Review – howies Brenin Windstopper Jacket

Some of the Cycling Shorts. boys and girls have got their hands on the pre release howies Men’s Brenin Cycling Jacket to put it through it’s paces.
If you’re not familiar with howies they’re an independent active clothing company based in the beautiful Cardigan Bay in Wales, UK. The company has a passion for cycling and the outdoors. They produce high quality and environmentally friendly thoughtfully designed products. howies have recently taken to sponsoring track cycling, now they are turning their attention to the road. This is the first time howies have ventured into road cycling specific clothing. Having such a good reputation we would be expecting nothing less than great… is it a tall order?!

Brenin Windstopper Jacket

The lightweight shell pack-away jacket is made from 100 percent recycled polyester. It features stretch and wicking fabric in the arms and side panels for unrestricted movement when cycling. It is being sold predominantly as a Men’s jacket but we’ve found it really works for the girls too with it’s stretch fit.

Design details include a zipped chest pocket with earphone cable slot on the inside and an internal clip to attach your keys. Reflective bars on the cuffs and hips, a reflective logo on the chest pocket, adjustable hem and soft fleece lined collar. The jacket rolls up and zips into it’s chest pocket for storage with the key clip becoming a clip to secure the jacket pouch to you while riding.

The windstopper qualities of this jacket are excellent and we love the breathable panels on the arms they allow you to stay warm without overheating. The wicking properties of the fabrics are very good. It doesn’t feel like a crisp packet as these jackets often can, the fabric actually feels very soft. Although the jacket isn’t described as being water or showerproof we were pleasantly surprised that when we got caught out in the rain the core of our bodies were totally dry and the only damp areas where our outer arms but they dried out quickly while cycling. The jacket is very easy to care for and well constructed. You can just leave mud to dry on and let it crumble off, rinse it under the tap or just pop it in the washing machine at 30 degrees. It can’t be tumble dried but it dries very quickly on it’s own and if required you can give it a warm iron….

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Click SL (slideshow) or FS (fullscreen)

What the boys say…

Good length at the back to cover your rear and protect it from mud when on the bike. It looks good off the bike too, it’s not too obvious that you’re wearing a road cycling jacket. We love the chest pocket for you phone, MP3 or other device it has a slot on the inside to feed your headphones through from the pocket up to your ears, protecting the cable as much as possible from the elements. You can also clip your keys into the pocket. Initially we had mixed feelings on only having one pocket but the general consensus was one was fine; you have other layers that contain more than enough packets and the position of the zipped pocket is perfect. The soft fleece lining on the collar is welcome on a cold damp day and it isn’t the sort of fleece that will stick to your stubble and make you look like you’ve been intimate with a wookie. The soft shell construction means it’s ideal for days when you don’t want to carry other bulkier layers around with you. It fits neatly into your jersey back pocket like a cycling cape or gilet would.

What the girls say…

Us girls don’t get very excited when presented by men’s/unisex clothing… we have visions of looking like we’re wearing our dad’s cast offs but we were more than happy when the Brenin Jacket landed on the doorstep. We all have our own styles and we come in assorted shapes and sizes so it was going to be a challenge for the Brenin to please everyone. The biggest test was going to be the fit. First impressions out of the bag were good. Well made and nice design touches.
Sizing… well obviously the sizing is in howies men’s S,M,L and XL, this seems to translate as small being a women’s generous 10-12 and medium a 14-16 (and so on). The sizing is flexible thanks to the stretch fabric panels and it will of course depend on how many layers you intend to wear under the jacket as to which size you require.

It fits your curves thanks to it’s uniques side stretch panels that hug your body. If you’re short in the body most female (never mind unisex or mens) shell jackets are a problem as the waist often sits on your hips which means it’s too narrow to zip up comfortably and the hip part of the jacket is somewhere further down and in Anna’s case generally somewhere near her knees. With the Brenin the extra stretch accommodates curves so you don’t end up looking like you’re sporting a high tech bin liner. If the Brenin is too long you can use the adjustable hem to lift it up. Sleeve length is obviously a problem for shorter ladies on unisex clothing as they can be hanging off the ends of your hands but the elasticated cuffs and slim cut sleeve of the Brenin mean you don’t have a balloon of fabric on each arm. The cut really is great for most heights and shapes. We would like to see an XS in the range at some point… Oh and can we have more colours please?!

