Tester: Scott Williams
5’10 and 175 lbs.
Shirt Size: Medium
Short Size: Medium (30-32”)
Let’s face it, we all can’t be as good looking as Jeff Gordon rocking Roy G. Biv with more brand logos than the Dow Jones. Many of us Jills and Freds certainly aren’t getting endorsement deals so why do we need branding all over our gear?
When asked about Ornot’s minimal branding concept, Matt, the owner and designer of Ornot, mentioned he had raced for a team with a less-than-desirable title sponsor that was plastered all over his gear. He never said which one, but there certainly are a few I can think of that would have me taking my gear off pronto before stepping foot in any tavern or coffee shop. He mentioned that this became part of the catalyst behind the minimal branding of Ornot. So, in 2013, Ornot was formed in San Francisco with the goal to shift focus to quality made cycling clothing that emphasizes fit, form and function as opposed to the excessive branding that was often seen in cycling clothing at the time.
Another awesome feature of Ornot gear is that it’s printed, cut and sewn in the United States. Not just because it’s cool, but because “it’s about ensuring a quality product for our consumers, stimulating and participating in a sustainable economy, and having a relationship with the people who make our brand possible,” says Ornot.
Merino Field Jersey – $145
If you think I am crazy for wearing wool in the middle of summer then your Google search for “Dow Jones” or “Jeff Gordon” clearly led you down the wrong path. Merino wool is an essential fabric for outdoor apparel due to its ability to provide fundamental moisture control, breathability, natural odor resistance and all-day comfort.
One of the key features that make this wool jersey work so well is the addition of Micro Polyester on the side panels, rear pockets and collar. Ornot states, “This keeps our Field jersey from developing saggy pockets and that loosy-goosie grandpa style.” I have certainly experienced the saggy grandpa style scenario with other Merino wool jerseys in the past so was pleased that Ornot spent some extra R&D to ensure this jersey was perfect.
Fit: I typically wear medium sized jerseys unless they are a European race cut, which I will then size up to a large. The Field jersey is a comfortable fitting medium that’s not so loose that I am concerned about tossing anything out of my pockets but roomy enough for post-ride tavern comfort.
Price: This seems to be on par with other merino wool cycling jerseys offered by Twin Six and Ibex and less expensive than Rapha and Kitsbow.
Bib Shorts 3.0 – $165
There are three specific features I look for in bibs when I know my rides are going to put me in the saddle for 3 hours or more. First the chamois, and this one did not disappoint. It’s claimed to be “rated” for 6+ hours of ride time, whatever that means. The chamois features a reverse molded pad which is said to help reduce the number of abrasion points and help eliminate hot spots. All I can say is that this made for a happy bottom on every ride I did. I even sat in a “crick” for a while before continuing on my journey and didn’t feel like I was sitting on a wet sponge. From what I can tell, it’s not the thickest, spongiest chamois I’ve used but it’s not the thinnest either – it seems to be right on that happy middle ground.
Second, the fabric. I really like the feel of a tighter fabric that stays in place. This “EIT Carbonium Microfiber” fabric feels similar to a compression fabric and is said to help pull heat and moisture away from the skin.
Lastly, the grippers. No one likes to have a thin elastic gripper that feels like it’s suffocating your extremities. Ornot uses large leg grippers with a yoga band for added comfort and keeps everything nicely in place.
Fit: I’m typically a medium when it comes to bib shorts and this case is no different. Since the time of this review, Ornot has recently switched their sizing up to better compliment unison between their bib shorts and jersey sizing. I have pair of bib shorts size medium based off their old sizing which has an inseam of 9.5”, waist of 30-33” and weight of 145-170 lbs. Looking at the amended sizing chart, I would now be a size small bib shorts. Personally, I don’t think the amended sizing makes a lot of sense, especially considering in most cases a 30-33” inch waist is not a small by any means.
Price: Not quite as expensive as Rapha but seems to be more in line with Kitsbow for the bib shorts. There are equivalent options out there for less, such as from Voler and Twin Six. As long as you are not anal about your bibs being a different brand than your jersey, you can save a few extra bucks to put towards your sock game.
Grayskull Wind Vest – $120
I am a sucker for a good wind vest, whether it be worn home after post-ride beers or stowed away in the jersey pocket in case the storm decides to roll in and the temps drop.
The Grayskull Wind vest utilizes a DWR coated front panel and shoulders to block the wind where you need it most while providing breathability with micro-mesh sides and back panel. The vest also conveniently features a two way zipper and three rear pockets with a reflective piping along the top.
