PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling : Pez Reviews: Bellwether Forma Bibshorts, Phase & Cadence Jerseys

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Pez Reviews: Bellwether Forma Bibshorts, Phase & Cadence Jerseys
PEZ reviews Bellwether Forma cycling bibshorts, Elite CS line Phase jersey and the Cadence line’s Retro cycling top. Cycle clothing tech has arguably become the tightest game in town (competition, not fit…) Bellwether have decided to play harder and a brand once easily dismissed by Pez have given us a surprise.



Let your mind drift back a decade plus… Think back to a time when the only thing more day glow than a pro rider’s jersey was very likely his urine sample… A time when pink wasn’t pink enough and “hot pink” was required. Way back when mullets lived above sea level…

It’s probably been that long since most of the audience at Pez can remember Bellwether gear as a part of the “well dressed” peloton.

When I recently signed for an unannounced box marked “Bellwether” I wondered if my wife had ordered something for a family member from her side (i.e.: a normal person) who would buy a bike at a store ending in “mart”. The type of complete bike that would come at a cost roughly equal to what I spend on a pair of tires (training…).

Still, it was bike related, so I had to open the box…

I really wasn’t expecting this…



Put simply, this stuff is no place near the Bellwether that I think of as holding a retail position typically a level below the clearance price of some better known brands. In fact, I thought Bellwether had acquired a higher end brand and this kit was something from a whole other company. The surprise grew later as I discovered that the retail on everything in the box combined was about equal to what one brand charges for shorts and a jersey…


Let’s start at the bibs…
These are Bellwether’s second from the top Forma Bib shorts.

A couple different fabrics going on…



Techmesh for the straps. Aenergia and Axial are the two other fabrics taking care of abrasion resistance where you would expect rubbing and directional compression where support is needed. Both fabrics are a warp knit that use open cell for moisture release and air transport.

The bottom hems get a wide band of elastic with a double stripe of silicone gripper and a little detail work with a reflective accent.



The best part of these bibs is the chamois. It’s similar to several top line folks in that it has different thickness in different sections, but the Physio chamois is actually using 4 different densities of foam, including a noticeably firmer material at the sit points.



That’s a plus to me, as some of the chamois material today is too bulky and soft, meaning it not only lets your ass bones bottom out through the padding, but also takes up room in an “ass-balls” area that’s already like stuffing Jennifer Hudson into Leona Lewis’ bikini.

The flat seam stitching can’t be felt at all and there are some little vent holes to help your boys breath.



This chamois should be washed and used and washed and then judged because it breaks in a bit shape-wise. Then the pad forms well and moves well and the firmer pad does the trick without the thick…

And because you wanted to ask, the front coverage is good on whites and colors for anyone but guys hung so well that a lack of coverage is pretty much a badge of honor.

$99 bucks… The Forma bibs. (and a quick troll round the internet has em less…) The guys who’s shorts I normally buy charge that per-leg and then get a “combining” fee in order to sew the halves together…


Tops…
BW sent two tops. Their Elite CS line “Phase” jersey and the Cadence line’s “Retro” top.



A couple of twists here in material and stitch. The Phase gets flat seam stitching and the Retro gets standard seams.



The Phase jersey gets X-Forma and X-Factor materials.


X-Forma in black, X- Factor in white and red…

The X-Forma is super soft and very flexible. I would call the material a tighter weave than some jerseys. It’s a solid material versus other jersey material patterns that seem both thinner and more perforated or open weaved. X-Forma is designed to move moisture from your skin to the jersey surface more so than it is to get air to the skin like some others.



The bumpy material is X-Factor and is on the sleeves, under the arms and on a section at the lower back and works like you might expect.



The bumps keep some of the material off of your skin and is a more open knit that helps airflow.

The Retro jersey is my preferred material for VERY hot (Arizona type hot) days.



It is also light but ribbed and a bit more open cell to maximize air flow.



In Arizona, airflow is king… But in more moderate climates where hot is relatively less hot than here, the more technical fabrics are nicer because the hydro moving action does the job really well and the jersey is comfortable in a broader range of temps and works with base layers very well.

Both jerseys get a big main pocket with separate zipper pocket and two side pockets…



The Retro strip gets waist gripper material while the Phase gets none…



The Phase Jersey has a more snug fit and really no need for gripper strip. The Retro is a bit more roomy in the same size.

Bellwether size things in a performance and club fit (skinny and normal fit), which should be pretty self explanatory. Both are a bit more forgiving in the shoulders and chest than some uber-skinny strips for those of us with a more complete athletic shape…

$64 and $69 bucks for Phase and Retro. A third to a half of the cost of my current favorites…


Glove Love
Last in the mix here are one of several accessory items, the Pursuit Gloves.



They, eh, go on your hands…

Once on, the thing I noted was the light feel and breathability. These are not fat, squishy palmed, pillow mitts but they do provide a little cush…

The gloves feel like thing style gloves so breathability and cush struck me most. It’s down to a funky palm fabric that keeps air pockets between your hands and bars REALLY well.



The Geek close look shows you that they create a little birds nests of springy fibers that spring back when you have anything but a death grip on the bars, but are very slight and thin so that you don’t really feel anything other than your handlebars. It’s pretty neat.



The pull off’s are also way better than the in-between-your-finger straps. You don’t feel these when you ride but they both help your grip a teeny bit and make shedding gloves really easy…



$27 bones for the mitts… I could get 6 pairs of these for the cost of a single set of another brand I own…


Trickle Down Tech?
Like I said at the start, bike clothing lines are very competitive now and while there are still plenty of levels of quality, the trickle down in clothing tech has been fantastic. There has never been a narrower gap in the price / quality ratio of clothing than there is now. In fact, I think it’s the most competitive category in cycling gear today.

Bellwether went out and took a long look at the designs that are dominating the top of the retail price chain. Then they leveraged their fairly large retail volume to get solid pricing from fabric vendors and manufacturing and put it all together so that Bibs, Jersey, and Gloves in this range can be had out the door (or over the net) for less than 200 bucks…

Do you see the brand in the Tour? No. Will you see the brand “at” the tour and probably in a lot more higher end shops that you used to? Yep. This stuff is catching on and ahead of even getting this review out the door I’ve seen people riding the kit. Smart retailers are sticking this up next to their high price point things and simply letting it sell itself…

Maybe you’ll see em on a Tour team shortly, but I would guess all but the shallow would rather have em remain at the continental level rather than asking customers to pay a fat charge in support of a pro tour team owner…

I’m one of those guys that loves a good label and likes playing with the expensive stuff, hell the higher the cost the happier I am a lot of times. I’m quick to admit it. But there’s a part of me that is giggling riding this kit over the past few weeks, knowing that the only folks who don’t think I’m rolling in 500 bucks worth of thread are the other people that went out and bought it…

Check out the whole line at Bellwether’s Home Page.

Have Fun,
Charles Manantan



Thanks for looking. If you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

Send your comments to: manager@pezcyclingnews.com

 

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