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Café du Cycliste: Outsider discovery essentials

Following a continuously increasing community of gravel adepts, brands are joining the race and designing specific materials to fulfill the riders’ requirements. This is the case of the French cycling apparel brand from Nice, Café du Cycliste, which nowadays has a very curated selection of gravel-related products envisioned to ride comfortably in style.

With the logo of a flying fish as their trademark sign, they put themselves somewhere between the sea and the sky, the fresh air and the deep blue. This is what gravel and exploring is all about, and we can find this badge in all garments that are intended to be ridden in the most challenging conditions. Moreover, the newly released men and female gravel team will be putting to the test all their equipment in the hardest gravel races of the calendar.

Their current motto is ‘forever outsiders’, meaning that all their designs revolve around the outdoors. One can think about it as exploring the local forest tracks, going on a long bikepacking trip across Iceland, or simply commuting to work, but no matter the ride, all the equipment will fulfill its task.

Recently, we were able to test some of their products from the Audax and Outlands collection consisting of bib shorts with side pockets, jackets for cold weather, comfy base layers, and some jerseys. All of them fitted us perfectly and adapted to the ever-changing weather conditions, with the special touch of Café du Cycliste and their unique design to stand out from the rest. Among all, we would like to highlight and look in more detail their bike bags and gravel shoes.

Bags everywhere from handlebars to saddle

Olive green is the first thing you will notice about this complete set of bikepacking bags. The color is totally in line with the Côte d’Azur Mediterranean vibes, and will perfectly camouflage you in your trips. A distinctive touch is the imperceptible spark of fluorescent orange of the zips and the simple black logos all around.

The full collection is composed of a large saddle bag (10 L), an elongated top tube bag (1.5 L), a frame bag (4 L), and a reduced-size handlebar bag (2 L). The whole range is made out of a 100% waterproof semi-rigid material with double-sealed seams and corresponding zips. In addition, the material is stiff enough so that the bags keep their shape even if they are half full, which is a plus when riding in bumpy terrain as the bags usually bounce in all directions.

If you are thinking about a bikepacking trip, the whole set will give you plenty of room to carry all your essentials. In particular, the saddle bag, being the largest, is ideal for stuffing your sleeping gear. Regarding its design, we very much like the harness-bag system. First, you tightly install the harness on the saddle post so that it will not move sideways, and then you can easily place the waterproof bag that can be rapidly removed if necessary to un/pack faster. Additionally, it includes an air-escape valve and a little hook for hanging a cup or similar.

The top tube and frame bags are ideal for putting your easy-to-access objects (tools, food, electronics…) as they are quite spacy and reachable. In particular, the top tube bag is very long, which makes it ideal to bring food and eat while on the bike. The frame bag only has a right-side zip, but it features a front small aperture designed for cables so that you can connect your GPS or lights. However, we must say that it only comes in one size, which might be a problem for small frames, impeding carrying a double water cage.

The handlebar bag is the only one in the collection that is not olive green but black, and there is probably a reason for it as you can use it without the others and it will not stand out too much. Its small size makes it a nice add-on for your bikepacking trips, but it is even nicer for one-day long rides as you can easily carry extra food. For rides like these or to further organize your gear, they have a convenient pouch small enough to put it in your jersey back pocket but big enough to fit a whole repair kit.

Outlands gravel shoes

A distinctive feature of Café du Cycliste is their appreciation for aesthetics and this has been no different when conceiving their Outlands shoes. This pair of outdoor shoes, specifically designed for gravel and MTB, looks like your typical pair of mountain hiking shoes but you can fit cleats on them. They are beige, with round laces, D-ring metal eyelets, and two top hooks to tight them firmly. This gives them a carefree look but at the same time adds style to your whole outfit.

Despite the casual appearance, if you look closely you will see it has a 3K racing-grade carbon-fiber sole for maximum transfer of power in all riding conditions. This is complemented by a SOLESTAR™ insole, proven for breathability, hygiene, and all-day comfort. Nonetheless, what we like the most is the caramel outsole rubber. The color perfectly matches the rest of the shoe, but the material and the tread pattern make it optimal to walk with during your hike-a-bike sections and even on the wettest and most slippery terrain.

The high-performance bottom part of the shoe is finished with a flexible beige leather upper. Alongside with the laces and heel fish-like material, it provides a perfect fit, turning comfort into an important point to stress out for these shoes. Besides, there are some laser-cut holes for ventilation and the outsole is compatible with mud studs for extremely muddy riding conditions.

From our point of view, we really acknowledge the aspect of the shoes, but what we really like is the compromise between the stiff carbon sole combined with the rubber outsole and the leather top with laces. This makes this shoe very interesting for all these outdoor adventures but also for ultradistance bikepacking trips or races, even those mostly on the road. This comfort-to-performance design will accommodate your feet perfectly while providing an optimal power transfer in each pedal stroke.