Bellwether Optime Jersey ($119.99) and Newton Bib Short ($119.99)
Overlooked by many, Bellwether has stepped up its quality in recent years. The Optime Jersey is a great example of what Bellwether can produce. The Newton bib shorts use a fabric with some compression, and a finish that reflects the sun’s rays. The knitted grid surface is used to improve airflow. Its chamois uses a carbon yarn for better drying properties.
I went with a size large for the Optime Jersey, and I was glad I did. Bellwether calls the cut of this kit “Aero Fit,” meaning it is tailored to sit close to the body. It wasn’t restrictive but I have no doubt a medium, my typical size, would have been too small. In the heat, this jersey wicked away sweat and kept me cool on hot climbs. The sleeves are a bit on the long side; Bellwether uses elastic grippers on half of the arm-band to keep them in place. The back drops down a bit longer than I like, but with its close fit, there was no bouncing when I had items in the pockets. The zipper garage was another nice feature.
The Newton Bib Short has even compression throughout, and I felt it helped after hours in the saddle. The knit looks like it would hold water, but it doesn’t, and it does a good job of wicking moisture away. I liked the black/white/red combination, though it may be overused for some.
A.J. Johnson has completed 14 Ironman races and countless other triathlons, runs, mountain bikes and other endurance adventures. He lives in Erie, Colo., just outside of Boulder where he routinely gets passed by professional triathletes and cyclists. A USAT Level 1 coach, he has worked with D3 Multisport helping athletes achieve their goals. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.