I’ve never fancied myself much as a clothes designer; but playing on Eleven.cc was one of the most engrossing, enjoyable shopping experiences I’ve had.
Eleven vélo, run by the very friendly Gerard, are based down under in Australia. Launched way back in 2001, they are unique in that they offer a design service for cycling clothes and accessories, meaning that everything you order is totally bespoke. Eleven believe in ‘clients’ rather than ‘customers’.
Now, to my order. Gerard recommend a good summer look to me so I set about selecting the Merino Aprés Tee, Universal Shorts, The Ride Pouch and Musette Bag – essentially providing you with everything you need on a commute to work – my most common journey.
The Design Process
Now this is where the fun begins.
Starting with the Merino Apres t-shirt, I opened up a highly informative page which, when you scroll down, gives you the opportunity to design your own shirt. After toying around with garish colour combinations for a while, I finally settled on a summery blood red body, with a Discerning Cyclist-style orange chest panel (available for an extra $5) and orange sleeves with black stitches to follow.
I must admit several hours were lost when considering (playing) with various the colours and design, but I don’t regret a second.
One thing you need to bear in mind when designing your top is that the colours and design you select at the bottom only provide you with a preview. When you are happy with your design, you then need to input your preferences in the right hand box labelled ‘Step 2’ – something which confused me for a while due to my unwillingness to read instructions.
As the name states, this tee is made from good old merino and has a very nice soft, fluid feel to the material. This is explained as the material in question is actually 170gsm Superfine Merino, making it a light-middleweight in the merino world – an ideal piece all the year through.
The look of the tee as a whole looked very smart and it gave me some hope that I may yet cut it as a leading fashion designer… well, maybe not. Nevertheless, I was very pleased with how the tee turned out.
One note I would make about this top though is that is certainly worth opting for the ‘ride-cut’ fit, just to provide you with some extra coverage for the base of your back as the standard fit can otherwise prove a little short when you are riding.
Now, these shorts were a point of contention for me.
On one hand they were unbelievably comfortable and absolutely perfect for cycling in. On the other hand, I opted for a ‘standard leg’ cut on the shorts, which I found to be much wider around the knee than I had hoped, providing an almost a 70’s flare look about them. However, having spoken to Gerard he said that this is actually an intention in the design, giving the shorts more of a surfer fit than a typical cycling fit. This is no travesty though, as the shorts are also available in a tapered fit, which Gerard assured me would be more suited to those looking for a slimmer fit.
That issue aside, these shorts do look very good and I can’t emphasize enough quite how comfortable they are. They are stretchy, have plenty of lower back coverage and don’t overheat despite what feels like a thick material due to some very welcome vent-like features.
In essence, these shorts are perfect for casual affairs such as knocking about town or for a longer ride to keep you cool.
This was a big favourite. Lightweight and simple, it does just the job when you’ve got a few bits and bobs to carry when you’re on two wheels. Throw it over your shoulder and off you pop.
The musette also comes with an adjustable strap which is good although it can look a bit untidy sometimes with the excess strap; however this was easily rectifiable by looping it back around the rest.
As ever with the Eleven, it comes in your choice of colours and also features two handy internal pockets to help you keep your stuff in some kind of order if you so wish.
This is a quite an interesting piece that is useful for keeping all your pocket junk in one place when on the bike.
I always have a considerable fear of my phone/wallets/keys dropping out of my pockets while I’m riding and have found this to be a pretty good solution – although it does put all of your eggs in one basket as if this falls out your pocket you really are screwed. I’m sure that wouldn’t happen though…
I also found this pretty good for popping my passport inside and then throwing it into my musette without fear of my passport getting torn or crumpled on my daily commutes across the border.
Overall, the enjoyment to be had tinkering around with your own designs on Eleven.cc shouldn’t be underestimated – even if you just want to have a play – go look.
The quality of the products, especially the shorts, was also fantastic – and perfectly suited to life on the bike.
*prices subject to pesky conversion rates