by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com
Having been involved with many teams and clubs over the years has given me the opportunity to own many pieces of custom cycling clothing. I have also owned lots of name brand cycling clothing. What I have found, there are some pros and cons to both custom and brand name products. This brings us to a great conversation I had with the guys at Athlos, during the Interbike Show, last fall. Athlos is working to offer riders all the benefits of brand name product in a custom package and making it easy to order as well. Read on to see how they did!
Out of the box custom cycling clothing
I received a medium jersey, large bib short, and medium arm warmers as I requested. All the pieces are part of Athos’ split zero custom cycling clothing collection, which is their top of the line products. Being a top end product, they are a true racer fit. Racer fit doesn’t mean you need to be into racing to enjoy the products benefits, all it means is that the cut of the shorts and jerseys are form (European) fitting. The items I reviewed were made for the ‘Rebel with a Cause’ cycling club. They are in Baltimore and ride to raise money to help feed those in need. All the colors in the kit I received were clean, vibrant from the shorts to the jersey. I was impressed, the consistency is surprising considering the jersey and short were made of different materials.
Fit of the custom cycling clothing
I would love to believe that I am still a medium jersey guy? But, too much food and the relentless assault from father time makes it tough for me to squeeze into the medium jersey. The large shorts on the other hand fit amazingly well. The legs stop just above the knee and have a tall, soft cuff with a grippy material on the inside. The bib is unique in that the back straps are an H strap rather than the standard Y shape. This is a very different approach to a bib short. Immediately I noticed that the short didn’t have the “compressive” feeling over the shoulders that bibs typically do. My fear was that the shorts would feel loose while I was riding, but instead they felt great. They stayed in place well and never felt tight or constrictive.
Function of custom cycling clothing
With our Minnesota winter in full effect, jerseys and shorts get buried under jackets and tights. The added layer usually works against what shorts and jerseys are designed to do. First off, a tight over a short can add to chaffing, because of the two layers rubbing over each other. Additionally, jerseys do a good job of moving moisture (sweat), but require air to evaporate that moisture away. Jackets block that evaporation somewhat. I’m happy to say that even though the test situation wasn’t ideal, the Athlos kit did great. The jersey was comfortable and the short’s chamois felt great.
Ordering something for yourself
Sadly, you can’t just buy the Athlos stuff off a rack but only through their custom program. The process is simple, fill out an information form, receive a quote, and start the design process. If you have a fully baked piece of artwork, that’s great, just submit it and go. If like most of us you have an idea, but not the ability to create the art, Athlos has designers to transfer your ideas into reality. Once you have approved the quote and design, it’s on to ordering.
Ordering is where Athlos sets themselves apart. Athlos builds you a team store on their site for free and then supplies a link that can be distributed to your group. From there each rider orders their own product and Athlos produces, collates and ships it. Additionally, Athlos sets up “fan pages” where clubs or teams can fund raise by selling their product to supporters at a premium.
With how comfortable the kit is I am excited to see its long term durability. I have had kits in the past that were comfortable, but shredded in no time at all. By contrast, the best kits I own are both really comfortable and nearly bullletproof. Based on the construction quality I’ve seen so far, my guess is the Athlos kit will end up in the latter group. If you want to get your team, club, or group a custom kit use the code “HFB” on Athlos site for a discount.