This week Warren has mostly been wearing… Zero RH+ Shark winter kit
Senior technical editor finds out if winter clothing from Italian brand Zero RH+ can cut it among other premium cycling brands…
Zero RH+ probably isn't a brand that you know a great deal about it, but this Italian manufacturer has been around for a number of years, producing high-end cycling kit and snow-sports wear, along with a decent range of helmets and eyewear too. They 'dress' the Wanty-Groupe Gobert pro-team – one of 2017’s wildcard Tour teams – and have a long running relationship with Alberto Contador. But enough about the brand, it’s the kit I’m more interested in.
The Shark jacket has a close race kit cut, though it’s generous in length in the torso, so the dropped tail sits exactly where it should. The main body of the jacket is made from Polartec Power Shield Pro fabric which has a slightly waxy outer feel, and does a very good job of keeping water out yet not cooking you. It’s not fully waterproof, but I don’t mind getting a little damp providing I stay warm (and in heavy downpours you can always chuck an emergency shell over the top).
The side panels have much more stretch than the main body which helps keep the fit right when you're moving around. The hem is gummy with silicone so it stays put. I did find the three rear pockets a little on the small side, with the two flank pockets having a pretty small opening. Unless your packable shell packs up real small you have a bit of a fight getting it in and out. There's also it does have a fourth pocket with a zipped closure built into the right hand side flank pocket, so you can keep your valuables safe. I love the reflective sublimated print on the back – the big broad stripes in a triangular pattern offer subtle safety and look pretty cool with it.
I’ve used the jacket in temperatures down to zero and it's been spot on, keeping me warm enough when paired with a winter long sleeve base layer to be worn on its own. On sub-freezing days I’ve added a jersey underneath too, but the close cut of the Shark does mean you get a bit of bunching on the arms meaning you’ll be fiddling to get it all straight before heading out rather than just putting a jacket on.
The weather resistance has stayed as good as new after six wash cycles, and I’m impressed with just how well its put together with no stray threads appearing, no corrosion on the quality zips (even though it spends most of its life damp) and at the original RRP of £199 I’d say its worth the money. Right now, though, its on offer at £159.20 on the RH+'s website, and that’s a bit more like it I reckon.
As impressive as the jacket is, I’m even more impressed by the matching Shark bib tights. These clever longs combine a top grade Elastic Interface Liege pad – it’s the Italian pad brand's thicker dual density pad designed for the classics and long distance rides and its seriously comfortable and warm.
The tights use a water repellent Polartec Gold fabric that works a little like Sportful's No Rain or Castelli’s Nano Flex fabrics, so water beads and sheds pretty well. Below the knee you get DrySkin fabric that provides a really impressive barrier to water just where you want it, as that’s where you get the double hit of rain and road spray.
Like the jacket its got a few reflective details, though nothing to write home about, but still nice to see. The braces and back use a very breathable 3D mesh which makes them a decently comfortable fit. Like the jacket these are shaped and cut for a riding position so they do feel a little odd when you're standing. The Shark bibs are beautifully put together, with flat seams (so no friction) used throughout.
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These have fast become one of my favourite winter tights, the fit is brilliant, and their performance in foul weather has been great. Like the jacket they’ve also been through a bunch of wash cycles and are still performing as they should. The tights are priced at £175, but like the jacket they currently have 20% off, so you can get them for £140.
Sure, RH+’s kit is still premium stuff, even with those discounts, and costs similar amounts to comparable kit from brands like Rapha and Castelli. Is it better than either of those? I'd say it's on a par but you won’t see many other riders in RH+ right now, so if you want to stand out from the crowd then it could be worth a look.
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