This summer I spent a spate of time in Boulder. As my wife was out training, I settled in at Amante coffe shop. Head down, with the sounds of Stage 6 of the Tour de France being broadcast on the monitors overhead, it’s a cyclist nerve center, with riders streaming in and out, making a dash to the bathroom to kit up for the ride, or grabbing a quick cup of joe before hitting the road.
…Doing our easy weekend miles, ending at the bike shop, looking as pro, as heroic as we can? It gets a bit passé.
The unmistakable clack, clack, clack, and I cast my eyes upward. In walks a young rider, dressed head to toe in Garmin kit. Like, right down to the socks. He ordered his latte, sat down and joined the others gazing up at the monitors.
I know what you’re thinking: fred. It was my same thought, until I saw the wild, unkempt hair. That, and his scrawny build—and it was Lachlan Morton, before he was off to put on explosive displays at the Tour of Utah and U.S. Pro Challenge a month or so later.
OK, well, he gets a pass.
The rest of us? Doing our easy weekend miles, ending at the bike shop, looking as pro, as heroic as we can? It gets a bit passé. It pains me to imagine the non-cycling customers as they see the Technicolor assault any time they go for a Starbucks run.
Giro sent LAVA a selection of men’s New Road apparel to test (they have a women’s line as well). The impetus behind a cycling apparel line that looks nothing like what everyone is riding in is simple: you can wear functional ride gear without having to look the part of a racer. I would contend many triathletes fall into the category; why would a business pro want to look like a road racer… when they can look as distinct and sharp as they do when they’re on at their day jobs?
Giro’s New Road doesn’t have racer cut and isn’t emblazoned with sponsor logos, and that’s by design. It’s engineered to be functional, with a place for your stuff on the ride, but nothing else.
So we tested. Eight-mile commutes to work . Shopping trips at the grocery store. Stops at the bookstore. Walking out to get the mail. Serious stuff.
The stuff works. While many of the technical fabrics used can protect you on a chilly, ascent of Passo Stelvio, it’s not meant for that, either. There’s lots of “ironic” cycling tees out on the market, but never before have I had function apparel appropriate for wearing around town. Classic cuts, solid prints, and style well beyond the ProTour stuff…. and without screaming, “I’m a cyclist.”
On the bike, they have the function of a jersey pocket… but hidden away. Jackets and vests feature Stowback, a discreet zipped pocket entry at the back, allowing pass-throught to segmented pockets inside the entry. Your phone, multi-tool, tube, all there, but visibly hidden away.
The cut and design is made for riding as well; zippers rise to the neck off-center to avoid chafing under the chin. The Waterproof Jacket ($220) features taped seams to keep the rain out. And the cuts are slightly short in the front, slightly longer in the back for ride position coverage
More function comes with the layers, like the Insulated Vest ($180). A nice outer shell that keeps the core warm, it’s comprised of Primaloft, a synthetic version of duck down, which packs away like duck down, stowing away into a pocket easily when temps warm up.
And where they can, Giro uses Merino wool. It’s one of the oldest tech fabrics on the planet, but it’s still one of the best; it breathes, retains heat in the cold and breaths cool air in when warm, and it doesn’t absorb odor.
Our favorite off-bike kickarounds pieces included that Insulated Vest and the Ride Crew ¾ ($99), a merino wool blend shirt that is as comfortably at home on the body with the New York Times in hand as it is wrapped around a Campy Record shifter on the coast highway.
The foundation of any ride kit is the short, and the ¾ Bib Undershort ($200) is a bibshort that wears more like underwear. The Italian-made HP Carbon chamois is adequate to your rides and comfortable to wear at the café, but adds function with an easy-access front fly. No having to un-do you entire wardrobe to pull the bib down to pee.
The 40M Tech Overshort ($120) is meant to be worn over the bib, and function fantastically in the saddle; with four-way stretch fabric through the crotch and back, it moves as it should through the pedal stroke, instead of riding up.
The rest of the New Road range is cool and sublime; Republic shoes, beanies, short sleeve Merino crews , base layers, all designed to work well, then work well with one another, and look classically good doing so.
The only challenge for Giro is going to deal with is de-tuning a consumer base so into wearing what the pros wear—all the time. Giro’s bringing awesome tech that’s to our high standard—and hiding it within some great-looking casual apparel. And as a guy whose commute means dragging a bag with a change of clothes, it pared down my requirements; apart for a change of drawers for the sake of cleanliness, I can (and have) worn my ride kit at work, all day, then saddled back up and rode home. To do a nice ride to the bike shop to have a coffee with the wrenches? A quick run to the store for milk and bread? To ride to and from work taking only my phone? It gives a whole new vision to the concept of casual Friday…. or casual any day, for that matter.
You’ll be able to find it at giro.com