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Serfas Men’s Ripcord Cargo Shorts

I normally ride around 6,500 miles a year and most of those miles are on the road—which means most of the time I wear Lycra cycling shorts. However, about 20% of my mileage is on off-road trails and I wear mountain biking shorts on those rides (the “when in Rome do as the Romans” thing). The MTB shorts I bought when I started cycling about twelve years ago were heavy and held water like a sponge. Fortunately, in the past few years several manufacturers have developed MTB shorts that are lightweight, durable and don’t hold moisture. A few weeks ago the folks at Serfas sent me a pair of their new Men’s Ripcord Cargo Shorts to review these shorts should appeal avid mountain bikers, recreational cyclists and commuters alike.

Serfas Men's Ripcord Cargo Shorts

Serfas Men’s Ripcord Cargo Shorts

The Serfas Men’s Ripcord Cargo Shorts consist of an outer shell and an inner liner. The outer shell is made of lightweight 100% Polyester and has a snap front closure with a zippered fly and an adjustable Velcro waistband. The outer shell has four pockets. There are two large pockets on the front of the pants—one on each side just like every other pair of pants you own. However, these pockets have mesh on one side so water or dust won’t build up in your pockets. These are what I call “walking around” pockets—they are great for holding small items when you are off your bike, but since they do not close I wouldn’t use then while riding.

Serfas Men's Ripcord Cargo Shorts

Zippered Pocket On The Serfas Men’s Ripcord Cargo Shorts

On the lower right-hand side of the pants there is a roomy zippered pocket (7″ wide x 8″ deep). The zipper appears to be made of a high-quality nylon and is very smooth to open or close. Since this is the most secure pocket I keep my car keys and billfold in here (I sometimes have to drive my Jeep to the off-road trails).

Serfas Men's Ripcord Cargo Shorts

Pocket With Velcro Closure

On the lower left-hand side of the pants there is another roomy pocket (7″ wide x 8″ deep). This pocket closes with a piece of Velcro and you can easily open or close it as you are riding (I keep extra carb gels in this pocket).

Serfas Men's Ripcord Cargo Shorts

The Inner And Outer Layers Snap Together

The detachable inner liner of these shorts is made of 90% Polyester and 10% Spandex. If you are used to riding in Lycra road shorts then you will find one of the biggest downsides to most MTB shorts with a detachable liner is that they tend to hold in heat and moisture (mainly because they have two layers). However, these shorts don’t seem to hold moisture like most of the other MTB shorts I own (and for the post month I had to ride on many days when the humidity was well over 80%). This liner attaches to the outer shell with a pair of snaps of both sides of the pants.

Serfas Men's Ripcord Cargo Shorts

Chamois On The Serfas Men’s Ripcord Cargo Shorts

Last, but not least, the Serfas Men’s Ripcord Cargo Shorts has a high quality chamois (Serfas calls it their “Launch Pad Compression Foam Chamois”). If you are looking for a solid inch of gel then this chamois is not for you! This chamois is fairly thin, but  extremely comfortable. As with every other chamois on the market, I would strongly suggest you use a chamois cream before you go out for a ride (put some cream on the chamois itself and on your skin in the area of your sit bones).

The Serfas Men’s Ripcord Cargo Shorts are available in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, and XL). In my opinion these shorts run a bit small—so if you are on the border between two sizes I’d go with the larger size. By the way, since these shorts have an adjustable Velcro waistband if your pants are a couple of inches too big you can quickly adjust them to have a perfect fit.

These shorts retail for $60 and are available from the Serfas website and from authorized Serfas dealers (most bike shops). These pants are also available on Amazon.com, but they appear to have an older version of these pants in the photos and description.

 

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Penguin Brands Sport-Wash

Penguin Brands Sport-Wash for cycling clothing

Penguin Brands Sport-Wash

It doesn’t take a long bike ride to leave your clothes smelling like a locker room. The moisture wicking fabrics used in cycling clothing does a great job at moving moisture away from the body, but they can’t move odor-causing bacteria out with it. The bacteria left on your clothing reproduces incredibly fast and the odor it creates is not easily removed by normal laundry detergents. If you really want to keep your cycling clothing from stinking you need to wash it in Sports-Wash by Penguin Brands, Inc.

Sports-Wash is an unscented, biodegradable laundry detergent that reduces odors and prevents color fading. It is also residue-free and non-allergenic. In addition, it restores the factory-applied Durable Water Repellent (DRW) finish to clothing.

