To read my articles, head over to my authors page on each site;
Recently, I was lucky enough to get to test a new set of bib shorts and a jersey from Scott’s latest high-end road cycling kit - the snappily named RC Premium Kinetech range.
The range represents Scott’s most technologically advanced road racing kit, with a construction that aims to eliminate unnecessary seams, texturing details and a fit that aim to decrease aerodynamic drag, and a use of lightweight materials that aim to offer both increased performance and comfort on the bike. I think Scott has largely achieved these aims - it’s certainly a very technically advanced set of kit, made with premium materials and finished very elegantly - but, unfortunately, it isn’t perfect.
Firstly, a note on sizing - I received both the shorts and jersey in a size Medium, and though the shorts fit perfectly, the jersey is slightly too big - the sleeves are a little baggy and there’s a little too much room around the waist, on my 183cm/64kg frame. Now this isn’t really a criticism, because looking at the sizing guide on Scott’s website, it appears a Small jersey would have been more suitable for me, but I do wonder if the size small would have had enough length in the body to not leave a gap between the shorts and the jersey when stood up.
The shorts are lovely - some of the best I’ve ever used. The textured material, seamless construction and high quality pad makes for a very comfortable pair of bib shorts. They feel compressive without being restrictive and the texturing, presumably present to add the aerodynamic performance of the material, and design make for an elegant pair of cycling shorts in all respects.
The Trouble With Pure Performance
The jersey isn’t quite as good. It’s comfortable, lightweight, well constructed and feels like a premium jersey, but the faded plum colour is an odd choice - I don’t mind it, but I don’t love it either. The textured shoulders and sleeves are a nice detail that matches the textured shorts, and ties the kit together as a set. Again, this surface texturing is, as far as I’m aware, there to create turbulence in the airflow and reduce the aerodynamic drag of the kit. I’ve not got any data to support the effectiveness of this, but it’s detail you can see a lot of on professional cycling kit these days, so there’s likely something to it (even if it’s most likely a reasonably marginal gain). I’m not a fan of the neckline - I appreciate this jersey is designed to fit best when in an aggressive cycling position, so the neckline is rather like that on a speedsuit, but I think it makes the jersey look like one of those muscle fit t-shirts you see on Love Island (that’s a guess - I’ve never seen Love Island), which isn’t a good look in my opinion. Scott might argue that from a pure performance point of view, this neckline prevents any bunching of excess fabric, but it’s not to my taste.
Another odd design feature is the decision to eschew the traditional three pockets on the rear of the jersey in favour of two larger pockets. It’s another design decision perhaps made with pure performance in mind. If you’re a professional cyclist, you probably don’t need that much storage space (and carrying less is probably more aerodynamic), but as a consumer I need to carry a few essentials on every ride (a phone, keys, mini-pump, etc.), plus food and extra clothing (eg. a gilet or lightweight jacket). Having only two pockets unfortunately limits your options for organising your stuff. Personally, I usually prefer to carry my phone, mini-pump and gilet in my middle rear pocket, as these are the heaviest/bulkiest items and I want to avoid side sagging. I then separate my food out in to the remaining two pockets, so I don’t have spend time rummaging through them mid-ride to find what I want. Your milage may vary with this, but to me it’s a classic case of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’
All things considered, this is a great set of cycling kit, clearly made with optimum racing performance in mind, but for your average consumer there are a few compromises you have to make for those performance gains, that lessen the appeal for general road riding.
What do you think of SCOTT’s latest kit - do you like the colour of the jersey? Are three rear pockets better than two, or is two enough? Are the compromises in aesthetics worth it for the potential performance gains? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
For more cycling related content like this, you can follow my other blog, Pelican Velo Club, on Tumblr.
Last week, there was much consternation on cycling twitter about a photograph (taken on stage 02 by Jakub Zimoch - @kubwinter) of a UCI commissaire, who was using a device to measure the clearly illegal sock length of a Team Sunweb rider. The replies were filled with indignation (obviously - it’s twitter), with many asking, ‘Haven’t they got anything better to do?’. But I believe that this intervention is essential, and furthermore, the UCI should not be cowed by these protests, but should be emboldened to strengthen their regulation of cycling clothing…
I’m now a year and three months in to the making of my Land’s End to John O’Groats road trip project (still currently untitled - I’m really struggling with that, actually), and consequently I’ve got a fair amount of pictures for the project, but a persistent question that I and other people have is, ‘When will it be finished?’
It’s an interesting question in a way, because, as I didn’t set myself any sort of time or budgetary constraint (though it’s worth noting that there is of course a natural budgetary constraint stemming from the very small amount of money present in my bank account), there isn’t really a clear answer to it. Obviously when you’re at university or are shooting to a deadline imposed by a client, then your finishing points are essentially fixed, but with personal projects you could arguably carry on indefinitely unless you impose an arbitrary deadline. The obvious answer is that I could set myself some sort of arbitrary deadline, but I find that conceptually unsatisfying, as if I reach that deadline and want to continue making pictures, then why shouldn’t I?
In discussion with a friend a couple of weeks ago, I suggested that my ‘project’ on my two cats, Royal & Eva, would be finished when they die - as this would obviously entail a natural end to the picture making process for them and I. But thinking on it further, I’m not sure that works either - unless they both pass away in very close succession, Yogi and I are likely to get another cat (or possibly a dog - fingers crossed for both) in the meantime, and that will introduce new opportunities for pictures with the surviving cat. Basically, as long as we have an unbroken line of pets, this project will never really be finished.
So that leaves me with a dilemma - like any other delusional artist, I want my work to, at some point, enter the pantheon of great works in photography, and I’m aware that much of the work that I admire was made over a period of years or even decades (I’m thinking about American Prospects, Uncommon Places, Sleeping by the Mississippi, Pictures From Home, Sentimental Journey, Wonderful Days etc.), so perhaps the logical thing to do would be to follow suit, and work on projects for so long that you eventually get it sick of it, and you happily make a decision to stop. Indeed, in conversation with David Campany, Stephen Shore agrees that his ‘interest now falls away as you are beginning to sense that you have met the challenge, rather than having to repeat in order to discover that you’ve done all you can?’
Another dilemma arises from the pressure of social media and the perception that other photographers are always launching a new project, winning an award, being exhibited, etc. It feels like you have to constantly be pushing new work out into the world. Perhaps it’s always been thus, but, for me, Instagram is the big problem of our time. I’m very hesitant about posting my LEJOG project on there, because anything you post becomes yesterdays news so quickly - most people will literally scroll past it in under a second. It feels cruel. The temptation though is to publish something as a ‘work in progress’ and then continue to work on it over the coming months/years. Perhaps that’s a smart move to make in a world craving for regular content, but I still worry about diluting the impact of my work by showing it in an unfinished state.
So what to do? For now, I’m going to keep working on my LEJOG project in private (i.e. not sharing work on my website or social media), try to get some feedback off other photographers, and get some opinions on how to move forward. Ultimately, I do want this to be a long-term project, and with Great Britain still right in the middle of some incredibly important events, it would feel premature to bring anything to a close in the near future.
How does everyone else manage this issue? How do you know when a project is finished? How do you balance long term thinking with the short term demands of social media and the modern world? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.