August 8, 2014

Experimentation with cycle clothing — Part 2

Well, after my initial post about my experiment, I’ve collected a bit more information and I think I’ve settled on a solution and come up with a hypothesis of what’s going on.

Disposable coveralls

As I suspected, the disposible overalls did have a problem in the longevity department. Not a big one mind you. One pair got ripped when the leg brushed up against the corner of a drawer. Fixable with some tape. A few weekends back I wore them cycling from The Gap to Logan Central and back. This is a ~82km round trip (81.56 to be exact), and represents a fairly rigorous test. They got home intact, but the tape on the seams was starting to come adrift.

I also performed a shower-test on both these and the SMS fabric ones. The MP4 ones passed with flying colours. No seepage other than where I had made ventilation holes: and that could be fixed with a storm flap. My “poor-man’s bikesuit” idea could still work.

So the MP4 ones I have, good for emergencies, I’ll continue to carry a pair just in case.  They roll up to something the size of a drink bottle, and contribute bugger all weight, so for those times I am wearing normal clothes, they’ll be great to toss over when the weather turns foul.

SMS fabric? Good in very light and brief showers only. If it’s prolonged heavy showers for anything more than about 30 seconds you’ll get drenched.

It’d be interesting to have a closer look at the Tyvek ones originally recommended.  I might investigate at some point.

Breathalon Spray Suit

So I went back to the Breathalon spray suit, which, having bought it in 2008, is now starting to look a bit frayed, particularly around the hood.  That, and there’s my attempt at adding pocket access.  I do raise a sweat, but it’s minor, and soon evaporates when I stop. I find I’m a lot more comfortable.

How is this so though? Common sense would suggest I’d sweat like a pig! The material is breathable, and so the vapour can escape. If they’re loose enough, there is also a small wind current to draw vapour out. Crucially though, being non-porous, they do not absorb my sweat, and so I don’t have the wind-chill effect of sweaty clothing.  The key here is to have minimal clothing underneath that might absorb the sweat, as this then relies on your body heat to dry it out, and will take longer.

My nits with these?

  • The zip is one-way.  However you can ignore the zip and just use the velcro storm flap as a fly.
  • No pockets at all.
  • The hood isn’t well shaped, doesn’t track one’s head movement very well, and I found the elastic caused it to obstruct my field of view
  • The yellow colour is great for daytime high visibility, but there are no reflective bands for night use.  (I tried using self-adhesive ones, they didn’t stick very well.)

Otherwise, they’re durable and lightweight.

Castle Clothing Coveralls

I mentioned these in my last post.  Well, I bit the bullet, I bought a pair, something which also necessitated me getting a Visa card for the first time in my life (I can highly recommend these as a payment method).  I tossed up between this and buying another Breathalon spray suit, Mammoth Work Wear had these for £40 plus about £30 shipping, this worked out to be under AU$140.  The Breathalon suits are $150+ without shipping.

A heads up with the Mammoth Work Wear site: ignore the sizing advice they give in the drop-down box, you want to pay attention to the sizing chart table below.  The drop-down box suggested I’d be a size L, whereas the table suggested XL.  I went XL and they’re a perfect fit.

Fedex had estimated they’d arrive on Monday, they actually arrived this afternoon.  So I tried them out on the ride home tonight.

I sweat a little more, but not significantly so.  If anything, the lining means I don’t notice them sticking so much, so in that regard they’re more comfortable.  When I got home, yes there was moisture, but I wasn’t dripping, nor did I suddenly feel cold.

They feature a two-way zip (good), with press-studs on the storm flap (not so good, velcro worked better).  The hood (not a concealed hood, which IMO is a plus) is excellent, tracking my head movement very well, sits forward far enough to keep rain off one’s face, and doesn’t block my vision.  It didn’t pose a problem with the helmet either, keeping out of the way and didn’t impede movement or significantly muffle sound.

There is one pocket on the left at the front.  Too low to be considered a “breast” pocket, but well above the waistline.  They could use an identical one on the other side, and perhaps some side pockets, as I find I’ve got nowhere to put my hands.  That said, it’s a generously sized one.  You could fit a 7″ tablet in there no problems, so can easily fit a wallet, phone and keys.

The test will be longevity, and the summer humidity.  They look well-made so we’ll see.