- The Blackboxx jersey is an aero, racer-tight fit, but is elastic enough to accomodate the barrell-chested and the well-fed alike. Photo courtesy Alchemist
- Alechemist's Blackboxx bib short, with its comfortable chamois and shoulder straps. The chamois feels similar to that of the Panache Dolce bib short. Photo courtesy Alchemist
- The Blackboxx PowerBand leg gripper is a tall, elastic band designed to comfortably hug the thigh and keep the bib short leg in place. Photo courtesy Alchemist
Alchemist Blackboxx kit >> $120 (jersey), $180 (bib)
The lowdown: Eco-friendly custom kits made in the USA
Pros: Comfortable, snug, aero, and homemade from recycled materials
Cons: Could breathe slightly better, but only slightly
The bicycle is a wonderfully clean and efficient machine and its use for transportation and recreation can help keep our planet, and our bodies, in good shape for years to come. But in many ways, cycling, especially as a professional sport, is anything but eco-friendly. Boulder, Colorado’s Alchemist clothing line aims to help improve that situation with custom cycling apparel made in the USA from recycled materials.
Working with JLVelo, a California-based manufacturer, Alchemist is making clothing that works well and gives environmental peace of mind to its wearer. Both Alchemist’s Boulder offices and JLVelo’s facility are solar-powered.
Fit is true to size. The small Blackboxx bib, made of 80 percent polyester, is a racer-tight fit, but nothing you’ll want to size up or down for. The chamois is nice and comfy, sewn in at the right place, neither too high nor too low. The leg gripper on the pre-production samples we tested uses a thin rubber band, although the production leg gripper will be a more comfortable, 4cm-tall elastic band to keep the laser-cut cuff from sliding up the leg.
The jersey, also racer-tight, is made of 88 percent recycled polyester and 12 percent Lycra, with a smooth, aero surface. The slightly elastic DryWick fabric is friendly towards large arms, chests, or stomachs. The three pockets are each large enough to hold any amount of food, tubes, wallets or cell phones.
Panache’s similarly priced Dolce custom kit is slightly more breathable, but is less elastic and less accommodating of some torso shapes. Hincapie’s lower-priced Velocity kit is also more breathable, but at the expense of a snug fit and oddly long bib shorts, concessions the Blackboxx does not make. However, you can breathe easier knowing that the Blackboxx is the most eco-friendly of the three.
Prices start at $120 for the jersey and $180 for the bibs, with a minimum quantity of one for custom orders.
If you want custom, American-manufactured cycling clothing made in a solar-powered plant using recycled materials, Alchemist has you covered.