The guys at Chapeau.cc sent me a few items of clothing to try out and I’ll break them down into individual garments below.
Chapeau has been around for a few years now so they know a thing or two about what makes great riding kit. This is good as a lot of the recent companies who have popped up to join the cycling boom are just buying shorts and jerseys in from far east suppliers and having their own cool logo printed on then shipping them out with whatever pad in the shorts or shape of jersey the original designer came up with. Chapeau have a proper design team and the items are unique to them.
Chapeau have always had great looking kit and a lot of variety but it’s backed up with the knowledge that someone has designed it to ride really well too. They even back it up with a great warranty and crash replacement scheme.
The Etape Merino Long Sleeve Jersey is made from Australian Extrafine Merino Sportwool a natural fibre which makes it very breathable and not stinky like a lot of wool garments become after long use. It’s super soft and comfortable, the fit is sporty but not that tight you can’t get a baselayer underneath. I wore a XL and have a 42″ chest and a in no way athletic shape and it fitted spot on. It has four rear pockets including one that is zipped and water resistant. It comes in two colours and I had the Deep Ocean version.
Riding Chapeau suggest the jersey is for spring, autumn and winter and with the mixed temperatures we’ve had so far this year it’s been the ideal time to try it out. It’s been great for after work rides that start in daylight and relatively warm temperatures that soon turn very chilly once the sun disappears. worn with just a baselayer underneath the jersey was very very comfortable, no sign of itchiness from the wool and the full length zip means if I got a little too warm on a climb it was easy to adjust to get a bit more breeze. The jersey is not windproof though so when the temperature dropped I popped a windproof over the top and it was perfect and I didn’t feel sweaty and damp as you do with some wool jerseys. The rear pockets are easy to access but because of the inherent stretch of the fabric you won’t want to be putting anything heavy in there. It was fine for my phone, keys and a flapjack or two. The jersey is so comfy in fact I’ve worn it off the bike too…it’s not because I’m old and like a cardigan before you comment either!
Club II bibshorts I have a pair of the original Chapeau Club bibs and they have given great service for around two years showing only the normal signs of wear apart form the logo which seemed to fall off quite quickly especially when worn under a baggie short. The Club II shorts have an uprated pad and longer leg grippers (not that i found any problems with the original version. They have a mesh back for increased ventilation and the leg panels have what Chapeau call Topazio fabric which is slightly less stretchy than standard lycra to support you leg muscles better. The logo have also been given the upgrade treatment and are supposed to be more resistant to wear and more reflective.
Riding Usually in my experience a new pair of bibs take at least one ride to bed in, the pad needs a few miles to mold to your undercarriage and the legs to find the perfect placement on your thighs. this was exactly the case with the Club II’s. On the first ride they felt a little tight on the legs and there was a small amount of “thrutching” to get the pad comfy but on every ride since that one they have felt like a favourite pair of slippers ( perfect to go with a cardigan i hear you say!) and just as comfy as my original pair. I usually wear bibs in size XL (just over 6ft tall) and these were perfect in that size for me. When you get back from a ride and don’t even think about how the shorts performed you know they are decent. the logos so far have stayed put.
Chapeau Dry Tech Tee this t shirt is a departure from the normal items Chapeau sell, they have always been mainly road bike focused but their customers have been asking for more gravel and leisure friendly kit. This T shirt is brand new and I was one of the first people to give it a try. It simply is a T shirt, there is a round neck with no zip and the only pocket is a little chest pocket with a Chapeau Badge on it. The material is breathable and wicks moisture away. It’s a loose casual fit but without being flappy when riding. I went for an XL size again and a baselayer fitted underneath easily. In summer and hotter days the T is soft and comfortable enough to wear without anything underneath.
