Bellwether’s Spring 2014 collection brings three levels of bib and jersey combos, all with UPF 30-40+ sun protection and a fitted race cut.
The top level Optime, which is available in men’s and women’s, uses a mix of fabrics across the jersey aimed at keeping you cool and your muscles fresh. A combination of Coolmax and Cooltemp, which uses nano-sized cooling crystals embedded in the fabric for a claimed 2-5º reduction in skin surface temperature, on the front and back use the wind to aid in heat dissipation and moisture evaporation. Microfiber arm cuffs provide mild compression without pulling the skin, and flat seam construction prevents chafing. The back has three standard pockets plus a 5” zip pocket with an inside facing waterproof barrier (4” zip pocket on the women’s jerseys) to keep sweat from soaking your smartphone. A full length locking front zipper completes the package.
The Optime bibshorts get a different but just as varied mix of fabrics, including Coldblack to reflect heat. Their Powergrid panels use a stretchy 3D “grid” construction that helps the airflow pull moisture away for evaporative cooling while also providing muscle compression. A wide microfiber leg band also adds a bit of compression with silicone dots to keep it in place. I’ve ridden this kit and it’s extremely comfortable. A full test this summer will follow to see about all the cooling claims.
Both men’s and women’s use their Physio Pro Carbon chamois with a fast drying carbon fabric that also suppresses bacterial growth, static electricity and friction. Like most high end pads, it gets multi-thickness and densities for zoned comfort. The women’s bibshorts use a single front strap down the center of the torso with an adjustable clasp at the bottom to make for easier bathroom breaks.
The Matrix falls just below the Optime in features, losing the waterproof lining in the fourth zip pocket. Both it and the Edge (below) share use a contoured cut to move with the body, full length locking zipper, elastic-free arm bands and their Air-Lite fabric that’s both breathable and moves moisture. The Matrix uses a bit more multi-fabric construction. The Edge jersey loses the zippered 4th pocket altogether and has broad swaths of airy mesh on the front and sides. It’s labeled as their hot weather kit, and the white option for the jersey (not shown) could be just the ticket.
For the bibshorts, the Matrix gets a wider, more streamlined leg band and additional rear waist panel in the construction. Otherwise, they’re similar, offering high compression fabrics and the same Physio 3D molded chamois and mesh uppers.
I’ve also ridden the Edge kit and it’s fantastic. The XL sizing fits me like a glove, not too baggy thanks a race cut, but not constricting for us taller, more muscular folk.
The ladies also get the Impulse jersey and Capri Pant. Features on the jersey are similar to the men’s Matrix model with the addition of vent panels to improve cooling. Front has a 10” locking zipper. The pant has a comfortable looking yoga-style waist band and simple four-way stretch pad. A mesh band behind the knee adds a bit of ventilation.
All items feature 360º reflective trim or logos, and all should be available now. They offer two different socks that match up in colors and graphics, and all of the kits above have multiple color options. Check their website for more pics.
Two gloves are also on tap, and both look killer. The Heritage (left) is a classic looking calf skin leather top and bottom with a bit of gel padding. Thumb has a microfiber panel for wiping away whatever’s on your face.
The Pursuit is their more minimalist glove with a Techmesh center panel on the palm and lightweight nylon/Spandex upper. Hidden finger pull tabs, terry thumb panel and silicone impregnated palm with gel padding round out the features.
For those early morning rides when it’s still a bit nippy, Craft’s new Hybrid Weather glove uses full fingers and a flip-back wind- and waterproof mitten cover to keep your digits pliable until the sun starts working. A touchscreen friendly thumb and pointer with grippy patterns help everything else work together as planned.
Chrome’s got the urban cyclist covered for spring with the perpetually in style black, off black and grayish black. Their new Folsom shorts popped a while ago as a shorter slimmer alternative to the Union shorts, and now they’re joined by the Mason “jersey”, De Haro windbreaker, Chuey cycling cap and merino ankle socks.
The Mason Riding Jersey is, basically, a v-neck tee made of 90% merino wool for awesomeness and 10% nylon for toughness.. It’s got a bit longer hem to keep your waist covered while riding and the shoulder seam is double layered. Soft and functional, yet durable, just like you. Retail’s $70.
The De Haro Windbreaker fits over it nicely thanks to an extended tail and cycling-position-appropriate sleeve length. It’s made of a water resistant, windproof micro-Ripstop nylon fabric and has a two way main zipper and mesh side panels for ventilation. Cuffs are reflective, it has chest pockets with a hidden zippered compartment for phones and a rear stow pocket that doubles as a stuff sack. Retail’s $95.
The Merino Ankle Socks come in four sizes to fit anyone from 1-4 youth up to men’s size 15. They’re made in the USA with a left/right pattern, nylon reinforcement in the seamless toes and a knitted Chrome logo on the base of the foot. Retail’s $12.
And Chrome would like to remind you they offer the Kursk Pro, their SPD-compatible city shoes to round out the outfit.
Need something to throw it all in for an overnighter? Their new Cardiel ORP (Operations Readiness Pack) is a lightweight rolltop pack made of water resistant ripstop nylon with taped seams and a tarp bottom panel. Inside, there’s an internal pocket big enough for a 13” laptop. Outside, compression straps help keep the 24L capacity compact. Retail’s $110.
THE ATHLETIC COMMUNITY
Based in Portland, OR, The Athletic Community just popped up with their LAX cycling socks. Inspired by the color block tiles installed at the LAX airport in the ’60s, they’re made of modern synthetic materials. The LAX socks are sold as a pack of three in the colors shown, so if you want to match, order two “pair”. They follow on the PDX-ray design, which is available in both wool and synthetic materials, as well as shoe-covering-over socks.