The Monuments are the five most iconic day races in cycling, Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Giro di Lombardia. Craft have been inspired by these races to create the Monument collection. Each set consists of jersey, shorts, cap, socks and arm warmers.
The set I chose was the Milan-San Remo minus arm warmers. The first Monument of each season Milan-San Remo is often seen as the only Monument that the sprinters have a chance of winning with Mark Cavendish winning by an inch in 2009. Craft state that the blue/grey design of the jersey is to symbolise the riders journey from Milan to the see and the route between the mountains and the ocean. Personally I'd say it's like a flecked or chequered grey with red bits. Whatever I like it a lot. It looks stylish enough to compare with more premium brands yet far more exclusive.
The Monument jersey is a close fit. I'd recommend going up from your usual size. I went from a small to a medium and it's still almost like body paint. The arms are following the modern aero trend of being mid bicep length and the back has a longish cut. It's one of those fits that doesn't feel quite right when you put it but once on the bike it all makes sense, which is what it's actually meant to do.
Mostly comprising polyester the jersey wicks amazingly well and it's needed to this year. Mesh and stretch sections result in never feeling sticky or uncomfortable with the Monument jersey performing as well as any I've worn. The three rear pockets are easily accessible and feel secure at high speeds. Some riders might prefer to have a zipped security pocket but that is a personal choice. This jersey is designed for speed and the aero and weight penalties of a zip would work against the spirit of the kit.
Obviously with such a nice jersey the bib shorts need to match and Craft have produced a rather handsome pair with the Monument collection. The legs feature some nice detailing with Monument on one gripper and the symbols of each race being on the other. I like a bit of design in bibs, sometimes on a long ride it can be quite absorbing looking at my legs especially in a nice looking set of bibs. Relieves the boredom anyway.
Technically the shorts are constructed with a four way stretch Lycra Sport Energy fabric. With a 3-d cut and body-control design the Monument bibs offer great muscle support and compression. The silicon leg grippers keep everything in place without being constrictive and in general they are a pleasure to wear and yes look bloody good as well. The gridded design of the fabric helps to keep moisture off the body and they feel almost as fresh after a ride as before.
However I do have a gripe about the Monuments bibs. I never felt truly happy with the Infinity C2 Chamois pad. Three layer, anatomically moulded, seamless and antimicrobial it all sounds great but it just didn't work that well for me. I often say the sign of truly great kit is the users forgets it's there but with the Monument bibs I never get that feeling. I'm always aware of the pad and although I don't get any sores or irritation I never feel totally comfortable. After a few rides I've worked out it just feels too big and maybe that's just a personal thing and for other riders it would be perfect. It's a good chamois pad but I've used better for my needs.
On to the cap an essential piece of kit even if mostly for hiding helmet hair. Cycling caps are usually made from cotton but with the Monument, Craft have gone with polyester. This makes a lot of sense as cotton is useless in wet weather which is predominantly what I use a cap for. With a matching design to the jersey the Monument cap is a fantastic looking piece of kit and what's more it actually fits me!!! Thank you Craft for making a useable cycling cap that fits people with normal sized heads like me. It's so good not to have a sore forehead and a red band. Brilliant.
Well finally shall we have a little socks talk. The sock game is now part of modern cycling. A lot can be judged on socks. The reason a lot of cyclists didn't like Lance Armstrong had nothing to do with doping but his ridiculous sock length. Total travesty. Well the Monument socks are the right length and match the rest of the kit. Possibly a bit much like my school uniform socks for my liking they nevertheless look the part when fully kitted out. Performance wise they're adequate for medium length rides but I did suffer from hot feet on a hundred kilometre spin. They also feel very nice to wear.
At around £85 for the Monument Jersey, £110 for the bibs, £16 for the socks and £21 for the cap, the collection sits at an affordable price point for quality kit. It far outperforms a lot more expensive brands and in my opinion looks far far better. My personal issue with the chamois aside, I've really been impressed with the Monument collection from Craft and too often I've been checking out my reflection in shop windows.
For further information on the Monument collection go to the Craft website