To sum up… In the very apt words of that influential cyclist Shakira (well I’m sure she must at least own a bike), if your breasts are “small and humble” or even like some (I’m paraphrasing here) “mountainous region” this jacket will work for you… and dare I push it too far… I feel I can’t help myself… our “hips don’t lie”… ok that was too much…. but I know you were all thinking it! Thankfully that has drained my vast knowledge of Columbian songstresses lyrics… The Brenin gets top marks from the girls!… Buy one for the other half, I’m sure he won’t notice if you borrow it!

It’s the first time we can really say… one style fits all!

Jacket weight: 200g
Size when packed away: 14x12x7cms
Available in UK Men’s Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Price: £100
Available from: howies stores and howies online now!

Pros:

excellent adaptable fit for both men and women
Packs away neatly inside it’s own zipped pocket
reflective hi-vis areas
breathable
stretch panels
easy grip zip pull
excellent windstopper
lightweight
unrestricted movement
zipped pocket
internal earphone cable slot
flattering shape
adjustable hem
environmentally friendly (made from recycled materials)
extremely well constructed
responsibly manufactured

Cons:

No colour options (yet)
Doesn’t come in female specific sizes (a problem for ladies under a UK size 10).
Same problem at the other end of the scale for the more substantial gentleman.
Pricer than some other brands but you have to take into account the eco, ethical and quality standards for the product that other brands don’t necessarily meet.

The Brenin is a favourite of ours it’s earned itself one of our “Star Buy” ratings!

Two Nuns and a Bicycle…

Ron Arad Reinvents the Wheel

There were two nuns and a bicycle… it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke or a script from a naff 1970’s sitcom. It is in fact the name of design legend Ron Arad‘s concept bike. I have to say this design totally passed me by when it was released last autumn, I’m not sure how I missed it. It’s part of a project to raise money for Elton John’s AIDS Foundation. The collection of bikes by celebrities and designers called “WOW Bikes” were available for paying guests to ride at W Hotel in London’s Leicester Square in October 2011 before being auctioned off. I don’t know anyone who got to try them out, I would be very interested to hear from people who did. My impression from the video is that it’s likely to be a rather bouncy ride, a soft version of the old bone shaker. It’s very aesthetically pleasing but I don’t think it’s going to be on sale in your local bike shop anytime soon and I think the traditional wheel will be safe for a few years yet. The design obviously references or was inspired by Ron’s 1980’s Well-Tempered Chair and his Bookworm Bookshelf for Kartell. Ron loves to work in flexible ribbons of materials to create fluid, flexible yet sturdy designs.

Marcus Hearst, director of the design department at Arad’s studio commented, “To account for the added flexibility in the materials, Arad’s sprung wheels of steel are in fact a little bit larger than the average bike wheel. But it’s this yield that gives the wheels a slight cushion and makes the wheels work in a practical way. It’s a surprisingly comfortable ride, and, ironically, the faster you go, the smoother it is. The wheel uses 18 individual strips of steel that are pinned at various tension points to act together as one single unit. We’ve actually done very little with the material. When you bend that steel, the way you pin it, you create natural curves. It’s almost like a flower. The adjacent “spokes” create an additional shape that your eye naturally wants to fill in.”

“The bike was put together in two weeks, from start to finish, which left no time for testing. The ultimate surprise was that it worked the first time. Sprung steel, in particular, has a bewildering array of choices, based on the tempering or mixes, because the process to give the steel more or less “spring” is notoriously difficult to gauge without testing. And, of course, there was some initial skepticism from the manufacturer. They laughed at us when we told them what it was for!”.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Bike Planter…. how come we never thought of that?!


