Top 10 things to look for when buying a cycling kit

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There are levels in the cycling “kit game”. A well-made cycling kit with decent materials will rank it at the intermediate level. To achieve top-tier status, a kit must be both thoughtful and functional in its design and also feature elements of visual art.

The functional design is easier to find than the kit that offers visual art; it’s nearly impossible to find cycling kits that excel in function and form, as well as looks.

Read also : The best clothes of the year

If a kit item lacks any of these features listed below, the item is not automatically waste, but simply not at the highest level of play in the kit. I’ve ridden in rooms that are missing one of these things; whatever feature is missing, I usually find I need it at least once during the ride.

Here’s how I rank, from least important to most important, the top 10 criteria I use when buying a cycling kit:

ten. Bib top must be the same color as the bib. If the upper has a pattern, great! But the overall color of the top of the bib should match the bib, rather than being white. The suspenders may be white, but not the bib panels under the suspenders. I’ll admit it’s pure vanity, but seeing the white of a bib top exposed when a rider is leaning over the bars is a step above seeing bare skin. Seeing white panels makes the kit look like it doesn’t fit properly, even when everything else in the kit feels and looks great.

9. Jersey torsos that are shorter or angled approach the racing fit, even for models considered “relaxed” or “club cut”. I’m not saying that jerseys that are already short, like Biehler for example, should be shorter. I think something like the length of the Giordana FR-C Pro is about right. This is anatomically shaped and hits the hip but isn’t too long. I’m also not saying that all cyclists will need the same torso length. Note that a jersey with a shorter torso makes the legs longer and the buttocks higher. Jerseys that are shorter or have angled torsos are also tighter at the waist and prevent sagging when storing heavy items in the jersey pockets.

8. Cap edges with a visual design are what most people will see from the cap on the bike. This real estate could be put to better use in so many cases. It doesn’t have to be loud necessarily, but when it’s just a solid color, it seems like a missed opportunity. In some cases, buyers can’t even see a photo of the underside of the brim when a cap is sold online. This is linked to number 6, below.

White borders or sweatbands should not appear on a cap when the brim is up. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)

seven. Cap headbands must match the color of the cap. The brim of a cap brim band sometimes protrudes when the brim is folded up, and a white headband looks cheap. Even worse: If the sweatband is just a cheap, itchy bleached poly strip instead of a soft, absorbent sweatband.

6. Cap brim length should be shorter than a baseball cap. Overly long brims limit visibility when in the chutes. Although a cap brim can be worn raised, this defeats one of the purposes of the cap which is to protect the rider’s eyes from sun or rain. When wearing an inverted cap, it would be good if: see numbers 7 and 8 above.

5. A Pocket Security Solution to prevent valuables (especially slippery ones like phones) from bouncing on rough roads. My new Spexcel thermal jacket uses silicone inside the pocket; Assos uses a stretch mesh in an accent color on its Dyora RS and UMA GT ranges; Isadore makes a jersey with completely closed zipped pockets. Either way, going home with everything you had when you left—except your snacks—is a must.

The pockets of the Assos Dyora jersey have an anti-slip application on the inside to prevent losing valuables. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)

4. Wide leg support bands at a minimum are a must, and no separate leg bands are preferred. This avoids discomfort and the dreaded “thigh-sausage effect”. Shorts with the narrow silicone leg band are common in the “starter outfit” cycling kit. Personally, I avoid shorts with this detail because the silicone does not breathe. After wearing the solid silicone shorts all day in the heat, I found my skin under the silicone to be grey. Clamps don’t need to strangle my leg like tourniquets; they just have to keep the shorts from riding up.

Silicone grips printed inside the leg inserts of the Iris bibs. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)

3. A high waist – and the drop-tail design for the women’s shorts – or the stretch straps and front panels for the men’s kit top the list of must-haves. This design avoids any possible gap between the bib and the zipper of the jersey when you are not on the bike and also avoids showing the back of the bib shaft during falls on the bike. Some people may hate the squeezing feel of high waisted bibs, so the design should be high cut and comfortable. A design solution for a comfortable fit may be to angle the weft of the leg panels to create a “V” or add mesh above the waist, between the straps and on the stomach to relieve some pressure while covering the skin.

2. Jersey short sleeves should be reasonably tight and long, striking between just above the elbow and well below the deltoid. The sleeves should lie against the skin and not pull apart or curl. Loose sleeve flapping on a descent is a sign of fit issues, indicative of a cheap club cut polyester t-shirt. Short sleeve length should hide the thin, drumstick-like meat of cyclists’ underused forearms. While I joke about it, I think long, tight sleeves for warm weather jerseys will keep cuffs and short-sleeved base layers – if worn – hidden in shoulder seasons. It’s nice to have texture and even cuffs on the sleeves of a jersey to avoid showing the top edges of the cuffs if worn.

The sleeves of the Biehler technical jersey extend almost to the elbow and do not spread out or wave in the wind. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)

1. A double zipper is the number one feature that high-end outerwear should have, especially if the outerwear does not have back pockets. Windbreakers, shells and jackets with and without pockets must all have double zippers. Without double zippers, unzipping a jersey to reach the pockets means fully opening the vest (flipping the bottom half up is the alternative, but feels weird and uncomfortable). In addition, the ventilation with a single zipper gives a parachute effect. If you feel like skydiving on the bike, the kit is not suitable for the wind. I paid for a vest without double zippers this year; the purchase was for charity.

Double zippers on cycling clothing – like the Velocio Alpha Merino Air Jacket – are a must. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)

Did I miss something? Make your voices heard. You can message me on my Kit Critic’s Instagram Account.

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