After developing a stated expertise for being able to dress for any condition, I did the unthinkable and moved to Northern California. Learning how to dress for riding in New England is, in a word, difficult, though not impossible. Much of it has to do with pacing and simply going hard enough to stay warm without going so hard that you wind up soaked. But dressing for riding Northern California, where a 30-degree temperature swing through the course of seven hours is common, is a challenge that I still get wrong.
That said, things improved for me rather substantially when I began wearing Giordana’s G-Shield jersey, bibs and arm warmers. I’ve always been a believer in warmers, but with our temperature swings here, wearing three layers plus warmers results in a situation with stuff spilling out of my jersey pockets like I’m some sort of backward marsupial. My more typical problem is framed thusly: I leave home in long sleeves and when the temperature is in the 40s; I swear there’s no way the temperature will rise into the 60s before I finish my ride, but by the top of the first ascent the mercury is already in the high 50s and continuing to climb. By the end of the ride, it’s 65 and I’m perspiring like a pitcher of lemonade on a July afternoon; I rue the long sleeves the way I regret going to see Broken Arrow. Okay, maybe not that bad.
G-Shield is a series of garments from Giordana that offer a brushed fleece inside, incredible stretch to allow for winter bulk (either personal or gear-oriented), a water-resistant treatment to help keep you dry(er) in wet conditions, drain holes in the jersey pockets so you don’t tote the rain around with you and Pixel reflective treatments for visibility.
Competitively, G-Shield is likely to square off against Castelli’s Gabba pieces, but they aren’t just knock-offs. Where the Gabba is wind-proof and has zippered vents, the G-Shield is breathable and wicks like Bounty Paper Towels. I have literally brushed water off the outside of the jersey. Like the Gabba, the G-Shield has a long tail to protect your chamois from spray.
In addition to the drain holes in the jersey pockets, the pockets are gusseted, the upshot being they have the capacity to carry more than your typical sewn-flat crapholder, a dimension furthered by the fact that this material is wildly stretchy.
That this jersey is blacker than a villain’s heart gave me pause, but the Pixel treatment, which is a series of glass beads that reflect light with the intensity of 747 landing lights, is so bright that anyone who hits you either has no daytime running lights, is blind, or both. The Pixel treatment is given to the left cuff on the sleeve, the duck tail on the jersey, the 7.5cm-long bands at the bottom of the bibs and at the cuffs of the arm warmers.
Like the G-Shield jersey, the bibs use a similarly stretchy Roubaix with a brushed inside and the Acqua Zero water-resistant treatment. The bib straps are lightweight and soft. The Cirro O.F. pad possesses a soft cover with a smooth contour that I’d compare favorably to the Cirro S pad used in Giordana’s top-of-the-line NXG bibs.
The fit on the G-Shield pieces can be tricky. I typically am a large in Giordana bibs and a medium in their jerseys. These pieces had enough stretch that I would be inclined to try a medium bib and small jersey should I get the chance to try them on. Similarly, I’d go down a size on the warmers as well. That said, the fit is serviceable. I don’t risk showing up to a ride and anyone asking me if I bought my gear at Bay Area Tent and Awning.
I’m accustomed to seeing a big upcharge on thermal pieces. It’s not uncommon to see thermal bibs run $50 more than their standard counterparts, or to go down in quality on some components, like the chamois, in order to keep the price consistent. That the jersey is only $200, the bibs are $175 and the arm warmers are $75 pleases me mightily. The bibs and jersey come in five sizes: S-XXL; the arm warmers three: XS/S, M/L, XL/XXL.
The shot of the arm warmer above is in relatively low light. Two of the other shots are simply in daylight and the Pixel treatment is surprisingly bright just in available light. When hit with headlights, the stuff is nearly blinding.
With the addition of a vest, this ensemble has carried me from the low 50s up to 70 degrees comfortably after, of course, shedding the vest and arm warmers. With the addition of the leg warmers, I could easily ride into the 40s.
Final thought: Spring just got a little easier.