The prospect of logging a few hundred kms on some of the most fabled and historic roads of Belgium and northern France was at the same time exhilarating and downright scary. I mean, these are roads of legendary rides, riders, and battles, dating back to the earliest origins of our sport. With some of the worst weather anywhere…
Every true cycling fan knows a legend or two that started on these cobbled climbs, usually in weather so bad you wouldn’t dare think of riding your bike in it… But then, I didn’t fly half way around the planet to sit in the bar, well, at least not before I got some beer-justifying rides in…
And Belgian beer, for all it’s own legendary qualities, is only so good at keeping your warm, which is why it’s better to preceed a good warm ale with good warm clothing.
Enter some very qualified gear from Italian clothing maker Marcello Bergamo – the Lightweight Winter jacket, Lightweight Winter vest, and Pro Bib Knickers.
The Bergamo brand is relatively new in the U.S., now being distributed by Upland Sports Group in Oakland CA, but has been around for about 20 years in Italy and Europe. A pro of some reknown in the 1970’s, Marcello Bergamo began making custom clothing for local clubs and teams, and grew his business to employ 50 people, own 3 factories (including, design, sublimation, stitching and his own textile manufacturing plant in Italy), and boast production of over 400 different custom team kits last year.
With so much success in the custom market, it seemed only logical that Bergamo expand his offerings to include a retail line.
The retail line is targeted at the mid-price range, but the attention to detail suggests a more expensive, higher value product, that obviously has the input of a real rider like Marcello himself.
Lightweight Winter Jacket & Lightweight Winter Vest
When I first pulled this jacket out of the bag, I wondered if I was holding a long-sleeved jersey… when they say lightweight, they mean it. This jacket is perfect for cooler Spring days, little bit of wind, that are just too warm for your heavier weight winter jacket.
Hmm – Me see-um big bad storm approaching!
The front of the jacket is a lighter weight Wind-Tex, to keep the warmth in and cold wind and moisture out. The arms, sides and back are made form “Quattro-Plush” – a breathable fleece.
The collar is cut high, just the way I like ‘em, and is lined with fleece, which even rolls over the top edge so you won’t chafe. Same goes for the cuffs – fleece-lined and snug to keep the sleeves in place.
The jacket and vest both feature 3-pockets in back, and a reflective strip for better visibility. They also come with a handy 2-way zipper, a nice item when things get hotted-up on a climb…
Both pieces come in black, blue, or yellow, and are priced at US$129.00 for the jacket, and US$109.00 for the vest. They’re made by hand in the Bergamo factory, and machine washable for easy care.
I was testing this gear at the Spring Classics in Belgium, and the weather was nice – for January. There was basically no warmth in the air, not even when the sun shone, so many layers were needed. The day we rode the cobbles of Roubaix was overcast, with temps in the low 40s (about 10C degrees), and I wore base layers of thermal t-shirt and long sleeve jersey, then the Lightweight Bergamo jacket, and then Vest over top. To start out I added a rain cape until I was warm, and then rode most of the day in the 4 layers. They felt fine, but the weight of the jacket and vest are better suited to slightly warmer temps.
Pro Bib Knickers
Consider the “knicker”. An odd name that conjures images of grandma’s undergarments, or English gents chasing saucy wenches around the cottage garden… well, okay maybe not so much… But for sure, the cycling “knicker” has always been about tough European pros. They’ve always suggested those lonely 6-7 hour training days in cold, rain and sleet, worn only by riders on great quests to conquer opponents and the elements, in the most stylish fashion possible.
These things are cool! Ask Mrs. Pez, who had to endure my wearing these around the house for about an hour after they arrived… I couldn’t wait to get out there on the bike and really test ‘em.
Made of Super-Roubaix fabric that breaths and hugs better than traditional lined lycra, these babies are w-a-r-m… warm! The fuzzy lining extends even up and under the suspenders. The front and back are cut high, to give extra protection against the cold North Sea winds and Belgian Spring. The legs feature a Wind-Tex elastic insert to keep even the knobbliest knees extra warm.
The cut is multi-panel and curved in all the right places. The Chamois is made from anti-bacterial synthetic material, and is pretty thick – it takes couple of rides to break it down, but has plenty of padding for those long days in the saddle you’ll be putting in. In fact, I was riding a Selle Italia SLR saddle in Belgium, and the chamois was the only padding I got.
In real life, on real rides, I was darn happy I had these on hand in Belgium. We were riding daily in temps around 43-45F degrees (6-9C degrees), in blasting winds and chilling rain showers. The fully lined knickers are warm – nice & warm. Okay, my ankles got cold when I was not riding, but so is the nature of the knicker. On really cold days I just pulled some lycra tights over top and life was great.
They come in navy blue or black, and are priced at US$139.99.
Get more info at the Upland Sports Group Website: www.UPLANDSG.com
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