Vulpine Cycling Blazer  £295.00

7/10

Expensive smart cyclewear that's made in the UK; water resistance is a bonus, better stitching may be needed

Weight 526g   Contact  www.vulpine.cc

by Jez Ash   May 15, 2014  

Vulpine go for maximum style points in this collab with London designer Oliver Spencer. It's priced at a point that most of us probably wouldn't consider remotely sensible, but what was the last piece of cycling gear you bought that was made in England?

So you've got to ride into town to meet up with the partners for some drinks at that new bar. It's around 18 degrees out, but Siri suggests there might be a shower later. You toy with the idea of leaving your De Rosa hanging on the wall and taking the 911 instead, but you're a bit behind with this month's Strava 1000km challenge, so it was never really an option not to ride. What to wear?

In recent years there has been an explosion in the market for cycling gear that doesn't look too cyclisty: stuff that is cut to be comfortable on the bike while allowing you to affect the desired look when out and about off the bike. Brands like Howies, Rapha and Vulpine have succeeded in combining these seemingly conflicting needs and produced some really stylish cycling outerwear for the (fairly well-off) urban rider.

Much of this gear could still be described as technical cycle gear first, with added style. Increasingly, however, we're seeing items which are closer to "traditional" tailoring, with added cycling features. Rapha and Vulpine now offer blazers in their range, and this is Vulpine's offering, which was designed in conjunction with Oliver Spencer. I'm not in Shoreditch and wasn't familiar with Spencer or his oeuvre, so I had to rely on Wikipedia, which informed me that he was an officer in the American Revolutionary War.

His collaboration with British cycling brand Vulpine has resulted in a dark blue single-breasted blazer, conceived, they say, over a coffee. The jacket has obvious influences from both its parents - the lining shares the contrasting seam trim previously seen on Vulpine's other jackets, this time in striking white. There are also welcome details like the concealed reflectives (when you fold up the cuffs and the collar, and a bit more in a split at the bottom of the back), again a signature Vulpine touch.

Oliver Spencer (yes, my research extended beyond Wikipedia) chipped in with the modern styling of the blazer itself, with design details such as the external pockets being subtly different to what you'd find elsewhere. The fabric is a mix of 63% cotton and 37% nylon, designed to be showerproof - not something that many blazers can claim. I found that water does indeed bead up and roll off as you'd expect from a decent soft-shell. Vulpine have a fair bit of experience with water-resistant cotton, using their Epic Cotton fabric in a range of rain jackets.

The fabric is not particularly warm, meaning that this is definitely better suited to warm spring afternoons or summer evenings. The front panels are lined with a cotton/polyester blend, giving a bit of wind resistance, and the back and sleeves are unlined. I've been wearing this in March and April, and the days where it was warm enough to wear just this and a t-shirt were fairly few and far between. Come the summer months I'd anticipate getting a bit more use out of it without shivering.

In terms of what it's like on the bike, I found it to be quite comfortable for making leisurely, gentlemanly progress around town. Vulpine say that if you're planning to ride much on the drops then you should consider a size up, but let's be honest you're not going to be riding far or very fast dressed like this. I didn't use it at all at night time as it was simply not warm enough, but the inclusion of good quality reflective tape will make this a definite option come summer evenings. Each armpit has a couple of metal vent holes to let some moisture out, although this feels like a token gesture as there's plenty of air coming in the front anyway.

Sizing is by chest size, like a suit jacket, running from 36in to 46in. The 42in fit me well enough with a pleasing slim cut, although on the bike (even riding on the tops) the sleeves were arguably a little on the short side for me. With the cuffs folded up for night-riding, they were palpably too short. It's a compromise, obviously, between the fit off-bike and when riding.

Storage-wise I'm pleased to see there aren't pockets at the rear. Rapha's similarly priced cycling blazer has one, and I don't think it looks right. You do have three open pockets on the outside and a couple of rather small ones (one with a button closure) inside. Neither of the internal pockets are big enough to fit an average-sized smartphone, and I'd be a little hesitant to trust it to one of the outside pockets, but that's what your manbag is for. Disappointingly, the stitching holding one of the external pockets in place started to unravel after only a handful of times wearing it.

