For most of us, we’re training through the heat of the summer, and by now you may be starting to find your summer kits lacking. And even worse, if you’re in a climate like ours in South Florida, you’re faced with another three months of 90+ degree heat. If that sounds familiar, then chances are that you’re thinking the kit you got for Christmas just isn’t providing the cooling power you need to make it through the hottest part of the year. Lucky for the team here at AeroGeeks HQ, Bontrager sent us some of their Spring/Summer apparel to test against the hottest summer days.
The B1 Baselayer
Prior to this summer, we had never even thought about wearing a baselayer under a jersey unless we were heading out on the road on a chilly December morning. To us, it seemed counterintuitive to layer up when the heat is on. We want to help the heat escape, not to hold it in, right? Well, the B1 Baselayer options have made us believers.
The B1 comes in two options–sleeveless and short-sleeved. For our first ride, we stuck with the sleeveless. After all, if this didn’t work out, the sleeveless option felt like the lesser of two evils. Although after just one ride, we were pleasantly surprised. The Baselayer did two things very well. First, it helps pull moisture away from the body, which cools you off effectively. Second, it provides a comfortable, form-fitting layer between your skin and your jersey. This was a welcome change from the usual feeling of a soaking wet jersey tugging on our back.
The B1 Short-Sleeve Baselayer retails for $39.99 and the B1 Sleeveless goes for $34.99. Although we did end up using the short-sleeve option in addition to the sleeveless, we preferred the sleeveless in the end. While the sleeves of the Short Sleeve are form fitting we just didn’t find them to be as comfortable as going sans sleeves but this is really a personal preference more than a recommendation.
The RL Jersey and RL Big Short
The RL is Bontrager’s first of two levels of summer kits. Bontrager calls the RL the “perfect balance of fashion and function,” and when compared to their RXL (which we cover below), we see where they are coming from.
The RL jersey uses Profila Dry fabric with strategically placed Profila Cool mesh inserts to keep you cool and protect you from the sun. The jersey is fitted, and we found it to be tight without being constrictive. On the back are three full-size pockets that were easily accessible and had more than enough room for cell phones, nutrition, and spare gear.
The RL Bibs feature an inform Race Chamois that we found suitable for both time trial positions as well as a more upright road position. The leg grippers use compression to stay in place (no silicon or other material to add stickiness). And in all of our riding, we never found them to ride up.
The RL Jersey retails for $109.99 and is available in seven designs. The RL Bibs go for $119.99 and are available in five designs (all of which have corresponding jerseys to match). We found the RL to be a comfortable kit for the long haul. As we mentioned above, the chamois was comfortable both deep in the aero bars and upright on the pursuits. We didn’t find any bunching of the chamois, which can sometimes happen with other kits. The RL jersey fit well and has held up under testing. In fact the RL would probably be a go-to kit for us if we didn’t also have access to its big brother – the RXL.
The RXL Jersey and RXL bib short
The RXL is Bontrager’s top-of-the-line kit from their Spring \ Summer collection and is designed for “the high-mileage racer or enthusiast who wants ultimate comfort and performance.” Like the RL jersey, the RXL jersey features Profila Dry fabric with strategically placed Profila Cool mesh inserts. However, unlike the RL, the rear of the RXL has a much more lightweight back that is virtually see-through. With that in mind, we found that the RXL cools much better than the RL. The only downside is that the rear is so light weight that it does not provide full UV protection. In fact, Bontrager advised us that to get UV protection we would want to also wear a B1 Baselayer along with it.
The RXL bib short features an inForm RXL Chamois with four-way stretch and anti-microbial top sheet. The lightweight, low-profile, no-sew bib straps with bonded finish may be the most comfortable bib straps we have ever worn. Like the RL, the leg grippers use compression to stay in place (no silicon or other material to add stickiness). And again, we never found them to ride up.
The RXL has been our go-to kit this summer, and we have ridden with it on both tri bike and road bike alike with no complaints.
The RXL Jersey retails for $119.99 and comes in four color choices. The RXL bib shorts go for $159.99 and come in either all black or white-trimmed black.
Part of training is having the right tools for the job. And when it comes to summer workouts, those tools should include a proper kit that helps keep you cool. The combination of the B1 Sleeveless Baselayer and RXL kit has worked well for the team these past few months, and we expect it to get us through to the fall. And when the temperatures finally cool down, hopefully there will be a box of Bontrager Fall \ Winter apparel to get us through those few “cold” weeks we have here in Miami. Until then, we’ll be rocking our RXL and doing our best to survive the summer.