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With New Road, Giro attempts clothing paradigm shift

  • By Caley Fretz
  • Published Feb. 28, 2013
  • Updated Jan. 14, 2014 at 1:47 PM EST

BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — In any other time and place, Giro’s new clothing selection would be dubbed a “city” line, designed expressly for the fashion-conscious urban or semi-urban commuter. It would pair with flats pedals and fenders and panniers, not weekend drop bars.

It checks all the city line boxes: plenty of Merino wool, relaxed fit, a cut that won’t expose a rider’s navel while he or she stands upright in line for coffee, muted colors, jerseys with minimal pockets.

But Giro says “no,” this isn’t a city line; it’s a road line, even a performance road line. It says that the cycling world is changing, expanding outwards from its spandex-weenie core and blurring the lines between factions that have for so long kept to themselves. The commuter is the weekend warrior is the road racer is the mountain biker is the lunch ride king, it says. All are becoming one in the same, and they all want something that works on the bike and off, and across disciplines. Leg shaving optional.

Outside of a few coastal epicenters of the rolling chic, this claim is debatable. But let’s take a look and what Giro has built anyway.

Targets

Giro New Road, as it has been dubbed, is built largely around two themes. I hesitate to call them individual lines, but each garment is aimed at a distinct rider or ride time. 40M, or 40-mile, is the more performance-oriented of the two. It’s the kit one picks up for the favorite 40-mile loop, cut tighter and with a number of smart performance features absent in its more casual sibling.

That sibling is 5M, or 5-mile, designed for the morning commute and the coffee run. Performance fabrics aside, these clothes are cut loosely and have none of the features we like to see in true performance road gear.

The storage system

With New Road, Giro is taking a systems approach, intending for each piece to work with the others. Start off with the chamoised undershorts, then the outer shorts, base layer then jersey then vest then jacket. Add or remove, as weather requires.

The company cites optimal wicking and a few other bits of marketing speak for this requirement, but the real reason is storage. The jerseys are designed with minimal pockets, and some have zero. The pockets are instead built into the Undershorts, which are ultra-thin (bordering on mesh) bib or non-bib cycling shorts designed to be worn under the baggier outer shorts — just like mountain bike baggies, except with a tighter cut. Unlike most mountain baggie liners, though, the Undershorts have the same handy little front slot your (male) undies do.

These bib-placed pockets present an access problem, though. Pulling a jersey up every time you need something won’t do. So, Giro has built in zippered slots to allow access the bib pockets. The slots, called System Zips, are found on most of the jerseys and jackets.

Why move the pockets inside the jersey, you ask? Because it allows Giro to build the jerseys with less structure, making them more comfortable and stylish off the bike. Stick pockets back there, fill them with a phone and a tube and a pump, and you’ll be pulling all that luscious Merino into a serious low-butt sag. Not a great look. The inner pocket system allows for adequate storage without messing with the look.

Tops

Giro is releasing a full array of tops, from base layer to waterproof jacket. Let’s start from the inside and work out. Within each layer, the garments are sorted from most to least casual.

The Merino Base: It’s just a sleeveless Merino base layer.

3/4 Sleeve Bonded Ride Shirt: Medium-weight Merino wool and three-quarter sleeves make this a transition-season or cool summer morning piece. It has no pockets, and no System Zip, only a split hem on the right side to allow access to your Undershort pockets. Very casual.

LS High-Neck Zip-Up: Warmer than the 3/4 Bonded shirt, and made of a Merino/poly blend designed to be flexible. Another early-morning commute piece, or for cool transition season rides. Designed to look completely at home off the bike.

SS Bonded Merino Ride Shirt: 75-percent Merino wool, with a fit that is in line with a slim T-shirt, an effort to keep flapping to a minimum. Has zero pockets, but does utilize a System Zip for Undershort access.

Windproof Jacket: Made from soft but waterproof Pertex material, with taped seams, hidden vents, and a bonded left sleeve pocket. Also features a System Zip.

Wind Vest: This vest looks just as functional as any other performance riding vest, and is made from the same soft, waterproof Pertex fabric as the jacket. It has a hidden vent in the back and a System Zip for easy pocket access.

SS Merino Crew: It is with this piece that Giro wants to begin to move people away from the traditional cycling jersey. The SS Crew is cut more like a piece of cycling kit, with an extended tail (but normal length front, for the navel coverage) and slim middle. It features three pockets as well as a System Zip. Giro uses something called “skeletal pocket construction,” designed to keep the jersey from sagging should you choose to use the jersey pockets rather than the bib pockets.

SS Merino Jersey: This is a cycling jersey, albeit a hyper-simplified one. It features some style cues that soften the look a bit, but there is no question that this piece is designed to be ridden in. It has three pockets and the System Zip, just like the Merino Crew, but adds a longer tail, and more tailored fit, vented shoulder seams, and a three-quarter zip front.

Bottoms

5M Overshort: The 5M Overshort is designed to work with or without the Undershorts. The look is decidedly casual; a regular pair of shorts with a few smart technical features built in: two-way stretch fabric for easy pedaling, a U-lock pocket, and phone pocket.

40M Tech Overshort: Four-way stretch fabric (Giro has created a fourth dimension!), side and crotch gussets to tailor the fit, and a low profile waist set the 40M as Giro’s more performance-oriented short. It’s a baggie designed for road use, basically.

But unlike the loose, flapping shorts that “baggie” conjures up, the 40M is tight, tailored, and designed with road speeds in mind. Sizing is available in both slim and regular to better match a rider’s leg shape.

While we’re not completely sold on the idea of wearing baggies on the road, if we were going to give it a go, these are the only shorts we’ve ever seen that come close to being desirable.

Our take

With only very minimal samples in-house at the moment, it’s too early to make a judgment call. Giro has been bold; it wants to shift the clothing paradigm away from the skin-tight and towards the all-around comfortable. It wants to make riders look great at their coffee stops without ruining the ride to and from. For that alone, we give them a heap of credit.

In a sense, Giro wants to take what companies like Rapha and Panache have done with traditional road clothing — simplify, add style and design — and take it a step further. The company does not pretend that this clothing is for your next century, but for your next pre-work road loop? Perhaps. It is banking on a portion of the cycling world that doesn’t necessarily ride for speed, or victory, but rather for the whole experience of being on and around their bicycles.

Further, despite the new line’s “Road” nomenclature, Giro appears to have created an absolutely phenomenal mountain bike line. Thin, tailored baggies and comfortable, relaxed Merino tops for a day out on the trails? Sign us up. We’ll certainly be testing the New Road line on all sorts of terrain.

FILED UNDER: Bikes and Tech / Quick Look / Technology TAGS:

Caley Fretz

Caley Fretz

Tech Editor Caley Fretz can usually be found chasing races along the backroads of Europe or testing bikes and gear in the mountains outside Boulder, Colorado. If you can't find him there, check the coffee shop across from VN World Headquarters.

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