Sports-Wash is also notable for what it does not contain. It contains no bleach, fabric softeners, or scent. I have noticed a slight smell as the clothing is being washed, but it rinses right out and leaves no residue.

Penguin Brands, Inc. claims that Sports-Wash will remove blood and grass stains. Fortunately, I have not had the opportunity to test this claim, so I will have to take their word for it.

My dear wife is kind enough to hand-wash all of my cycling clothing (yes, I am a lucky man). She uses one capful of Sports-Wash per sink full of dirty clothing. Sports-Wash retails for $18 for a 42-ounce bottle. I buy Sports-Wash at a local Dick’s Sporting Goods store, but it is also available on Amazon.com. Sports-Wash is more expensive than normal laundry detergent, but your expensive cycling clothing will last a lot longer if you wash it in a quality product like this.

 

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Terramar Tech Skins Polypropylene Thermal Base Layer

Staying comfortable in inclement weather is all about layering. Anytime you wear two or more layers it is imperative that your base layer is good at wicking moisture away from your body. The Terramar Tech Skins Thermal Base Layer is lightweight (only 140 grams), extremely breathable and does an amazing job of keep your skin dry during strenuous outdoor exercise (like cycling).

Terramar Tech Skins Polypropylene Thermal Base Layer

Terramar Tech Skins Polypropylene Thermal Base Layer

The Terramar Tech Skins Thermal Base Layer is made of 100% polypropylene—this fabric is stain-resistant and provides a decent amount of odor control. Terramar makes three different thicknesses of crew neck base layers and this one is the thinnest. I’ve found that this base layer adds about 6 or 7 degrees of effectiveness, i.e., if you have a cycling jersey that will keep you warm down to 50 degrees, when you add this base layer you should be able to stay warm down to about 43 degrees (your experience might vary). One of the nicest things about this product is that if you get too warm you can take it off and stuff it in a jersey pocket.

There are many clothing companies that sell base layers, so what makes Terramar different? That’s a great question and one that is easy to answer: most companies sell base layers as a sideline, but at Terramar it is their only business! For over forty years these folks have specialized in manufacturing high performance base layers for climbers, cyclists, skiers, hikers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts. I own a lot of their products and they all show evidence of being well thought out.

The Terramar Tech Skins Thermal Base Layer retails for $20 and is available from many different kinds of stores—from bike shops and ski shops to places like Gander Mountain (that’s where I bought mine). This product is available in five sizes for men (S, M, L, XL, and 2XL). Terramar also has a version of this product available for women, the Women’s Polypropylene Baselayer (S, M, L, XL, and XS). This product is manufactured in China.

 

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eCycle Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short

A couple of months ago the folks at eCyclingstore.com sent me two pieces of cycling wear for review. Last month I reviewed their Criterium Cycling Jersey and I still think it is one of the best buys in a cycling jersey you will find anywhere. Today I am going to review another great buy—their eCycle Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short. These are men’s cycling shorts, but eCyclingstore.com has similar shorts for women.

eCycle Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short

eCycle Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short

The eCycle Men’s Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short is made from 82% nylon and 18% Lycra with 8-panel construction for a great fit. These shorts have a 9.5″ inseam and an elastic gripper cuff on the hem to keep the shorts in place. Since these shorts look like nearly every other pair of cycling shorts on the market I decided not to show the traditional photo of the shorts. Instead, I’d like to call attention to the chamois since this is what really matters to most of us.

When the package containing these shorts arrived at my house my wife was in my office when I opened it. She took one look at the chamois on these shorts and said, “I bet you are going to hate these shorts.” My lovely wife is not a cyclist, but she is a marvelous soigneur—she graciously washes all of my cycling clothing and is very familiar with cycling gear (am I a lucky guy or what?). The reason my wife thought I wouldn’t like these shorts is because the chamois is fairly thin. In fact, when I saw the chamois for the first time I thought the same thing she did. However, looks can be very deceiving!

The Millennium Short has a four-piece Italian made anti-bacterial chamois. As you can see in the photograph above, this multi-level chamois puts extra padding in the areas where you need it the most—your sit-bones. When I try out new cycling shorts I always start by going on a short ride (25 to 30 miles) just to make sure the chamois is not going to give me any trouble. These shorts passed my first test, so on the second ride with them I went out for 62 miles and they functioned flawlessly. In fact, the best thing I can tell you about them is that I forgot I was riding in new shorts! This chamois far exceeded my expectations. In the sense of full disclosure I need to point out two things: I didn’t have a chance to try these shorts out on a Century ride (100 miles), nor was I able to use them when the temperature was over 90 degrees (but I have no reason to doubt that they would hold up well).

