Before we started making custom cycling & triathlon clothing, our original business was a cycling tours business, set up was with Fernando Carvalho who in the 1990s was Portugal’s leading cyclist; the business was immediately very popular, since nobody else was offering this kind of tour in Portugal at the time and there was a growing appetite for cycling trips for “serious” cyclists across Europe.
Along the way, we discovered custom cycling clothing and Carvalho Custom was born – at the time cycling was still a niche sport and there were very few companies offering custom cycling clothing and even fewer making the kit in southern Europe and selling directly into northern Europe, which meant we rapidly had more orders than we could possibly process. So we decided to dedicate ourselves full time to clothing and the cycling tours dropped away.
Over the last 5 years ago, as everyone knows there has been an explosion in cycling and with it have emerged a vast array of brands selling custom cycling kit (high end, low end, mid-priced, you name it) and of course the Chinese attacked the market in brutal fashion with Champion System. So the sector became more competitive and we made a decision not to aggressively push our brand and invest the money we knew that was needed to compete with the new kids on the block. Rather we decided to consolidate our position and keep hold of our existing customers and allow our business to evolve organically, which is exactly what we have done. It has meant that we have been able to keep our costs down and focus principally on product development rather than branding and marketing – so in other words we accepted that we would not be the hippest brand and that we would forego celebrity endorsements and pro team sponsorship etc, but just stick to making the best kit we could at the best possible price.
So Carvalho Custom carries on and we are extremely proud of what the company is achieving, but we thought it would be fun to have a new challenge so we are relaunching the bike tours business and Carvalho Bike Tours has now been arrived. We offer bike tours in Portugal for riders who can comfortably ride 100k a day and enjoy some tough rides in the mountains. Portugal is incredibly blessed to have the interior of the north of the country packed with a great selection of mountains, great quality roads and nearly nobody living there, so the traffic is ineligible. There is also a light dusting of great 4 star hotels at very reasonable prices, which means that we can offer premium standard cycling tours at very reasonable prices (less than €2000 for 7 days with meals, van support and a cycling guide included).
We are not offering scheduled tours, rather we need groups of at least 7 riders and we will adapt our standard cycling tours (in Gerês, the Serra da Estrela and northern to southern border of Portugal tour). To found out more about our bike tours in Portugal click here.
As well as being a supplier of custom cycling & tri kit, we also supply custom bidons via our sister company, BeloBidon. We have just launched a new environmentally friendly bidon, the Bio Bottle, which is made 95% from sugar cane, which is processed to make a “green polyethylene” with which we make the sports bottles. It means that our Bio Bottles do not contribute to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and they are completely recyclable.
As with our other bidons, you can have a wide range of colours and pretty much any graphics you require printed on them.
Please contact us at BeloBidon if you are interested in getting bidons made for your club or organisation. We currently offer free transport to any EU country and you can see our prices for custom bidons here.
We started looking at the issue of making better bib shorts for women several years ago and eventually we came up with the idea of a new kind of halterneck, where the straps anchored on both the front and the back of the shorts. The key advantage here was that the shorts could be easily pulled down in a squat position without removing the strap, but in the riding position, the anchor points on the back of the shorts pulled them up, to keep the chamois firmly in place. Since we patented and launched our idea there have been quite a few options for female bib shorts come on to the market, but most of them are either slightly clumsy ideas with clasps and zips, or they do not hold the back of the shorts properly in the riding position.
As well as selling our shorts as part of the custom clothing for cycling & triathlon clubs we supply, we also sell our shorts under license to Wiggle/DHB, where they have become some of their most popular female cycling shorts. We currently own utility patents for the EU (and the UK separately) and have a utility patent pending in the USA, which we hope to see granted later on in 2018. We also have design patents in the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA and we are speaking to more brands about licensing agreements.
So if you are interested in having our halterneck shorts for your club or you are a brand who would like to license the idea, please contact us at Carvalho Custom.
We have now introduced some new casual team jackets to our range which are more for travelling to an event or showing off your club colours when out and about. The jackets are insulated suitably for Portuguese winters and British summers alike (!), water-resistant with a close fitting hood; they can be personalised across the front of the shoulders, at the bottom of the back and the hood. The rest of the jacket has to be either black or navy blue. The price is €48.00 each.
Here you can see the proud owner of Carvalho Custom, Charlie Cutler, sporting the new jacket. If you are interested in getting some jackets for your club or your organisation or for any other custom club triathlon clothing or cycling clothing, please get in touch.
We have just introduced some upgrades to our waterproof/breathable fabrics that are incorporated in our jackets and gilets. The new breathable membranes that we are now using are at the cutting edge of fabric technology, using a membrane that was breathable, waterproof, lightweight and stretchy.
Cyclists are increasingly demanding jackets and gilets that give a tailored fit and the older breathable membranes typically did not have much stretch in them and were a little cumbersome. Our new fabrics have resolved this problem and allow us to produce jackets and gilets that are more fitted and more comfortable to wear.
If you are interested in seeing samples of our new jackets, gilets or anything else from our custom cycling kit range, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Carvalho Custom is based in Portugal, but our main market is the UK and other northern European countries. It has been interesting to see the development of the custom cycling & triathlon clothing market in the UK over recent years: when we first started selling to the UK, we only had 3 or 4 competitors – now there are more than 25! What has happened to really change the market is that the Chinese have really got stuck into the market, either selling directly through massive investment in Champion System or increasingly now making kit for small new British brands.
