Let’s be honest, if you’re going to try to revamp what everyone thinks cycling clothing is or needs to be, you can’t just dispense with the padded short. There are too many of us who know the truth. And as a guy, once you’ve experienced the non-migratory comfort of the bib short , anything else is a step backward. I don’t want to understate what a serious problem I think this is. I think it would be easier to keep Charlie Sheen off something—hookers, blow, whatever—than to convince me to ride a bike for more than an hour while wearing something other than bibs.
Not gonna happen.
So it is that the most significant piece within Giro’s New Road line is the one you’re least-likely to see: the bibs. The Bib Undershort is meant to be worn beneath a pair of shorts that aren’t exactly baggy, but they aren’t Lycra-tight. All the basics are there—a fit that is as unsurprising as the taste of water, grippers to keep the shorts from riding up, bibs that wick quickly. However, it’s the extras that show you how well-thought-out these are. They have a fly. Think about it: If you’re wearing cycling shorts and over them you’re wearing another pair of shorts so that you don’t have to look like you’re ready for the races, and the shorts have a fly, well why wouldn’t the bibs also have a fly? Am I right? Then there are the pockets at the waist on the shorts. Getting to them is easy enough; just reach your hand beneath the tail of the top you’re wearing and because the openings for the two side pockets are cut at a slight angle, they are easy to access.
The bibs go for $150 and come in six sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL.
Genius doesn’t begin to describe how smart building the apparel around a functional set of bibs is. It’s not just a matter of genius. It’s also a statement of respect, that the product developers at Giro didn’t lose the plot line and still understand that a piece of foam in the crotch is the root of all comfort.
The 40M Tech Overshort is the piece that the public sees. It features a four-way stretch fabric that allows the shorts to move in a pretty natural way. They are gusseted like climbing shorts so you’re not restricted to movement in just two dimensions. There are stretch panels as the waist and in the legs to make sure they move almost as freely as normal cycling shorts. A small strap that attaches to buttons on the inside of the waist band allows you to adjust the waist. There’s a zippered cell-phone pocket on the left, but it’s snug enough that you’re only going to get a smartphone with no protective case in it, at least, if you want to do it comfortably. The zippered fly lines up perfectly with the fly on the bibs, which, I’ll admit, amazed me slightly. I can think of a dozen companies where the fly on one short would have been three inches off of the fly on the other short. My one knock on the fit of the shorts is that the crotch was sufficiently below the waist that when riding, the shorts would ride up a bit. The issue wasn’t one of comfort. On the contrary, the issue was strictly one of appearance. The inseam of the 40M Overshort was just short enough that once they rode up, the black leg grippers of the bibs would show below the hem of the 40M Overshort. Not a big deal, but not perfect, and I note it only because Giro so often manages something approaching perfection.
The 40M Tech Overshort goes for $120, and while I can’t be certain it will outlast all of my cotton shorts, I have been wearing them with regularity and can say they show no signs of wear so far. Frankly, they are terrific to wear with tighty whities; there have been a few occasions I pulled them on because they were at the top of the drawer. I have plenty of stuff that I’m pleased just lasted through this summer. It comes in six waist sizes and two fits: 28, 30, 32, 34, 36 and 38 in both slim and regular fit. I have been wearing the 32 regular fit. They come in three colors: jet black, pewter and desert. The sizes of the 40M Overshort line up with the sizing on the bibs. I’m a 32 in the Overshort and I’m a medium in the bibs.
I did have one minor issue with the Overshort. The distance from the waist to the crotch is a bit long. The way they hand when I’m standing isn’t how they wear when I’m on a bike. They slide up until the crotch of the shorts actually reaches my crotch. This moving around isn’t that disconcerting, but it did end up exposing the grippers of the Bib Undershort because the legs of the shorts were no longer long enough to cover the bibs. Not a big deal, but not quite perfect and Giro so often does perfection, that this detail surprised me.
By basing most of their tops on a high-quality Merino wool Giro does three things. First, they manage to make a technical garment out of a material no one will confuse with a spaceman outfit. Second, they provide the rider with something that wicks well and keeps you comfortable over a broad range of conditions. And third, they manage to hit what has become a common touchpoint for retro cycling cool. Merino is the Teflon of the cycling world in that no criticism of it really sticks. What’s the worst you can say about Merino? That once you’re good and sweaty you smell like a puppy that needs a bath? That the stuff isn’t as cheap as cotton?
Come on, boy, what you got? Bring it!
Merino evokes old-school hardman cycling, hipster alt knowledge and high-end craft, all in a single stop.
Take that Fruit of the Loom!
I’m not going to spend any time talking about the Merino Base Layer. It’s a base layer, cut from a fine Merino. It’s the perfect answer to the changeable day. It was as comfortable as kitten fur, or at least as comfortable as I’ve come to expect from a Merino base and the fit was slim without being snug. And at $60, while not cheap, it’s perfectly reasonable given how pricey some base layers are. It comes in six sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL.
The Ride Jersey relies on 80 percent Merino and weaves in 20 percent polyester to give it stretch without stretching out. Anyone who has ridden in an original Merino jersey knows that you had to buy them a full size smaller than what you needed, otherwise when you put anything larger than a phone number in your pockets the jersey would sag to your thighs, making you look like a cross-dressing spaceman. Been there, done that. Got the looks.
So the Ride Jersey keeps its shape. And it comes with a zipper longer than the one in your jeans. There is also a gripper at the hem to keep it more or less in place when you bend over. Now, if you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see some openings that look a bit like epaulets. Yes, epaulets, which would be really silly on a cycling jersey, which is why these things aren’t epaulets. They aren’t silly. They are vents. They help channel air over the shoulders and to your back, keeping you cooler and speeding drying of the jersey, which cuts down on that whole wet-Lab-smell thing. Honestly, they looked a bit gimmicky when I saw them. Then the first time I got going more than 16 mph, I felt them at work. Not bad.
I’ve been wearing the $150 Ride Jersey in small. It’s available in five sizes: S, M, L. XL and XXL. They could definitely use an XS. If I, a 160-lb. skinny white boy can wear the small, there’s a whole generation of reformed cross-country runners who will be forced to wear nothing but Castelli and Assos due to the Lilliputian sizes they offer.
Finally, I’ve got a piece that’s a slight variation of one of the tops you’ll find on the web site. The SS Merino Crew looks like a tradtional one-pocket T-shirt. However, this is cut from Merino wool and sports not just the chest pocket, but also back pockets. I have a straight-up T-shirt with the one pocket in the front but no pockets in the rear. I absolutely love the T-shirt I have and wear it plenty more than my errand running could demand. I mean, look at that thing. It’s simple and stylish. What’s not to like? Given the crazy amounts of money I’ve dropped on good dress shirts that I wear a handful of times each year, $120 for something of this quality and feel that I’m willing to wear almost weekly seems fair. Like the jersey, this is available in five sizes, S, M, L, XL and XXL.
I’m doing a long ride in the morning. Of all the cycling clothing I have, I can say with some conviction that this stuff isn’t even in contention for what I’ll ride. But in the afternoon, I’m going to go for a ride with #1 son, aka Mini-Shred, Philip. I’m hoping the ride will be more than just a mile or two, and so I plan to wear this for our spin. I’ll be able to hang at the playground and be just as comfortable off the bike as on. That’s no small feat.