. I may reattach them further round the arm and add a velcro closure (for why, see below).
A month after their arrival, I find I am wearing all the items in rotation. My favourite, to my surprise, are the red tops, especially the raglan-sleeve jersey. I appreciate the zip pocket on these, as on one occasion, my bike keys flew out of the arm pocket of one of the hoodies and under the car, without me realising until I had to remove my battery – luckily I spotted the bright pink keyring, which I’d attached specifically for its conspicuity.
The hoodies, I also find, don’t now come up quite high enough to cut draughts (they were fine when the weather was warmer), so they have to be worn with high-neck tops. The neckline on the raglan-sleeve jackets is higher and much more snug.
Overall, though, slight reservations aside, I find these jackets absolutely brilliant. They’re comfortable, they look nice, they fit well and they do the job. I’m gutted that this company has gone out of business, but I’m grateful to have found them when I did.