As I mentioned, the collar folds up when you want to unleash the reflective, and is held up by closing a couple of buttons at the neck. Don't be fooled into thinking that this will keep your neck and chest warm in the way that a dedicated cycling jacket would when zipped up - it is a blazer after all.

So would I buy it? No, I probably wouldn't, and definitely not at that price. I bought a Vulpine soft shell a while back, which is a staple in my wardrobe, and if I had this sort of money then I'd more likely consider one of Vulpine's more cyclisty jackets like the Harrington - a full £100 cheaper. But if this is your style, and your bonus just came in, you might well like it. If you are in the market, you'll likely have looked at Rapha's lapelled jacket too, which claims to be quick drying but not to offer any water-resistance. On the flip-side, Rapha do claim that their cotton/nylon blend has some stretch built in, which is not the case here.

Verdict

Expensive smart cyclewear that's made in the UK; water resistance is a bonus, better stitching may be needed

road.cc test report

Make and model: Vulpine Cycling Blazer

Size tested: 42

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

British menswear designer Oliver Spencer teams up with Vulpine to launch a limited edition tailored cycling blazer. Designed with the urban cyclist in mind, the jacket perfectly combines the style and aesthetic of Oliver Spencer with the technicality and cycling expertise of Vulpine.

Fitted with the on-bike position in mind, the showerproof fabric is cut to allow plenty of reach. Hidden reflective cuffs and rear vent increase road visibility at night and the lapels join with a signature Vulpine icon button to keep inclement weather at bay. Underarm vent holes keep things cool when the weather gets warmer.

Once the bike is locked up, the blazer transforms into a sartorially considered jacket, standing out at the office meeting, while not looking out of place standing at the photocopier. Inside, contrasting finished seams and two inner pockets are a nod to the details outside.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Performance, showerproof fabric

Made in England

Gunmetal under-arm ventilation

Vulpine v-stitched button collar

Reflective fold back cuffs

Reflective flip collar

Subtle reflective tail split

White seam trim

Cut for city cycling

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
6/10

Marked down as one of the pockets has started to come apart from the jacket, which is hard to forgive at this price. Otherwise no issues.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Pleasant to use on the bike when it's getting warmer, and you arrive looking more dashing than you normally do. Water resistance is a bonus for those occasions where you didn't expect the rain - if you knew it was going to piss it down then let's face it you'd probably opt for something more technical.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

Blazers aren't generally that comfortable on a bike, so this is better than most. Test period was on the cold side for this sort of thing, but it'll be nice when it warms up a bit.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

From my perspective, this is a very expensive blazer. I like that it's made in Britain, but from my personal perspective, I can't see how it's worth £100 more than some of Vulpine's other lovely stuff.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Was a nice surprise to discover that the water resistance was all present and correct. I like the hidden reflectives - Vulpine are pretty good at that sort of thing.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Pocket needing stitching up so early in its life.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? No.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Doubtful.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 35  Height: 190cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute  My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

32 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

Oh, I forget to mention the other bit!! Oliver Spencer is a real life actual person! He's a menswear tailor http://oliverspencer.co.uk/ what lives in London. I actually sat down with Oli (real person name) and designed this. Its a collaboration.

Oliver Spencer x Vulpine innit.

(Oli comes first because he's slightly famous. The x is a cool thing to do, apparently).

Look, here he is! Isn't he a smasher.

OliverSpencer.jpg

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [301 posts]
15th May 2014 - 16:18

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Nick, will you be making cycle-friendly 'grandad' shirts (as we called them down Brotton youthy in the '80s) as per Oliver's mugshot in the near future?

Shamblesuk's picture

posted by Shamblesuk [77 posts]
15th May 2014 - 16:57

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Frankie Boyle has lost a bit of weight.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [530 posts]
15th May 2014 - 17:45

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'Cut to be comfortable on the bike'.

Look again at the photos...

Look at the halfway up your back effect.
Look at the riding up across the shoulder effect.
Look at the big lump behind the neck effect.
Look at the sleeves halfway up the forearms effect.

The price is immaterial, the photos show that it doesn't work as intended.

posted by crikey [106 posts]
15th May 2014 - 18:38

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crikey wrote:
'Cut to be comfortable on the bike'.

