Judging by the quality of the Rothera Cycling Houndsooth winter cycling cap, it is clear Philadelphia based Gary Rothera knows his way round a sewing machine.
Cut and styling are sharp, while remaining practical-even hidden beneath a helmet. Attention to detail extends to sizing-many marques simply churn out one-size-fits all with varying success but Rothera offers two a small medium and large. From this opening paragraph, it will come as little surprise to discover I am suitably impressed. However, while I was hardly drowning in our large sample, the peak fell a little low, compromising my view of the road ahead.
Brown and tweed aren't colours to which I naturally gravitate but complement the sort of off season attire classically associated with French clubmen. It's a reversible design comprising of a wool outer and polar fleece lining, which seemed ideal in terms of heat retention but raised questions as to moisture transfer. In fairness it excels in temperatures between zero and 10 degrees, locking out icy chill without dulling the senses-especially hearing through along busy sections of road. Big is certainly beautiful when it comes to the peak, its porch like stature shielding my face from sun, sleet showers and airborne particles. Moisture transfer is generally good as is my reassuringly thick thatch but when the mercury tilted beyond twelve degrees; the fibres struggled to keep pace.
Hustling along at a steady 15 mph saw proliferations of jewelled sweat clinging to the tactile fleece upon the caps' removal. Despite this, successive outings, odour control seems very good but stops short of excellent thanks to those man-made fibres. Thankfully, it can be tossed in the wash at 30 degrees and dries in approximately half an hour. At 25 quid, it seemed criminal to hide the houndstooth beneath a lid but I'm pleased to report a distinct lack of bunching or similar irritation when paired with well a ventilated road helmet, banishing those ice cream headaches and helmet hair into the bargain.
Lovely handmade cap for chill winter days but be sure to choose the right size
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rothera Cycling Houndstooth winter cap
Size tested: Large
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?
"One of favorite caps, this classic houndstooth wool cycling cap will keep you warm in style through the winter".
A timeless and charming winter cap cut to work beneath helmets too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
· Wool exterior
· Fully lined with PolarTec fleece
· PolarTec fleece earflaps
· Fully reversible
· Handmade in Philadelphia
Should last and last.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Perfect for those chill days between November and March, the Houndstooth keeps the head warm and comfortable, sheilding the ears from painful windblast without impairing sensory function. However,sizing is crucial for it to fulfil its true potential.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Classic, continental feel, high quality materials and hand-made construction.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, only I think I would've been better served by the small/medium.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)