Every week we receive requests from northern European custom brands for us to make their kit for them, because there is now clearly a retreat from getting kit made in China; sourcing relatively small orders from China is problematic to say the least and when it all goes wrong, it can be very difficult to put things right again. It is worthwhile underlining here that we never make kit for other brands and we will not make any kit without our branding on it.
In the face of all the challenges that the Chinese have introduced to European brands like ours, we have tried to stay true to our original principals rather than try and match the Chinese with their aggressive pricing. So that means our focus stays on producing the best quality kit we can, delivering it on time and making things as simple as possible for our customers. And lets be honest, sometimes things do wrong and when they do, we always try and put things right with the minimum of fuss.
It has been gratifying to see over the last 12 months or so, that a number of our clients that we lost to Chinese made kit have come back to us and after some challenging years, our sales are again growing strongly. So here is a call out to all of the cycling & triathlon clubs who have tried buying Chinese and are less than impressed: we will give you pro quality kit, fair prices and unbeatable customer service. And all made in Europe!
We put a lot of effort into getting the fit right for our custom cycling clothing, but as a client, it is important that you understand how the fit is meant to work. The most important thing to consider when trying kit on is that it is designed to fit when you are on the bike in a riding position and not when you are standing up trying the kit on for the first time.
What this means for jerseys and jackets is that the fabric in the sleeves and shoulders is shaped to relax into its natural position when you pull your arms forwards to put your hands on the handlebars and the sleeves have to be cut longer; then the front of the jersey/jacket is cut short, because when your torso bends forward into the riding position, the distance between your chin and your waist shortens dramatically so if it is not cut short, the fabric will tend to fold and bulge. Meanwhile the back of the jersey/jacket has to be cut long as the curve of the spine in the riding position elongates the length that that the fabric has to cover. This means that if you try our jacket/jersey on when you are standing up straight, you should find that the fabric ripples across the shoulders and the sleeves feel a little to long. The front of the jersey/jacket should also feel a bit short riding up to the top of your bib shorts.
With bib shorts it is more of the same – if you hold a decent pair of bib shorts by the top of the straps and let them hang, you should see that the shorts naturally form a curve to follow the position that you will be in when riding. Standing up straight the straps will tend to pull both on the front and the back of the shorts, but in a riding position they should almost entirely pull up on the back. Only in the riding position should the fabric relax into its correct position – standing up straight, bib shorts should be ill-fitting! (Whilst on the subject of bib shorts, it is worth remembering that the straps have three functions: to remove the need to have an elasticated waist band that can dig into your stomach, to hold the back of the shorts high up your back so that there is not a gap between jersey/jacket and shorts and to pull the chamois up firmly against your backside so that it stays in place throughout the pedal stroke).
When it comes to our patented halterneck bib shorts (also sold under our license by DHB/Wiggle) the idea of the fit only working correctly in the riding position is equally important. In this case the halter strap only really pulls on the front of the shorts when you stand upright, but in the riding position the straps transfer the pull on to the anchor points at the back of the shorts. The functionality of the design of our halterneck shorts is so important for this reason: not only are they easy to pull down in the squat position to allow a rider to take a pee without removing their jersey/jacket, but in the riding position they perform the 3 key functions of standard bib shorts as outline above because the key anchor points are at the back of the shorts.
So the point is, when you try on cycling clothing, you have to do it on a bike, or at least bending forwards as if you are in the riding position. Decent kit should only fit properly when you are in this position – if if fits well when you are standing up, then there is something wrong!
If there is one garment in our range that we really obsess about, it has to be our bib shorts. We have already designed and patented the world’s first halter neck bib shorts (now made under license by DHB/Wiggle) to help change women’s cycling forever, by making it possible for female riders to go to the loo without removing their jersey or fiddling with any straps or zips. We have recently been tweaking our men’s bib shorts, adding a new highly breathable lycra to the interior panels, upgrading the chamois, widening the shoulder straps and extending the leg lengths; further to this we have now removed a seam that used to run along the crotch (joining the front interior panel of the shorts to the back panel).
An additional seam can make all the difference to a garment; sometimes in can add to the design, but in the case of bib shorts this crotch seam can tend to bunch and rub in an area where there is a lot of movement when riding – removing it is just one more step towards the perfect pair of shorts.
The speed of change in textile technology continues apace and Carvalho Custom is determined to continue at the vanguard! So if your club is looking for a more comfortable custom cycling kit supplier, then please give us a call to see some samples.
The speed of change in sports fabric technology is unrelenting – every year we update a large element of our range either with incremental improvements or wholesale replacement. Over the last couple of years we have introduced a brand new hydrophobic lycra for our custom tri-suits, two new fabrics for our bib shorts (as the shorts now use two different lycras in combination), new laser-cut arm and leg grippers, a new chamois for cycling and triathlon and a new extra-breathable fabric for our racefit custom cycling jerseys.
Now we are updating our cycling jackets and gilets, with improved breathability to the waterproof membranes we use and also adding more stretch to the waterproof fabrics so that they are more figure-hugging/aero. In the past some of our clients have used a jacket or gilet in one size up from the jersey size they use, but together with the extra stretch in the fabrics we have also adjusted the sizing so that all clients should now wear the same size jacket/gilet as cycling jersey.
We now have available in our online store kit for the Wicklow 200. Please click here to buy Wicklow 200 jerseys, shorts, jackets and gilets.
As well as our standard Biofit jersey, we also have a Racefit option, bib shorts (including our patented halterneck bib shorts for women), rain gilets and training jackets. Orders must be received before 18th of April to guarantee delivery before the race.
Wicklow 200 clothing store.