I’ve learned a lot since I started getting more serious about cycling a couple of years ago. I’ve learned the proper hand signals. I’ve learned how to do a bottle exchange during a race. I’ve learned how to change a tire. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that the right gear is absolutely vital to a successful long ride.
I started out riding in whatever spandex shorts or capris happened to be clean (FINE — clean-ish), along with whatever top was handy. I quickly found that wearing something form-fitting wasn’t just a common cyclist fashion statement — it makes for an easier ride. And actual cycling or triathlon jerseys with pockets designed to hold nutrition? Oh man, do they make life on a bike easier.
Also, the padded shorts! I hated the idea of wearing shorts with a ton of padding because it felt a bit like a gigantic maxi pad, but, lo and behold, the chamois fabric and padding positively save the lady bits when you ride for a few hours at a time. And so, I’ve come to terms with the fact cycling gear is worn by cyclists for good reason, and I’m nothing if not reasonable.
And hey, let’s be honest. I still like to look good.
Hincapie Sportswear: Anthem Series
Hincapie contacted us over the summer about their Anthem Series of women’s cycling jerseys, shorts and accessories. I immediately liked the fact that the design had a bit of a feminine edge without being all flowers and rainbows. (Not that I’m opposed to wearing flowers and rainbows, but sometimes, I like my Fit Bottomed femininity to be a little more subtle and kick-ass.)
As I read a bit more about the company, I was even more interested in the products. Hincapie Sportswear was created by the Hincapie family, a family with roots in cycling dating back over half a century and some serious chops — George Hincapie has participated on eight Tour de France-winning teams and has represented the United States in five Olympic games. So, yeah. They know a bit about the sport.
The collection I reviewed, the Anthem, includes a short-sleeved full-zip jersey, shorts (both of which I received for review), as well as knee warmers and arm warmers (which I did not). The shorts are seamless and feature multi-density Pro Chamois for serious comfort (and no ass chafing!). The jersey, in addition to having the full-zip feature (which is awesome when your body is all tightened up from a long ride and pulling things over your head may or may not require assistance), has stretch mesh for improved ventilation and two big ol’ rear pockets. Both feature SPF (30+ for the top, 50+ for the bottom) and solid moisture management.
But you know what I liked most? The fabric feels amazing. Like, nicer than the fanciest dress in my closet. It’s soft and smooth and totally flexible but thick enough to feel — can I say this about a cycling kit? — luxurious. I feel like I’m wearing seriously pro-level gear, and, considering who makes it, I guess I am.
Naturally, such a high-end product doesn’t come super cheap. The jersey is $90 and the shorts are $100. Other collections, such as the Power Series and Chromatic Collection, clock in with similar prices (and, as far as I can tell, similarly high levels of attention to detail, both in the design and the functionality).
Fit Bottomed Line: If you cycle a fair amount, having a couple of great kits to wear is well worth the investment. After all, you don’t want to come home from a group ride only to have your husband tell you that you might need a new pair of shorts because he could see, uhh, details through the ones you were wearing. ASK ME HOW I KNOW. Ahem. So, yes, if you’re looking for a sweet jersey-and-shorts combo, this is definitely a company worth checking out.
Are you willing to shell out a few bucks for specialty workout gear like this? What’s more important to you: looks or function? —Kristen