The off-season is an ideal time for triathletes to hit up a spin class, switch out a tri bike for a road or mountain bike, or, in the warmer climates, tackle a winter criterium. The off-season also provides a chance to test out new clothing and gear.
For women cyclists, this task can be daunting. In a field largely dominated by male designers, cycling kits are often uncomfortable and unattractive. In response to women’s disdain for “shrink it and pink it,” several companies have taken on the challenge of creating the perfect women-specific kit, including several female-owned businesses. Eight Triathlete.com readers, ranging from new rider to pro triathlete, rode a combined 2,335 miles in female-specific kits from popular cycling gear companies. Their reviews:
BEST FOR: Crit Chicks
A staple in the cycling community, Louis Garneau has long been known for high-quality gear. The brand’s Course kit ($179 jersey, $199 shorts) was a favorite of testers, especially serious riders who hit up the crit and velodrome circuit in the off-season.
What our testers said: “This was something I would race in. It felt amazing—form-fitting without feeling like a stuffed sausage. The fit was so smooth, sleek and truly felt unlike any cycling kit I’ve ever worn before.”
“I like that on an 80-mile ride, I was still comfortable. Coming from a background of wearing tri shorts with very little padding, it was a huge change and for short rides was slightly uncomfortable. However, the longer I rode, the better it felt.”
Fit: If you’re used to standard cycling and tri shorts, the race-length sleeves and 9.5-inch inseam of the LG shorts will feel long. Though some testers were apprehensive about the length at first, most grew to appreciate having the compression on their thighs.
Feel: This jersey features “burn out” regions on the back, chest and torso to help keep the rider cool. The use of Colorblack technology also means the kit will transition well to the warmer riding months. With wide waistbands and laser-cut seams, the shorts lay flat and avoid a “muffin top” effect.
Ride: The chamois is very firm and supportive, even at the end of long rides, when most chamois start to compress. A split at the rear of the chamois is bridged with mesh fabric for extra ventilation.