Hincapie Emergence Kit

Last summer I was sent a set of Hincapie’s Emergence kit for review. I had been pretty fascinated by the stuff when I’d gotten a look at it at Interbike, but my fascination was somewhat … academic. Why’s that you ask? Well, even though this kit is ninja black, the fabric has been treated with Schoeller’s coldblack® technology which reflects light and provides SPF protection. I know, black kit for a hot day sounds like a joke, but I was at least persuaded to give it a try. But when?

The fact is, even though I live in Southern California, my proximity to the beach (two miles and falling if the reports of rising sea level are to be believed) means that I never see the triple-digit heat so much of California withers beneath.

Combine that with this other little tidbit and you’ll see that it was difficult to even find a chance to put the stuff to use. Oh, and that other little tidbit is that I ride in the early morning six days a week. By the time I get home, temperatures are usually still south of 70 degrees. I spend nearly 10 months a year in arm warmers.

Ah, but I’ve had two events in the last 12 months that allowed me to put this kit through its paces. The first was a trip last August to Bishop, Calif., where I took in a bunch of hors categorie climbs. I’d start off just as soon as it was warm enough to ride without arm warmers and return to temps in the low hundreds.

Then last month I took a trip to Memphis, Tenn., and got reacquainted with “90s and 90s.” That is, temperatures and humidity upwards of 90 (degrees and percent). It was a bit like bumping into the psycho ex; I haven’t missed it. But man, coldblack® actually works. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t some universe-altering Gabriel Garcia Marquez surreal air conditioning textile. I’m not crazy. What I noticed was that I could reach down and touch the fabric in the jersey and bibs and they weren’t hot to the touch like so many all-black garments would be. I had to ride with some other all-black bibs just to make sure I wasn’t imagining the phenomenon.

So coldblack®, in my experience, does work. It won’t turn July into October, but it can make unbearable sort of okay. Hincapie reports that it offers an SPF factor of 50+.

That said, I’m trying to understand why it was coldblack® and not coldred or coldblue. I have serious reservations about an all black kit. Part of this is the nerd in me. No, it’s not that I have some twisted sense of what looks good (though I do take fashion cues from “The Big-Bang Theory.”) It’s that a portion of my undergraduate work was in sensation and perception. Allow me to distill a year’s worth of 400-level courses into a single, useful statement: Black isn’t a color; it’s a hole in the visual field.

As it turns out, to the human brain, black is as close as we get to invisible, short of Wonder Woman comics. It’s the opposite of red. Your eye is hardwired to look around black rather than at it. Given the incredible number of SUV-driving people whose next phone call is several times more important than your continued good health, I just have a preference for recommending stuff that makes you more visible rather than less so. Though I do make an exception for anything in neon yellow. There’s no need to overdo it. Which brings me to another point: don’t ask about color options. Henry Ford would approve of this approach as it’s available in black or black.

To be fair, both the jersey and bibs have reflective tags, logos and piping, but reflective bits don’t do much on rides when headlights aren’t on, and even for cars with daytime lights, reflective pips aren’t often noticeable at noon.

In Hincapie, as in most American clothing brands, I wear medium bibs and a small jersey. Of late, Hincapie bib inseams and jerseys have been cut shorter than they used to. This is a good thing. It’s one thing to have George Hincapie personally test all the clothing. It’s quite another to use him as the fit model. Having said this, the kit is supposed to have a form fit—Hincapie calls the cut body-mapping. The jersey should be snug, though not quite skinsuit tight. In my case it would have been nice to go down yet another size to achieve the desired fit; I say would have because they don’t make the jersey in XS—that was a bit of a disappointment. The kit is available in five sizes: S through XXL. So if you want the jersey to fit you correctly, at least like the guy in the pic, go down one size if possible. I don’t see anyone under 145 lbs. wearing this jersey. The bibs, on the other hand, fit correctly.

The kit is cut from AT1 Dynamic stretch fabric and features flatlock seems throughout. The pieces are quite comfortable. In walking around before the ride, filling bottles and that sort of thing, the Hincapie Emergence Chamois feels rather stiff except in the low-density areas, where it essentially just folds. It’s not a common experience and I can’t say that I really liked it, but we don’t purchase chamois based on how well you walk in them. Which is a good thing, because out on the bike it’s a good deal more comfortable.

The leg bands and sleeves are finished with a lightweight, laser-cut tape that has a slightly tacky backing, though it’s nothing like the silicone grippers that seem to irritate some riders. If you’re looking for something less grabby, I can definitely recommend these.

Final details: three rear pockets plus a fourth, zippered security pocket. The front, like almost all jerseys these days, includes a full zipper for maximum ventilation. There’s a gripper to hold the jersey hem in place.

At retail the jersey goes for $129.99, while the bibs go for $219.99. They have a dealer locator and if none are nearby, you can always make a purchase directly from their site.