The eCycle Millennium 8-Panel Lycra Short is true to advertised size, but not all sizes are always available on the eCyclingstore Website. Since not all manufacturers define their sizes the same way, it is important that you consult the eCyclingstore sizing guide before placing your order. These cycling shorts retail for $60, but they are currently on sale for only $25 (an incredible deal).

These cycling shorts, along with many of other styles, are available from the eCyclingstore.com Website. These folks have a large selection of cycling shorts, jerseys, shoes and accessories and many of them are offered at discount prices. They offer a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” that you won’t find at most other places (“If you are unhappy with any purchase from eCyclingstore.com, just let us know within 30 days of your purchase and we’ll refund, exchange, or credit your purchase.”). They also offer free shipping on orders over $50.

 
 

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Louis Garneau Vent 2 Vest

A windproof vest is an essential piece of clothing for any cyclist. When the temperature starts dropping in the fall I usually wear one over a short sleeve jersey, along with a pair of arm warmers. Then as the temperature increases most vests are thin enough to roll up and put into a jersey pocket. While I own several good cycling vests, my absolute favorite is the Louis Garneau Vent 2 Vest.

Louis Garneau Vent 2 Vest

Louis Garneau Vent 2 Vest (Front and Back)

Like many cycling vests, the Vent 2 Vent is made from ripstop fabric and is tear resistant. This vest is windproof, yet very breathable (the front of the vest blocks the wind while the mesh on the back allows moisture to escape). The front of this vest closes with a two-way zipper and has an inner flap behind the zipper to block the wind. The zipper also has a chin guard (or garage) to keep the metal on the zipper from cutting your neck.

The back of this vest has something that most cycling vests lack, i.e., two large pockets. I have never understood my most vests lack rear pockets. You usually want a tight fit on vests to cut down on wind drag, but this makes it nearly impossible to get your hands into the jersey pockets. This vest also has an adjustable elastic drawstring at hem for secure fit.

Rubber tab on the Louis Garneau Vent 2 Vest

Rubber Tab On The Rear To Hold A Flasher

The Louis Garneau Vent 2 Vest comes in three colors (Bright Yellow, Ginger, and Black). I bought the black vest because I intended on using this for off-road trails where I don’t have to worry about motorists running into me. Under normal circumstances I would never wear a black jersey or jacket while riding on the road. However, this vest has more reflective piping that any other piece of clothing I own—from shoulders to waist and on both front and back this vest makes it easy for motorists to see you from a long way off. In addition, this is the only vest I own that has a rubber tab on the back (near the bottom of the vest) that allows you to clip on a flasher like the Planet Bike Superflash Turbo or the Portland Design Works RADBOT 1000.

The Louis Garneau Vent 2 Vest retails for $50 and if your local bike shop does not have it in stock it is available from many online retailers, such as Amazon.com and RealCyclist.com. This vest is available in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, and XXL), but some retailers do not carry all sizes and/or colors. I found this vest to be true to size. Louis Garneau also makes this vest in a special design for women.

 

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Lululemon Cycling Clothing For Women

Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago one of the marketing people from Lululemon Athletica, the premiere manufacturer of women’s sports clothing, asked if I would be willing to review a few of their new products. Obviously there was no way I could do the testing, so I asked Anna, a fellow cyclist and friend of mine, to try these products out and write a review.

I am an avid cyclist who one day found myself next to the one and only All Seasons Cyclist. That was three years ago and now every June I join him on his quest for miles on two wheels throughout the summer. I would say I’m an experienced and dedicated female rider and here’s a little about my riding history before I give this review. 15 years ago I began commuting to work and found I really loved riding a bike. After about a year of Chicago city riding I went on a long distance ride from Minneapolis to Chicago in five days, many of which were centuries. Since then I have ridden RAGBRAI, a ride across the state of Iowa, for the last nine years, and this year will be my tenth. I have also taught spin classes after becoming a regular groupie during the winter months. I am not as crazy/dedicated as All Seasons Cyclist, but I’m not retired either—I am a teacher, a job I chose partly to indulge my love of cycling! So, when he asked me if I would do a review for Lululemon Athletica I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I have seen some of their pieces and have thought they were very well styled towards the female athlete.

