Gear Break: Castelli • DMT • Rapha • Danny Shane
It’s been a crowded winter on the PEZ test-bench, and here’s a peek at some of the latest road cycling gear worth checking out: Castelli Linea Pelle creams, DMT WR1 winter shoes, Danny Shane kit, and Rapha pants.
Castelli Linea Pelle Creams
Some brands seem to know better than others what we need as riders, and also what makes sense when adding products to a line, like Castelli, who offers a line of three creams designed to basically make your riding more comfortable – that is if you like riding in not so great conditions. Their line of skin care products were developed from years of racing in wet weather on Oregon, the UK, and Belgium – riding in crummy weather that usually includes hours spent of a wet chamois.
The Chamois Dry Lube, Warming Embro Cream, and Foul Weather Cream favor natural ingredients, while still providing the kind of protection that works even at the Pro Tour level (Team Cannondale uses ’em).
The Chamois Dry Lube came from a desire to avoid too much moisture in the chamois area which is a major cause of irritation. Although it’s a cream, it really does feel dry, and has a heavier viscosity that allows it to stay in place longer than a lot of lighter or ‘wetter’ creams. It provides less friction for a smoother skin-chamois interface, doesn’t use as much moisturizer as some other chamois products, and includes tea tree oil as a natural bacteria fighter.
Steve Smith of Castelli offered his own anecdotal research: “I’ve never been a chamois cream user and because of that I was leading the charge on doing something dry. I’ve been testing it in various situations and had a little bit of the feeling like you mentioned on the phone of it not being readily apparent what it’s doing. Then I did the Strade Bianche gran fondo and put the cream on my right half and nothing on the left half. There the difference was truly night and day. After 4 hrs on those rough roads I had a couple of hot spots on the left but on the right felt like I had just started. At least my ass was happy… my legs definitely weren’t.”
The tube with the red cap is the Warming Embro Cream – aimed at warming the skin before heading out into the cold. It warms well, but won’t stay on when you try to wash it off either. The other tubes come with white caps, so it’s easier to know which tube is the one that warms you – (and avoid it going onto something like your chamois… ouch). I’ve been using the warming Embro lately as we’re transitioning from full tights to knee warmers, but still with chilly air. I’ve found the Embro not as ‘warming’ as I’d expected, nor as warming as others I’ve tried. For me it feels like a very mild warmer – so I’d suggest it’s good for sensitive skin, but maybe not also we suited to guys who really like that blast ‘o heat.
The Foul Weather Cream is for riding and racing in wet weather racing conditions – it keeps water and cold air off the skin so you stay warmer.
None are scented, and all three come in a handy pump applicator that lets you avoid double dipping from a tub (gross…), and also acts as dose-o-meter, if you like to measure how much you use. They come in 100ml tubes and you can find em at Castelli-cycling.com
DMT WR1 Winter Road Shoes – US$200
I’ve been riding these winter boots since mid-November, and they’re the first dedicated ‘winter’ shoe I’ve tried. Until now I’ve relied on wool socks (of varying thickness), and neoprene booties as my go-to for cold & wet winter riding.
I’ve long been a fan of the Italian DMT brand, because their shoes are very well made and fit my feet very well – and I’ve owned several pairs over the years. This is one point I won’t comment on for anyone else – since fit is a completely personal and subjective measurement – but I think we can all agree that when a shoes fits, it’s usually worth wearing.
Winter conditions around PEZ HQ run mostly wet and cold – average temps from Nov – Feb around 5C degrees, varying anywhere from zero to +10C degrees (like it is as I write this.) It’s long been a struggle for me to find some combo of socks / shoes / covers to prevent my feet from being the first part of my body that chills out, thus hastening my return to the warmth of home base, and limiting winter rides to 60 – 90 minutes.
I picked up a pair of the DMT WR1 winter boots on a visit to their Italian factory in October, and admit to being pretty stoked about the prospect of warm feet ahead.
