Were you to use the sheer diversity of fit available in cycling jerseys and bibs as an indication of human anatomy, you could be forgiven for concluding that a cataclysmic saltation in evolution had taken place since the turn of the century. The T-shirt fit of jerseys is as extinct as the Tasmanian tiger, though less missed. The inseam length on bibs has gone up and down like an elevator in an office tower. So has the height of the opening between the bib straps.
I’ve been wearing two kits from brands utterly new to me this spring and summer. One is from an Australian company, FYF (for Find Your Freedom), and the other is from the Italian-made MSTINA.
FYF has, so far as I can tell, zero presence in the U.S. but there are solid reasons for that to change.
MSTINA has been around since 1986 and was founded by the Italian-named French champion Marcel Tinazzi. They are making a push in to the U.S., complete with custom, and the quality of their clothing should see them build a notable reputation.
The recurring challenges I’m seeing in jersey designs are jersey length and then chest fit and proportion. The fundamental issue is that as jersey fit has become increasingly, uh, shrink-wrapped, apparel manufacturers have been forced to try to second-guess the likely relationship between a rider’s waist, chest and bicep measurements. When a jersey is cut for your typical fit cyclist, a more athletic and upper-bodied man will end up with a jersey that’s loose at the waist. Cut it on a taper and many of us end up with a flappy at our sternum. And God forbid you let a Chinese factory lend their input; the shoulders will get rolled back so that the jersey is only snug when you stand up straight. Bend over and reach for the hoods and suddenly you could hide a kitten in your jersey.
With the FYF kit, selected from the Flamboyance Collection (this design is the Flamingo Camouflage) the bibs benefit from a multi-thickness and multi-density chamois, capable of keeping me comfortable over a six-hour day. The leg bands do not feature grippers over their entirety; small silicone dots encircle the lower half of the bands. It’s enough to keep the bibs in place, but not so much to make them either immobile or irritating.
The full-zip jersey has a terrific form-following fit. Someone with a bit more fulfilled chest would enjoy an even better fit than I had, but for me it was completely acceptable. I loved the stroke of genius that saw them use reflective fabric on the outer half of the cuffs and in the rear hem of the jersey. Silicon gripper encircles the entire jersey hem, thankfully, as one of the problems I’ve experienced in fit is keeping the front of the jersey down to my waist once I bend over.
Normally, I tend to wear a small jersey and medium bibs, except with a couple of the Euro brands, like Castelli and Assos. With this kit I was sent medium jersey and bibs. Considering the length of the jersey and snug of the chest, I suspect that a small would be the better fit for me. Bottom line: I’d say the fit runs true to most American brands.
The FYF is a lightweight, summer kit and I love pulling it out when I know the mercury will climb. The bibs and jersey each go for $169 Australian (currently $129 USD). The bibs are available in four sizes (S-XL) and the jersey is available in five sizes (XS-XL).
FYF has a number of designs, not all of them as noisy as this “Flamingo Camouflage,” though I really like having something this visually assertive on occasion.
With MSTINA you get the benefit of Italian craftsmanship combined with the experience of a European company that has been producing kits worn by pros for decades. The kit I’ve been wearing in MSTINA’s Triangolo design. The name refers to the triangle theme in the graphic design, but I chose this particular kit because MSTINA, like a few other companies offers three different fits. In addition to a traditional club cut, they also offer a pro-style aero cut. They call this the True to Size Slim Cut, and as seems increasingly rare, there can be truth in advertising. It’s definitely a proper slim cut.
It’s a full-zip jersey with grippers in the cuffs and all the way around the hem. Based on fit alone, this is the biggest revelation in jerseys since I reviewed Eliel last fall.
I will say that the pockets are on the small side; that’s a bit of a surprise, considering I reviewed a medium. That said, this medium was about a half size smaller than the FYF. Generally speaking, I’d say the jersey sizing runs pretty close to other European brands, but the medium bibs were the right fit. I anticipate most riders would wear the same sizes they ordinarily choose in American designs, but if they don’t want a jersey with a slightly snugger than usual fit to go up one size.
The fabric is ultra breathable but has enough weight to it that it shows zero wear after repeated washings and seems destined to last for some years yet.
After my first ride in the kit, I pulled the bibs off and expected to see the Elastic Interface stamp in the chamois. Cytech has been the leading manufacturer of pads for a number of years, and I have to remind myself that not only do they do budget-oriented inserts, it is indeed possible for other manufacturers to make a great pad. This one is a dual-thickness, dual-density chamois and is seamed down the middle. A huge surprise. I’ve done five hours in this chamois without issue. It’s a larger pad than many and for that reason I’ve especially liked this for mountain biking and mixed-surface riding where I’m moving around more on the saddle.
The leg bands feature gripper elastic their entire distance, but it’s a relatively light coating so, like the FYF bibs, the grippers aren’t irritating and are easy to adjust.
The MSTINA kit comes in a whopping seven sizes (XXS-XXL), which may be its single best recommendation. The Triangolo design is sold as a complete kit and goes for $349. It’s not a bargain, but it’s worth it.
Final thought: So much better than the typical century jersey.