Editor's Picks: Summer Cycling Attire
Best Bib Short
Santini N.A.T. Racer Bib Shorts $250 1 of 7
The best feature of the new N.A.T. Racer bibs from Santini is the Next Thermoshock core in the chamois, which is a silicone-based material that is thin and comfortable. On long rides, I could tell the difference compared to more standard pads—there was considerably less soreness in sensitive areas and fewer hotspots—making these bibs one of my favorites. The gel material keeps the bulk of the chamois down considerably, which won't get any arguments from me.
The ONDA fabric of the Lycra is made from a single panel and fits the thighs nearly perfect, but do make sure you order the right size. Like a lot of other European brands, the sizing can run small, so order the next size up if you don't enjoy an extra-snug fit. All things considered, this was one of the best bib shorts I've ever tested.
Ideal for: Racing, long endurance events.
Bellweather Edge Jersey/Bib Short Kit $89.99/$99.99 2 of 7
For an entry-level performance kit for the summer, this is about as good as it's going to get. The mesh fabric on the chest and side panels of the jersey provided excellent airflow on hot days, and the fabric on the shoulder and back panels was comfortable and contoured well to the body in aggressive riding positions.
The 3D molded chamois was good for medium distance rides of two to three hours, and the flat lock seams was a nice touch to prevent irritation against the skin. The new Bellweather style has improved, giving it the overall look and feel of a kit in a higher category that its price point.
Ideal for: Weekend group rides, shorter races.
POC Essential Jersey $170 3 of 7
In the best summer jersey category, this one from POC was a runaway. The 4-way stretch fabric on the chest, back and shoulders is so thin and breathable that it's nearly a second skin. In fact, the white version we tested was so thin it is practically see-through.
The cut of the jersey is something not seen often very often—high in the front and long in the back, which makes you feel odd when standing. With that said, in the riding position this jersey is a dream as far as comfort and aerodynamics is concerned.
The aerodynamic material used has a slick feel while maintaining its breathability, which makes it even feel fast. The sizing here is tricky—I normally wear a small or medium depending on the manufacturer, and the large of the Essential fit me almost perfect.
Ideal for: Racing in extreme weather.
Danny Shane Oslo Jersey/S4 Bib Short $139/$209 4 of 7
The first thing you'll notice about the Danny Shayne line is the style. The retrospective euro-style design is eye catching and quite different from other cycling clothes on the market. As for function, the jersey wasn't the most breathable for hot weather, but it was made with quality materials and was extremely well made. The fit had a tailored feel and the stitching was done with craftsmanship.
The same can be said for the S4 bibs, which has seen an upgrade in quality and feel from its predecessors. The chamois pad was just the right size, and the length of the on the leg was just about perfect—not too long and not too short. For performance, comfort and fit, you'll be hard pressed to find a such a quality kit at this price point.
Ideal for: Impressing your friends on your Sunday long ride.
Specialized RBX Comp. Jersey/Bib Short Kit $99/$160 5 of 7
The RBX series from Specialized has three sub-lines (Pro, Comp, and Sport). The mid-range Comp. is competitively priced considering the quality of the fabrics and the pad in the chamois, which is hefty enough to provide cushion for larger riders. The medium jersey I tested was a bit on the loose-side for my 150-pound frame, but if you're packing a little extra around the midsection and looking for a club cut instead of the slimmer race fit, this one will be hard to beat. This kit is tough and built to last.
Ideal for: Cyclists who don't have the money for more than one or two kits.
Best Base Layer
Assos SS Skin Foil Summer Base Layer $109 6 of 7
Base layers aren't something you'd normally spend this much cash on, but once you try on one of Assos pieces, you'll know that it's money well spent. Unlike the $20 to $50 range of base layers, the construction, fit, and quality of the material is second to none. The seamless construction and custom-designed yarn matrix is probably unlike any base layer you've had on your skin, and in terms of keeping sweat away from your body and releasing body heat, this one does the job better than the rest.
Ideal for: Temperatures in the 75- to 90-dgree range.