Café du Cycliste are known for their stylish kits and sharp range of on (and off) the bike apparel. Being based outta France automatically gives them a sense of panache. Gravel is en vogue, which is why many brands are developing new lines for this type of riding. Café du Cycliste have launched a gravel range and with it, the Solenne; a long-sleeve technical jersey with a drawstring hood.
Kiwi’s dig a good hoodie, so I was excited when this package arrived. Opening the smartly branded ziplock bag was an experience in itself. You can see the attention to detail before you even wear the garment. I’ve had it for a while now and used it a few times over the summer, but it really came into its own in autumn and winter.
Firstly, the fit is ideal; it has a sense of casual style whilst still fitting like a cycling garment, particularly in the places you need it most, like the elastane around the base and the dropped hem at the back. The tight cuffs ensure there’s no air between your arm and cycling glove. As with all good hoodies, there are two front pockets, plus three pockets across your back - which is ideal if you’re just wearing this as a standalone piece. It means you have a place to stash your cycling paraphernalia; food, tubes, pump, etc.
On the road, the high-grade construction ensures the fabric is super warm, while still breathing well - I didn’t overheat as the days warmed up. In autumn I only needed a merino base layer and the Solenne, while the depths of winter had me wearing two - three layers under the hoodie. The fit certainly isn’t a race cut, which feels good - especially when riding gravel bikes. With this bike the speed tends to be slower, so you don’t often need a tight-fitting garment... unless you’re overly concerned with saving three watts. Plus, it gives you a sense of casual flair when pedalling your way through the back blocks of nowhere. There’s that French panache again.
The addition of the hood is something I hadn’t previously considered. To be honest, I thought it would be a bit of a nuisance. However, with the increase in gravel rides and the weather being wet more often than not, I now rate the hood. Perhaps the best use of it was when I was out on a bikepacking mission, having a bit of lunch at a scenic spot and it started raining; I simply pulled up the hood and continued snacking.
This is a nifty and well thought-out garment. It’s unique and stylish - it looks good on the bike but isn’t out of place at the café or the pub either. The handy addition of a side zip pocket - to store your phone or cash - is a really nice touch. Perhaps I’d like to see a few more colour options but I really can’t find any other faults with the Solenne. It’s now one of my go-to pieces in my cycling closet. Bravo, Café du Cycliste.
Words & Images: Liam Friary and Cameron Mackenzie
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