Look again at the photos...

Look at the halfway up your back effect.
Look at the riding up across the shoulder effect.
Look at the big lump behind the neck effect.
Look at the sleeves halfway up the forearms effect.

The price is immaterial, the photos show that it doesn't work as intended.

Either the model is wearing the wrong size jacket or the cut is completely wrong for cycling. At £295 you would expect a much better fit than that.

posted by NeilG83 [238 posts]
15th May 2014 - 18:43

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NeilG83 wrote:
crikey wrote:
'Cut to be comfortable on the bike'.

Look again at the photos...

Look at the halfway up your back effect.
Look at the riding up across the shoulder effect.
Look at the big lump behind the neck effect.
Look at the sleeves halfway up the forearms effect.

The price is immaterial, the photos show that it doesn't work as intended.

Either the model is wearing the wrong size jacket or the cut is completely wrong for cycling. At £295 you would expect a much better fit than that.

Chaps, the rider is 6'3" tall, very slim and on a very low drop road bike. We could have cut it to accommodate him, but the average chap isn't shaped like this. Tailoring can't do everything for every shape! Mores the pity.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [301 posts]
15th May 2014 - 18:50

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Shamblesuk wrote:
Nick, will you be making cycle-friendly 'grandad' shirts (as we called them down Brotton youthy in the '80s) as per Oliver's mugshot in the near future?

Its a great idea. Bit late to do for next but I'll talk to Iszi about whether its possible. I wouldn't do tat with every suggestion but I genuinely like it. Bit of a classic.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [301 posts]
15th May 2014 - 18:53

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"Chaps, the rider is 6'3" tall, very slim and on a very low drop road bike. We could have cut it to accommodate him, but the average chap isn't shaped like this. "

...then think very carefully about the images you use or allow others to use to illustrate your product, or people might begin to think that you're not really paying attention...

It's a £300 jacket, stop fannying about!

posted by crikey [106 posts]
15th May 2014 - 19:09

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crikey wrote:
"Chaps, the rider is 6'3" tall, very slim and on a very low drop road bike. We could have cut it to accommodate him, but the average chap isn't shaped like this. "

...then think very carefully about the images you use or allow others to use to illustrate your product, or people might begin to think that you're not really paying attention...

It's a £300 jacket, stop fannying about!

Umm. I don't have editorial control. If I did I'd have given it 9/10, given it to George Clooney to model and said it gave you a massive shlong just by rubbing it.

But I can't. Damn it.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [301 posts]
15th May 2014 - 19:16

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I appreciate that you cannot dictate the road.cc approach to reviews, but seriously, this is a select piece of kit with a specific design brief, sold at a premium price which is being totally undermined by poor presentation.

It suggests a casual approach by both you and road.cc which does not add any value to the product or the review process, and it's not even Friday afternoon...

posted by crikey [106 posts]
15th May 2014 - 19:24

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crikey wrote:
I appreciate that you cannot dictate the road.cc approach to reviews, but seriously, this is a select piece of kit with a specific design brief, sold at a premium price which is being totally undermined by poor presentation.

It suggests a casual approach by both you and road.cc which does not add any value to the product or the review process, and it's not even Friday afternoon...

I thought of lots of witty (to me) answers and in the end decided just go "WHAAAAT???"

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [301 posts]
15th May 2014 - 19:29

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I admire your bravado.
Cycling is currently an aspirational activity and the market seems able to bear the associated experimentation. Having been involved for 30 odd years, I wouldn't be quite so casual were it my product.

posted by crikey [106 posts]
15th May 2014 - 19:38

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crikey wrote:
I admire your bravado.
Cycling is currently an aspirational activity and the market seems able to bear the associated experimentation. Having been involved for 30 odd years, I wouldn't be quite so casual were it my product.

Casual to me means lazy. And that actually really gets my goat. But heh, let's stay nice. And that's what it's supposed to be. Nice. I'd be a bit if a tool if I started demanding X,Y & Z from Road.cc. And they wouldn't do it.

