Finding the perfect pair of bike shorts and jersey is very much a personal matter, but some things make for a good starting point, and the kits from Gore, Sugoi (above) and Icebreaker tested here are all very nice, each with their unique merits.
For each kit, I tested a size large in both shorts and jersey. I’m 6’2″ and about 175lbs. They were ridden on several different saddles on both road and mountain bikes, and Kristi tested the women’s Halo jersey from Icebreaker.
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ICEBREAKER GT CIRCUIT BIBSHORTS & MEN’S JERSEY, HALO WOMEN’S JERSEY
Icebreaker is relatively new to the peloton. They use New Zealand Merino Wool blended with Lycra for all season cycling clothing. I tested their bib shorts and jersey. Both use a medium-lightweight wool, making them perfect for those early morning or night rides when the temps are a little cooler but you know arm and knee warmers would be overkill as soon as you got warmed up. This also makes them perfect for early spring and late fall rides, but pack ’em away during the dog days of summer.
The bib shorts have Lycra panels in the rear that are a bit lighter weight than the wool. The bibs fit great. They’re tight enough to remain streamlined and fitted, but not so tight that they were hard to pull down for pee breaks. The chamois is a bit on the big side, which makes them feel kind of like a diaper when you’re off the bike, but on the bike it’s very comfortable. The insides of the legs are showing a bit of wear from saddle rub, but that’s something that I get on a lot of my shorts.
The jersey has a plethora of pockets, and the deep center pocket made it great for some night laps with Niterider’s giant battery pack stuck in it. There are cord holes, a zippered pocket and a hidden small pocket inside the left pocket, and they’re all pretty deep. The front zipper goes all the way down, which let’s you vent as much as you need to should the wool prove to be a bit too warm as things get fast. The zipper pull is a bit heavy, but it’s large and easy to grab with full finger gloves. The fit on the jersey leans toward casual, and might be a bit baggy for thinner roadies. It’s also pretty long, so shorter riders might find it a bit too much. For me, when mostly zipped, it kept it’s composure, but when the zip was 2/3 down or more, it got a little flappy in the wind.
There are plenty of reflective bits, too, making both pieces highly visible after dark. Just to reiterate, this is a great set of riding kit for cooler days. Oh, and I fully tested the natural antimicrobial properties of wool by wearing the jersey on three rides in a row and leaving it unwashed crumpled on the ground aprés ride and for the days between rides. Result: zero funk. I did not perform this test with the bibs. MSRP: $200 for bibshorts, $140 for jersey.
Lastly, each piece comes with a unique baacode that lets you trace the wool directly to the farm it came from. It’s also worth noting that they make pieces with several thicknesses, including a “150” that’s dubbed “ultralite”. By contrast, my Circuit jersey has 260 on the front and 200 on the rear, which is why it’s better for cool weather. The anti-funk makes it great for travel.
KRISTI: I tested the women’s Halo S/S jersey. When I first put it on, it felt just a bit scratchy, but as soon as I started riding, it was fine. I wore it during a very hot afternoon lap at the BURN 24 Hour Challenge and it didn’t seem too warm to me (Ed. note: The Halo is “200” all around). The fit is more casual, which is my style of riding, and the color was very nice. The clean lines and no crazy prints or graphics makes this my kind of jersey. MSRP $130.
GORE BIKEWEAR OXYGEN SHORTS & JERSEY
Gore Bikewear’s were regular shorts (not bibs) and are some of my favorites. The chamois pad is not too thin, not too thick and has been comfortable on every saddle I’ve ridden in them. I’ve had these shorts for almost a year now and they’ve held up really well. The dotted gripper band works really well without pulling at my skin as the legs pump up a bit during the ride, making them more comfortable and requiring fewer mid ride adjustments from me. The small reflective tabs on the rear of the legs are like mini fins, which I think look cool and provide a wider degree of visibility from the side with minimal material. Lastly, there’s a small cash/coin/key pocket on the rear of the shorts.The only thing I don’t like is that the separate panel in the front makes it look like my belly is pooching out way more than it does (see bottom pic).
The jersey is a medium-lightweight fabric with a lot of lighter mesh panels. Overall it breathes very well. It’s very comfortable, and the solid bright color really pops. My jersey unzips most of the way, but the newer (current) model has a full zip and the style has changed a bit. Pockets are normal size. There are plenty of reflective bits scattered about, and the small mesh panels and lighter side panels keep it fairly cool on hot days. Like the shorts, this is one of my favorite pieces. Fit is more traditional road.
I wore these for one of the longest days of the Breck Epic (top pic) and they were comfortable all day in the saddle and hiking up ridiculous goat trails. The shorts are unchanged from last year. MSRP is $90 – $100 for the jersey and $130 for the shorts.
SUGOI RS BIBSHORTS & JERSEY
This is my newest kit, but I’ve gotten a few 3+ hour rides in them and have ridden Sugoi’s shorts, bibs and jerseys before. Of the three brands tested here, these are by far the most form fitting. If you’re between sizes, move up…they’re snug, and if I gained any more muscle, I’d probably have to go with the XL. That said, the first time I put them on, Sweetie’s first words were “Damn, that looks hot!” Sold.
The Chamois is a bit firmer and thicker than the Gore pad, and these tended to be a bit more saddle dependent in terms of total comfort. I liked these a bit better for mountain biking, but I need to add a caveat: my road bike currently has a Bontrager InForm saddle on it and, for me, that saddle tends to favor a thinner chamois.
The bib straps could be just a bit longer or stretchier for my height, particularly because the front panel rises above the navel. They’re not uncomfortable, but it requires a bit of bending over to make a bathroom break, and on a couple of pit stops it sounded like I ripped a seam when trying to pull them down far enough. I think they’re designed for people under six feet.
Of the three kits, Sugoi’s RS are have the thinnest fabrics. Despite being black, they let a lot of air pass through and weren’t too hot even on a 90-degree day in the sun. The jersey zips all the way, and it has normal sized pockets with a cable slit. For days when I want to look totally pro, this is the current go-to kit.
MSRP is $90 for the jersey and $160 for the bibshorts.
For those that want to look super pro, Sugoi and Cannondale are now offering a replica jersey worn recently by the Liquigas team to commerate Cannondale’s 40th anniversary: