Allow me to shelve my modesty for a moment if I may and to speak frankly:
I have massive "street cred" as an "urban cyclist."
Sorry, but it's true. I've been riding in this town for a pretty long time--sure, not as long as David Byrne, but certainly before David Byrne started talking about cycling, because riding a bike was nothing special then and nobody would have given a shit. I rode over the bridges when they still had holes in them. In fact, I even worked as a bike messenger for awhile--in the winter no less! It was also before cellphones (or at least before it was normal to have a cellphone), and since they didn't give the newbies radios (or at least they didn't give me one) I had to ride around town with about 400lbs of quarters in my cargo pants so I could call into my dispatcher from a pay phone.
Pay phone for chrissakes! You could catch ear herpes!
Anyway, I was thinking about all this because I'm getting old now so I spend more time remembering stuff and less time actually doing stuff. Yet, paradoxically, as a bike blogger I now have more bike-related stuff than I ever thought possible. On top of that, everything has become highly refined. Consider lights, for example. I don't think I even used a light on my bike when I was a messenger. At most, maybe I'd have one pathetic little red blinky, and once the battery died I couldn't be bothered to replace it. Then Knog revolutionized the blinky light industry with the "hipster cyst," and lights got better and better, and then you could recharge them with your computer, and now I have enough Knog Blinders to illuminate [insert your favorite baseball stadium here, I can't be bothered because I fucking hate baseball] stadium.
Clothing is another item that has become highly refined. When I was a messenger I just wore a bunch of cheap crap from the army navy store. (In fact, I still wear a bunch of cheap crap from the army navy store.) Now everybody from Levi's on down wants to sell you some variation on the high-performance on-the-bike, off-the-bike wardrobe for your "urban cycling" adventures, most of it very expensive.
As an old person, I appreciate some of these refinements and I look askance at others. The light thing is amazing--visibility is a big deal, and rechargeable lights that fasten easily to pretty much any part of any bicycle makes being visible way, way easier than it used to be. The clothes thing on the other hand...I don't get it.
There are certain bits of "wisdom" in the cycling world that have become gospel over the years, and one of them is that you shouldn't wear cotton. It gets wet, it doesn't dry quickly, you'll catch a chill and die, blah blah blah.
Okay, sure, if you do a 100 mile ride in a cotton sweatsuit you're going to be really fucking miserable. But as far as this vigorous on-the-bike, off-the-bike stuff all the boutique clothing is designed for, cotton is just fine. I've tried a fair amount of this stuff by now, and most of it isn't much of an improvement over a pair of work pants, a thermal, and a sweatshirt. "But ooh, it's cotton, you'll sweat, freeze, and die!" No you won't. When you're out there on a road bike riding steadily for hours at a time a Lycra stretchy suit will certainly help you regulate your body temperature and sweat and frumunda production and so forth, but when you're starting and stopping and going inside and going outside and wearing a bag on your back it's another story. Wearing your merino blahbidyblah under your tailored outer shell made from the revolutionary new HipsterTec fabric doesn't really make much of a difference.
Take a look at people doing real outdoor work in the city, like the people who are building all these luxury condos. They're not wearing merino hoodies and $250 jeans. (Though the people designing the luxury condos probably are, because you somehow need a technical wardrobe to ride your fixie for 40 minutes from your loft to your design studio, yet all you need is some work clothes to hang from a scaffolding in gale force winds all day.)
Given all this, I've been trying to make sense of this Giro stuff I recently received. Granted, this is more "performance-oriented" and less "urban" than stuff like cycling jeans, but it still occupies that strange and expensive no-man's-land between Lycra and street clothes that I don't quite understand. Nevertheless, I've been experimenting with it, and here's where I am so far:
I still don't understand these things and I don't think I ever will, nor have I ever had much trouble doing the "Killroy" with any of my current bib shorts. In fact, the only time I could ever envision using the fly in my underpants would be if I was in black tie and didn't want to remove my cummerbund, so I suppose these will be my go-to undershorts if I ever ride to the Academy Awards to accept an Oscar.
I have yet to actually wear this shirt out of doors because it hurts my brain. You put it on and it's long, but the sleeves hover somewhere between your arm and your wrist, which seems like exactly the opposite if what you want when you're riding a bike. Either you want short sleeves, or you want sleeves long enough to cover your whole arm, even when you're reaching forward over your handlebars. I mean, right? Or are people having issues with overheated wrists now?
I'd be legitimately interested to see if anybody sees a point to this.
I wore this over the summer sometimes. It's scratchy. I preferred a cotton t-shirt while riding, even though everyone knows cotton doesn't wick properly and that you'll get sweaty and then you'll catch pneumonia and die. For running though this is good, since I run for a very short time but sweat a fuckload more than I do while riding, so I'm willing to trade comfort for something that doesn't become quite as waterlogged, mostly because I'm less likely to horrify my neighbors in the elevator.
This vest is extremely comfortable and pleasantly light weight, though that same light weight makes it sort of useless for those windy autumn months on the East Coast which is when you actually want to wear a vest. Maybe my vest was a little too big, but the wind found its way in through the arm holes and up the bottom and I froze my ass off last time I wore it, whereas my roadie Fred stretchy suit vests are indispensable and awesome.
I suspect maybe the issue is simply that this stuff comes from California and isn't as well-suited to the Northeast. I can certainly see how a lot of this stuff would be a lot better for those misty Northern California bike-and-burrito dudefests. Here in New York though we're too busy being cold.
This is merino and polypropylsomething-or-other. It's very nice, but I prefer a "normal" Fred jersey with a base layer. This gets kind of saggy when you put stuff in the back pockets. Also a "normal" Fred jersey dries faster.
I rarely wear regular shorts over bib shorts. If I do I like cut-off work pants since you still have "normal" pockets for your wallet and keys and phone so you don't have to fish around for your crap or take off your backpack, and if you're wearing bib shorts underneath it really doesn't matter what the overshorts are made of anyway. These have the kinds of tiny pockets they like to put on "technical" clothing so you're basically limited to a key ring and some LSD tabs. So for $120 I'm not sure I see the point.
This is really nice. Is it $250 nice? I don't know, but it is definitely nice.
So basically, that's over $1,000 of stuff, and six out of seven of the items I don't get. Either I don't know what the hell I'm talking about or this industry is downright kooky, though I suspect it's probably a combination of the two. Still, this "collection" seems like the clothing equivalent of a really expensive flat-bar road bike.
In any case, if you want my advice (which you don't), buy some nice "traditional" stretchy Lycra stuff for your Fredly exploits and recreational bicycle cycling endeavors, and then buy "regular" clothes for the rest. (And if you want to recreate what Giro's attempting here you can always combine the two. Your regular bib shorts plus some cut-off Dickies or camo fatigues equals the "bib undershort" and the "tech overshort.")
I now encourage readers to avail themselves of the comment section to share their own tips and experience with regard to cycling and apparel, because this is a blog about bicycle cycling.
Wildcat Rock Machine