Here's how reviews work for me at least:
Contact Road.cc "Hello again, if I send you this lovely thing will you review it?"
Ask for size. Send.
Wait X months....Maybe tap them on shoulder and ask them to review. Pleeeease.
Road.cc post review. Jacket appears on different chap. A very nice but different chap.
Talk in comments, because calling up Dave or Tony is the thermonuclear option and I'm fairly weapons averse. Apart from once. They know the one :o~

I don't get involved. Sometimes I get asked questions by a reviewer to check facts, reason for features, etc. Which to be honest I'd have appreciated from Jez here. But no biggie. They do the photos. They're independent.

That's not casual. The only thing I do that's casual is a beer and the Giro. Grrr.

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

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posted by aslongasicycle [301 posts]
15th May 2014 - 20:05

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Fair enough, and I admire your willingness to engage in comments.

'Casual' is not intended to imply lazy, it's more about suggesting that success in terms of the market is characterised by addressing this kind of issue in a serious way.
Photos of the jacket on the right size guy, in use, sort of thing.
I've seen a number of UK based clothing companies not do well; I'd not like to see the same again.

posted by crikey [106 posts]
15th May 2014 - 20:15

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I've never understood the concept of rolling up your cuffs to show off a bit of reflective stitching - long sleeves tend to roll up when you get on the bike anyway, so you certainly wouldn't look like you were wearing a £300 cycling-cut jacket if the sleeve ended half way up one's forearm.

Would a roll-down, cuff hidden inside the sleeve type job not be possible/better?

Asolare

posted by Goldfever4 [167 posts]
15th May 2014 - 20:25

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aslongasicycle wrote:

Oliver Spencer x Vulpine innit.

(Oli comes first because he's slightly famous. The x is a cool thing to do, apparently).

Off at a tangent, but to explain; "Oliver Spencer for Vulpine" in Italian would be "Oliver Spencer per Vulpine."

But "per" in Italian is also used for "times" as in "2 per 2 = 4."

So in modern textspeak shorthand, Italians use "x" for "per" in whatever context, and it's now been adopted by fashionistas worldwide. Even if they don't quite know why sometimes Wink

You're welcome.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8034 posts]
15th May 2014 - 20:38

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Better stitching would probably drive the price to £500 plus.have a look at swrve jackets they look similar and unless you go for the waxed model they are about a third of the price. Plus they look better on the models.

posted by Sub5orange [28 posts]
15th May 2014 - 21:38

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Seems to be a lot of Vulpine bashing here which as an absolute neutral I'm completely surprised by. I've followed Nick closely on Twitter and what I see is a genuinely passionate guy who has grasped a sector of the market that neither Rapha not Castelli nor their peers have had any interest in (until recently in the case of Rapha).

He genuinely seeks to offer very well made products to an audience that are as keen on how they look on a bike as how the garments perform. They are generally willing to pay a little extra for longevity, both in terms of styling and reliability.

The reviews in the past have all been 4*+, and from what I've seen this is justified. I own one of the original soft shell jackets they don't do any more. I bought from Tokyo Fixed in a sale for a bargain £96 and 18 months or so later it is in as good a condition as it was on the day I bought it. I can't say that for any other products I have bought from other suppliers.

Nick has no control over reviews, and that is how it should be. It is an honest and objective review and I'm sure Nick and the team will welcome the feedback. You don't see the other companies getting involved in the review process when their garments are reviewed so it's a breath of fresh air when a small company like Vulpine indeed do get involved.

So read the review and make your own call. Try the garment on if you like and if you don't, send it back. And give Nick and the team as much feedback as you can. The more we buy from British companies the more we put back into our own economy and I'm very supportive of that.

Personally I'd much rather see a review like this of a product that could be a serious expenditure than a BTwin pump or a SIS water bottle or other items which frankly become a choice over 'do I want to pay the most to look good?' versus 'what's the cheapest I can buy because I don't give a damn?'

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posted by Shamblesuk [77 posts]
15th May 2014 - 23:22

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As Nick says, I'm pretty tall. Off the bike the jacket fits me really well, and as I said in the review, for me there's inevitably a compromise between this and fit while riding. I wouldn't want a size up as I like the slim fit.

On the stitching, I would have 100% confidence that if I'd returned it, (as reviewer or purchaser) I'd have had no problems getting a replacement; I've personal experience of Vulpine's good customer service.

