The power of the mind is quite amazing. On the bike, our mind has the ability to convince us, despite whatever the truth may be, that we are either “having a good day” or “have got no legs”. Sometimes simple things like a sneaky tailwind, or seeing your training partner suffering can lead us to believe that the legs are strong and the today is your day. Equally amazing is that sometimes, believing it, seems to be enough to make it truth. Mind over matter.
Another one of of those triggers for the mind, for me atleast is kit. Heading out in old loose fitting kit often creates a sense of laziness or lethargy. On the flip side, there is nothing like the sense of feeling sharp on the bike in well fitted comfortable and importantly, aesthetically pleasing kit. Enter the Stelf. This is kit designed locally in Wollongong NSW, and manufactured in Italy. The loud designs of the season two release certainly had my mind convinced that I was “on a good day”. Job done! Well not quite.
Having winning kit is not a straightforward as it used to be. Good cycling kit now has to not only fit, well (pro cut is a must). It also needs to sport a raft of technical features which keeping the rider simultaneously aero, comfortable and stylish. The Stelf season two kits have incorporated several evolutions of design and technology with the intent to achieve these lofty goals.
The jerseys are a little longer and incorporate multiple fabric types including a 100% Polyester No-Sock CARBON fiber fabric mesh on the front and back panels which helps keep the shape of the jersey. The three rear pockets are slightly smaller than the average jersey pockets but still managed to fit the essentials in. There is an additional fourth pocket with a waterproof zip in which valuables (quite small ones only) can be stored. The elastic at the base of the jersey is thicker than normal (4.5cm to be precise) and incorporates micro silicon grippers. The sleeves and side panels are a specific blend of microfibre and polyester which is incredibly soft to the touch and almost feels like a second skin. I seem to have an arm shape that causes the sleeves on every jersey to ‘ride up’ over the upper arm. I like to think it is my bulging biceps. The super soft sleeves on the Stelf jerseys are a longer length than average and hugged and held place on my arms better than any other jersey I’ve worn. A win in itself.
The bibshorts are a longer cut than the average short, this felt disconcerting at first. After a couple of rides though I got used to the sensations of the longer shorts. The lycra on the shorts is quite strong, providing what could be described as a very firm fit. Some riders may not like this, but it certainly makes for a high level of compression and seemed to hold the bibshorts and chamois in place well. The chamois itself has a specification list of technology all of it’s own. Regardless of this, it performed well over several 150+ kilometre rides during testing. During the first ride the firm fit of the shorts meant that the internal seams irritated a little. However, after a cycle through the washing machine, these seemed to soften and subsequently felt fine.
The kit is not cheap nor super expensive, at $295 per set (Jersey and Bibshorts) it sits in the middle to upper range of the pricing spectrum. Although for limited release, locally designed, italian made, good fitting kit, the price is very reasonable. Kits can be ordered (or custom kit requested) direct through the Stelf website, (www.stelfcycling.com) but numbers of kit available are limited at this stage as Stelf is a small local operation.
When all is said and done, the Stelf kit looks fantastic, provides unique designs, fits really well and keeps you feeling comfortable in the saddle, enough to keep this reviewer fooled in his mind about his form. Job done.