I’m old enough to remember jerseys like this the first time around.
Except they never looked this good. Or felt quite as comfortable.
Awhile back, I was approached by a representative of Solo cyclewear and asked if I’d like to review one of their Classique Jerseys. It seems the company, which has made a reputation for itself in New Zealand, was preparing to enter the U.S. market and wanted to know if I thought American cyclists would like their retro-styled, race-based cycling jerseys as well.
Make that a yes.
Their designs offer a colorful throwback to the riding styles of the 1950’s through the 1970’s. Think something the Cannibal might have worn. Or Eddy wannabees, anyway.
Like the styles I saw riders wearing as I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. And which were still in fashion when I got back on my bike in the early 80’s.
In other words, I wore jerseys like the ones Solo sells when they weren’t throwbacks.
Except this time around, they’re made from with Nuovotech polyester, which means the fit is better, the colors brighter. And they offer far better moisture-wicking properties than the early polypro jerseys I wore back in the day.
A built-in anti-microbial treatment means they smell a lot better, too.
So a few weeks later, a package came in the mail. And the next thing I knew, I was standing in front of the mirror, looking at a retro-style top so realistic I almost expected to see a much younger me staring back.
Of course, the key to bikewear is how it rides on the road, not how it looks in the bathroom mirror.
And yes, it rode beautifully.
The fit was comfortably close, but not tight. Even under the breeziest conditions, there was only the slightest bit of wind-resistant rippling of the fabric. And that could probably have been eliminated with a few more trips to the gym.
In fact, the jersey felt comfortable under almost every condition and position, from a warm, sunny day to chilly morning, riding upright or tucked tightly in the drops. Even with an under layer, there wasn’t the slightest bit of pulling or stretching. Most of the time, I barely noticed I was wearing it — if I noticed it at all.
The only time it felt the least bit uncomfortable was when I was riding through a heavy wet fog along the beach, and the damp fabric got a little clingy on my back. Then again, I’m not sure anything would have worked any better under those conditions.
Then there were the little details I loved.
Like the three deep, roomy pockets in back, with elastic on top of each to keep whatever you stuff in there safely in place; something you wouldn’t have found on many jerseys like this the first time around.
And the small extra zippered pocket, perfect for holding anything you want to keep safe and secure, like your ID, cell phone, music player or a little emergency cash.
Then there’s the woven cuff on the arms and neck to keep the draft at bay.
Unlike my other jerseys, there was never a problem with wind blowing up my sleeves. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s feeling an updraft in my pits.
Or maybe a downdraft on my neck that I can’t seem to block. And yes, the cuffed collar zipped up snuggly, successfully blocking the wind and keeping my neck and shoulders warm.
Then there’s the appearance, which I judge in two ways.
The first is visibility, which it passed beautifully.
Riding on city streets, it’s easy enough to tell if drivers can see you, based on the number of close calls I experience.
For instance, I have a great looking blue jersey I call my cloak of invisibility because no one seems to see me when I wear it. The high number of close passes and near misses suggest it makes me blend into the urban background.
On that count, this Solo jersey performed beautifully. I’ve yet to have a single close call wearing it, which tells me it really stands out on busy L.A. streets.
And visibility means getting home in one piece.
On the other, I was a little disappointed.
Despite the attractive retro styling and its unique blend of bright red and pastel blue colors, no one seemed to take much notice. I thought I might get a comment or two from other riders or people passing by, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Maybe next time.
Because any jersey that feels and looks this good will be worn a lot. And there will be a lot of next times.
Then there’s my favorite piece in their line, which would look great over my new riding jeans.
One final note.
Solo has made a special offer for readers of BikingInLA. Just buy Solo Classique Jersey through their website, and enter the code GILET50 to get a Solo Equip Gilet for $49.50 — half off the regular price of $99.
Don’t wait, though.
This offer is only good through the end of this month.