I do believe in reviewing the item received, though, and if I'd spent that much, I'd be pretty annoyed if it had started to come apart that quickly.

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posted by Jez Ash [100 posts]
15th May 2014 - 23:35

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Shamblesuk wrote:
...which frankly become a choice over 'do I want to pay the most to look good?' versus 'what's the cheapest I can buy because I don't give a damn?'

Those choices are fairly limited, and I don't identify with either of them. It's fairly insulting to suggest that looking for something that has a low cost but is of decent quality means you don't give a damn. Just because someone may not have as much to spend as the next person, doesn't mean they don't care.

Twitter: @velosam

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posted by SamShaw [256 posts]
15th May 2014 - 23:45

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SamShaw wrote:
Shamblesuk wrote:
...which frankly become a choice over 'do I want to pay the most to look good?' versus 'what's the cheapest I can buy because I don't give a damn?'

Those choices are fairly limited, and I don't identify with either of them. It's fairly insulting to suggest that looking for something that has a low cost but is of decent quality means you don't give a damn. Just because someone may not have as much to spend as the next person, doesn't mean they don't care.

Don't get me wrong when I say 'don't give a damn'. I mean with respect to what others think. Not as to a lack of self respect about what they are buying.

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posted by Shamblesuk [77 posts]
16th May 2014 - 0:21

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The picture of the cyclist's back leads me to suggest the next version should have the gusseted shoulders of a Norfolk shooting jacket.
A secure inner mobile telephone pocket would also be a boon.

posted by Dr_Lex [135 posts]
16th May 2014 - 10:21

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I really like Vulpine's stuff, and I really like Oliver Spencer's stuff.

This jacket strikes me as being slightly less than the sum of its parts, so I bought Vulpine merino wool polo shirts to wear under my existing Oliver Spencer casual jacket instead.

Cool

posted by BigDummy [284 posts]
16th May 2014 - 10:51

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As a neutral from across the pond I can't see how you justify that Vulpine is getting bashed when its one individual 'crikey' pointing out that Nick was using flippant language to defend his products.

I wholeheartedly agree with crikey, if I worked at Vulpine's UK factory I would be furious to see him publicly comment that the poor stitching might be down to hung over staff members.

I also recall Nick 'bashing' Willdoo after they tried to defend one of their products.

What is the expression about glass house?

FG

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posted by Fixie Girl [115 posts]
16th May 2014 - 11:07

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Fixie Girl wrote:
What is the expression about glass house?

Because Chernobyl fall out!

Wayyy!!

Wait, no, wrong punchline. Sorry.

posted by farrell [1406 posts]
16th May 2014 - 11:25

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A genuine review of a honest product that doesn't quite make the cut (excuse the pun) at the indicated price point. Surely, that's what we want to see covered/discussed in road.cc?

posted by Metjas [281 posts]
16th May 2014 - 20:05

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aslongasicycle wrote:
Shamblesuk wrote:
Nick, will you be making cycle-friendly 'grandad' shirts (as we called them down Brotton youthy in the '80s) as per Oliver's mugshot in the near future?

Its a great idea. Bit late to do for next but I'll talk to Iszi about whether its possible. I wouldn't do tat with every suggestion but I genuinely like it. Bit of a classic.

I like this idea too - like the button jersey, but less "jersey" and more in line with the T's, V's and polo shirts

posted by djgorey [37 posts]
18th May 2014 - 5:58

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I've been looking for something like this, don't really like the rapha one due to the back pocket and this review has put me off this one. I'm 6'3" so apparently it wont fit me, but confused as to how the reviewer says it's a perfect fit off the bike but it's obviously a rubbish fit on it, so presumably you cant have both.

If I'm paying £300 for a jacket I don't expect the stitching to come undone after a couple of rides. Whether Vulpine are prepared to repair shoddy work or not, I'd rather get something which is of a higher standard to start with

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [184 posts]
18th May 2014 - 17:07

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I would wear the heck of that jacket.

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posted by Dapper Giles [49 posts]
21st May 2014 - 12:34

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Just stumbled across this thread....my, my what a bunch of smartarses.... There are doers and tryers in this world and there are opinionated smartarses who always know better....

posted by Muzza62 [2 posts]
16th June 2014 - 14:08

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