What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Test: CAPO’s Winter Kit Reviewed!

Regardless of their home base in California’s Bay area, the guys at Capo have created one of the better lines of winter kit available. Using tried and true fabrics for function and durability, and fine tuning their designs and fit to dial up the style, the 2008/09 winter line is their best yet.

Here’s a look at the Capo winter jacket, winter bib shorts, long sleeve jersey, arm & leg warmers, gloves, wool socks – and the funkiest head warmer I’ve seen outside an HR Puffin Stuff episode…

Gary Vasconi and Rob Carbone started Upland Sports Group just about the same time as PEZCycling hit the airwaves – almost 7 years ago. While Euro-designed kit works in Europe, a lot of it doesn’t fly with American consumer tastes, so although they originally planned to import and distribute high-end Italian and European cycling kit to America, they also quietly started an inhouse line called Capoforma to deliver Euro-styled gear made with US-specific designs and sensibility (ie: less gut-cut and no neon – !)

The Capoforma line has been evolving over the past 3 years and really catching on around the country, to the point that Upland Sports is now fully devoted to just one brand – their own. The name was officially shortened to “Capo” for Interbike 2008, but the line has gone the opposite – with a full and robust range of technical cycling kit offered for all seasons.

Interbike 08 saw the Upland Sports’ booth completely devoted to the Capo line.

Most of the line is made in Italy at the reknowned factory of Maglieria MB di Marcello Bergamo north of Milano, because Gary & Rob prefer quality over low price – and that’s exactly what you get with the entire Capo line – high end cycling clothing that is durable, stylish and very functional.

Now let’s get to the Winter line…

DIAVOLO Roubaix Bibshort – US$200, Sizes S – XXL
Let’s start with the bib shorts because nothing can impact your ride quality like a pair of bibs. Even though Capo got the design right a long time ago, they’ve continued to upgrade the chamois with some of the very best available – Gary and Rob recently returned from the world-class Cytech factory in Italy where the main topic of conversation was (you guessed it – )… chamois!

And aside from the chamois, the Diavolo winter bibs are made of all Roubaix 245 gram fleece lined polyester – including the straps and back. So they stretch with you, add extra warmth against the winter chill, feel great against the skin, but breathe enough to help prevent over-heating.

As expected, the legs have the sticky silicon gel gripper to keep ‘em from sliding up.

Cytech’s MLDA (Anatomic – 4 Density) chamois (exclusive to Capo in 2008) is the stuff of smiling cheeks – it has 4 densities of foam, strategically placed on a crescent moon shaped all way stretch elastic interface (that’s a fancy way of saying chamois). EIT features silver ion elastic to prevent bacterial buildup. The all way stretch means it moves with you – not against you – so you get less friction and abrasion in yer privates.

The fabric is custom made in Italy and Gary says it’s a “6 hour chamois – great for long distance rides.”

Milano Hat, Arm & Leg Warmers – US$50 (one size), $40 (s-m, l-xl), $70, (s-m, l-xl)

No self respecting roadie would be without the proper colored arms, legs and head.

The multi-use Milano hat features a SuperRoubaix top for warmth, and stretchy poly band to hold it in place and cover your ears. The top is open, and can be closed with the drawstring, or fully opened and pulled down to cover your neck, mouth and nose – how many cycling caps do that?

The arm and leg warmers are again made in Italy to top quality specs, and built for racers or anyone wanting a full “Euro” look.

The leg warmers come with zipped ankles for easy access, and silicone grippers at the top. I’ll admit to catching a few stares when I stopped into my local bank while heading out on a ride. Those leggers aren’t for everyone, so you gotta be ready to own the room.

Worth noting is the quality sublimation of all the Capo kit. It’s done in the traditional manner (not digital) which allows control over how much ink is used (Capo uses double the amount of many competitors). The upside is colors that don’t fade – even after a few years of use and washing – I know because our PEZ kit is made at the same factory (and same process) – and the colors still look new after 4 years.

DIAVOLO S3 Jacket – US$160.00
The Diavolo S3 jacket gets several upgrades this year – including the rolled brush collar, slimmer cut sleeves for a snugger fit, high reflective piping on the seams, and Super Roubaix cuffs that eliminate gapping at the wrist.

