ProBikeKit

Review: ProBikeKit website and Bianchi jacket

Here we review road cycling website ProBikeKit UK and the Bianchi Milano Modica jacket. This review is assisted by Neil Houlsby, who recently competed in the Team GB age-group team at the World Triathlon Championships. 

ProBikeKit

ProBikeKit was established by cyclists in Cumbria in the early 1990s and began trading in its current state in 1998. It has become a globally-recognised brand for bicycles, gear and accessories, particularly in the road cycling sector. Taken over in March 2013 by The Hut Group, a leading online lifestyle and sports retailer that holds brands such as Myprotein and Myvitamins, ProBikeKit remains expert-driven and stocks the highest quality global brands for road riders and weekend warriors.

The vision of ProBikeKit from the beginning, which The Hut aims to strengthen and enhance, is to be a portal or hub for a community of cyclists (and, eventually, triathletes and runners) – “to demystify the technology and advise you on the perfect choice”.

We found the website slick, fast and easy to search. In appearance and coverage, it is quite similar to Chain Reaction Cycles. It has a much cooler, cleaner interface than Wiggle, though doesn’t quite replicate that site’s streamlined Collect+ returns policy, with a slightly more convoluted (but still straightforward) online message centre. We appreciated the nascent Triathlon & Running section of the site and found it on the whole easy to navigate with great product availability. ProBikeKit also offers free UK delivery and has a massive January sale, so check it out now!

In keeping with its emphasis on community, ProBikeKit maintains a blog, updated on average twice a month but it has really ramped up in 2014 and looks to be updating weekly with interesting content. The blog is supported by The Peleton newsletter (not this Peleton), a Facebook page, and a Twitter feed. ProBikeKit also offers Cycling Clubs Sponsorship and an Affiliate programme with special incentives for affiliated groups, plus discounts for customer reviews, which are a great resource. We know that the team at ProBikeKit is keen to keep increasing the functionality of the site, to make it more comprehensive, more interactive, and more communal. We look forward to seeing it evolve!

Bianchi jacket review

From Neil: First impressions mean everything, and mine were positive – the Bianchi Men’s Modica Jacket looks great, with a vibrant Italian style. With a comfortable lining, I would also wear this jacket as a casual, non-training top, but I shall assess it on some more objective measures.

My first piece of advice would be to purchase at least one size larger than you would normally. ‘Large’ is advertised as a 38” chest; at 5'11 and 68kg I would not consider myself large, but this jacket is certainly snug. The sleeves are a bit short and I would certainly not go smaller. Perhaps this is why the available sizes range S to XXXL. However, the material is fairly stretchy, and being a technical piece of kit, having a cut that fits close to the body is appropriate, as nobody wants to take a parachute for a ride.

Regarding weather resistance, the jacket is advertised as warm, wind resistant with a ‘500g/m2 permeability to water vapour’ (whatever that means in practice!). The top is lightweight, but despite this I found that it was surprisingly warm. Worn over one thin base layer, I was perfectly content on a breezy 5oC winter morning. There is some resistance to wind chill, and I would describe it as ‘splash proof’, but in more extreme conditions I would require a more heavy duty top. With a high neck line and full-length front zip one can adapt to changing temperatures easily.

The jacket scores well for practicality. Like most good cycling tops it contains two deep back pockets that can hold ones phone, keys, spare tube etc. The waist and cuffs are elasticised to stop them flapping around.

All in all, this top has a high-quality lightweight feel and looks great. It is certainly suitable for your average cool British autumnal/spring conditions, but if you are a "whatever the weather" rider you will need a more heavy duty top also. Even at a reduced price of £99 (RRP £135.99) this item does not come cheap, but I would consider it a worthwhile addition to one’s technical (and casual-wear) wardrobe.

Scores: Aesthetics 5/5; Functionality 4/5; Quality 5/5; Fit 2/5; Value 4/5.

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