We got Craft clothing into the shop in mid January and since then I’ve been able to try out a few pieces to see how it performs in real world conditions. I’ve been really impressed with it overall. I’ve previously had Endura kit and having worn the 2 brands I’d say that Craft have the edge when it comes to lighter weight and fabrics that will perform better when you are working hard.
The first thing I did after the Craft sales guy visited was heed his advice and try out one of their Active Extreme baselayers. I’d never really worn base layers before as I’d used to wear Gore N2S (next to skin) jackets, but the advice the Craft guy gave me was that I’d feel less sweaty with a baselayer. His advice proved so true. I’ve been riding with the Craft baselayer for about 4 weeks now from temperatures hovering around 0 to 12 degrees and I’ve found riding so much more comfortable. In the past my jersey would get moist with sweat soaked up from direct contact with my skin, chilling me and generally making me feel uncomfortable. Now with the baselayer that moisture is transferred away brilliantly. Road.cc did a review of the baselayer last year, which has since changed its name but its the same product.
I’ve also been trying out the Craft Performance Storm Bib Tights they sound a bit hardcore but they really aren’t! Again I’ve been using them in temperatures from decidedly cold to really very mild and they have been great across this wide temperature range. The first thing I noticed about them compared to my old Endura winter longs was that they weighed next to nothing. They also have a really nice mesh upper body which really helps in the overheating department. The details are great, like unobtrusive slimline zips that go a decent way up the calf, and silicone ankle grippers. The fronts of the tights are constructed of a wind and waterproof membrane, and I really didn’t notice the difference between it and normal lycra, in other words it pretty much moulds itself to your skin and doesn’t crinkle or flap about!
Riding them is where it really matters though. So how did they do? Well they kept me warmer and cooler when I needed it than other tights I have worn. Starting off a ride in cooler conditions you do notice their lightweight construction, but once you’ve warmed up they’re great. They keep the chilly wind and road spray off brilliantly at the front and allow you to breath through the lighterweight lycra at the back. But their best feature is in milder conditions – they really do not get warm in the slightest even at 12 degrees, and it’ll be great to test them this week when we get up to around 15 for an after work evening ride. I’ll post an update on that here. The pad is one area where I have felt a noticeable improvement in my riding comfort. Its made with ‘exploded bubbles’ and is very high tech – basically press the pad between your fingers and it springs back to shape! It also has an extra layer of anti shock EVA foam in the back part of the pad where your sit bones are located, making it even more comfortable – and the pad is size specific to each size of tight. I found that I didn’t move around on my saddle in an attempt to ease pressure on my rear as much as I used to, so the pad must work! It also stayed ‘put’ unlike some pads I’ve worn which slip around all over the place! Road.cc reviewed the tights and gave them a thumbs up as well.
Overall the Craft kit I have worn has been great, I look forward to trying out some more pieces, like a lightweight gilet or the rain jacket and who knows if the weather gets really mild you might see me out in their bib tights, god forbid!