My best friend illustrator Steve Try often sends me cycling design oddities he stumbles across while browsing the internet. Today I received a link to this rather bizarre design for the off beat eco cyclist who wants to take the herbs from the kitchen windowsill with them when they leave for the office. The little pots attach to your bike frame or handlebars with elastic cord. They were the imaginings of Colleen Jordan an Atlanta, GA based designer who came up with these tongue in cheek planters taking influence from the equally strange flower vase on the dashboard of the new generation VW Beetle. Collen describes, “Putting a plant in a car like that seemed to be contradictory. A lot of cyclists seem to be plant lovers as well, so the combination just seemed right in my mind.”

Personally (as a designer and cyclist) I would say that just because I like something doesn’t necessarily mean I want to attach it to my bike,… but it’s eye catching, cute and certainly less odd than the car vase. Treat your succulents to some fresh air and a bike ride! It’ll be a talking point when you roll up at work. The range also contains wearable planter jewellery.

Colleen 3D prints the planters from a porous polyamide which means excess water drains away from the plant which makes them ideal for cuttings from succulents or an air plants. I’m not sure they will catch on in the pro peloton or be seen at your next sportive but at least in a tiny way you’re doing your bit to offset your fellow commuters carbon footprint as they sit at the lights revving in their luxury saloon or spluttering white van.

If you fancy a bit of herbage fixie fun this summer you can purchase the Bike Planter in a range of colours to pimp your ride at Colleen Jordan’s Etsy store for $45.
 
 
 
 
 

Challenge yourself and raise awareness of a great charity

Challenge yourself and raise awareness of a great charity… hurry places are limited!

 
 

Cycle Edinburgh to Richmond in Aid of Missing People

You’ve always wondered what it really feels like to be a pro rider with support vehicles and entourage? Well here’s your chance to live the dream, drama and inevitable pain. Push yourself to the max and raise awareness for a great charity and touch someone else’s life. Cycling Shorts are throwing their support behind the ride and would be very proud if some of you lovely people got involved. We would of course promote you fundraising and help in any way we can!

The charity Missing People is inviting participants to sign up to its first Cycle Challenge, a professional-level boutique five day ride from Edinburgh to Richmond, to help provide a lifeline for missing people in the UK and anyone left behind, starting on 16 June 2012.

The route is designed to put experienced riders through their paces, with a pro-level experience including a support car, quality accommodation and food supplies, to fuel the journey through Newcastle, York, Nottingham and Milton Keynes.

Eurosport commentator and sport promoter David Harmon has endorsed the event, in recognition of the exciting challenge it offers for participants, as well as the importance of the cause.

David said: “Every mile these riders get under their wheels exposes passers-by to a massively important charity and its vitally important work to help missing people, their families and their loved ones.

Having specialised in distance riding myself I know how tough this ride is going to be. From the hills and climbs of the first 2 days to the windswept middle section, it’s going to be a huge personal challenge…”Chapeau!” as they say in cycling”.

The Cycle Challenge also represents the ‘premier event’ of the summer for Missing People’s partner Ride2Raise, as it contributes logistical expertise and promotes the challenge throughout the cycling community.

Richard King, Managing Director at Ride2Raise commented: “Although very beautiful, the first two stages’ long journey between Edinburgh and York will be tough. The riders will really be put through the mill, but it is great that we can support them so closely to make this event a huge success.”

“The riders will have a support car, food and quality accommodation as they physically test themselves with this remarkable fundraising endeavour.”

Martin Houghton-Brown, Chief Executive of Missing People said: “If someone you loved went missing wouldn’t you want the world to stop and look for them? The charity Missing People is building a dedicated community of people across the country ready to join the search when the worst happens.

This new cycle event will be memorable for the scenery, the professional support and the incredible physical challenge, but will also help the charity to raise awareness of vulnerable missing adults and children, and support many families left behind.”

To enter the Cycle Challenge 2012,
visit www.missingpeople.org.uk/cycle by clicking here.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Herne Hill Velodrome welcomes disabled cyclists with open arms

 South London’s iconic track cycling venue experienced a first last Friday: trike cyclists, handcyclists, side-by-side tandem cyclists, enjoying the thrill of cycling at the Velodrome!