I was sent three pieces to test out. The Presta Jersey, the Presta Vest, and the Presta Padded Short. In all three the fabrics felt amazing, and the fit was true to size.

Lululemon Presta Women's Cycling Jersey

Lululemon Presta Women’s Cycling Jersey

The Presta Jersey ($78.00). Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways… First, you look fantastic in this jersey—no easy feat in spandex! It’s performance matches it’s looks as well, and I find you usually have to sacrifice one for the other. At $78.00 it’s something you might think about—so let me tell you, don’t over-think it. I went out on a very hot day (96 high) skeptical of wearing black, however it breathes very well with most of the back being a fine mesh (not see through) and has two back pockets about 6” deep. It has a generous length in back; you will never get sunburnt on your waist with this jersey. Also, it has the cutest reflection detail, though not much of it; a ruffle of reflective material is sewn on the back seam across the top at the yoke.

Now, why I think the Presta Jersey looks fantastic—I have an athletic build rather than a lanky one and I don’t look great in everything even though I’m in shape. I have narrow shoulders and this jersey has great details. At the shoulders they have two sets of pleats that offer a subtle “blousiness” in the cap sleeve, just a hint, but I instantly had wider shoulders. Another flattering detail is that the front zipper is about 10” long—perfect to open up on a hot day but not long enough for the unsightly bulge where the zipper stops on jerseys that unzip to your belly button. Also, both “All Season” and I decided that it looked so good you could throw on a skirt wrap over your shorts and wear it out when not cycling! I give the Presta Jersey 5 out of 5 stars for both functionality and style! I wish I had one for everyday—I’d never wear anything else!

Lululemon Presta Women's Cycling Vest

Lululemon Presta Women’s Cycling Vest

Last week I wore the Presta Vest ($98.00). It’s summer, so I just wore it over my sports bra as a sleeveless jersey. This vest is available in three colors: Black, White, and Ray (a hi-vis yellow). I received the hi-vis yellow and I never felt so visible! I’ve never worn something so bright and I instantly felt safer around cars. It was pretty windy with a chilly breeze coming off Lake Michigan and the wind repelling features on the vest worked great. The front of the vest is made of what Lululemon calls E-glyde coated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent). I’m pretty sure the water-repellent works. Although we went out on a rainy day, we never quite got more than a sprinkle. However, during some warm patches it did get a little “sticky”, leaving me to believe in it’s water repelling capabilities, but I just unzipped a little and with the mesh panels was still comfortable. As far as wearing it for rain I truly believe all the E-Glyde with DWR parts of the vest will keep you dry, but the back of the vest is mostly mesh save for a ruffled flap over your derriere that has a longer mesh underneath. So you will get wet, but I believe the idea is that your front and rear will be less wet.

The pockets are more to the side than on the back—I did lose an energy bar out of one, but then I used this thing called a zipper conveniently located right on the pocket! The vest also featured feminine details that make you feel like you have a bit of style and sophistication, instead of just feeling gross and sweaty after a long ride. It has the same ruffled reflective detail as the jersey (slightly different placement), and the ruffle on the back just makes you feel cute (but not too much). The vest has a full zipper, but no zipper bulges. I give the vest 5 out of 5 stars as well—you will be seen, no doubt about it, and great wind protection as well. If you are looking for something to keep you dry in full on rain then skip it, but otherwise a great vest alone or as a layer.

Now for the Presta Padded Short ($88.00). The length is nice, just above the knee—no grippy elastic, but they were long enough that I don’t think it matters. Again, as with the Presta Jersey and Vest, some flattering details, low waist in front and reflective ruffle detail on the thighs. The waist is also wide which is nice, preventing “roll-down” when bent over and it features two small mesh pockets in the back along the waist so if you want to leave the jersey at home there is a bit of storage.

I so wanted to love these shorts—high on looks, but no stars on functionality. If you need a padded seat, these fall short. It’s not that the pad is not thick, although it isn’t; it’s the way it’s made. I put them on and started down the street and turned around by the end of the block. I ride a road bike with a hard saddle—no gel covers or anything and I am conditioned to riding that way. The seams in this short are not hidden and are in the wrong place. There is an 1/8 inch rise from the short to the pad, which stops halfway under your rear where you make contact with the seat, cutting the sit bone contact point in half. I could also feel the seam along the inner thigh area as well. “But they’re so cute” my inside voice is saying. However, at the end of the day, cute isn’t what I reach for when need it to perform. If you ride a recumbent and want to look the part, then totally buy these shorts.

