10 years ago, cycling was for the most part a gritty unglamorous sport, all about suffering and camaraderie, whilst triathlon was a minority sport for nutters; equipment tended to be functional and choice was limited. Things could not be more different now, with all sorts of premium brands bringing some bling to the market and a seemingly never-ending choice of exotic equipment available, be it bikes, clothing, electronics, drinks, nutrition, training regimes and so on.
Sometimes it is easy to get lost among the glamour of the big brands that spend millions on advertising and sponsor the top teams and athletes; meanwhile, there are a few companies like Carvalho Custom that have eschewed the bright lights and kept plugging away focusing on producing pro quality kit but without the astronomical price tags. We have managed to keep our feet planted firmly on the grand and have never spent any money on marketing campaigns, instead relying on word-of-mouth and generally keeping our costs down to a minimum (for example by selling direct from Portugal to the world, rather than having regional distributors). It means that we can pass on these savings to our customers, so our prices are very attractive for the quality that we supply.
Having said all this, the bad news is that because of the increase in our costs of raw materials as we have upgraded many aspects of the kit we supply, we are making our first price increase for 3 years (an increase of around 5%). The good news is that if you are buying from the UK, then the 20% decrease in the value of the Euro against the Pound over the last 6 months or so means that our kit will be a lot cheaper for you! We are not going to apologize for putting our prices up because we still believe that we are the most competitively priced supplier of high end kit.
So if you are after a glamour brand on your custom cycling jerseys or club tri suits, then we are probably not for you; but if you want the best value-for-money available for top end kit and a team that is truly dedicated to customer service then perhaps we are the right custom cycling & triathlon kit supplier for you.
We have a smart order form that allows you to list out individual orders from club members and then automatically consolidate them into a single club order to send to us, your club cycling & tri kit supplier. To do this, you just need to:
– download our order form
– enable the macros
– add the names of the items that team members are going to order to the main order form (so for example you can add custom cycling jerseys, custom tri suits or whatever)
– click the “multiple orders” button and you will be prompted to say how many individuals will be ordering (you can always change this)
– you can now add the names of each person ordering (if you want to)
– a mini order form will be created for each individual, which you can fill in
– to generate the consolidated order, just go back to the main order page and click “calculate total price”
You can always go back add more individual orders if required, by clicking on the multiple orders tab, add the extra orders and calculate again.
So there you have it, a very easy way to manage your cycling or triathlon club clothing order, which leaves you with a record of what everyone has ordered and an easy way to consolidate all the orders into one order form that you can then send to us to produce!
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.
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!
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.
We take kids triathlon clothing seriously, because kids’ body proportions are very different to adults, so you cannot just make adult size kit smaller and expect it to fit kids. We have been supplying Oceanlake Triathlon Club in Cantebury for a while now and it is really admirable the effort that they make for their junior athletes as well as organizing a load of races every year. Here are Hamish, Anton, George and Agatha – at the Leeds Castle Triathlon
So if your club needs children’s triathlon clothing, please get in touch with us at Carvalho Custom and congratulations to Ocean Lake Tri for doing such a great job of making sure that the future of British Triathlon remains bright – Hamish, Anton, George and Agatha great things are expected of you!
We have just got back from Ireland, where we went to attend the beginning of the Race Around Ireland – 2200kms of non stop racing, where the top guys ride around 400kms a day for around 5 days, sleeping in total for around 5 hours. It is heroic stuff and the race attracts the best ultra endurance riders in the world, this year including RAAM winner, Christoph Strasser who after a 30 hours of racing and just a 20 minute power nap is leading the field.
We are very proud to sponsor the jerseys and here are the solo riders wearing them at the race launch. You can follow the race in real time with tracing at www.racearoundireland.com
We will have a stand at the Virgin Active London Triathlon on 27th and 28th of July, so please come along and say hello if you are an existing client and we will give you some freebies. If you are not a client, but just want to come and say hello, then we will give you some freebies too….
We will have our full range of custom triathlon kit (and custom running and cycling kit also of course), so if you are interested in getting your club clothing made with us, it will be a good opportunity for you to see our complete range and have a chat with us about how our ordering process works or whatever information you may need.
You can probably imagine that we get a lot of requests to make charity cycling jerseys, but recently we had a request to make some for one of Charlie’s oldest friends, Nick Crossley, whose little boy has got a terrible illness called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which currently has no cure. Nick and his gorgeous wife Emily set up a charity called Duchenne Children’s Trust and they just did a bike ride from London to Paris in 24 hours which raised an amazing £200k for the charity.
We were very proud to make the jerseys for them and here is Nick and another friend of mine Pete – I cycled across the USA with them 17 years ago, when they were both fitter and better looking. Nick has barely picked up a bike since then, so it is pretty amazing he made it to Paris…
Anyway we wish them all the best with their charity and our thoughts are with their darling boy, Eli.
Cycling shorts have moved on a lot in the 25 years I have been riding a bike. The first pair of shorts that I bought were made from wool (that is old fashioned scratchy wool rather than silky Merino) and the chamois was a real chamois (a piece of leather which you had to rub with a special vaseline like cream to keep it supple). In those days you weren’t expected to make a fuss about how comfortable your kit was. It is all very different now….
We seem to spend more time on bib short development than anything else here at Carvalho Custom (and we have to do it twice, as we have female specific as well as male bib shorts!). The first thing we think about is getting the shape of the shorts right so that they move easily with your legs round the peddle stroke and also the straps sit comfortably on the shoulders without giving you a wedgie, but holding the shorts in place. The first thing to do when you pick up a pair of shorts for the first time is to hold them by the top of the straps and you should see that they hang in a curved shape, with the backside sticking out a bit. This approximates to the shape they will be when you are on a bike with your hands on the handlebars. A good pair of bib shorts should be designed to fit most comfortable when you are bent over rather than standing upright. A cheap pair of shorts will just hang straight down when you hold them by the top of the shorts, which are OK for unicycle riders, but not for everyone else. The other key thing of note here is that the straps should be made from very stretchy and breathable material as this will make them a lot more comfortable to wear over your shoulders.
With regard to the chamois (or pad), having tried out endless numbers of them, we think that the best kind of pad is made from mesh – foam absorbs water (sweat or rain!) that gives you the nappy feel and loses its structure over time, so losing its primary role as padding. Gel can go lumpy over time and can lose it shape. Our chamois uses mesh (think steel wool, but softer), so it does not absorb moisture and keeps its springiness for literally years. The actual anatomical shape of the chamois is less important than some manufacturers make out and there are a lot of gimmicks out there.
Finally, the leg grippers. First there came elastic, which can dig into your legs, then silicone strips which work very well, but again can dig in to your legs a bit. Now a lot of bib shorts just use double lycra bands (like out custom bib shorts), which do not keep the shorts as perfectly in place as silicone, but do not have any of the constriction problems. We can make our new bib shorts with silicone for those who prefer it. We will shortly be adding to our range silicone patterns added into the lycra leg grippers but not in a band form to give you the best of both worlds, as they do not constrict, but help the shorts stick in place.
As with all of our custom cycling clothing, we put a lot of effort into product development, because the market is just changing so fast, we just cannot afford to get left behind. It is a shame in one sense, because I really used to like my old wool shorts…..