It might not be strictly sensible but that doesn’t make Millar’s new Chapter 3 collection any less covetable. The fact that he’s gone out of his way to stop you from buying it makes it even more so. You won’t find this kit in your local bike shop, or a high street bike shop, come to that. The only place you will find it from what we can see is Mr Porter, and even then you need to enter in the correct search term (or click the link below) . And Bespoke Cycling in London, and only then if you go in there.
Such exclusivity is quite desirable in these days of ubiquity. If you’re a snappy-dressing cyclist, being able to ride out in something that your mates don’t own is the holy grail of kit. Half the problem here is that to do this you often have to spend over and above the going rate to get something they can’t afford. No change there then.
If you want to kit yourself out head to toe in Chapter 3 you’ll need to be prepared to lay down almost £800. For that you would get a jersey, bibs, arm and leg warmers, socks, vest and a short sleeved softshell, all in super cool blues and greens and greys that remind you of the dark end of a Farrow & Ball paint chart, with the odd splash of red to contrast.
This is the spirit of David Millar realised in cycling kit - cool, high performance and incredibly stylish. You couldn’t imagine anyone else coming up with it.
If you’re thinking about getting this gear, then looks are going to be your primary concern, because while the functionality is there in bucketloads, you can find that in numerous other products, including from Castelli, who produce this line.
This is kit for the poseur, the cycling flanneur. It isn’t for racing and given the little details isn’t particularly intended for really heavy duty riding of any kind, even if it is more than capable of undertaking it. It is more for the gents’ cafe outing which finishes with kicking back to sink a cortado.
All the same, it has been designed using some of the most advanced fabrics known to the sport. The range utilises materials that can’t even be used for racing, “because they’re either too expensive or can’t be justified,” says David Millar. “For example the jersey is a third lighter than the lightest TDF jersey - something like 50g per sq m. They can’t use the fabric for racing because you can’t put sponsors’ names on it.”
The Rockr, the Chpt3 version of Castelli’s now legendary (if a piece of cycling kit can ever be such a thing) Gabba, is made from a material which is 30 per cent lighter than the Gabba so it can fold up and fit into a specially-designed back pocket. There’s even a pocket for the arm warmers, up the back of the jersey, where a lot of cyclists end up depositing and subsequently losing them.
The Rockr is actually the star of the Chapter 3 collection. If there’s one thing you should get, this is it. A totally useful short-sleeved softshell that you can wear on its own as a jersey or over the top of another jersey as an additional layer in the manner, Millar insists, Castelli intended the Gabba to be worn. It is an ideal weight and incredibly comfortable, even if it does incorporate a fairly unnecessary chin strap that folds around the back of the neck.
Details such as this strap, and the horn buttons on the jersey are functional in the sense that they do something but entirely unnecessary in the sense that you’re never going to need them to actually do it. But the odd thing is this wouldn’t be Chapter 3 without these elements, and you will grow to love them.
Another oddity about Chapter 3 is that you buy it according to your shirt size, or at least you are supposed to, although my shirt size is a 39” and I found the size 40” to be the correct fit. Except for the bib tights, which would fit me well were my stomach to be of the six-pack washboard type. The fact that there is a mildly stubborn rounded nature to it is enough to make the compression element of the bibs push my gut up and over in the style of a well baked muffin. It also makes for a sensation I would imagine to be similar to that of wearing a corset. As for the bulge that protrudes through the shirt, well it’s just wrong.
Of course this should be incentive enough to shift that final lump of belly, although the temptation is always to wear a different pair of bibshorts instead.
The bibs are the only weak spot in what is a phenomenally well designed and beautifully crafted collection, which uses the very latest in manufacturing techniques.
If you abide by the strict washing instructions (wash immediately after riding, or if you have help, get them to do it and by help we assume David means staff, as opposed to a carer) then this stuff will last you for years and still look good after a good few of them.
Summary: Millar’s entry into cycle kit is as slick and stylish as you would expect, although the snug fit of the bib shorts does make you wonder if the average rider was taken into account when designing the range. If you get one item, make it the superb Rockr softshell.
4 / 5
£790 (for full kit)