You can order Lululemon Athletica products from the company Website, or from retailers in eleven countries, including Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. If you can’t find a retail outlet in your area, you can also find many of their products on Amazon.com.

 

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Road Holland Hilversum Cycling Jersey

One of the owners of the local bike shop has told me on several occasions that a bike jersey is usually the last purchase most people make when they take up cycling. After riding thousands of miles every year on both the road and off-road trails I have come to the same conclusion. I find it amazing that some people will spend $5,000 on a new bike and then go out for a ride wearing a T-shirt! Wearing a cycling jersey won’t make you go faster, but a quality jersey will increase your comfort and enjoyment as you ride. A few weeks ago the folks at Road Holland sent me one of their Hilversum cycling jerseys to review and here is the bottom line: The Road Holland Hilversum jersey is the most comfortable, well-designed and stylish jersey I have ever had the privilege to wear!

Road Holland Hilversum Cycling Jersey

Road Holland Hilversum Cycling Jersey

When I started cycling I bought a lot of cheap Performance Bicycle and Bike Nashbar branded jerseys, and then last year I moved up to the Pearl Izumi Attack jersey. As much as I like the Pearl Izumi Attack jersey I have to tell you it doesn’t even fit in the same class as the Road Holland Hilversum. The Hilversum jersey is made of 79% superlight polyester and 21% fine gauge merino wool. This jersey is incredibly lightweight and offers every feature a serious cyclist could want in a jersey.

Zipper Garage On The Road Holland Hilversum Jersey

Zipper Garage On The Road Holland Hilversum Jersey

The front of the jersey has a full-length zipper and, believe it or not, it has a zipper garage (a small pocket where the zipper parks when the jersey is closed). A zipper garage might not mean much to you if you keep your jersey halfway unzipped all the time, but I’ve had my face scratched on many occasions by the sharp edges of the zipper on cheap jerseys.

Rear Pockets On The Road Holland Hilversum Jersey

Rear Pockets On The Road Holland Hilversum Jersey

The back of the Road Holland Hilversum jersey is a work of art! Like most cycling jerseys the Hilversum has three storage pockets, but that is where the similarity ends. The middle pocket has a small opening so you can run a headphone cord through it—the cord stays under your jersey and won’t flap around in the wind as you ride. The pocket on the right-hand side also has an exterior stash pocket (a fourth pocket) with an angled zipper (with another zipper garage) so you can keep you keys, credit card and ID secure even if you suffer an unplanned dismount (otherwise known as a crash). The bottom hem of this jersey has a silicone grip strip that helps keep the jersey in place and prevents it from moving up during your ride. For your safety in low-light situations Road Holland added a reflective strip along the top of the pockets—I wish every cycling jersey sold was required to have a reflective strip like this!

One thing that really separates this jersey from all others is the way it looks. I normally hate going into a restaurant while wearing a standard cycling jersey. However, the  embroidered accents on the Hilversum make it look quite stylish. If you are seated at a table most people would never know you were wearing a cycling jersey (until you stand up and they see your Lycra shorts).

The Road Holland Hilversum jersey is available in three colors (Royal Orange, Carolina Blue, and Milky White) and comes in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, and XXL). The folks at Road Holland sent me a Milky White jersey to review and I liked it so well I ordered a Royal Orange jersey to go along with it. Of special interest to me is the fact that this jersey is made in the USA (it is possible that this is the only jersey I own that was made in America).

The Hilversum jersey retails for $120 and is worth every penny! While I was visiting the Road Holland Website on Sunday night I noticed that you can save 20% on your next order. All you have to do is take a pledge to “banish hideous cycling gear” and then enter the code “STYLISH” when placing an order through their online store before May 28, 2012.

In taking the pledge you are affirming that…

  • I will not wear cycling jerseys with cereal box characters, beer, or cartoon characters on them.
  • My cycling jersey will always look at least as good as my bike.
  • If I’m a guy, I’m burning all of my sleeveless jerseys tonight.
  • I will not wear jerseys with flowers plastered over them.
  • Unless I’m being paid to ride as part of a team, I will not wear a team kit.

I don’t think the folks at Road Holland are going to send the police to your house if you violate your pledge, but if you are an adult you should probably stop wearing jerseys with cereal box characters on them anyway.

 

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