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Black 5:
The Summer '18 edition of Kit You Can't Do Without  

Words by Terry Hawes
Photography by Truman Sparks @ Studio 10

What we ride and recommend.

Black isn't a colour associated with summer, but our choice of kit bucks this trend. Its ability to protect against harmful rays and make slimmer cyclists look even 'slimmer' aren't defining factors - it's just that the kit works for us and happens to be black. We don't recommend lo-viz colours for any other time of year.


POC Ventral
As individual as fingerprints, everyone's head shape is different. Over the past 20 years, we've ridden with most of the leading helmet brands. They all offer unique features, colours and fit etc., but almost by definition one will standout from the rest for you. 

Since 2014, we've been using POC's Octal helmet. It's comfortable, light and extremely well ventilated, and has already saved the life of one reader. Against that, we must consider its idiosyncratic appearance. We can deal with it, but acknowledge that not everyone can.

What would make a good helmet better? Enter the Ventral, POC's latest offering. It has less vents than the Octal, yet is still very light. It's fit is better, courtesy of the new '360 Spin' retention device, and you can feel that aerodynamically it works more efficiently slicing through the air.

The matt black 'stealth' version is a radical departure from the vivid colour range we usually opt for, but this all works to secure the helmet's image of military precision and scientific advancement. 

Having used it both for time trials and a 100-mile sportive, we can say it is noticeably lighter and airier. Its colour adds a certain gravitas, but probably isn't the best option in hot riding conditions. The reduced number of vents also means you can't locate any annoying head itch as easily as with the Octal, but this helmet has definitely become our new favourite. Okay it's expensive, but still works out cheaper than a new head. £220


3T R Superergo Team and 3T Aeronova Team handlebars
For summer riding, our go-to handlebar preference would be a flat 'aero' style top section. It's a combination of both comfort and practicality. Great for climbing, general riding and rocking that 'lead out forearms on the bars' pro peloton look. The compact shape allows for a shallow drop which remains comfortable even after long periods tucked in on them. These bars do it all and with style. There's a wide range of aero handlebars on the market at present, we chose 3T because we've used them in the past and still they tick all the right boxes for us. £230


Campagnolo Litech socks
We call it 'stylish functionality' - that indefinable but unmistakable factor that equates to: 'look good, ride better'. For us, black is the new white for tanned summer legs and white cycling shoes. Smothered with Italian flair and gusto, these socks are definitely our summer go-to. We like the turquoise version in equal measure as well. £14


Campagnolo C-Tech bib shorts  
Comfort is everything. Style doesn't matter without it. Simply put, for us these shorts deliver. The privilege gained by working on a cycling title means we can escape the grip of brand loyalty. Yes, we have our favourites, but we're prepared to be challenged. Both the C-Tech and Aquastic bibs offer precise levels of fit, style and comfort. Our only criticism is the high waist on the C-Tech - it demands a yogic-like flexibility when answering the call of nature, but even this can be forgiven. Sure, we acknowledge that this is a lot to pay for any item of cycle clothing, but they are for us the best, most complete bib short out there. £193


Campagnolo C-Tech jersey
Three into two does go, after all. This jersey's two pocket system does works really well. Okay we're not quite sure why Campag have opted for this dramatic break from the norm but access is definitely easier. The mix of technical fabrics contained in the jersey feels good next to the skin. This combination of textile and fit makes the jersey inspire you to ride. You feel protected but at the same time get the sensation of the wind flowing over and onto your arms. We love the oversized zip cover at the neck; yes, it's over the top, but it's another utterly unique feature; another uniquely Italian design twist. If the 'Milk Tray man' look isn't for you, this jersey also comes in white. £149