Category: Clothing

Wouldn’t you know that spring has sprung for a lot of us…but we’ve still got a winter gear review or two in the hopper to share with you?

About a month ago, the good folks from Watson’s offered to send samples of their baselayers for us to try out. At the time, I thought to myself, “but spring is almost here…it’s a little late in the game for thermal baselayers!” Silly me; we’ve gotten two huge snowstorms and a bunch of below-freezing weather since the Watson’s package arrived at my door.

When you look out the window and see this, you’re going to want to add some layers for warmth:

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I was offered a choice from the Watson’s waffle, cotton-blend, and performance lines — and I figured that active use in winter demanded something a little more technical than cotton. Here’s a little bit about the “Performance” line straight from the Watson’s website:

• Wicks moisture away from skin keeping you dry and warm.

• Spandex for 4-way stretch and comfort fit.

• Antimicrobial treatment to control the growth of bacteria keeping the garment fresh and odor free.

• medium weight

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The material is a midweight blend of 85% micro polyester and 15% Spandex. Both top and bottom pieces have a brushed interior for softness against the skin, and an antimicrobial treatment to prevent odors from lingering (you may remember that a few years ago, we wrote about “the stink” in performance wear). The stitching is quality throughout…no rough edges to dig into flesh. These particular baselayers come in black or indigo.

Baselayers should fit snugly to maximize their performance, and the medium size fit me perfectly. I can be a tough fit for a lot of clothing, so this was a definite plus in my book. Both top and bottom fit close without the “sausage casing” effect so many cycling clothes offer. The bottoms have a sort of pouch affair in the crotch for a little extra…ahem…”man room”.

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I wore the Watson’s baselayers cycling, commuting, sledding, snowball fighting and a host of other outdoor activities — they seemed to perform just the way they should have. They add just enough insulation to help on chilly days. Hell, I’ve even been lounging around the house in them when the thought of venturing outdoors is simply too much for me! I would have gotten more action photos for you, but I’m not taking my outerwear off for ANYONE when the needle is south of freezing.

Here’s the best part of the Watson’s baselayers: they are a screaming deal. At a retail price of $19.99 per piece, that’s pretty tough to beat. I know that when my wife outfitted our family with similarly-constructed baselayers from other brands when we first relocated to winterland, she paid a lot more. Watson’s checks all the boxes in terms of material, construction, and odor-resistance at a fraction of what some other brands are charging. I don’t know how they do it, but I wish I had known about them a lot sooner.

And there is no discounting the “superhero” effect — wearing these high-tech baselayers under office attire for your commute is quite empowering!

An additional plus is that my young one loves the way they feel…here’s proof:

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Check out the full line of Watson’s outdoor wear for men, women, and kids by visiting their website.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Alright, Cycle Ladies, after a brief stint of testing, here’s the Mir.I.Am ASAP review on Lululemon’s Fall Commuter “Pedal Power” threads!  As previously mentioned, the collection is only available for purchase online for a limited time – so I tried my best to make this review a quickie!  I posted as-soon-as-I-could-cajole-others-to-take-photos-of-me-in-the-clothes, essentially translates to a week or so.  Here’s a quickie overview of each of the pieces I was tasked to scrutinize:

Lululemon Pedal Power Wind Shirt in Dense Purple

Pedal Power Wind Shirt (in dense purple) – $128.00

Pedal Power Wind Shirt

why we made this

This shirt is as easy to throw (on) as Jennifer Grey, only it’s better suited for commuting as opposed to dance routines. The lightweight shell is made of Cire fabric to repel wind and rain and the back gathers so we can make adjustments for a perfect fit. Reflective details mean that even in low light we feel comfortable pedaling with gusto.

key features

  • wind and water-resistant finish helps us battle the elements
  • not one but two continuous drawcords make fine-tuning the fit a cinch
  • be bright – reflective details help with low light visibility
  • stow your phone in the secure zipper pocket
  • mesh panels let your arms breathe
  • long in back to keep your rear covered
Lululemon Pedal Power Pant in Black