Fit: I am comfortable wearing a medium. Ornot suggest to error on the small side for the vest due to the elastic fitting back.
Price: Although not quite as expensive as a Kitsbow Vest, the Ornot Grayskull Wind Vest is on the expensive side and you could easily find similar vests for less through Voler and Twin Six.
For quality U.S.A. made cycling attire that doesn’t scream “HEY, LOOK AT ME”, I dig it. Yes, you can find cheaper as well as more expensive options out there but that’s the beauty of it, those options exist. Clothing and accessories are such a personal item and by having multiple options you have a greater probability of finding that company that cuts their pieces just the way YOU like it for that perfect fit.
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Pactimo has partnered with us to give one lucky winner a pair of Summit Raptor 2.0 RT Bib Shorts and a Summit RT Jersey. Enter to win below.
Pactimo, a Colorado manufacturer of premium cycling apparel, has developed this endurance kit for cyclists who regularly ride 6+ hours at a time or who want the ultimate in comfort. A good pair of padded shorts can make a world of difference on long distance rides and these bibs are designed for long miles. The kit has a compression fit and Pactimo’s proprietary Reflective Technology (RT) in the arm, rear and leg grippers for increased safety in low light conditions and inclement weather.
Winner can select color, size and gender preference.
Complete the survey below the video by 11:59 p.m., February 08, 2016 to be entered to win. We will choose and notify a winner the following day. Some terms and conditions apply, but don’t they always? Open to U.S. residents, only. Sorry, but that’s not our choice.
If you are on a mobile device, click here to take the survey.Tweet Print
Our friends over at Aero Tech Designs have a sense of humor when it comes to their holiday jersey designs. After unveiling some special “holiday technology” with their winter jersey, the latest is this… um… distinctive St. Patrick’s Day kit.
By mid-March we’re all ready to shake off the winter cobwebs and get back to full-time biking, so if you want to start the season with a little luck-‘o-the-Irish, this is your ticket. Whether you’re celebrating with green snacks or green-tinted-beer, everyone will know you’re ready to party.
You can pre-order a jersey before February 15 for $70, and $80 after that. They are expected to ship on February 22, so there’s plenty of time before the big day.
RXL Thermal Long-Sleeve Jersey – $110
Of the two jerseys reviewed here, the RXL Thermal is the more cycling-specific. It has a more fitted shape and the shoulders are cut for being bent slightly forward over the handlebars. I think Bontrager did a better job with the cycling-specific cut than many other brands in that it didn’t just replicate the upside-down triangle shape of many men’s jerseys. The cut is shaped but not too exaggerated (i.e. you can be comfortable even if you’re not super-Strava-aero in the drops), and the elastic, grippy waistband isn’t so restrictive that it rides up. It is a tiny bit too short in the front, but I and my long torso seem to have that problem with all technical jerseys. It might be just right for you.
The thermal Profila fabric has a soft, brushed interior and a very stretchy exterior. Warm and wicking as advertised, the RXL Thermal is an excellent, capable winter road-ride jersey whether on its own or layered nicely under a jacket.
Thoughtful little details include a draft flap on the front zipper, three rear pockets that are deep enough to actually be useful and a rear zippered pocket for a super-secret stash. The neck is also comfortably on the higher side and features a mesh patch at the back to help dissipate heat. I’m not sure how practical or visible the three, tiny reflective dots on the back pocket are, but there you have it.
The RXL Thermal jersey comes in enough colors to satisfy most tastes across the women’s product spectrum (yay!): light blue, red, pink, bright yellow/green and black. Several of the colors are currently on sale, so check it out. Sizes XS to XL.
More info: bontrager.com
Vella Thermal Jersey – $100
I’ll just come right out and say it: The Vella Thermal is my new favorite winter jersey, even though I honestly don’t like the color (bonus that it’s the cheaper of the two). The shape is more universal and the cut slightly less fitted, making it great for all winter activities, not just cycling, and allowing me to wear a wool T-shirt underneath it on the coldest days. It’s also a bit longer than the RXL Thermal and the unique wrist openings easily fold up, making way for my gargantuan technical watch. The waist is not as fitted but the silicone dots do a nice job of keeping the jersey in place. I think it would make a great technical top for commuting, among other things.
The Vella also features Bontrager Profila thermal fabric, but this one feels a bit thicker and slightly less technically fancy. It wears very cozily and wicks as advertised. Similarly to the RXL, this jersey also features three deep rear pockets and one zippered stash pocket. I don’t really get the point of the asymmetric front, but I think it looks cool, and I do appreciate that the front zipper is reflective.
