Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been more days than I can count since my last confession. To be brief, I lied. I said I was back at the helm of this pitiful blog, but clearly my resolve was fleeting.
Now that that’s out of the way…
A number of weeks ago, I unexpectedly received an email that read as follows:
My name is Rieni and I work with Solo, makers of retro inspired cycle wear.
If you’re not familiar with our line, the assortment comprises of classic designs inspired by the great riders and races of yesteryear. All Solo garments are superbly constructed with meticulous attention to detail and a core focus on function. Solo’s design inspiration is taken from the classic jersey styles of the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s, an acknowledgement to the rich history of road cycling and those that have ridden before us.
Originally from New Zealand, the line has just been launched to the US in April, and we’d love to send you product to review. I’ve attached some links for our available review products. Feel free to take a look through and then send a quick email if you like the look and let me know if you are interested for review or giveaway the product.
Thanks for your time, looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Needless to say, I was altogether blutterbunged. The offer seemed too good to be true. But I replied all the same, indicating that I would be happy to review one of the jerseys. I requested the St. Neith because (a) it looks wicked cool, (b) it’s better suited to summertime temperatures, and (c) it was the one being offered in a large — I have to do what I can to pretend that this mother-to-be-like gut of mine doesn’t actually exist. Moreover, I have long, ape-like arms and a prepubescent chest, which means mediums fit me well in the torso, but I have to live with cuffs that rarely extend beyond my elbows if the item in question is long-sleeved, such as the Equipe.
Alas, I was informed that the St. Neith was no longer available for review purposes, but that I could have a Solo Equipe if I was still interested. I agreed to give it a try, because (a) it looks wicked cool, and (b) it was free.
A week or so later, the jersey arrived.
How freakin’ cool is that?!
Warm summer weather has prevented me from testing this jersey as thoroughly as I would like, but I have had occasion to log thirty or so miles in it thanks to a couple of unseasonably cool days last week.
The Solo Equipe is an outstanding product. The jersey is well-suited to chilly early-spring and late-fall club rides, and I think it would make an especially great touring jersey. Used with a shell, it will be an excellent riding option in the winter months.
The polyester-wool blend combines the best of both worlds as far as technical considerations are concerned. The properties of wool ensure warmth even when it’s damp, a breathable barrier against wind, low odor retention, and an amazingly comfortable fit and feel. The polyester ensures that the jersey retains it shape and wicks moisture. Overall, the feel of the fabric is very plush. And there’s a nice stretchiness to the jersey, coupled with a comfortably snug fit. At 6’2″, I was both surprised and delighted to find that the medium fit me just fine. A large might have given me a tad more length in the arms, but I suspect it would have been too baggy elsewhere.
The style is gorgeous, and Solo has been very attentive to detail, both in terms of design and construction. I’ve purchased, in the past, a retro-styled jersey. The design was great in terms of color and print, but the quality of the jersey was poor (e.g., uncomfortable fabric, uncooperative zippers, mediocre elastic). Solo has not made these mistakes. These are fully modern jerseys that look like classic jerseys. The Solo Equipe features a full-length front zipper, knit cuffs and collar, a funky font for the Solo logo running across the chest and back, a bold design with a clean color scheme, and stellar-looking buttons on each of the two rear pockets, which are not only wicked stylish but functionally superior to zippers, in my opinion, because of the way wool stretches.
So many companies offer products they claim look good both on and off the bike, but their garments are clearly best suited only for one or the other. Not so with the Solo Equipe jersey. As you can see from the pictures below, this jersey pulls off both with equal finesse.
Hence, I fully intend to ride in this jersey, and it will definitely be part of the work-day rotation as well.
My only criticism of the jersey –- and it is indeed a very small one -– is that the button holes on the rear pockets are oriented horizontally. I think a vertical orientation would make them a bit easier to operate with one hand, especially while riding. I might also recommend that you wear a base layer when riding in this jersey. The jersey is perfectly comfortable without anything between it and your skin. But if you’re riding in it, you’ll likely be sweating. And that white band wraps right beneath the armpits.
The Solo Equipe retails for $199, but Solo is offering a 20% discount for the next couple of weeks. Visit solocycleclothing.com for more info on the Equipe and other Solo products, or to place an order.
Thanks, Solo, for the opportunity to review your merchandise. Now, let’s see if the folks at Castelli, Specialized, Pearl Izumi, or anyone else is in the mood to hook me up with some free gear in exchange for my invaluable perspective.