January in Adelaide turned out to be the perfect test for one of our all-time favourite fabrics, Coldblack by Schoeller Textiles
Australian people may have been aware that it was a little toasty in Adelaide last week. It was a record-break heat abomination to be more accurate. From Monday to Thursday the maximum temperatures were 36°C, 38°C, 41°C, 47°C – the last being hottest day ever recorded in Adelaide. While most people (correctly and intelligently) avoided the heat, I chose to do some product testing.
I’ve been impressed by the breathability of the coldblack fabric in our Core 1 jerseys since I first tried them, but I wanted to test them against the worst heat Adelaide Summer has ever mustered. Its performance was enough for me to write a blog/love letter about it.
Before kick-off I want to be clear on something: I don’t advocate or recommend riding in the conditions like I did. I’m a local in a familiar climate riding with plenty of water, and never far from supplies.
OI JAMES, WHAT’S COLDBLACK?
Great question random person, I’ll answer that then we’ll have to discuss why you’re in my house.
Coldblack is the name of the fabric that makes up the front, back, and side panels of our Core 1 jersey. It originates from Swiss wizards Schoeller Textiles; a company we’re proud to partner with. We loved the silky feel of coldblack when we first touched the fabric samples, and it feels even better as a full jersey.
The breathability is quite unique. You can feel air hitting your torso through the fabric in a way that’s unlike any other jersey I’ve used. Then there’s the heat management properties. Coldblack is designed to reduce absorbtion of thermal radiation, and block UV rays. Its rated at UPF30; meaning that only 1/30th of UV rays penetrate the fabric.
It all results in more air cooling you, and less radiation heating you up. A darn good combination, especially in the Australian Summer.
THE EFFECT ON-ROAD
My hellish week of riding was intentionally done in the heat of the day. We don’t muck about with product testing and try to take it to the limits of what a customer can experience. We make big claims for how well our hear performs in hot weather so there was no way I’d miss this climatic horror.
The first three days of testing had some nasty temperatures; my bike GPS read over 40°C multiple times. Air temperatures were high, but the reflected heat off the shadeless roads were intense. The record breaker day of 47°C (measured by the Bureau of Meteorology in the CBD) was extreme enough on-road to get a 54°C reading while climbing Norton Summit. I can’t verify exact temperature at that spot but it was enough to give an uncomfortable, burning sensation in my feet and lower legs from radiant road temperature. In short; it was hot on a level I’ve never experienced. I’ve now satisfied my morbid curiosity about what riding in those temperatures is like and I am very unlikely to do it again. It is objectively unwise.
A few things struck me about how the jersey behaved
- First; sweat dries much faster than on other fabrics as it wicks moisture from skin to the garment surface where it evaporates and leaves some well-earned salt lines. My sweating in the grotesque heat didn’t overwhelm the fabric’s ability to dry out.
- Second; I didn’t feel the need to zip down the jersey to get more onto my torso. Coldblack breathed well enough so the impulse never crossed my mind. I did zip down briefly on the hottest day only to find it made basically no difference.
- Third; the UPF30 fabric treatment is good enough that I didn’t need a base layer, even when wearing the white jersey. For long rides in the sun I’d absolutely wear a base layer for some added protection, and I’d recommend others do too. The coldblack alone was more than sufficient to protect me during my four-day stint in fiery Adelaide hell though.
- Finally; the radiation absorbtion resistance makes a noticable difference to your body temperature. Stopping heat before it gets in, doubled with the breathability helping it get out, is a powerful tandem.
We had a discussion about whether or not to include this, but on balance we think its important to bring our customers in on our decision making.
Coldblack is an expensive material because of all the R&D that’s gone into it, and the complexity of its manufacturing. It has eco-dyes as well, reducing its environmental impact. The end result for Spin Cycle is that our margins on Core 1 jerseys are the worst of any product in our range, by long way. We accepted the lower margins because we believe the fabric’s qualities will improve the ride experience enough that it’s worth it.
You might be skeptical of us saying that, and that’s ok. We’ve said it anyway and we stand by it. Coldblack is so good that we accepted worse margins to keep its reasonable. The alternative was to match the margins on all our other stock and push it beyond what customers would be willing to pay. We didn’t do that in the hopes more people decide to buy, and enjoy colblack fabric.
The choice to use coldblack fabric is a statement of intent for us. We want our customers to know why we make design decisions and what that means for your ride experience.
Riding in the horrendous heat was a great validation for the choice of fabrics. Thanks for reading fine folks, you can check out all our Core 1 gear to learn more about it.