The Vella Thermal jersey comes in black, bright yellow/green and an intense pink. The heathered look of the black one is particularly classy; you could get away with wearing it in various situations not directly related to cycling. Sizes XS to XL.
More info: bontrager.com
Svelte London is a small cycling clothing brand that is a product of the Kickstarter generation and is focused on keeping its products European. Production of the company’s line for men and women started only this year and takes place in East London (jerseys), Italy (bibs) and Portgual (baselayers). They are also a part of the generation of more subtle, comfortable cycling clothing that focuses on a few, well-made pieces.
“The vision for Svelte is to create well-designed, minimalist clothing that is understatedly technical,” wrote Tom Barber of Svelte. “We are aiming at design-conscious but cost-sensitive consumers. We are aiming to make clothing that will last such that people can invest in a jersey that, thanks to its minimalist design and carefully chosen colour schemes, will be timeless.”
The Svelte Heritage jersey does indeed have a timeless appearance and has become my go-to cycling top whether I’m wearing it on its own or grabbing it as my baselayer on colder days. It has worked very well for road riding, mountain biking and simply running errands on two wheels. I’d gladly take it on a multi-day tour and re-wear it multiple times without washing.
The Heritage is made in London of a lightweight, performance Merino blend from Denmark, which is the star of the show. This Merino breathes and moves wonderfully while not itching in the slightest and not surrendering to body stench, either. I’m smitten with the fabric, which also has a startlingly rich look and feel that outshines many of my nice winter sweaters.
The jersey’s fit hits each of my personal preferences. It features a full-length zipper and a shaped, but not overly fitted, design that includes room in the hips and silicone grippers on the dropped tail without any constricting elastic (it won’t ride up on you). I’m rather small up top, in general, and found the “athletic” fit to be flattering without being restrictive.
The three main pockets are big, deep and strong (which I find to be rare on women’s jerseys) and the jersey’s overall length is far better than most in that it actually covers my belly button. A bonus pocket closed with a loop and button is nice for small items.
The Classic Bib Short is lovely and comfortable and features a fairly traditional design with flat seams and a small, reflective detail on the back. The chamois falls into a good middle ground without being too bulky or too thin, and I found the shorts plenty comfy on multi-hour rides. The bib straps don’t have any special ventilation nor do they unhook for faster bathroom breaks, but they are so soft and so light that I forgot they were there; they caused no uncomfortable chafing or sticking.
The rich navy blue color is beautiful, but I would love to see a future option that lacks the pink stripe. While a chic touch, the pink makes the shorts less versatile when trying to match other jerseys and I like to see versatility when it comes to high-quality investment pieces. I’d also like to see Svelte ditch the elastic silicone grippers on the legs, which can sometimes stick painfully to the skin on long, sweaty rides. They definitely work, but aren’t the most modern option.
The jersey and short each cost 90 British Pounds which, at the moment, is roughly $135 U.S. That could easily be considered steep, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these pieces hold up for quite a long time. (I accidentally fried them both in the dryer and they came out looking brand-new.)
Svelte ships to the U.S. and it only takes a few days. See more and order on their website.
I have been wearing Pearl Izumi cycling clothing for nearly two decades. It is straightforward stuff that holds up well over time, and the company offers many items at a more affordable price point than several of the smaller boutique brands. So I was more than happy to spend the fall riding around in the Sugar Thermal Tights and ELITE Thermal Hoody, two items that excel in cool temperatures.
ELITE Thermal Hoody – $120
If you’re not one to dig into reviews, I’ll summarize this one for you in one sentence: Since I received the ELITE Thermal Hoody a couple of months ago, I haven’t taken it off.
At first, this garment seems exceedingly minimal for its price tag. No side or chest pockets, no thumb holes (which is fine; I don’t like them, anyway) and no fancy mixing and matching of materials. What it does have is warmth without weight, incredible coziness and multi-sport versatility for those of you who are also runners, hikers, climbers, etc. Or, just wear it all winter around your uninsulated house at 5,600 feet, as I am also doing.
Layered under a windproof jacket, the ELITE Thermal Hoody is comfortable on the bike in a wide range of temperatures—down into the 30s for hard efforts on the road or trail and up into the 60s for cruising around.
The hoody is made of thermal fleece with a smooth outer face that has proven to be moisture-wicking, as claimed. The shoulders are reinforced with slightly thicker fabric and are so far holding up under my penchant for riding everywhere with a pack. The fitted hood is ponytail compatible and fits under a helmet, and the rear zippered pocket is extra large and deep. My only minor complaint is that the zipper pull is tiny and hard to find with gloved fingers.