Pedal Power Pant (in black) – $128.00

Pedal Power Pant

why we made this

We created these lightweight cycling pants to give us room when we’re busting a move during and after our commute. Transformable reflective details help keep us bright when we need it and inconspicuous when we don’t.

key features

  • button the pocket flaps open and switch over the ankle tab for added reflectivity
  • durable Commuter Stretch Woven fabric is treated with DWR to help keep you dry on the fly
  • stretchy denim luon side panels allow you the freedom to move
  • the articulated rise keeps you covered
  • store your stuff in the secure back pockets

*

Lululemon Pedal Power Longsleeve in Currant

Pedal Power Longsleeve (in Currant) – $108.00

Pedal Power Longsleeve

why we made this

Leisurely rides call for comfy gear. When we’re pedalling at our own pace, we want a layer that keeps us warm and lets us breathe. This long sleeve is the perfect fit – it’s cut long to keep us covered and has mesh paneling for us to let off steam. Let’s ride!

key features

  • the loose cut of this shirt gives you the freedom to move
  • thoughtfully placed Circle Mesh panels in high sweat areas help to keep you dry
  • reflective details help with visibility in low light
  • the drop hem with drawcord keeps you covered so you can tuck and ride
  • just say, “no,” to chafing with flat seams
  • thumbholes help keep your hands warm and makelayering easy

First Glance vs. In The Pants Impressions

Back to my first glance/first impressions/internal brain vomologue (vomit+monologue):

Whoa, these materials are slinky and sexual.  How the crap do they make this stuff… spin the golden saliva of Aphrodite!?  Maybe I should have ordered a size down, they seem flowy and scarfy.  Wait, is this a SCARF?  Must make extra efforts not to choke myself with scarf while cycling… Need scarf guard for rear wheel.

And in the pants/shirt/longsleeve impressions:

Finally! It’s actually cold enough to wear frickin PANTS!  Oh yeah, these Pedal Power Pants could use a little more snugness in the butt for my taste, but they are comf-tastic on the ride.  Correction: threads are spun from the Lorax’s truffula trees – silky smooth and still breathable and stretchy.  Oooh, I like adjustability of the wind shirt at the bust and waist…  Successfully executed getting dressed for rides on bike without playing scarf wheel hangman.  And I like thumbholes.  And Red.  And Reflective Fabrics!

More Details and Opinions… If you must.

Enough quickie overviews and product data from the Lululemon Pedal Power website.  So let’s get serious, velodactyls! (Or not.)  The Lululemon Pedal Power line is definitely a quality product suitable for real autumn weather – I’m talking crisp mornings and falling leaves, windy winds, and maybe a touch of rain.  This stuff may be pricy, but I would for sure put it on my back-to-school (grown-ups get those too, right?) wish list, since I’m “funemployed” at the moment.  Overall, everything looks chic, can take a bit of rain/muddy water, and is definitely passable attire in a business-casual work environment.  Me thinks some photo-narration is in order… good thing I have bikey friends with cameras and smahtphones!  Ready… set… GO:

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For the Pedal Power Wind Shirt, it definitely cuts out the wind and did the trick on an overcast day, but – per usual Hawaii weather protocol – it did make me sweaty from the inside despite the lightweight material.  The shirt is a bit shiny, and does pass for a great looking “elegant” women’s commuter blouse – but not passable if your workplace is a skirt-suit and heels type of gig.  Reflective detailing on the cuffs can be unrolled during the commute for extra flare and reflective visibility!  The shirt zips up and has two pull cords – making a very flattering fit, but they can dig into the middle of your back at times.  It also comes in black or white.

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Lookin' comfy and snazzy!

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Relfective ankle bands built in!

Lululemon’s Pedal Power Pants and Longsleeve were perfect for comfy “fall/winter” cruising about town.  Here I am before taking off for a 15 minute ride to my part-time day job at the local Unicorn Petting Zoo.  The Pedal Power Longsleeve was definitely comfy, very long (no instances of people shouting “crack kills!” on this commuter) and very red. It comes in black, white, red, and purple – and the sizing was a bit large for my taste.  I followed the Lululemon Sizing guide, but it seems comfort is the keyword with this piece.  The floppy collar buttons all the way up to protect your neck for those speedy morning downhills and I loved the thumbholes!  Again, despite the breathable panels installed from elbow to armpit to ribcage, I still found myself needing to wash this shirt after one day of warmish fall commuting in Honolulu.  When I wore this shirt, guys in the office said, “You look very cozy today!”

