Velo, as in bike. Bici, as in bike.
When I first came across Vélobici and their range of Roadwear I imagined some Franco-Italian affair, no doubt with a head office within range of some iconic mountain roads and a penchant for pre-ride espressos and pastries.
In fact Vélobici are a British brand, based in Leicestershire, and are rightly proud of the fact that their kit is designed and manufactured locally. The area does, after all, have a long tradition in the garment trade.
(They may also have a penchant for pre-ride espressos and pastries…I haven’t checked).
Vélobici Roadwear is the kind of kit that you notice out on the road. There is nothing about it which screams ‘look-at-me!’ but the quality and cool stylings are eye-catching. I had the chance to review their ‘Franc’ long sleeve jersey last year and I was blown away by it in every way. Not only does it look good but, if the ‘Franc’ is anything to go by, it’s kit with substance as well as style.
A few months wear since has done nothing to change my mind – it’s lovely stuff.
Keen to delve a bit deeper in to what these purveyors of high-end cycling kit are all about I put one or two questions to Vélobici owner Chris Puttnam, hoping to find out what makes them tick and what the future might hold.
Q: How long has Vélobici been around?
Chris Puttnam: Vélobici was launched six years ago. I had the idea of starting it for a while, as I’ve always been interested in clothing and cycling is a big passion of mine. I tapped into the city’s vast experience in textiles, with a view to creating stylish clothing for cyclists for both on and off the bike.
We now have a range of collections covering all seasons including Roadwear and Crossover/Commuter garments. The growth of the brand has been incredible – fortunately cyclists seem to love what we do. It’s the details that capture the imagination; from our signature rear pockets, to the thumb loops and classic VB branding.
Q: You’re clearly passionate about producing your garments here in the UK. Common sense suggests it would be cheaper to do this elsewhere, so if not for profit, what is your motivation to stay local?
CP: Supporting local businesses is at the heart of the Vélobici brand and it is important to us that all of our garments are created and manufactured locally. We use Leicester designers to produce our garments, which are made from high performance fabrics and superfine merino wool and are manufactured by us in Leicester, a city steeped in history with the garment trade.
It also ensures we can create products that are of a higher quality – we literally couldn’t get our garments produced anywhere else – the seamless technology and advanced fabrics used require a massive level of knowledge and skill.
And yes, it would be cheaper to produce garments elsewhere, however we’re about quality and loyalty, not that extra bit of margin. It’s important to invest in your local business infrastructure, and they will support you in return. It also means we can
have personal relationships with our suppliers and therefore greater control over the design and manufacture processes as everything is within easy reach of our Market Bosworth shop.
Q: Style-wise I would describe Vélobici road wear as classy and unfussy, but with lots of interesting and original detailing, and the VB branding somehow harks back to the simplicity of Eddy Merckx and 1970’s styling. How would you describe the look of your kit?
CP: It’s true there’s a distinct retro feel to the Vélobici styling; while the designs themselves are based on classic styles and are not overly complicated, we have developed exclusive state-of-the-art high performance fabrics that provide exceptional rider comfort and support.
Q: And does it perform, as well as look good?
CP: The performance of our roadwear is key to the success of our garments, which is why our brand is popular with professional cyclists and amateur enthusiasts alike, both in the UK and abroad. Our customers are always telling us how impressed they are with our kit – they love the attention to detail, for example, thumb loops on cuffs, rear buttoned pockets and drop hems
By combining our experience and knowledge with the latest technology we have developed exclusive VB/Pro fabrics, which come in three different weights for different weather conditions. These benefit from superior comfort and stretch, are quick drying and wind proof while delivering exceptional wicking. These fabrics have been rigorously tested and developed to be soft yet durable, so riders can enjoy maximum comfort on the bike.
Q: As a northerner up here in Lancashire I’m not familiar with Leicester and its surroundings. If I were to bring my bike down to Vélobici’s neck of the woods what roads should I be seeking out, and where should I get my mid-ride flap-jack?
CP: Our favourite local routes always take in the rural beauty of nearby Charnwood, with parts of the National Forest, rolling hills and some great must-visit sites such as Bosworth Battlefield (where Richard III was defeated) and the Great Central Railway complete with steam engines.
However we always end up in our home town of Market Bosworth – a quaint Leicestershire market town. There are ample places to enjoy a well-earned drink and snack but the Black Horse in Market Bosworth is always worth a visit and it’s just across the road!
Q: What does the future hold for Vélobici?
CP: This is a really exciting time for us; we have recently relocated our shop to Market Bosworth in order to cope with our growing brand and customer base. We are also concentrating on increasing the number of international stockists of our cyclewear and have already increased this from 17 last year to 25 today, after securing deals with retailers in Taipei in Taiwan, Korea, Poland and the United States.
There are always new products in the pipeline at Vélobici, so right now we are working on new jerseys and bib shorts for Spring Summer 2016, which will feature the latest in performance technology.
For more information or to view the range of products available from Vélobici please visit www.velobici.cc.