This was made possible by British Cycling’s re-surfacing of the banked track, last August, which included the addition of a 3.6m wide, flat strip, enabling others than 2 wheeler race-cyclists to ride at Herne Hill.

Most cyclists attending were discovering the Velodrome for the very first time. The event was organised by charity Wheels for Wellbeing, the charity works to remove all barriers to cycling for anyone who thinks they can’t (or can no longer) cycle. Isabelle Clement (Manager of Wheels for Wellbeing) said, “this was a trial session, to gauge the response of our regular participants. I’ve been confident our riders would love cycling on the track but the approaches to it are not perfect for access yet. We had a lot of volunteers on hand to help mitigate this aspect. For the long term, we will work with the Velodrome to ensure that disabled access is built into their future plans”.

Overall, people were very positive on the day though the distance from the nearest bus stop was an issue for some. Iman Saab (pictured), a former wheelchair racer commented, “I love cycling here! This is a proper workout; I really feel my muscles are doing some real work! This place is a wonderful site. I didn’t know it was here”. John Turnbull, a long standing member of Anerley CC recently needed to re-learn to cycle with Wheels for Wellbeing’s support, following an attack of shingles (which had left his legs paralysed initially). He was thrilled to be back at Herne Hill: “As a young cyclist I watched racing at Herne Hill in the 1950’s. It was quite exciting riding on the newly surfaced track. Nice smooth surface, enthusiastic helpers, from my point of view it’s perfect. I couldn’t wish for anything better”.

Wheels for Wellbeing has been working with the Velodrome over the last 18 months to ensure that, as investment starts flowing to renovate the site, disabled, younger and older cyclists are factored into all the infrastructure changes. Charmian Hornsby, a Herne Hill Velodrome Trust Board member who volunteered to help on Friday said, “It is wonderful to see how much difference the new flat track extension makes; the Trust is very keen to see new people cycle at the track. Wheels for Wellbeing’s participants are very welcome here”.
Wheels for Wellbeing’s Friday sessions generally run at the All Weather Pitch, above the Lido, in Brockwell Park. These will restart this week but the WfW team will continue to work with the Herne Hill Velodrome to turn this one off Velodrome session into a regular feature.

To find out more about Wheel for Wellbeing’s cycling sessions or any of its work, go to www.wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk, or find them on Facebook and Twitter (@wfwnews).
To support and donate to the charity please click here: www.justgiving.com/wheelsforwellbeing
 

About Wheels for Wellbeing

Wheels for Wellbeing is a charity which works to remove all barriers to cycling for anyone who thinks they can’t (or can no longer) cycle. We want people to be able to cycle safely on the road and enjoy social inclusion, health and environmental benefits on a daily basis. For people for whom cycling in a park is more appropriate, or who need to borrow 3 or 4 wheeler cycles, our emphasis is on running regular sessions so they too can enjoy cycling with their family and friends and benefit from regular exercise & fresh air. We also provide advice to individuals, groups and policy makers, and campaign for improvements which can reduce the barriers to disabled people cycling.
Wheels for Wellbeing was established in 2007. We run weekly sessions at Croydon Sports Arena and in Brockwell Park in Lambeth. We are actively seeking to establish sessions in other London boroughs and we work closely with similar projects elsewhere in the UK.
Wheels for Wellbeing currently receives funding from the Big Lottery Fund. It also needs to raise funds from private and corporate donations for much of its work.

 

About the Herne Hill Velodrome

Herne Hill Velodrome is the last remaining finals venue from the 1948 Olympic Games that is still in active use. It was given a new lease of life in 2011 after British Cycling invested in a programme of track refurbishment which included a complete resurfacing.
The Herne Hill Velodrome Trust is a charitable organisation (Charity Commission number 1140128) established in 2011 to lead the refurbishment and renewal of the Herne Hill Velodrome site for current and future generations of cyclists.
For more information on the velodrome visit www.hernehillvelodrome.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Review – Ana Nichoola Snow Cat Jacket A/W 2011/12

Nancy & Anna Review the Ana Nichoola Snow Cat Jacket

Between us  we use the full range of Ana Nichoola clothing and have been fans since the arrival of “Bo Peep” Gloves. We are both always at the front of the queue to purchase our next item. Ana Nichoola has now ventured into clothing with the Snow Cat Jacket and what a triumph it is. Below are our thoughts on it and links to our reviews of other products in the range we have purchased.