Riding in the Tech Tee comfort wise was fantastic, the sleeves are just the right length when in the cycling position, too many normal t shirts ride up under your arm pits for me, the material has a little stretch too which also helps when leaning forward as there’s no restriction over the shoulders. It also invokes a state of mind, yes I know this sounds weird but if I put this Tee on I know it’s going to be a chilled out ride. Putting a lycra jersey on almost feels like you need to perform at your best, think about average speeds and watts whereas this makes me feel like i can bowl along, look at the scenery, chat to fellow riders and generally have a wonderful time. wow, I’ve just read that back and it seems a bit pretentious but I’ll stick by it. The lack of pockets isn’t really a problem on short rides and as most gravel bikers now have some sort of bag strapped to their bike for stuff that used to go it pockets it was great to feel the freedom of nothing weighing you down. I also have a confession to make, I wore this out on my mountain bike too!
Chapeau Club Race Jacket is a windproof and shower resistant jacket that packs down very small and will easily fit in the back pocket of a jersey or take up hardly any room in a bar bag for example. the material is very slightly translucent which I guess if you are using it for racing will still let your club colours or sponsor’s logo show through. My riding is so far away from racing though so my plaid shirt or flowery jersey will show though instead! I went for an XXL in this case as the Race kit tends to be smaller in sizing. This meant I could wear it over a baselayer and the merino jersey without it feeling too tight for example.
Riding the club race jacket was something that always started mid ride or near the end, after a pub stop (yes those are back!) or cafe stop restart when you’ve cooled down and need an extra layer until you warm back up. the jacket is great for this as its simple to put on and take off, I’ve even perfected that skill while riding (don’t try that at home kids) and you can stuff it in a back pocket or bag without the need to stuff it in it’s little sack. It is very windproof but even with the wide range of temperatures we’ve had this spring I’ve never had that clammy “boil in the bag” feeling. the sleeves are long enough to stay near your hands when stretched out. The collar has a soft lining which removes that cold feeling you get when bare skin touches windproof material.
Chapeau Gravel Shorts These are another new departure for Chapeau, they’ve done casual après bike chino type shorts before but never a baggy short. I suspect again that Chapeau fans and customers have been asking for something like this. the shorts have two zipped pockets up front, two mesh lined pickets out back and two waist adjust straps on the outside. A fly zip and button fastening complete this simple looking short
Riding I really wanted to like these shorts as on paper they look ideal and after riding I can confirm, I really really like these shorts! If you have ever worn MTB baggy shorts on your gravel bike ride you’ve probably found that they tend to be much too long and well, baggy but the Chapeau Gravel shorts are just the right length, they cover the end of your bib shorts with room to spare but still stay away from the knee, cutting down on the annoying rub you get with other shorts and they are just tight enough around the leg for freedom of movement but without looking like you are wearing lycra shorts 3 sizes too big. the material has some stretch so are comfortable around your back side and there’s no bunching in the crotch area. I usually wear a 34″ waist short but went for the next size up on these and they fitted well. the waist adjusters keep the shorts on when moving about on the bike, some other makes of short I’ve tried I’ve had to resort to a belt to keep them up, belt loops are there though If you do fancy a belt. In short (yes that was deliberate) these have become my go to short for riding, both gravel and MTB, I’m always disappointed when they are in the wash and I have to wear something else
Hats off to Chapeau….ok you knew that was coming but it is the case that I couldn’t find much fault with any of these items. chapeau have a track record of producing good products and these are no different. The bibs, merino jersey and race jacket are things they have always been good at. The Tech tee is a great item and I can see me ordering at least one other if they start doing other colours. The stand out piece for me though are the gravel shorts, they have nailed it first go, perfect length and width leg with a comfortable amount of stretch put them right up there if not exceeding some of the more established brands in the gravel scene. if you can only buy one item, make it the shorts.
you can find more info on the Chapeau website Chapeau.cc
As with all my tests, this is a real world review. I’m not sponsored and I’m just an average rider like most of you reading this. companies sometimes send me things to test but i always let them know it will be an honest review good or bad