While we normally don’t start a review with a riddle, we felt that one was appropriate for the Bontrager Fall & Winter Collection. How do you test a box of Fall & Winter gear in South Florida during one of the warmest winters on record (by the way, it’s in the mid 80s here during the first week of January)? The unfortunate answer is that unless you have a walk-in freezer large enough to fit a trainer, bike, and screen for Zwift, your options are pretty limited. Luckily we did have a few mornings dip into the low 60s, so we were able to test a few items. However, the rest will have to wait for either the next big AeroGeeks office move (is it too late to add a wind tunnel and full hydration bar to the dream office wish list?) or a freak cold front. Although it’s beginning to seem like the chances of that could be literally the equivalent of Hell freezing over. So we hope you don’t mind that, for some of the items below, our experiences are a bit limited.
Bontrager Race Thermal Bib Short
Of all the products that Bontrager sent us, the Race Thermal Bib Shorts ($119.99) easily got the most use. They are perfect for that cool Fall day when you want to take the edge off the chill but don’t need to go full-length bibs. The Race Thermal Bib Shorts start with Profila Thermal fabric that is engineered to trap body heat and wick moisture. The fabric feels comfortable against your skin—almost like high-quality suede (think “microfiber-ish”)—and helps you warm up quicker without trapping sweat. We never found ourselves overheating, even as the workouts hit their peak.
The Inform Race chamois is extremely comfortable (one of our favorites) and does a great job providing support and cushioning without being too plush. One of our concerns with any bib short is how the chamois performs in a TT position. Too much, or not enough, cushion can make for a long day in the saddle. The Race chamois had none of these issues.
Bontrager also went with a compression band leg gripper with silicon to keep everything in place, which performed just as it should. We never experienced any movement of the shorts even after 2+ hours on the bike.
Bontrager B2 Baselayer
We first took a look at Bontrager’s baselayer options this spring when we checked out their B1 Baselayers designed for temperatures above 60° F. The B2 is their next option and is designed for 60° F to 35° F. Bontrager offers the B2 in four options – short sleeve ($69.99), long sleeve ($84.99), windshell long sleeve ($94.99), and hooded long sleeve ($99.99). All are form-fitting and designed to sit comfortably underneath a standard jersey. We got to sample the short- and long-sleeve options during our testing process, and we used them with both short and long sleeved jerseys.
The B2 starts with a soft blend of Profila Cool and Merino Wool to regulate body temperature and keep you comfortable in mild temperatures. And yes, we know what you are thinking – wool? That’s going to be one itchy ride. We found the B2 to be far from itchy. The blend that Bontrager chose never left us reaching around to scratch our backs once. We were impressed.
Like the Race Thermal Bib Shorts, the B2 does a great job taking the edge off of a Winter (Fall) chill. We rode in the long-sleeve version in temperatures right around 60° F (paired with a short-sleeve jersey) and we brought out the short-sleeve version in temps up to 70° F (paired with a long-sleeve jersey). In all of those conditions the B2 did a great job keeping us warm without retaining heat. We did attempt one ride on a particularly windy day in a long-sleeve jersey paired with the short-sleeve B2 with temperatures that started to creep above 75° F. This resulted in us stripping off the B2 and shoving it in a back jersey pocket for the rest of the ride. While this wasn’t intentional on our part, it does provide a testament for the fact that the B2 is a great option for those of us looking for more warm than arm warmers alone when starting rides super-early on a Fall or Winter morning. You can start your ride with a warm, comfortable core without the fear of overheating later. If the temps rise once the sun comes up, simply do a quick change to remove the B2, stow it in your jersey, and continue on your way.
Bontrager Velocis Stormshell Jacket
The Velocis Stormshell Jacket ($179.99) is one of the products that we have been dying to test, but Mother Nature has failed to cooperate. Built with Profila Stormshell fabric powered by 37.5™ active particle technology, the jacket is lightweight, waterproof, and windproof. The cut is tightly fitted, and when we wore it around the office (sorry, no photos) we found it would fit over a jersey. However, you may want to upsize if you are right on the edge between sizes.
The Stormshell jacket features a full-length, two-way YKK zipper, provides great ventilation options, and a zippered left-chest pocket into which the jacket can be packed.
Bontrager Starvos 180 Softshell Jacket
The 180 in the Starvos 180 Softshell Jacket ($119.99) means that Bontrager designed this cycling jacket to have winter wind and cold protection up front and on the sides, but is vented out the back for superior body heat management at temps just above freezing. What we really like about this jacket is its semi-fitted cut means that not only does it work on the bike, but we could also wear it around town after our ride as well.
Bontrager Classique Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey
Of all the products Bontrager sent us, this was the one we were most disappointed about leaving in the closet. The Classique jersey ($229.99) is meant to combine the styling and flair of vintage cycling jerseys with the features we have come to expect from our modern winter cycling gear.
The Classique has a fitted cut and is made from Merino Wool that keeps you warm and dry (the material is sweat wicking). It features three open back pockets and one snap, sweat-proof security pocket. At the back is a 4” (10cm) drop tail and silicone gripper for a precise on-bike fit.
Our only concern is that Merino Wool, while known for its ability to keep you warm, isn’t known for its waterproof abilities. So if a winter shower catches you, you might want to keep a Velocis Stormshell Jacket in your pocket.
Most would tell us that, as triathletes, not having a real winter is a good thing. But every once in a while we find a reason to hope for a few weeks of really cold weather. This box of gear from Bontrager definitely gave us that reason. Not just because we want to make sure we can give you the full reviews you expect, but because the gear looks to be fantastic. But then again, they say be careful what you wish for. So for now, we will make-do with our July-like temperatures.