The era of the coordinated cycling collection is only barely out of its infancy. For most of my time in the sport of cycling jerseys have had a relationship to the shorts riders wore only if the same sponsor appeared on both garments. The notion that anyone might deliberately design a non-sponsor-adorned jersey to match yet another non-sponsor-adorned pair of shorts is as new as the credit default swap.
Capo Forma came into the market while collections were still struggling to gain acceptance, before serious style had really been established. If they can be credited with nothing else, they can at least take a bow for showing competitors how to use materials and design to create a harmonious look. I mean, if companies like Lululemon can make yoga wear cool enough to wear while wandering around town (and apparently there are because one can find towers of lean Manhattan Beach housewives on the loose daily), then cycling clothing ought to at least look good while you’re on the bike. I know, it’s a bit much to expect us to look great off the bike.
But like I said, that’s where Capo comes in. If you’ve ever met Capo’s CEO Gary Vasconi, you know why. Gary is a guy who prides himself on his Italian heritage. He dresses like he was raised in Milan, which is to say he’s always the best-dressed guy at Interbike. I’m sure he has a belt to match every pair of shoes he owns. Honestly, he dresses better than the guy at Nordstrom who sold me my suit.
That he’s in apparel is fortunate. That he’s in the bike industry is a miracle.
Up until I was sent the Padrone Long-Sleeve Jersey and the Roubaix Bib Knickers, all the Capo clothing I’d worn had been of the custom variety, which is a huge chunk their business. To give you some idea just how successful their designs are, last I recall, every six weeks Helen’s Cycles, the L.A.-area retailer with eleventy locations, places a fresh order for a new custom kit. They sell ‘em like some shops sell tubes.
Back to the Padrone collection. Part of the particular genius of this collection is that the look is not based on sublimated designs; rather, it comes from using different fabrics and creative patterning. Now, I will say that the back of the long sleeve jersey looks a bit like you’re wearing your bibs on the outside, rather than beneath the jersey, but I respect that the particle material selection comes from the need to use a less-stretchy material in portions of the back. By using a material without much vertical elasticity in the jersey back you can stuff the pockets with everything from a rain cape to spare bottles and not have the pockets sag down over your butt.
Both pieces are thermal, meaning they sport a brushed Roubaix finish inside. Normal Lycra/polyester knickers and long-sleeve jerseys carry me to the low 60s. I know some riders are calibrated differently and would wear such items into the mid-50s, but the sages who taught me said to cover your arms below 70 and your knees below 65. Roubaix material will generally increase my comfort into the low 50s. With a simple base layer the Padrone long-sleeve jersey and knickers were good for comfort from the upper 40s to the mid 60s.
The Padrone knickers and jersey sport a few features that used to be thought of as sort of extravagant. Full zippers were unheard of in long-sleeve jerseys just a few years ago, but can be particularly helpful for regulating temperature on days that warm considerably. And I can say from experience that that only thermal knickers on the market in the mid-90s that completely covered your belly and required a zipper for removal and calls of nature were manufactured by Assos. The extra material gives you a bit of extra insulation in a sensitive location. I struggle to drink enough on cold days; the cold fluid chills me and as a result I tend not to drink enough; the added material helps overcome the chilling that comes with a long tug on the bottle.
The single most eye-catching feature of the pieces I reviewed, though not the most notable was the red fleece used inside the knickers and at the sides of the jersey. At first look the material appears to be an ordinary black, but from certain angles the red fleece underlying the black poly surface shows through, giving the panels a burgundy-ish hue. The material called Thermo Roubaix® Dream that features a hollow core to keep you even warmer and the look is novel enough to be eye-catching. Using the red-backed fleece helped tie the two pieces visually so that they didn’t just look like two random winter pieces. In the photo above it looks a bit like the shot of the jersey includes the top of the knickers, but that’s how the jersey is actually cut. Incidentally, it’s worth noting that Capo runs the Roubaix material all the way up the front of the bibs, a move that’s uncommon, but offers just that much more insulation.
I had but two issues with the Padrone jersey and knickers. With the jersey I noticed that the upper arms and shoulders flapped in the wind. Unlike jerseys I’m wearing from Rapha and Road Holland right now, the Capo jersey was cut for someone who actually goes to the gym and does bench presses. If you have shoulders, biceps and/or triceps, and I don’t mean ones of the vestigial variety that make Andy Schleck look like a pink T. Rex, this is the jersey for you.
My knickers ran short. Even when the gripper elastic in the hem was positioned at the bottom of my knee cap I had trouble pulling the knickers high enough to get the chamois to follow my contours, rather than sit below my crotch. The Windtex® wind-stopper fabric used on the used on the front of the lower half of the knickers to help keep you dry on wet days contributed to this; wind-stopper fabrics, due to the membrane that keeps you dry, don’t stretch much, so simply pulling a bit more wasn’t an option. The trouble I learned, is that my knickers were pre-production and the final production knickers were cut with a 3cm-longer inseam. That increase in length will make a big difference for most, if not all riders.
Most pads I have encountered use two different thicknesses—or densities—of foam; the pad in the Padrone knickers features four different graduated thicknesses. It’s a sizable pad that—once properly situated—is truly an all-day pad, one that can easily carry you through a four- or five-hour training ride with comfort. Both pieces come in five sizes—Small through XXL. Sizing was in-line with other American lines I’ve worn; I took the small in the jersey and medium in the knickers.
The jersey comes in white or black and the bibs are available only in black. Both come with reflective tags for visibility. The jersey has three pockets; the two outer ones are cut at an angle for easy access. A fourth, water-resistant, zippered pocket has larger-than-usual capacity, making it perfect for a smart phone.
Of course, this quality comes at a price. The Padrone long-sleeve jersey carries a suggested retail of $220, while the Padrone knickers go for $230.
These are terrific pieces, but the jersey is best-suited to guys with guns.