Belgian Crew – Clothing for Flandrian weather
With the snow and mercury falling as rapidly as the wind speed is rising, it’s time for winter cycling kit. Handily the Belgian Crew have just sent me their Antwerpen jersey and tights bundle to review.
Hailing from the cycling Mecca of Belgium, the Belgian Crew was started back in 2013 by a small group of cycling enthusiasts. After selling out their first production run – fifty caps – they have gone on to produce a full range of clothing. And being the fine chaps that they are, they have sent one of their cycling bundles, the Antwerpen, plus a few extras for me to try out.
The Antwerpen Jersey
The Antwerpen jersey is, according to the Belgian Crew, “Warm, versatile, virtually perfect”. Well with a windproof softshell fabric on the front, and an extremely soft, fleecy and stretchy Italian fabric for the rest, it ticks all the winter boxes. Throw in some water-resistant treatment and you should be good to go.
Other details include a high collar and slim fit, so no pesky draughts or flapping. Zipped side air vents add a little cooling when the sun does struggle out. Three rear pockets and a fourth, zipped pocket for valuables. There’s also a hidden internal pocket with cable loops, so you can keep in contact or listen to some oompah music. And lastly silicone grippers to keep the jacket from riding up, reflective detailing and padded shoulders… Not sure about the last one, but I’ll let you know!
The other part of the Antwerpen bundle are the Tommeke bibtights. To quote the Belgian Crew these are “named after one of Belgium’s favourite sons, Tommeke Boonen.” They have also been rigorously tested on the Belgian cobbles by a Belgian pro rider, but no clue as to which one!
The Tommeke bibtights feature a tailored anatomical fit, are water resistant and have a BBC Troon™ chamois. There’s a breathable mesh rear and a reinforced knee panel, plus reflective detailing. But the feature that really interests me is the soft-brushed Heat Generation Technology fabric.
This is a dual layer fabric with a soft-brushed inner layer. While riding the two layers rub against each other generating a claimed +2 degree temperature increase. This sounds pretty… cool? Obviously you generate heat as you ride anyway, but producing heat from your clothing while you cycle is novel. And now is the time to try it out.
The Tommeke bibtights are also anatomically shaped for maximum comfort, compression and support. Flat-lock stitching helps avoid any chafing and they’ve added a wind and waterproof treatment to them for good measure.
Full Gas Thermal Base Layer
Under the Antwerpen jacket is the Full Gas long sleeved thermal layer. The Belgian Crew say this is an “extra insulating” item and reading through its specs, it sounds it. Polypropylene, polyester and spandex are combined together into a seamless, tubular woven construction. Four-channeled fibres wick sweat from your body, while hollow outer fibres provide extra insulation. It also has an anti bacterial and odour treatment to keep you sociable. And like all their products is made in Europe.
Winter High Top Reflective Socks
And lastly the finishing touch, a pair of Winter High Top Reflective socks. Being Belgian Crew socks they have some serious winter touches. Cut long, they feature wind resistant panels on the shin and toes. The polypropene material also generates extra warmth as you ride. And there’s a reflective stripe around the cuff, if you choose to wear your socks outside your tights! And to top it off a small Belgian flag proclaims your cycling loyalty, nice.
I’m actually looking forward to trying out the Beligian Crew kit. The pandemic has kept me riding indoors for way too long and if the Antwerpen bundle performs as well as it promises, it looks like I’ll have no excuse to go out. As the Belgian Crew say “the only reason to not ride in terrible weather is being hung-over”!