This garment has a flattering fit that’s more designed for moving around in everyday life in that it’s not tailored for an aggressive, hunched-over cycling position. The length satisfies my long torso and long arms.
If, like me, you dislike anything pink, know that this hoody also comes in a pleasant green and reliable black. Retail is $120 and sizes range from XS to XXL.
Sugar Thermal Tights – $85
The Sugar Thermal Tights are soft, stretchy and just plain comfortable with no weird fit issues, and the six-panel anatomical construction means no seams to rub the inside of your thighs. The tights are on the longer side, which I appreciate. Though I have short-ish legs, I’d rather have a little spare fabric than cold ankles. Ankle zippers allow for venting on warm days. The wide waistband is soft and forgiving. My only (very minor) complaint is that the tights have a big tag in the back, rather than printing the garment info directly onto the fabric.
The Women’s Tour 3D Chamois is labeled as being for “enthusiast to intermediate riders” that ride one to five times per week. I found the chamois a little thin for my preferences of rock-hard saddles and longer rides. On the flip side, because the chamois isn’t diaper-thick, the tights fit nicely under a pair of soft shell pants for my winter fat biking adventures and don’t feel awkward when walking around a coffee shop after a ride.
The suggested temperature range of 55 to 65 degrees is just about right. I rode the Sugar Thermals down into the 40s on sunny days and felt chilly at first (the fabric is not windproof), but comfortable once my muscles warmed up. If you’re exerting yourself under the sun, I think you could move the temperature range toward the colder side about five to ten degrees.
The tights have a small reflective design on each calf and come in all black or black with a big, “screaming yellow” panel down the back of each leg. The panel’s placement isn’t the most flattering to the figure but slimming fashion is not the reason you buy high-viz clothing, now, is it?
The tights come in sizes XS to XXL and retail for $85.
American cycling apparel manufacturer Aero Tech Designs has unveiled the Ugly X-mas Jersey 2.0 with holiday technology. Available for a limited time only, this jersey was created for the all-around, off-season holiday party animal. Perfect for events at the office or going out for a classy dinner with that special someone.
New for 2015 is the Holiday Performance Enhanced Fabric that will keep you warm and toasty this winter. The fabric is engineered specifically for holiday over-eating and post-ride beers. It will keep your midsection supported through holiday dinners so you can conquer all manner of cake, pie, cookie and nog post dinner.
The Ugly X-mas Jersey 2.0 is a cycling jersey at heart and is best used to shred up fresh powder on your fat bike. The three rear pockets are custom shaped to fit exactly one dozen cookies (or two pieces of pumpkin pie) in the middle pouch and two side pockets for your favorite bottle of beer or cider. Perfect for the go-getter holiday cyclist on the move.
Every Ugly X-mas Jersey 2.0 is made by elves at the Aero Tech Designs Top Secret Holiday Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There it is sewn by X-mas tree light while Alvin and Chipmunks and Nat King Cole echo in the sound proof walls.
Let the X-mas Jersey be your go-to gift this holiday season. The inner neck line of the jersey is sublimated with special “To:” and “From:” tags. This will ensure that your thoughtful gift will keep on giving for many rides to come; on the other hand, the tag is on the inside of the neck line and if you don’t like who gifted you the jersey, you’ll never be able to see their name while wearing the jersey. Win-Win!
The Aero Tech Designs Ugly X-mas Jersey 2.0 and other USA-made cycling gear is available at the Aero Tech Designs website.Tweet Print
Were in the thick of it now. Winter. This round of Button Up & Bike is focused on a small group of go-to items that make a big difference in cold conditions. The prevailing characteristics? Warm, water repellent, and wind resistant. Some are an investment, but their functionality outweighs the cost. Many we’ve worn happily for years, biking and otherwise, and they don’t show signs of giving out on us anytime soon.
