Cycling is an expensive pastime, especially when you are just starting out as there are certain items of equipment that are mandatory (bike, helmet, shoes, pedals, lights) and then there are the luxury items like the appropriate attire. In the early days the price tag attached to good quality cycling attire seems horrendous, but as your riding progresses you learn to appreciate the difference in clothing quality and ultimately there is no price that can be put on comfort. With the eruption of online shopping we have access to so many local and international clothing brands of varying prices and quality that the choice is somewhat overwhelming. When it comes to cycling attire, I am a terrible online shopper, I need to try lycra before I buy to make sure it fits appropriately. Not that I am a difficult customer or an unusual body shape but I need my cycling gear to ‘fit’ and I need to know that in 6, 12 and 24 months time it will be worn and washed and worn and still ‘fit’.
I find it extremely disheartening when the chamois you love so much delaminates after 3 months or the lycra spontaneously stretches in an inappropriate manner, even worse, I hate being the rider in the bunch behind the rider with the translucent lycra, inevitably a hirsute male! Endurance mountain biking puts our cycling attire to the extreme test, with a training regimen that includes many long days in the saddle and the sun and then racing in the whole spectrum of climatic conditions with the lycra exposed to the harsh elements day after day. I am a bit of a washing nut so after every ride ALL my gear is washed and hung on a clothesline to dry, team manager Mike Blewitt came face to face with my washing obsession at TransAlp this year and in the end I was washing both our kits in exchange for a jersey pocket style tow across the Alps.
This year, Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Team manager Mike Blewitt made the clothing decision a whole lot easier by organising all our jerseys, wind vests, arm warmers, bibs through SolaSport (NETTI), eyewear from ADIDAS and gloves from 661. For six months I have been wearing our Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team jersey, Netti women’s performance bibs, 661 gloves, ADIDAS Evil Eyes and Netti arm warmers. In this time, this gear has seen two mountain bike stage races, Cape Epic and TransAlp and numerous training hours in various conditions. It has endured what many might consider an excessive washing regimen and still lives to ride another day.
So how do these items stack up?
- Subaru-marathonmtb.com team jersey: After six months of sun exposure, numerous close encounters with dirt/mud, and an extreme washing regimen, I am impressed to report that my Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team jersey is in excellent condition. The colour is vibrant and the jersey fits exactly as it did on day one. There is no change to the shape or the fit of the jersey, the zipper (full zip) is running smoothly and the pockets intact with no hint of seam fatigue anywhere (I wonder if I can say the same for team mate Mike Blewitts pockets after towing through TransAlp this year, at the time I found them very durable).
Jersey rating after 6 months: Good as new!
- Netti women’s performance bibs: I admit that from day one I have loved these bibs. I wore them straight off the rack to the ABSA CApe Epic and every day there for 8 days with not even a hint of discomfort, since then they have backed up for TransAlp and still feel as new. After six months in the saddle there is no hint of fading or sagging and they still fit as well as they did on day one. The chamois is intact and in primo condition. I think the multi-panelling in the lycra ensures the bibs stay snug which means there is no movement in the chamois and therefore no chafing/abrasion issues.
Bibs rating after 6 months: Good as new!
- 661 gloves: I love these gloves, they are light with great a grip ability and very tactile, perfect for feeling and grabbing gels out of your back pockets. Unfortunately, their lightweight nature does predispose fatigue and after 6 months of alternate day wearing and washing there is some evidence of seam fatigue. The gloves are still highly functional and the seams, although fatigued, are not giving up without a fight and I believe they have another 6 months in them so we will see what I am wearing in 2013.
Glove rating after 6 months: Slightly worn!
- ADIDAS Evil Eyes: I wear Evil Eyes for two reasons, firstly because they accommodate my prescription lens inserts and secondly because the foam sweat-catcher stops the sweat and rain getting to my prescription lenses, this is of apical importance when riding a mountain bike: if I cant see I cant ride! I wear the orange lenses as they are a great lens in the bush/half light and still perfect in full sunlight. I am fanatical about cleaning my lenses every day and scratches are not tolerated as they screw up my line of sight. Bearing all that in mind I am glad to report my Evil Eyes are standing upto the test, the lenses are in great shape and the frames still hold on very well. The foam looks a little worn but is still functional and I am sure it will make it through to 2013.
ADIDAS Eyewear rating after 6 months: Slightly worn!
- Netti armwarmers: Believe it or not, living in Queensland we do need and wear arm warmers on a daily basis over winter. The beauty of the Netti armwarmers is they fit skinny arms with enough length to cover the wrist, so they are great for long skinny arms. The elastic is firm and the arm warmers do not slip, I am not a fan of the exposed flesh between the jersey and the arm warmer that often comes with having long skinny arms and arm warmers that just don’t stay up! So following one winter in Queensland and a daily wear/wash regimen I can safely report that my arm warmers stay up.
Arm Warmer rating after 6 months: Good as new!