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If you're wanting to treat yourself to a distinctively stylish and high quality baselayer this Christmas, then Cafe du Cycliste's Cosette is well worth considering. Made from a 50/50 merino/synthetic blend, it is superbly warm yet breathable and has a close, flattering fit emphasised by its two-tone design.
Its feminine looks are complemented by its luxurious feel – the front panel is slightly thicker than the back and sleeves, for added insulation where you need it, with a super-soft fleecy handle.
This is where the high-tech 'bio-ceramic fibres' come in. Cafe du Cycliste says 'the cutting-edge bio-ceramic technology means that heat absorbed by the yarn itself can be returned to the body to improve microcirculation' – which explains why it keeps you so warm. In case you're wondering, like I was, bio-ceramic is created by mixing over 20 types of ceramic together, along with mineral oxides. This chemical cocktail is transformed into a liquid state and fused onto polypropylene fibres.
The fabric of the Cosette's back and sleeves is designed to maximise its wicking properties, and I found it wicked very well, transporting sweat away from my back – plus the bodyhugging fit increases its effectiveness. The synthetic fibres enhance the material's wicking ability as well as helping it retain its shape better than pure merino. Other benefits of adding manmade fibres to wool are that the blend is more durable and faster-drying.
As for cut and construction, these are of the quality you'd expect from a high-end brand like Cafe du Cycliste. All seams are flatlocked and the rear hem is dropped so it's long enough to keep you well covered in the riding position. The crossover design of the high neck is a nice touch, and it's super-snug.
My only criticism is that the sleeves could be an inch or so longer, but then I do have long arms. The garment weighs a scant 117g – it is more lightweight than it looks in the website photos.
While £77 isn't exactly a bargain for a baselayer, the Cosette measures up pretty well against other high-end designs, especially when you consider the technology within it. For example, Rapha's Women's Winter Base Layer is £80, while Findra's Marin Cowl Neck Stripe Base Layer is £95 – though Rapha's is 95% merino and Findra's 100% (and made in the UK). Of course, you can buy cheaper – the dhb Aeron Women's Merino Base Layer is £35, and the women's version of the Rivelo Hathersage (the Ashdown) we reviewed last year is currently £24.99 (RRP £55).
A cosy, stylish and high-tech baselayer perfect for cold winter rides
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cafe du Cycliste Women's Cosette Baselayer
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Cafe du Cycliste says: "A highly technical long sleeve merino blend base layer with bio-ceramic fibres. With its female specific fit and its focus on providing the ideal combination of breathability and insulation, it will keep you warm and dry during cooler weather rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
CdC lists these features:
49% Merino | 23% Polyamide | 28% Polypropylene
Moisture management properties
Made in Europe
Size up if between sizes.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash 30 degrees.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – keeps you warm and is super-comfy.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Its cosiness, neckline and style.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing except the sleeves were a little short on me.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if feeling flush.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's expensive but it's very good and worth the money, although it would be even better if the sleeves were a little longer.
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Whyte T-130 RS
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax