Louis Garneau Autumn Range Review – Snug, Sexy and Stylish
Louis Garneau is a retired French-Canadian racing cyclist whose career spanned 13 years, 150 victories, a Canadian national title in the individual pursuit and the 1984 Olympic Games.
But his most notorious achievement was asking the Queen if he could have his photo taken with her when she paid a state visit to Canada in 2002 â€“Â and then putting his arm around her as if she was one of the Spice Girls!
Off with his head!
But at Bikesoup we are prepared to forgive him this act of treason, because the cycling clothing business he set up in his dadâ€™s garage 30 years ago has gone on to produce some very stylish and comfortable bits of gear.
Though long established in his home country and the US, the Garneau brand has only recently been available over here through Evans Cycles.Â The full range extends from shoes to helmets.Â We were offered the chance to try out some of the bits and pieces in between.Â We tested them over a weekâ€™s worth of rides, culminating with a 30-mile spin against an Arctic headwind in Scotland.Â Hereâ€™s our review:
Louis Garneau Electra Jacket:
This soft, lightweight water resistant and windproof jacket doubles as a gilet.Â What I mistook for excessively long pit zips turned out to be a cunning quick release system for removing the sleeves(which can then be comfortably stowed in the rear, zipped pocket).Â The collar and shoulders have small magnets hidden in the seams, which magically ensure perfect re-alignment when you are zipping the sleeves back on.Â Of course all those zips and magnets mean extra weight – the Electra feels noticeably heavier than the similarly priced Endura Helium jacket we tested last month. And those long, unsealed zips are obvious weak points.Â Though there was no problem with water ingress during a couple of brief, light showers, heavier, sustained rain might be a different story.Â The fabric is certainly good at keeping you warm though.Â I didnâ€™t really start feeling cold from a biting, northerly headwind until Iâ€™d almost completed my two hour ride.
Price: Â£79.99.Â Â Â Value for Money Rating:Â 3.5/5.
Louis Garneau Oslo 3D Bib Tights
These were, quite simply, a revelation.Â Sliding into them is almost a sexual act.Â They feel like a second skin.Â The material is called HeatMaxx, and it consists of a velvety, inner fleece and smooth, nylon-spandex outer surface that easily repelled the aforementioned showers.Â The padding â€“ 4-way stretch and multi-density(i.e. thickest in the parts that matter) â€“ completed my sensuous experience.Â Ankle zips ensure you are snug throughout the ride.Â And what a ride!Â I couldnâ€™t believe something so thin and light could provide so much warmth and comfort.Â And the fleecey lining obviously had superior wicking qualities, because I didnâ€™t feel sweaty even when I tackled our local 12 per cent brute.Â Iâ€™m still wearing them now as I write this. I think Iâ€™m in loveâ€¦.
Price: Â£76.49Â Â Value for Money Rating: 5/5
Louis Garneau Neo Protect Overshoes
I feel sorry for overshoes.Â They are, literally, at the very bottom of the cyclistâ€™s wardrobe, and collect all the rubbish from puddles and gutters.Â And yet they are needed to offer warmth and dryness to the most important parts of a cyclistâ€™s anatomy.Â Itâ€™s no wonder they very rarely look stylish.Â All the overshoes Iâ€™ve previously owned have looked like canoes made from bits of tractor tyre.Â And the zips have never lasted more than a couple of months.
But these overshoes have combined style with substance.Â The 3-mm neoprene hugsÂ the contours of your shoe with barely concealed delight, practically caressing your buckles and straps.Â And the Velcro fastener at the side does its job with vigour.Â After 150 miles, they still look as good as new.
Price Â£17.99Â Â Value for Money Rating: 4.5/5
All Louis Garneau products are available fromÂ www.evanscycles.com