Cycling Apparel - Spotting Great Apparel From Average
Posted by elv8 Aerodynamic Apparel on
For athletes, having even a small advantage over everyone else in the pack is everything. Practically, physically and emotionally. Everything.
In my time as a pro tri-athlete having an edge on race day had everything to do with the end result. So many things were out of my control - mastering as many things in my control became an obsession. However, I was never close to any of the designers of the products I had to wear. I was totally at their mercy. I’d often be found cutting, snipping, tying and altering anything I could within the bounds of the rules of the federations, and my sponsors, to make the products fit and perform better. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if the designers of some of my apparel had even asked what a cyclist needed, let alone ever worn one on a 5 hour ride in hell like conditions to test it. It was telling and also embarrassing to wear at times.
Too many cycling brands solve for one or only a small handful of the things that matter to cyclists. However, even the smallest edge or misaligned seam significantly magnifies significantly over the course 3, 4, 5 hours on a bike (or less), and in some cases can be make or break for an athlete. Just remember, if you’re not comfortable, confident and feel good in your apparel, you won’t be focused on what you really have to do.
There’s another other set of brands currently in the market trying to woo us into becoming fashion victims or part of some artistic renaissance movement. You, the consumer, ends up spending more money on a marketing campaign and an aesthetic appeal as opposed to actual product development or any tangible benefit. Sorry this isn’t right, and by the way it’s not giving any cyclist a competitive edge.
Cyclists seeking performance benefits are very discerning and have a very good radar for fact versus fiction – there’s a healthy (maybe too healthy) level of skepticism however, whether we admit it openly or not, we all want an edge. Small medium or large. We’ll take any (legal) competitive advantage we can get. We’ll spend thousands of dollars on expensive components, often with marginal (if any) performance benefits, and gloss over much easier ways to extract real performance benefits. Many people are blissfully unaware of the performance benefits that exist through true performance cycling apparel.
Too many brands out there will now use the label ‘pro fit’ as means to imply some performance advantage. Is there an actual definition for ‘pro fit’ and if so, what performance benefit should it deliver? Does that mean only pro’s can use it? What if most average cyclists are not ‘pro’ shape? Some other brands will brand their apparel as 'high performance' - but have you stopped to ask what performance benefits they actually deliver and is there any evidence?
Cyclists should really be focusing on what gives them the best fit and be aware of what makes great apparel from something that just looks visually great. It’s very easy to distinguish great apparel from average. For example,
Ever felt sagging back pockets especially with items in them? Many apparel brands don’t consider rear pocket design, material selection and placement.
How comfortable are your bib-straps? Did you know the thinner the width of the strap, the more concentrated the loading, stretch of the straps and discomfort?
Why would any decent apparel still use single hem cuffs with elastic grippers? All that does is lead to products that cut into the skin, restricting circulation;
Silicon beads for arm and leg grippers…not a great design option either for comfort or function. There’s much better ways to do this;
Short lengths that are too high, whilst giving your legs a better tan, do nothing for aerodynamic efficiency. The same applies to arm sleeve length;
Multi-panel jersey with ill-thought seam placement will destroy aerodynamic efficiency (significantly), reduce wear life and annoy the shit out of you on a ride.
Having a zipper that’s too light, whilst giving clean design lines, results in something that can be very difficult opening and closing when riding;
Collar heights that are not designed from a riding perspective can become a nuisance and cause irritation, and lead to zippers function issues;
The choice of seams stitching can have a huge impact on comfort and durability. If you have zig-zag stitch patterns they can have a higher rate of unraveling.
It’s important to look for jersey's that minimize added pressure and material around the lower abdomen to keep the jersey in and improve aerodynamics.
Professional cyclists and teams have been investing considerable attention into apparel design as a true benefit area – not just a marginal gain, but a significant performance enhancer. We’re talking minutes over a 40km TT! Cycling Weeklyrecently posted a video showing the performance benefits of various items for a cyclist through wind tunnel testing. Clothing/apparel delivered more power (and therefore time) savings than any other item – more than a helmet, wheels and TT frame! The good news is that these benefits are completely accessible to any cyclist and at very reasonable prices – just choose your apparel brand very wisely and don’t get sucked into fancy designs, and colors over real performance enhancement.
We are a brand that is obsessing over every aspect of apparel design in a pursuit to maximize apparel performance, your ride and deliver the cycling consumer real benefits. If you share our obsession for detail, join us and let us know what would enhance your ride.