Walz Plaid Wool Ear Flap, $33: This 100% wool cycling cap from the Walz Winter Collection is my favorite for the cold months because it keeps the wind out of my ears and looks cute. The flap is generous over the ears and provides more than enough room to tuck away unruly hair. Walz caps are all U.S.A. made and feature many styles and patterns, in addition to personalization options. -Emily
Neck gaiter: A neck gaiter can really help hide from the elements. I really like this gaiter because it’s not squeezing my face, fogging up my glasses while I attempt to breath. This is an old Buff Windstopper that doesn’t appear to be available anymore, but you can pick up a slightly different version with the Bicycle Times logo in our online store. Surly makes a wool, moisture wicking neck gaiter and Marmot has a GORE-TEX gaiter. Both look like they have a similar fit and would get the job done. -Trina
Ryders Eyewear Via Photochromic glasses: The Via Photochromic glasses automatically adjust to the amount of sunlight you’re currently dealing with. Wearing sunglasses does not always work in the darker winter months so a transition or tinted pair of glasses is great for protecting eyes from cold and snow. The Via’s have wrap-around coverage and fit under my helmet with issues. Retail price: $100. There is a less expensive version of the VIA with a non-transition lens tint, designed for medium to bright light for $50. -Trina
Wool jersey: This is a must for my cycling closet. The Bicycle Times wool jersey has three back pockets and is made of merino wool. Merino wool is soft, comfortable and warm. I’ve had my wool jersey for three years and have put it through the wringer. A few minor sewing repairs have been in order, mostly due to battles with a thorn bush. Price is $125, but on sale right now for $90. -Trina
SmartWool NTS Mid 250 Baselayers, $100: Merino wool is the queen of all baselayers. Who can argue with apparel that’s warm, moisture wicking, and odor resistant? SmartWool baselayers come in mid, light, and micro weight. I’ve found the mid-weight Zip T and Bottom the ideal candidate for cold weather, but because merino is ace at temperature regulation I can wear it comfortably all day. I like the high quarter-zip collar to vent or block the wind and unlike some long underwear tops, this one is presentable when worn solo. -Emily
Bar Mitts, size small, $75: How I pedaled through winters past without these things, I’ll never know. What a difference! Wind and moisture be gone, these neoprene sleeves are the answer to cold cycling hands. Most days I wore only a pair of mid-weight gloves and my hands were toasty; at times too warm! I didn’t have any issues shifting or braking, but I’d recommend sizing up to a medium for a little extra space and ease of getting your hands in and out while riding. There are also versions for drop bars or flat handlebars. I’m confident that these neoprene sleeves will keep my hands happy for years to come, making them well worth $75. Or, scoop up a pair on closeout for $45! – Emily
Outdoor Research Aspect Jacket: Any softshell is great for cycling, but I’m partial to the Outdoor Research Aspect Jacket due to its large chest to waist vents. I begin my ride with them closed and unzip as my core temperature rises. The body is roomy compared to your average softshell making it great for layering; I often wear two wool shirts and a fleece vest underneath. The collar and waist have an elastic drawstring to trap heat in and the bright color is good for daytime visibility. Outdoor Research no longer makes this jacket but the Showers Pass Portland Jacket has similar characteristics at a price of $175. -Emily
Novara Stratos Gloves: I have trouble keeping my extremities warm in the winter, especially on a windy day, but these waterproof Novara gloves do just the trick. The elastic cuff allows me to cinch down over my jacket keeping the heat in and the elements out. I’m a one finger on the brakes kind of person so I prefer to have my middle and index finger separate. Unfortunately, the Stratos are no longer available in women’s, but the men’s are still out there for $38, and they’re tech compatible. -Emily
Hiking boots and wool socks: Hiking boots are generally what I wear in winter or rainy weather. These LOWA boots have GORE-TEX lining, are lightweight, waterproof and breathable. A pair of good boots with wool socks (sometimes 2 socks), result in happier feet. The LOWA Bora GTX I’ve had for 2.5 years and they’re still in great condition. A good pair of long-lasting hiking boots will cost you about $120-$250+. -Trina
Craft Women’s PXC Storm Tight, $125: These Craft tights are breathable and warm, making them great for both city riding and mountain biking. They’re 100 percent poly, with a super soft lining and a wind resistant front. The stretch fabric and ankle zip allows me to easily pull them on over long underwear or jeans. They also have an opening by the knee that provides a little more movement while pedaling. -Emily
Vittoria Arctica MTB, $245: I had trouble finding women’s SPD cycling shoes that were winter friendly in a size 6.5, so I was thrilled to stumble across the Vittoria Arctica MTB. You’ll usually find me in my hiking boots on city commutes, but I wear these for longer rides as well as for mountain biking. The waterproof membrane and neoprene top keeps the moisture out and the knobby sole keeps you from slipping around at the store or in the woods. Vittoria offers narrow and wide widths as well as low volume upon request. -Emily
Want to ride all winter but on a tight budget? Check out our post Winter Riding on a Budget!
Now go ride!
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