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Thumbholes and button sleeve details

Pedal Power Pant1

Clever disco-reflective ankle strap

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Highwaisted in the back, and peekaboo pocket reflectors!

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Yay for button pockets and butt shots!

Awww, Pants! The pants were definitely my favorite and most useful.  Even though they were loose in the butt (compare model from Lululemon site with bunchy-butt Mir) they fit in the hips and waist.  The inseam was not too short since the leg opening is tapered at the bottom, no dragging hems for Shorty McMidge Legs over here!  And I even got compliments on these threads at the office from the women and men – passable as business casual!  Some funny things about the Pedal Power Pants included a seam that runs along the middle of your knee cap allowing for a gusseted stretchy knee panel and a seam going right through the crotch like a normal pair of jeans.  Works well on a hybrid/upright type of commuter bike, but I don’t think I would last long on the seam on a road bike!  My favorite disco-bling was the reflective panels at the ankle strap and pockets – both can be buttoned into either stealth office mode or flashy night-time ride mode!  Personally, I left it bling-side out all. the. friggin’. time!

So there you have it – for the fashion-conscious commuting ladies out there, if you’ve got cash to spend on some high-quality threads, hit up the Lululemon Pedal Power line for some fall fancies.  Hope you enjoyed the review… cross your fingers for more butt shots from RL and Hermes at Interbike 2012!

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

This goes out to all my straight-BALLER-status Cycle Ladies out there: the post goddess has delivered a lovely package from Fedex including three items to review from Lululemon’s Fall Commuter line.  Elizabeth and I will be testing them out as-soon-as-flippin’-pasta-bowl to get the product reviews up there since the collection has a “limited [online] shelf life”…  Dang, apparently the Lululemon Pedal Power Fall line is in demand like the line outside the club at Night at the Roxbury, so get ’em while they got ’em, Cycle Ladies!

Enough with the ridiculous similes, you say, Lululemon baller Fall Collection, what have they got in store for us Bike Commuters? I received three pieces in the mail yesterday and my first impressions/stream of consciousness went a little like this:

Whoa, these materials are slinky and sexual.  How the crap do they make this stuff… spin the golden saliva of Aphrodite!?  Maybe I should have ordered a size down, they seem flowy and scarfy.  Wait, is this a SCARF?  Must make extra efforts not to choke myself with scarf while cycling… Need scarf guard for rear wheel.

Actually, the scarf is something like a she-necktie for a lovely blouse that could transition nicely from two-wheels to office and heels!  And after throwing on the duds and perusing photos on their website – I am actually now wearing ALL of them as I type here on the futon – the sizes are NOT too big and fit as the Lululemonites must have intended.  What exactly did we receive to review?  Oh yes, oh yes, that’s a list coming up, and I LOVE lists!:

  1. Pedal Power Wind Shirt (in dense purple) – $128.00

    Lululemon Pedal Power Wind Shirt in Dense Purple

    I hope I can look as straight ballin' as this Lululemon model!

  2. Pedal Power Pant (in black) – $128.00

    Lululemon Pedal Power Pant in Black

    And yes… I chose the butt shot. I hope the inseam works for my short stature!

  3. Pedal Power Longsleeve (in Currant) – $108.00
Lululemon Pedal Power Longsleeve in Currant

Red is the new Neon Orange over at Lululemon – points for striking visible color!

And for those of you who may be stunned by the price tag, you’re not the only ones.  My fashion price range may be skewed, considering my stylists (read: stylish older sister and stylish best friend) give me their best hand-me-downs for $free.99.  Here’s a quote from RL in an initial email about the Lululemon products to review:

One of our guys on the race team bought a $700 wheel set, his wife was so mad that she bought a $300 Lululemon jacket in retaliation….but she raves about their products all the time.

