Getting To Know Capo: High Tech With Old-World Craftsmanship
6/30 Update: Capo staff size corrected.
With a breadth and maturity far exceeding the brand’s eight years, San Francisco-based Capo clothing are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with at the mid- to high-end of the cycling apparel market. Founded by a pair tech industry veterans, Capo was born out of the frustration with trying to tailor Italian cycling brands’ apparel to the US market. Feeling that there was a need for European-inspired pieces with a strong focus on technology and features, Gary Vasconi and Robert Carbone launched the brand with a number casual pieces in 2005, followed by a full range for 2006. And those Italian tricolores on so many Capo pieces? Better than 90% of the range–including custom pieces–is made by small family factories in Italy.
While Capo maintain that technology, performance, and quality will always trump price, it should be noted that their range starts with a US-made Power Lycra short at $80 and that a US-made short featuring Schoeller’s Coldblack technology is available for $110. There are very few apparel companies making product in first-world countries- let alone at these price points.
While other companies’ design and features are driven largely by their relationships with and sponsorship of professional cyclists, Capo approach their products with their consumer in mind. This means targeting the higher-mileage, high-end customer. The flashy designs and coordinated kits for which the brand is known are deliberate: not only do they improve riders’ visibility on the road, but they are designed to catch the customer’s eye on the shop floor. Once Capo have the rider’s attention, they aim to use country of origin, quality of construction, and performance features to seal the deal.
The strategy seems to be working. With nearly 400 dealers in the US and fast-growing custom apparel line, Capo has a presence far greater than their staff of
six eleven should allow. On the road (and the trail), we can say that they’re succeeding. Look for a review shortly, but when packing for last month’s Trans-Sylvannia Epic mountain bike stage race, there was no question that the brand’s GS-13 kit, with it’s excellent compression, high breathability, and fantastic EIT Anatomic-4G Carbon pad would be packed.
For this fall, look for the very nice GS-13 winter bib short, which combines warm SuperRoubaix fabric, highlighter yellow accents, and that EIT Anatomic-4G Carbon pad to make the most of shorter and cooler (40-55°F) days. The matching Leggero wind jacket combines a 4-way stretch windproof front with breathable SuperRoubaix Carbon side panels and back panels with only side-to-side stretch to keep stuffed pockets in place. Given that both are full-featured pieces made of high-quality fabrics in Italy, the $250 bib price seems reasonable- and the $200 jacket even more so.
Literally the most eye-catching thing that we saw when we met with Capo at PressCamp was their Padrone HiVis kit. Making use of fabrics that appear black or gray in normal light, the Padrone HiVis kit lights up dramatically when hit with headlights or a camera flash (as above and in the gallery below). This top-end kit has the features and looks to keep it coming out for long daytime rides- but adds a significant amount of visibility once the sun goes down.
All of this comes back to Capo’s core mission: to create eye-catching, high performance technical clothing for their customers. They know where and by who each piece is made and expect it to last a good, long time. Speaking from personal experience, the line is worth a close look.