Cycling is a sport that’s dominated by men and all the equipment is made for them but with the new Ana Nichoola collection that will change! No more boring design, no more jackets and warmers that never fit… You can actually look girlie and stylish while riding your bike.
The brand is created by female bike rider Anna Glowinski, who better than a woman to understand the needs of women in the sport. Ana Nichoola has an innovating line of accessories with very cool designs; each piece has little details that make a simple item look extraordinary.
Apart from the good looks, the quality of the products is exceptionally high. Both of us agree we haven’t seen anything for female cyclists this good!

We agree our most favorite item is the “Snow Cat Jacket”, no other jacket on the market gets close to this one, it’s a warm jacket perfect for your cold winter rides, a great windstopper and like the arm warmers it fits amazingly well, tailored for a women’s body. The fabrics are of the best quality with a mix of reflective fabrics, sweat wicking, stretchy, soft and warm.

The collar is a double layer with a lovely soft polar fleece lining at the neck, the outer collar is a stand up mandarin style collar with a press stud fastening in a pale duck egg blue colour. The top sculpted part of the jacket and sleeves is made from a gorgeous white waffle textured fabric with tiny flecks of shiny thread woven into it (you can see the flecks in the blue collar too), it looks like snow glistening in the moonlight. The top lining is a lovely soft fleece. There’s a pair of embroidered circles on the shoulder in pastel pink and blue providing just enough embellishment to bring an elegant feel to the garment, this is repeated further down on the left hip. The top half is all about keeping your chest warm. The lines of the jacket are very sympathetic to the female form and rather than having a horizontal band or line between the two fabrics (as you find on most male or unisex cycling jerseys) it has a swooping blue stitched edge between the white of the top and the grey of the bottom. The bottom half of the jacket is a thinner fabric enabling more movement, it has a grey and dark charcoal horizontal stripe pattern. On the front at the left hip there’s the Ana Nichoola logo and just above it there’s an secure zipped pocket. On the back of the jacket there are two large pockets like all good cycling jerseys should have, but these pockets are again sympathetically styled to echo female curves. The pockets are stretchy and also have press-stud closures, there is a smaller pocket nestled inside the right pocket; ideal for a snack bar or a mini pump. Centre back of the jacket upper is a golden embroidered circle between your shoulder blades. The cuffs are finished with a matt silver reflective fabric. Running down the sides of the body and under the arms on the sleeves is a black lycra wicking fabric for a better contouring fit and to make your ride a comfortable one. Overall it provides an extremely flattering silhouette. You can tell a lot of thought and effort has gone in to designing this jacket.
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Click SL (slideshow) or FS (fullscreen)

This jacket has provided more protection from the wind and wintery weather than any other cycling jacket of it’s kind we’ve owned and it looks great off the bike too. We’ve both had loads of compliments and questions while out and about… plenty of jacket envy. It’s easy to clean. The price is premium but lets be clear this jacket is premium quality and there are many jackets in this price bracket that aren’t near this quality. The stitching and finishing is excellent along with the fabric quality. The sizing is quite accurate, we would say that buying your true size will give you a good fitting jacket, the size range is a UK6 to UK14, bustier ladies may be disappointed that larger sizes aren’t available, but maybe that will change when the brand grows. We’ve seen a sneak peek of the Spring/Summer collection and the clothing range is increasing, you won’t be disappointed no matter what type of bike you ride you’ll want to get your hands on something from the collection!

Ana Nichoola also has gloves, neck warmers and ear warmers in the range so you should take a look at the Ana Nichoola website and read our reviews of the rest of the product range.

Come on girls, what are you waiting for… Style Your Ride!

 

Nancy & Anna.

 

Price: £159.99

Available from www.ananichoola.co.uk


 
 
 
 

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