Review: Spring/Summer Cycling Kit from Castelli, Giordana & Cedar Cycling
Summer’s just around the corner, and Spring seems to be fluctuating between hot and cool and not much in between. Which makes for the perfect time to test out new Giordana and Castelli cycling kits designed for the sunnier days, and Cedar Cycling’s excellent Merino wool blend jersey for the cooler ones. All three brands are making some pretty amazing stuff, and each has it’s role in a well rounded cycling wardrobe.
Above, the Giordana FRC (FormaRed Carbon) Vertical bibshorts and jersey are their pro-level trade (read: self-branded) kit. The cut is aero, but the sizing is suprisingly American for an Italian brand. With most clothing from the boot-shaped country, I have to size up one or two levels, but Gita’s rep suggested a Large against my XL request and it ended up fitting perfectly. FTR, I’m 6’2″ and about 185lbs with fairly normal proportions.
For all three jerseys, I used the same pocket contents in these images to show how it holds/sags when carrying fairly common cargo. All of the pieces have been worn plenty of times, but these photos were all shot on the same day. The contents include a Crank Brothers Sterling pump with gauge, sample sized Clif Bar and a Dry Case with an iPhone 5 and small wallet inside.
The Giordana jersey has three main rear pockets with a vertical zip fourth pocket for small bits. There is no cable pass-through slit for headphones on my sample, though Giordana’s website does specify one. Reflective strips on are either side of the pockets.
The arm cuffs and front of the jersey bottoms have carbon threads to limit the stretch so they offer slight compression while also being very breathable thanks to small round air pockets between much of the fabric and the skin. They call it Aerofix, and it seems to work really well at keeping the cuffs snugly against the skin without any rubbery or silicone gripper sections that can pull the skin.
The Cuffs use the material 3/4 of the circumference with a lighter material under the pits, and the front waist of the jersey uses several inches of it to either side of the zipper before converting to a standard elastic band with silicone gripper to help prevent it from riding up in the rear. The full length Camlock zipper on the jersey has a small zip garage on the bottom to keep any hardware from rubbing your shorts the wrong way. The front and shoulder panels are an extremely lightweight 4-way stretch, honeycomb knit polyester microfiber that’s both super soft and super breathable.
The FRC Vertical bibshorts also get the Ametista carbon fibers in the upper straps to help hold the shape, but the lowers are a more conventional Lycra. Actually, it’s a pretty sturdy Lycra material, lending a solid, supportive feel to the shorts without being too tight. It’s a really great feeling short, and the pad is nice, too. It’s their Cirro OmniForm insert, which uses waffled memory foam under a microfiber cover that’s permanently infused with Aloe Vera. They claim that helps soothe the skin and provide antimicrobial properties, I say it just feels nice. The shorts also offer UPF50 sun protection in the legs, which culimate in openings that have AeroLite segmented grippy strips that are very thin and flat. The effect is that they stay in place without pulling the skin, much like the Aerofix of the arm cuffs, except lighter and thinner.
Retail is $200 for the jersey and $200 for the bibshorts, available through Gita in the US.
Castelli introduced the Climbers Jersey and Inferno Bibshorts last summer to help the Garmin-Barracuda-Sharp team beat the heat. Both use ultra lightweight materials throughout, and both almost certainly should come with sunscreen. Actually, they sort of do – the fabric has titanium dioxide in it to help reflect sun, but the garments are so light there’s plenty of room for UV rays to wiggle past.
The sizing surprised me on these, too, as they also sent a Large. I’ve tried several of Castelli’s items before in XL and could have easily fit better in a 2XL…yet these both fit just right. Apparently they’re working on their sizing scheme for the North American market, also.
The Climbers Jersey is anatomically cut such that it feels more natural in the riding position, particularly in the shoulders. The main body panels are a 100% polyester waffle-knit material, and the sleeves are also textured a bit. The idea is to improve wicking and drying time without sacrificing aerodynamics. It fits snug without being restrictive, which I like…there’s no flapping around, but also nothing to become uncomfortable after a couple hours on the bike. The arm cuffs have a bit of silicone gripper on the inside, and the waist opening has a thin Lycra band but no gripper.
There’s nothing specific about the design to keep the pockets from sagging, and you can see the contents to pull down a bit over the waist band, but it wasn’t uncomfortable and didn’t seem to tug at my shoulders. There’s no headphone port on the jersey pocket, but the bibs do have a small radio pocket on the mesh straps.
The shorts use seven different materials, most of which have some sort of mesh structure that shows skin through. Again…sunscreen is your friend. Support is good and they are quite cool on a hot day.
The Progetto X2 Air uses a perforated, graduated-density foam pad to the let air through. It also uses three thin gel sections to absorb vibration. All in all, it’s a pretty comfy pad.
Both items are very lightweight, which helps when the road or trail turns upward. Every ounce saved counts, and these are among the lightest weight pieces I’ve tested. MSRP is $129 on the jersey and $199 for the bibs. Both items are available through their custom program, too.
In stark contrast to the lightweight, thin fabrics of the first two, Cedar Cycling’s Standard Jersey feels heavy. In a good way. It’s an absolutely premium jersey made of Merino Wool and Nylon using a fantastic construction method that places the 100% natural material on the inside face, against your skin, with an outer face of 100% nylon. Even better, it’s 100% designed and made in California, USA.
The full length YKK zipper also has a full length inside flap to keep wind from creating a cold spot and keep it from snagging skin or a base layer. A garage at the top protects your neck. The sleeves are a quasi-raglan shape that’s sculpted around the shoulder quite nicely. Arm cuffs have no gripper, so they’re super soft all the way ’round.
The backside has three standard pockets and two zip pockets, one in each of the outside main pockets. There’s a silicone gripper band around the rear 2/5 of the waist band.
The guys at Cedar Cycling made a pretty big deal about the construction when I met them at NAHBS. The paneling and pocket structure is designed to keep the material from sagging or stretching out. This is done by combining a center back panel all the way up the spine with an interior fabric panel on the inside walls:
This provides just a bit more padding against your back, too, so mini-tools or valve stems are less likely to scratch and poke you. The last bit is a small panel underneath the pockets that gives them a bit of overhang if necessary. The pockets are plenty deep enough to keep everything securely in place, even over bouncy roads or when dropping your back to level in an aero tuck bombing downhills.
The material’s hand will draw you in. Everyone wants to touch it, then touch it some more, it really does feel that good, and the construction is top notch with double-needle stitching and bar tacks on the pockets. This quickly became one of my favorite pieces, and while I’m ready for the sun to come out and stay for a while, I actually yearn for a day cool enough to wear this one once in a while. It’s definitely for those sub-70°F (21ºC) days, but it has a wide range. With arm warmers and the appropriate bib knickers, it’ll easily take you comfortably down to the mid-50’s depending on your tolerance for cold. Add a base layer or wind breaker and it’ll go even cooler. It works on warmer days, too, as long as I wasn’t killin’ it…and if the sun wasn’t beating down to hard on the dark blue.
Retail is $170, and I tested a Large in this, too.