I just discovered this outfit (Eleven Velo) the other day. They have some interesting stuff, including a nice ‘retro’ inspired merino wool jersey. You choose the colours of the main panels. At AU$125 thats darn good value.
The Eleven Velo merino jersey
They also have bibshorts, with the somewhat radical idea of wool side panels. OK maybe that’s not so radical, since they used to ride wool shorts in the old days, but in this day of lycra/cold-black aero this, and stretch that it’s certainly unusual. Haven’t dared try them out, but I’m a big fan of wool and certainly sounds interesting.
The Eleven Velo premium bibs
Apparently everything is sewn together in Sydney. They use Victorian superfine merino wool, Italian lycra, German threads etc. I’ll hopefully get one of their wool jerseys this winter and report back after I’ve given it a good thrashing.
I recently read a review of the Assos FI.13_S5 bibshorts in Cycling Tips. I noted with interest their comments on the FI.Mille_S5 bibshort. I had used earlier iterations of the Mille and loved them - previously called the Campionissimo. The current Mille, which have been around for 2-3 years now, are a different beast, being much more generously cut. In fact, certain individuals who sell Assos, day in and day out, informed me that the Mille were cut for ‘fat people’ ie the typical larger frame (the new normal?). They have a super comfy pad, but unfortunately for thinner cyclists like myself (183 cm, 75 kg) the leg grippers and overall cut is too loose. I found the legs constantly riding up my thigh, an effect which was severely magnified when wearing them over knee/leg warmers (which in Melbourne is a good 5 or more months of the year). This was so bad that at the end of a ride the shorts would have ridden up at least 5 cm, making them look ridiculous (and I’m not that skinny!). I’ve been informed that the FI.13 is much more suited to leaner body types, although I note that they have the same leg gripper arrangement. Not sure if I’m ready to part with the considerable sum of $$ needed to fully test this theory. So if your body type is more of thte endomorph, and that is one hell of a lot of people, then you might find the Mille to be the primo ducks guts. If you are more of an ectomorph then you might be best looking elsewhere.
My top pick for high-end bibshorts, for a ‘leaner physique’, are the Rapha Pro Team bibshorts. My pair are a bit over a year old and still my favourite knicks. They are extremely well constructed of a shiny lycra called ‘cold black’. Little details like the a race radio pocket abound. One that I particularly like is the double layer of lycra at one of the main wear spots, just above the top of the pad on the back of the shorts, which sits at the base of the spine - the usual tell tale sign of worn bibshorts is an unpleasant thinning of the lycra in this spot, which ends up revealing a bit too much of your derriere to those riding behind you (ie your won’t noticed it, but they will!). They have an excellent CyTech pad which I’ve found to be ideal on both shorter and longer rides, the longest I’ve done being 185 km. The fit is very ‘racing’ snug, so if this is not your thing you’re probably best looking elsewhere. They require a bit of wriggling and shuffling to when getting them on, but once on they stick in place! 9/10.
Rapha Pro Team bibshorts 2011 - generally excellent, and my favourite.
Another which I have tried and liked are the Capo Dorato bibshorts. While not the very high end of the Capo range, these are definitely quality shorts in the mid-upper level of the Capo range. They have a nice snug fit without being as tight as the Rapha’s. Interestingly, they eschew the traditional leg band for a wider band of doubled-over lycra, which actually works really well, as the compression is spread over a larger area. I’ve also found that these ride up very little if at all, when worn over knee/leg warmers. The pad looks identical to the CyTech pad in the Rapha Pro Team’s, with the same channels and blocks, but closer inspection shows it to be slightly thinner with less dense padding. I wore these shorts on the 200 km Alpine Classic 12 months ago and they were excellent, and I didn’t feel short-changed in the padding department once. They do offer a splash of colour, which can be sorely lacking from other high-end bibshorts following the ‘all black’ ethos. One downside of this is that you’ll be more restricted with what you can wear them with. And, if truth be told, the only thing which is perfectly paired with them is the Capo Dorato jersey - not surprisingly. See below. 8.5/10 (shorts).
Capo Dorato bibshorts. These do everything pretty well.
Capo Dorato short sleeve jersey. Great fit, but too much stretch when the pockets are fully loaded.
I also own a pair of Pearl Izumi PRO bibshorts, probably the 2011 model. These have the In-R-Cool lycra fabric, which is supposed to reflect heat, and a funky looking wide leg gripper made out of a different material. They also have the anatomic PRO 4D chamois. This pad is very nice, but not as thick as the Assos or Rapha pads. The fit is very snug and suits my shape well. On occasion I can feel the edge of the pad causing some rubbing in my groin area - this has only happened a few times, but is something that I haven’t experienced with other shorts and would likely be rectified by a slightly larger pad. These are a bit cheaper than Assos/Rapha and a pretty good deal. Mine have held up to consistent use (rotated with several other pairs) over nearly 2 year, which is saying something. Haven’t tried the new iteration but expect they would be just as good. 8/10.
Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Leader bibshorts (2011).
A double-edged sword, the pleasure and pain of training for the Alpine Classic, a 200 km ride with 4000 m of elevation gain. This years training rides started out with a long and fairly hard run down to Frankston and the Hell ride loop, 118 km.
A few days later was a short 66 km but solid ride with a few of the Elwood Cyclismos (Milton, Mighty, Pete W, Anton) through Broad Gully, South Morang, returning via Plenty Rd.
This was followed by a solo 109 km Boxing Day ride to Kinglake, returning via Smiths Gully, Panton Hill; 911 m elevation gain.
A semi-enforced 6 day lull at the in-laws in the country, with way too much rich food was followed by a solo 60 km Mt Pleasant ride, feeling heavy and sluggish. The next day was a solid 134 km stint to the Dandenong’s with Anton, Dave Downs and Randal, with 1186 m gain. We approached from the South riding through Belgrave, Emerald, then climbed through The Patch followed by the Wall, where I got dropped (not totally surprisingly to me) on the Wall by a fast and furious Anton and Dave.
This was followed 3 days later by another solo (starting to get sick of the long solo outings) ride commencing at the picturesque Mitchelton Winery, the starting point for the 2nd stage of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour several hours later. I rode through to Seymour, battling a 30-40 km/h cross/headwind, then up along the very pretty Highlands Rd through the first Cat 4 KOM climb, then twice up the slightly longer/harder Cat 3 KOM climb. Luckily there was a school where I could refill the water bottles, as it was really starting to warm up. I raced back to Seymour where I met the oncoming Jayco Herald Sun Tour and accompanying motorcade. The last 30 km back to Mitchelton were aided by the wind but the 41oC temps didn’t help!
The top of the 1st KOM.
Then there was a nice and lumpy extended morning loop with Nick, Cam and Russ out to Greensborough, taking in some of the meanest bergs (and I mean mean!) around the Plenty River, 45 km. A few days later I did a hard RPM and gym session - just to calibrate my progress. Conclusion was that the cycling fitness was OK, but not spectacular, while the upper body had turned to mush. Most recently was a 145 km ride to the Nongs with my brother Tom, taking in all of the previous route but adding the 1:20 climb, and an additional climb up Perrins Creek Road for a total gain of 1675 m. Was pretty sore & stiff the next day but I think it did me good. Still a lot less than what I’ll need to achieve at the Alpine Classic in a few weeks though!