Time to hit the road and see if we rave about them too!  I’m excited to test out these Fall Pedal Power duds – if only it would cool down just a tad.  Long sleeves and long pants are still a bit much for September in Hawaii, bring on the rainy season, already!

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

A new player on the cycling-clothing scene is Solo Cycle Clothing, all the way from New Zealand. When they contacted us just before Christmas to gauge our interest in their line of jerseys and other clothing, we were very receptive to what they were offering. As with any new company venturing onto our shores, though, there were some delays in getting a jersey to test. I was hoping for a winterweight jersey to help counteract the chilly temps here in Ohio, but things just didn’t work out that way. Still, Solo sent me a short-sleever from their “Classique” line, and it has gotten quite a bit of use now that spring is here.

First, some of the slickest packaging in the cycling industry:

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Here’s a little bit about the jersey from Solo’s website:

•The Solo design team openly declares its mission: to produce the most beautiful cycle clothing in the world. The Classique range of jerseys pays tribute to iconic nations within cycling’s golden age, with retro styling and accents that will set you apart from the field
•Constructed from Nuovotec polyester; a proprietary polyester blend created for Solo Cycle Clothing, that has superior breathability, wicking, anti-bacterial properties and is super soft against the skin.
•Thoughtful and functional features including an 8″ front zip with oversize zipper pull, four rear pockets, silicon elastic waistband and knitted retro look arm and neck bands
•Retro-inspired design elements including superbly screen-printed (not digitally printed) chest, arm and rear graphics, resulting in bright colors and patterns
•The world’s most beautiful cycle clothing is here. Timeless style inspired by cycling’s golden era. Discover your new favorite jersey within the Solo Cycle Clothing Classique range

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As you can see (and read), the Classique line is geared toward a retro look with modern materials…and they’ve nailed that look with the simple patterns, short zipper, and rib-knit cuffs and neck. This particular style, the “Brouwerij Heuvel“, is an homage to the rich cycling heritage of Belgium, and as many cycling jerseys are, it’s also an homage to BEER. Ironically, this is the second beer-themed jersey I’ve had the pleasure of testing, and I don’t even drink!

The Solo jersey is cut in a near-racer’s form — a little more room than a true racer’s cut, but not as baggy as “club cut” jerseys tend to be on my narrow frame. The quality of the jersey is apparent from the first wearing — the material is supersoft and breathable, the stitching is superb, and the knit cuffs are robust without being constrictive. There’s a thick silicone band at the hem to keep things from riding up in the heat of battle, and that’s always a nice feature. Take a closer look at the cuffs — they’re surprisingly soft and hold everything in place very nicely:

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On the back there are the three traditional pockets, and one smaller zippered pocket for valuables. I really like the extra security of a zipper for my phone and ID cards, so it was nice to see this included.

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As with jerseys from the 60s/70s/early 80s, the Solo Classique line comes with a short 8″ zippered neck. This is my only gripe…yes, it looks retro on this model, but there’s a reason longer-length zippers became standard on modern jerseys: ventilation. My personal preference is for a full-zip jersey, or at least a zipper that goes down pretty close to my belly button. In springtime temps, the short zipper is not a big deal, but as the temps ratchet upward, I will desire much more ventilation than this 8″ opening will allow.

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Not every commuter likes to wear cycling-specific garb…in fact, I would hazard that most simply ride “as they are”, or at most change shirts when they get to work. For those of you with longer commutes, or a penchant for after-work/weekend athletic pursuits, a cycling jersey like this starts to make more sense. Retailing for $139.00, this ain’t no throwaway cheapie — sticker shock for some, but pretty much in line with top-quality cycling wear. To soften the sting of that price tag, Solo is offering a special deal to Bikecommuters.com readers:

URL: http://www.solocycleclothing.com/
Code: GILET50
Offer: Buy a Solo Classique Jersey and use this coupon to get a Solo Equipe Gilet at $49.50 (50% off RRP).
Time frame: Effective now through 31 May

Overall, I have greatly enjoyed the Solo jersey. It won’t be my first choice when the heat of summer comes, but for now it is serving me quite nicely (and making me look incredibly stylish). Take a look at the rest of Solo’s lineup by visiting their U.S. or global websites.