The collar is a tall 5cm plus the rolled brush which extends it another cm – resulting in a soft fuzzie against your sensitive neck (chafed necks just ain’t cool). The sleeves are longer than a lot of jackets to accommodate a true cycling position and maintain the coverage at the wrists, and the cuffs hold the sleeves in place, while allowing winter gloves to fit over without bunching, but stretch easily to fit over snugger fitting gloves.

The jacket’s front panel is Windtex 350 gram, it’s water proof and windproof. The shoulders, sleeves and back are Capo’s winter Quattro fabric- they’re lighter, and sans membrane to maximize breathability.

The combo of fabrics result in a lightweight jacket that handles a variety of cool temps, and can be warn simply over a base layer, or over a base and long sleeve jersey for full warmth (my preferred combo for days around 5-8C degrees (40-50F). It feels great, moves with the rider, and reacts well to temp changes. A full thermal version of the jacket is also available that uses the Windtex 350 on the shoulders and sleeves, which is super for cold winter days.

Notice the photo at the top of this story – me in the full kit – you can see how much the piping is reflecting the camera flash – and that’s shot with a pocket sized Canon SD1000, flash on from about 10 feet away. The piping on the seams looks really invisible to the naked eye, but brightens up like a 14year old seeing his first Playboy when the light hits.

There’s plenty of useable cargo space in back – deep pockets you can still reach while riding.

The jacket also boasts a robust two way lockable zip – it’s 6mm wide and fully hidden. The lock actually works to keep the bottom closed, but opens easily when you want to cool off, or access the pockets of your base-layer jersey. It also snaps downflat so there’s no flapping to annoy you or your ride partners. The wider 6mm version is just a lot easier to use when riding with gloved hands, and less prone to snagging and jamming on the seams like a 4mm version does.

DIAVOLO Tuscan LongSleeve Jersey– US$110.00
The long sleeve jersey – maybe the most versatile weapon in a cycling fashionista’s wardrobe – wear it on its own, over a base layer, under a jacket – it fits in anywhere.

The Diavolo Tuscan Long Sleeve is the same cut as the S3 jacket, but with slightly different materials. It’s full fleece lined polyester, no Windtex in front, so it’s lighter and more breathable than the jacket. Like the jacket, the sleeves have been lengthened for the US market, and tapered from last year’s version, so if you’re looking for that Jerry Seinfeld ‘puffy shirt’ look, please move along.

The zip is one way, but still 6mm, and the 3cm collar is not quite as high as the jacket, and there’s still 3 full sized pockets in back.

DIAVOLO Lightweight WindVest– US$130.00

I wore this vest over a short sleeve jersey and base layer for my ride over the Passo Gavia at the 2006 Giro. It worked.
Light enough to stow in a jersey pocket, but hearty enough to shut out the wind on cool days – vented in back with a two way zip – an essential item.

Windglove– US$55.00
Nothing spoils a winter ride faster than cold fingers… unless it’s cold toes. I’m happy to report that Capo’s winter gloves, wool socks and booties pour the coals on this department.

Seriously – the winter gloves are the most versatile I’ve used – the Windtex material keeps fingers toasty but never sweaty across a huge range of temps from Fall, to Winter, and well into Spring. Its waterproof membrane does the job in rain as well, and although Gary tells me some seepage can occur through the seams, I’ve yet to see it, and my hands are always warm (unless the day calls for double layers).

The long gauntlet opens with Velcro to cover most (all) jacket cuffs, and Capo added rubber grip to the middle and index finger (after my own feedback last year!) so levers don’t slip, and cleaning your tire while riding doesn’t chafe the fabric. They also fit snug, so operating levers, zippers, and computers is no problem.

The stretchable Windtex does the same for the toes as the gloves for your hands, and am happy to ride into my 3rd winter with them. They pull on easily but fit snugly over the shoes, securing in back with a beefy zip and Velcro at the ankle. I like to pull my lycra shoe covers over top, to complete my full PEZ look, but you can wear ‘em with or without – your choice!

Euro Winter Wool Sock– $16.00

Completing the trifecta of warm extremities are Capo’s winter wool socks –available in light and heavy versions. Both feature padded footbeds, are made of soft merino wool in Italy, and are equally suited to keeping your feet warm on and off the bike. If you don’t know the comfort of good wool socks, you should, and at only $16 – you’d be nuts not too.

Finally – with the full Diavolo line dialed in the ‘looks’ department, there’s almost no need to rush through winter just so you can wear the summer kit…

• See the website: UplandSG.com
• Buy it at: RACycles.com
• Buy it at: CompetitiveCyclist.com

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