The WR1 is essentially a polypropylene sock encased in the shoe’s sole and upper – it’s not a complete sock – but it does wrap from the ankle, across the top and down the sides of the foot to where it meets the sole (the polypro does not encase the toes) – so right off the bat you’re starting out with a nice layer of insulation around the foot. Polypropylene is an excellent material for wet and winter riding protection, since it insulates, repels water, and breathes. The limitations are that given enough water and/ or time, it will soak through (but it does tend to hold the heat), although when that happens, it’s usually a good time to get back home.
The upper is a water proof poliammide material that provides a durable and supportive casing to hold the foot. Ventilation is minimal via a few small holes on either side of the shoe, but I’m okay with that since the purpose here is to keep warmth in and wet out.
Closures are handled via two independent BOA straps across the middle and upper part of the foot. A lot of folks like the BOA (including me) as its independent tightening and adjustment of the closures allows the shoe to wrap around the unique contours of your one-in-a-million shaped foot. It makes for a secure and comfortable fit across all points of my admittedly oddly shaped feet.
The sole is nylon & fiberglass (30%) mix that’s stiff, comfortable and does a better job of retaining heat than carbon fibre, and helps keep the cost very reasonable for what’ll be a second (or third) pair of shoes for most riders. The heel plate is replaceable as well.
These shoes have been a solid fixture to my winter riding, and while around here at least they still require a wool socks for maximum toastiness, they’ve been an excellent shoe.
• See more at DMTcycling.com/en/road/dmtwr1
Rapha Loopback Trousers – US$150
As we’ve learned so often over the years – it truly is not all about the bike. And since many of us lead lives that involve the reality of work, family, and taking care of business more important than just pedalling around, Rapha’s Loopback pants offer up the sartorial qualities for a well dressed man, and a practicality that should appeal to the cyclist inside ’em.
Made from the technical fabric Pertex – they’re designed to be wind resistant and better at wicking moisture away from the skin – an ideal combo for urban commutes. There’s a nice stretch to the fabric as well, so they’re quite comfy. The higher waist means most of us will be saved from the embarrassing butt-crack back, and the fit is slim, with a taper below the knee that both looks good and keeps the cuff away from your chainring. Bright pink piping sewn inside the hem makes for a stylish cue when the cuffs are rolled up. Sizes are 28, 30, 32, 34, and 36 inch waists.
• Buy ’em online at Rapha.cc
Danny Shane Apparel
The distinct designs of American designer Danny Shane might well appeal to your inner Euro-roadie. The company has been around a few years, (you might own some of their golf wear) making age-appropriate kit for guys like you who read PEZ (that would be your middle years of life). They’ve ventured into cycling in the last couple of years since founder Shane Hunt loves riding his bike.
The brand sells online at their website, and offers a pretty deep range of designs – most of which will catch your eye, and none of which look like they’re trying to sell you something.
The Romer Black Performance jersey ($139) is on of 25 distinct designs that don’t look like anything your buddies are wearing. This one is part of the Performance line, which features a snugger more racey cut, made from fabric that includes Bamboo White Ash (a natural performance fiber), which is more durable and has a soft breathable feel. The full zip and four pockets in back (three open + one zipped) complete the piece. Sizes are Small to XXL.
This may not be your first piece of cycling kit, but it’s a piece that’s perfect for those days when you just gotta be you.
The Flint Cross Hybrid Cycling jacket ($149) feels more like a lightweight long sleeve jersey, that’s roomy enough to pull over a base layer or another jersey. The collar is lined with a brushed fleece for warmth and soft stretchy cuffs hold the sleeves in place. Also made with the Bamboo White Ash fabric, it’s full breathable as well, and uses reflective piping on the side-seams to increase visibility.
The Shelby S5 Race Bib ($209) is their top line bibshort, and comes in always stylish all-black. The multi-panel design is sewn from nylon-lycra blend fabric that’s Bluesign® certified as environmentally conscious, and the multi-density chamois offers plenty of up front coverage. The upper back and straps are a very breathable mesh, and everything is held together with flatlock stitching (always a nice touch). The legbands are tall and opt for a fine silicon-mesh on the inside as a more comfortable alternative to a simple silicon strip to hold em in place.
They offer a concierge with an actual phone number during regular business hours, and free two-way shipping (in case you need to return an item).
See the full line at DannyShane.com.
Note: If you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!
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