Review: Icebreaker’s Wool Cycling Clothing – SS Team Jersey & Cadence Short
Part of Icebreaker’s spring/summer 2012 collection, the SS (short sleeve) Team Jersey and Cadence Short use mostly New Zealand wool blended with a bit of Lycra and, for the shorts, nylon.
The SS Team is their lightest weight, most performance cut jersey. At 150g/m² it’s fairly thin and the Lycra gives it a good bit of stretch. I tested a large and it fit nice and snug without being restrictive. Typically, I associate wool with warmer clothing, but the thin material and eyelet-pockmarked side panels kept me comfortable even on warmer, mid-80′s days in direct sunlight.
The shorts are much thicker, using their GT200 wool (200g/m²), and were a bit warm once the mercury rose into the 80′s. They’re also very stretchy with a full gripper section around the lower leg and a lycra/nylon panel on the center back. I tested a large in these, also, and the fit was pretty good. I did think the pad was a bit too thick for more performance oriented riding, though…
The SS Team comes in two color options, the Monsoon (tested) and a red/black version. From the front, the bright color is nice, but both versions put the darker color across the entire back. For both safety and heat reflection, I’d like to see more of the lighter color across the back. Above, I’m carrying a tube, mini-pump, phone and wallet and the pockets hold it just fine with minimal pulling. I did ride with all of that plus a water bottle and a gel or two on another ride and the full water bottle pulled the center of the jersey down quite a bit. I’d recommend locating the weight elsewhere if you can. Icebreaker’s jerseys tend to run longer than most in the back to provide ample coverage when in the riding position.
The rear has five pockets – three traditional outer pockets with a small pump pocket inside the left and an outer zip pocket on the right. Overall, I’m quite pleased with the jersey. An added bonus is the stink-repellancy of wool. I wore this for several consecutive rides without washing it and it remained funk free. If you travel a lot and want to minimize road laundry, this is a compelling feature. (usage note: antiperspirants tend to gum up the fabric and leave stains, but I’ve tried several natural deodorants with them and haven’t had a problem)
The shorts are on the long side. I pulled the lower legs up a bit when riding, which left me with the bit of bunching at the top shown here. That’s more of a personal usage problem than a product problem, but again, shorter riders may find that they’re just a bit too long. The waist also goes pretty high. Not Revenge of the Nerds high, but a bit higher than many other cycling shorts I’ve tested.
Like their bibs I’ve tested, the GT200 material is great for cool days and really, really good under tights in the winter. Once the summer hits, I’ll be moving them to the back of the drawer.
On the road bike, the Italian-sourced chamois was just a bit too thick for me. Off road or for commuting, it was fine. On the left is the inside back of the short. Notice the nylon/spandex section carries through the center to the inside of the legs. This provides a more durable “rubbing” surface for the inside of the thighs against the saddle, which should improve overall garment durability. Everything’s flat stitched for comfort. Small reflective piping sections are on the backs of each leg.
A word about sizing: Both Kristi and I have found that Icebreaker’s sizing chart tends to be OK for casual clothing, but is way off for cycling gear. According to their chart, she ordered an XS women’s Cadence short and it’s way, way too small.
Based on their measurement chart, I would have been between a small and medium. Knowing better, I ordered a large, and it worked out, though I do wear a medium in their underwear and suspect a medium short would have worked here, too. If you’re between sizes or not quite sure, I’d lean toward the smaller size…the stretch and generous length of Icebreaker’s cycling gear should make it fit well. For the jerseys, I’ve tested an XL before and it was too big…and I’m 6’2″ and more muscular than most cyclists. The large works here because they stretch well.
The Cadence Short retails for $160 and the SS Team Jersey for $130.