As with last week’s Planet Bike glove review, I waited and waited for some gnarly winter action in which to test the Planet Bike “Blitzen” shoe covers…alas, an unusually mild midwestern winter left me with chilly temps and some rain, but hardly any snow. No matter, really — my feet get cold very easily and I’ve been in the market for decent shoe covers even before I moved to Ohio. Yeah, even Florida gets chilly enough that shoe covers can be used from time to time…

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Here’s a little something about the Blitzen shoe covers straight from Planet Bike’s website:

-Windproof fabric with microfleece lining
-Neoprene front panel for added warmth around the toe box
-Durable bottom with open design for a variety of pedal platforms and cleats
-Full Velcro back closure for greater adjustability and sizing
-Toe box retention strap keeps front of cover in place
-Reflective side logos

The Blitzen shoe covers are a fairly simple affair — a windproof, fleece-lined bootie with an open bottom and Velcro closure along the back to secure the bootie over one’s shoes. The cuff and toebox include neoprene; the former to help protect against cold and the latter to offer better sealing (and a little stretch) to the ankle area. The bottom is open and in reinforced with a rubberized coating. There’s a sewn-on “strap” of sorts to help hold the two sides of the bootie against the shoe inside. This opening also allows the cleat system of your choice to poke through with no interference. There’s also a smaller opening at the heel to allow the sole to poke through. This protects the shoe covers’ fabric from being worn away if you find yourself walking instead of pedaling.

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The shoe cover material only has a tiny bit of stretch in the main body, so shoes with aggressive knobby soles can be a tight fit. My Adidas MTB shoes were a bit of a squeeze getting into the size “L” (the Blitzen covers come in sizes S through XXXL, but the site doesn’t indicate exactly what shoe sizes those letter designations actually cover). Once snugged on, there is no excess material flapping and everything was tight to the shoe. Regular “street shoes” may or may not fit within the Blitzen shoe covers; I would imagine something low-volume might fit, but you’d have to try your own shoes to see for sure. These covers are designed for cycling shoes, not “universal fit”, and if you don’t wear cleated cycling shoes, there may be better cover options on the market out there for you.

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The covers come in basic black with constrasting-color reinforced stitching, and there’s a handy reflective logo on the side. I’d like to see some additional reflectivity on the back of the shoe (a reflective patch or piping along the Velcro closure). Here’s a shot of the reflective in action:

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One thing I discovered is that with shoe covers having an open bottom, wind and cold can enter around the cleat area. The metal cleat and screws can transmit cold right to a sensitive part of one’s foot. My quick remedy for that was remove my shoe’s insoles, then I cut squares of felt to cover the cleat interface from the inside and taped it all down with a couple layers of duct tape. BOOM! Cold transmision conquered!

The covers are not waterproof, but they shrugged off some of the rain I experienced. After longer rain rides, my shoes and feet got pretty wet, but for the shorter stuff it wasn’t too bad…a little dampness here and there that I could live with. I wore these covers down to around 12 degrees, and while they didn’t keep my feet toasty warm throughout, the cold they DID let through was bearable. For me, the low temp for these covers is around 20 degrees…lower than that and I really wished for something more insulated. Not everyone can afford (or needs) a pair of Lake or Sidi winter boots, so these Blitzen shoe covers offer some of the benefits of a dedicated winter cycling shoe without the astronomical price. The Blitzen shoe covers retail for about $45.00, and serve best as a good cover for moderately cold, mostly dry conditions. If you need more insulation, Planet Bike also offers a full neoprene shoe cover called the Comet.

I am so glad Planet Bike took pity on me and offered to let me test both the shoe covers and the Borealis gloves…they made my first real winter in over 20 years a bit more bearable — thanks, PB!!! As always, Planet Bike offers a wide range of products for all types of cycling. Swing on over to their website to take a look for yourself!