Final thought: We knew black was beautiful, so of course it’s cool.

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  1. Y. Satchel

    No no no, you have it all wrong…they SHOULD use Hincapie as the fit model. For all cycling clothing as a mater of fact. Tired of Size medium belly shirt jerseys and tugging bib straps.

    On another note I thought this post read “Hincapie Emergency kit” and am now somewhat curious as to what that would be/look like 🙂

  2. Eli Chiasson

    “[S]ome universe-altering Gabriel Garcia Marquez surreal air conditioning textile.” This is by far the greatest sentence and most brilliant literary reference ever made in an article on cycling apparel, and quite probably in any cycling-related writing period. Chapeau.

    1. Author

      Y. Satchel: I understand your point, but statistically, there are far more cyclists who are 5’11” and 160 lbs. than 6’3″ and 150 lbs. As it is, the 5’11”, 160 cyclist is already the shallow end of the bell curve. That said, I’d understand if Hincapie or some other brand wanted to have one collection designed for bean poles. Actually, it makes a lot of sense to me. But to design your entire line around the very end of a long tail? That’s suicide.

      Eli Chiasson: *bow*

  3. Dave

    Is the ‘cold black’ a coating? Will it wash out?

    Does the ‘cold black’ work well enough that temperature isn’t an issue? Or is there a threshold temperature that you’d prefer something else?

    Are the sizes true to the size chart or should you go up or down?

    The bibs cost more than Assos Uno, which would you spend your money on?

    1. Author

      Dave: coldblack (lower case, alloneword) is a treatment to the fabric, which is why I’m still not clear on why the fabric needs to be black. It won’t turn Miami into Portland, but it really did help. And that’s the ticket. It’s an improvement over some other options. The size chart is pretty accurate. You can transfer your sizes from other American brands, but if you want the jersey to fit like in the photo, go down a size if possible.

      Well, if I’m choosing between the Emergence bibs and Uno bibs, my answer is going to sound like I’m a shill for an advertiser, but so what. Uno it is. But then, I take fit and ass comfort ahead of heat considerations. Not everyone will make the same choice.

  4. Champs

    For me it’s Euro fit or nothing at all.

    I’m 6’0 and 160 (on a good day). The last thing I should have to do is buy a size small ANYTHING, much less a belly shirt jersey because the medium fits like a garbage bag.

    I’m less sure about whether black is inherently better or worse in heat. If the ambient temperature is lower than your body heat, then black would actually absorb and radiate more heat out than in. Supposedly.

  5. Y. Satchel


    I was just messing around. Sure, It is an honest wish of mine, but I completely understand why/how it doesn;t suit a large portion of “the market”
    My Capo Mediums fit me fine in both Bibs and Jersey, but it’s actually my Rapha gear that comes up a little short in body length and Straps. Strange since they fir the beanpole aesthetic to a T.

    1. Author

      Y.Satchel: There are always going to be variations in how different lines fit; perhaps you caught the post on The Fit Model? But your comment brought up an interesting idea. Considering the population of dedicated cyclists, the bean pole is a recurring body type. Why hasn’t someone done as special collection just for those riders? They’d corner the market quickly. I wouldn’t want to build a whole brand on it, but to have one bib, one jersey, one pair of arm and knee warmers and one vest in a coordinated collection would make a lot of sense.

  6. velocanman

    According to the manufacturer’s FAQ, their coldblack treatment can be applied to any fabric or color.


    The treatment simply improves the radiation of heat from the fabric. A treated dark jersey will still absorb much more heat than a light or white jersey. It sounds like a good application for bibs but I would stick to light colors for summer jerseys.

  7. Richard Wharton

    I’ve used the Coldblack fabric on Hincapie’s skinsuit, bibs and the jersey, and I know used an IR thermometer to measure the difference – it was definitely noticeable. I’d argue that it helped save about 7 weeks in the summer where I was at risk for heat stroke.

    I’ve also spoken with a Hincapie rep, and my local club is going to TRY to purchase standard sublimated jerseys with logos and sponsors, and get them treated with CB. You are correct, though – black as a color is the WRONG choice for the fabric selection.

    One, maybe two other small complaints about HC stuff – I notice that the front zippers are almost too stiff, and tend to bunch up around the lower abdomen, leaving you with ‘jersey weenie’. The cuffs on the skinsuit also never did quite fit around the wrists and quads. You saw it with Horner in the 2011 Atoca TT stage, but I have to wrap the wrists in soft tape to get the maximum aero advantage that the suit might offer.

  8. Joe

    Pearl Izumi also makes a huge range of apparel with the coldblack technology (they call their stuff In-R-Cool, but it’s just rebranded coldblack, and has the coldblack logo inside). They have it in every color from white to black – if you think the all-black kit with coldblack keeps you cool, wait till you try the white stuff!

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