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
Button Up & Bike is a curated column of women’s apparel and accessories by Trina Haynes and Emily Walley to help keep the pedals moving year round, with a focus on fashion and function in no particular order.
Chilly days are here and it’s time to start thinking about suitable attire for a new season. The following finds have helped carry us through autumn in comfort and style.
As soon as the temperature hits 60-degrees or lower I live in long sleeve tops. Club Ride has been making improvements every year to its women’s line by offering a mix of women specific products. The Wheel Long shirt is constructed with breathable, wicking material to keep sweat away from your body.
The top is lightweight, with reflective accents and has thumbhole loops. There is a hidden zipper pocket that can be buttoned to hide inside the bottom of the top or can hang down. It will hold your bike lock key, not much more. This is the most comfortable top I’ve worn under a vest or a woolie during the 30-40-degree weather, the wicking keeps the chills that sweat can cause at bay and the Wheel Long is reasonably priced.
Patagonia Adze Vest – $119
In colder weather a vest is beneficial for keeping the core of your body warm. There are lots of cycling specific vests that can be packed into a jersey pocket, but I wanted a vest that I could wear for day-to-day casual activities, other outdoor fun like hiking and walking the dog, as well as keep me warm on my bike.
The Patagonia Adze Vest is windproof, water resistant, has enough stretch for mobility but stays snug so cold air isn’t blowing through it while you ride. The vest has moisture wicking grid fleece with a high-zip collar, it will keep you warm and dry in cold weather.
Investing in a pair of $190 pants is not an easy decision and it took me quite a bit of research to find pants that suit my needs. I chose Gore ALP-X Windstopper softshell pants, not only because of Gore’s reputation amongst friends as being a reliable product, but because I wanted a pair of pants that would keep me warm from November through March. Plus, they need to last me a few years and not look like snow pants.
The ALP-X Windstopper pants are snow and water resistant, comfortable and stretchy for mobility on and off the bike. They’re windproof, but offer good breathability, allowing perspiration to escape. There’s also vent on the thigh in case the day gets warmer than anticipated. I really enjoy the zipper closures from calf to foot, which assisted in keeping out the cold air, and when unzipped I felt like I was wearing a pair of track pants.
These pants have proven durable so far and are going to make my daily ride more comfortable, which increases my motivation to get on the bike during these cold days. Plus they’re red, how could I go wrong? But, they’re also available in black. I generally wear a medium and didn’t listen to the size chart that marked me clearly as a large. The pants are a little snug, so mind the size chart and go with Gore’s recommendation.
Giro LS Mobility Shirt – $120
When I saw the Giro Road line it was love at first sight. Everyday clothes made with performance oriented fabrics and cycling specific features? Count me in. This cotton and lycra button-down is fitted and offers just a little stretch. I appreciate clothes that’ll stand some wear and the LS Mobility Shirt feels like it will hold up for years to come. Plus, the fabric is breathable. Hang it up at night and it’s ready for another day.
It was the perfect shirt for both on the bike and off, taking me from my studio to date night with ease. There’s a pocket on the left panel with a snap closure. It’s unlike me to store anything in a shirt pocket, but I thought it was a nice touch aesthetically. The Jet Black is more of a “match anything” medium gray. I see the Mobility Shirt as a regular part of my wardrobe. It’s ideal for the city-dweller with a short commute to the office or dinner.
Linus The Sac – $69
Linus, maker of french-inspired city bicycles and accessories is behind this waxed canvas tote, which I found to be a great carryall for trips around the city. While it functions as a pannier, the low profile hooks make it difficult to distinguish as a cycling accessory. Out of context, it’s a well-constructed tote. The Sac hangs on your rack via two coated metal hooks. As to be expected, with only two attachment points, it flopped around a bit over rough terrain but it always remained securely on my rack. A small luggage-style lock connects the bag to the rack ensuring it won’t get away from you while you’re riding or when you stop for a coffee.
The tote has a magnetic closure and while I thought that I’d want a zipper, the flap was sufficient in protecting my stuff from the weather. Of course, with the flap up there’s some additional storage which I employed to tow around my 15-inch laptop. While I love the look of the navy and yellow, I’d likely choose one of Linus’ darker base color options as the yellow soiled quickly from rubbing against my bike rack. The function, style, and durability of this bag make it worth every penny of $69.
Nau Tripoly Jacket – $268
This unbranded, high collar, raincoat has “urban shell” written all over it. Nau is committed to producing clothing out of sustainable fabrics and the unique feel of the Tripoly Jacket made me wonder if it’d keep me dry. It did. While the jacket fits me well in the arms and shoulders, the body is a bit boxy, despite its tailored fit. However, the extra room was an advantage during these months of layering.
As a shell, the jacket provided rain and wind protection while the poly/cotton blend was breathable, keeping my core dry. Three low profile tail snaps dot the back of the jacket providing some extra mobility while pedaling. I found the high collar kept me toasty when I forgot a neck gaiter and the removable hood is a great touch, but it barely covers my head, leaving the tip of my nose suspect to the rain. Due to their small size, the zipper pockets are more for stowing your stuff than your hands.
The flap pockets are an adequate size but they’re also solely for storage, as they sit too high on the jacket to comfortably use as pockets. A designated interior phone pocket would be a great addition, considering this jacket is intended to be worn in the rain. Despite its shortcomings, the Tripoly Jacket quickly became an everyday favorite during the unpredictable fall weather.