Dutch cyclists are always looking for something to ride up rather than battering along the flat all day long and here are Team Based out training in the hills around Limburg. Not exactly the Alps, but in Holland you have to take whatever you can get!
Anyway our thanks to Team Based for making our custom cycling clothing look so great and for coming up with such a good looking design!
We have just got back from exhibiting at the Irish Cycle Show in Dublin which was at the finish area of the Giro d'Italia. There were thousands of people there and thank you so much for everyone who came along to the "Carvalho Café" for cupcakes and a glass of port. A special thanks to all our existing customers who came along to say hello, because selling our custom cycling and triathlon kit direct from Portugal, we rarely get to actually meet our clients. Anyway, although I say it myself, our stand had to be the most original at the show and it was great to share it with the Race Around Ireland guys and girls and we are very proud to be sponsoring Europe's toughest cycle race again this year.
This year the Irish Cycle Show is going to coincide with the Giro d'Italia, which is coming to Dublin. We are going to be setting up the Carvalho Café where everyone will be welcome to wet their whistles Portuguese style and who knows what else we will be giving out. For us these events are as much about meeting our existing customers as meeting new ones, as selling direct from Portugal we rarely get to meet our clients face to face, so if you already buy from us, please come along and say hello - it really means a lot to us.
We are also delighted to welcome the Race Around Ireland to our stand - the RAI is the toughest cycle race in Europe (2,150kms of continuous racing) and we have been proud sponsors for the last 4 years. The cycle show will be a great opportunity for you to speak to race director, Alan Heary, if you think you have got what it takes to take part.
Please check out our new custom cycling jerseys when you are there!
We are now moving pretty much all of our production of custom cycling jerseys and jackets to Biofit, which gives and improved fit and better breathability for the jackets, principally by adding an extra lycra panel down the sides and adjusting the cut around the shoulders so that the fabric is relaxed when you are in the riding position. Here is a short film explaining it:
We are the only custom cycling & triathlon kit supplier in Europe who offers a 2% discount for every day we deliver late. We would like to say that we never deliver late, but unfortunately that is not the case, because as with every business, sometimes things go wrong, like machines breaking down, electricity cuts, suppliers not delivering and so on and on and on. So sometimes we deliver a couple of days late, but if we do, then we compensate our clients with a 2% discount for each day we are late. The reason we do this is to show how important we consider it to meet out deadlines. Our industry is know for delivering weeks and even months late and we really wanted to show that we really mean it when we say that we will do everything we can to deliver on time and pay the consequences if we fail.
The ongoing growth of Carvalho Custom from a tiny company from a small town in Portugal to one of the leading suppliers of custom cycling jerseys and other cycling & tri clothing to northern Europe has been a very simple story. We have focused on making premium quality kit, not charging the earth for it by selling direct from Portugal (so keeping costs down by not using national distributors) and offering unrivaled quality of customer service. Whilst other brands have focused on sponsoring leading clubs and triathletes to try and gain credibility, we have just kept plugging away at what we do best, leaving the gimmicks and the expensive sponsorship deals to others. That is why we are the lowest cost supplier of premium custom cycling & triathlon clothing selling in to northern Europe and why we are the only supplier that gives a financial guarantee on late deliveries.
I have been lucky enough to have lived for 15 years in northern Portugal and one of the best things about living here is the bike riding you can do here. I have ridden my bike all round Europe in all the glamorous destinations and I still think northern Portugal is one of the best places to ride for its combination of well maintained and empty roads (away from the coast), unspoilt scenery (inland there is very little development), hard mountains (the Serra de Estrela has climbs that are similar to Hors Catégorie Alpine climbs in terms of the aggressive gradients and length) and not least the fact that you can stay and eat at unbelievable hotels and restaurants for a fraction of the price you would pay elsewhere in Europe.
Anyway for many years I have brought Carvalho Custom clients out to ride in Portugal as well as cycling friends from the UK and beyond and now we have decided to host rides for paying guests for a limited number of groups every year. We have a simple site for our guided cycling tours in Portugal here and it is our intention to keep this a small business for serious riders who are prepared to pay €800 for week long supported toura staying at 4* hotels in the middle of nowhere. We will also give 10% discounts to any riders coming from a club we supply clothing to!
Here is a photo of the ride up to Torre, the highest point in Portugal and please get in touch if you would like any further information about the tours.
We have had a lot of demand for kids tri suits over the last 12 months as a lot of triathlon clubs have opened up new junior sections. So as a result we have developed a new unisex junior tri suit with sizes to fit 7 to 12 year olds which costs just €54.70/£43.80. Furthermore we have registered our company for VAT in the UK, which means we can now sell all our kit to UK customers at UK VAT rates (so 0% for kids clothes and 20% for adult sizes).
Carvalho Custom sells direct from Portugal without using national distributors, which is why we are the lowest cost supplier of pro quality kit and having been selling into into northern Europe for 10 years now, we are still the only supplier who offers a 2% discount for every day we deliver late!
It has been gratifying to receive several orders from clubs who have been let down by their existing supplier on delivery times and have come to Carvalho Custom because we are the only custom cycling and triathlon clothing supplier who gives a discount on later deliveries. The way it works is that once your design has been approved, we will give you a delivery date for when it will leave our factory with the courier. For every day we are late on this date we offer a 2% discount; so imagine we were 5 days late, that would mean you would get a 10% discount!
We go to enormous lengths to make sure that we meet our delivery deadlines and the truth is very occasionally we miss them and we have to pay up the discount (this week, for example, we delivered to a client two days late because some items were rejected in quality control and we had to pay up the 4% discount) . You can imagine that having this kind of financial penalty keeps us very focused on meeting delivery deadlines and that is the main reason we do it. We often hear laughable stories of our competitors delivering literally months late and it is absurd that clubs put up with this kind of service, which is why we decided to implement our 2% per day strategy, to show that we are different.
Outside of peak months (May to July) we generally delivery in 4 to 5 weeks and we are often able to produce rush orders in much less than this for rush orders. We control our own production out here in Portugal, which means that orders don't get shunted down the production list for one reason or another. That is why we are unbeatable on meeting our production deadlines and we are prepared to put our money where our mouth is!
As Carvalho Custom we like to sponsor cyclists and triathletes who are unusual, with a story to tell. Well if you want a great story, then look no further than Shusanah Pillinger, who this year is attempting to be the first British woman to finish the Race Across America (that's a 3000 mile non-stop race!). As part of her warm up, she has been putting the miles in out in India, winning the 400 mile non-stop RAAM sanctioned Deccan Cliffhanger race at the weekend, registering not only the fastest solo female time, but the fastest time overall (beating the 10 male solo riders and all of the relay teams).
The Giant Starkenn Deccan Cliffhanger route started from Pune, in Maharashtra state, India, and headed south to Miramar Beach in Goa via the Mahabaleshwar hill station (height 4700ft) in the Western Ghats range and the city of Dharwad, Karnataka state and Shu managed to finish in 26 hours and 46 minutes (she reliably informs us that our Carbon-Mesh chamois was super comfortable throughout....!)
This Summer at RAAM she will try and do something historic and truly amazing and let's hope that the British cycling community gets behind her to give her the support that she deserves. We are doing our little bit by sponsoring her kit (pictured above) and we are extremely proud to be involved with her RAAM attempt.
We spend a lot of time on product development at Carvalho Custom, which is sometimes a good excuse for us all to spend a long time on our bikes "testing" new ideas, but can result in some great innovations. We have recently taken our most basic item of clothing, the cycling jersey, and done everything we can to make it the best fitting cycling jersey the world of cycling has seen. The changes we have made are to add lycra side panels, to allow the jersey to mold better to the rider's physique, we have adjusted the cut of the shoulder panels so that the jersey sits relaxed with the rider's arms stretched forward in the riding position and we have added a silicone body gripper to stop the jersey riding up. Ladies and gentleman I present the "Biofit" jersey:
It is difficult to appreciate the fit of the jersey from a photo - when you actually try it on and ride in it, you can feel that it was put together with riding a bike in mind. So the fit is not quite perfect when you are standing, but once you get in the ride position the jersey relaxes into position. The lycra panels then help to pull any slack out of the jersey fabric on the front panel so that you do not get wind flapping.
The new Biofit is also available in our various jacket fabrics, where we used brushed lycra for the side panels to give a little more insulation. The Biofit jackets have the additional bonus that the side brushed lycra panels help the jacket to breathe more, so when you put the hammer down, the sweat does not build up inside the jacket. For our Winter jackets (Drystorm), the brushed lycra panels are optional, because if you are riding in the really severe cold, you may need all the insulation you can get.
Please note that we also have the full custom lycra jersey available ("Lycrafit"), which is for a full skintight race fit. If you would like to see samples of our new jersey and jackets, please get in touch.