High Gear: Bellwether biking apparel, they’re the “other” guys
When it comes to biking apparel, one name — Pearl Izumi — is often the first to come to mind. If not that one, maybe one of the major bike manufacturers’ lines, like Trek or Specialized. But this week we’re taking a look at one of the other guys, a smaller company you might not have heard of that offers some high quality gear at an affordable price.
California-based Bellwether apparel has been in the cycling game for more than 40 years, but it’s not affiliated with a major biking company nor is its merchandise as widely distributed as Pearl Izumi’s. But because Bellwether is not on that level, and because of its customer-direct sales model, it’s able to offer similar quality at a lower cost.
“We’re the Carhart of bike gear,” Rob Quinn, Bellwether’s national sales manager said. “We are an extremely technical garment at a reasonable price.”
The company offers just about everything when it comes to cycling gear. Although not currently distributed in any local retailers, the gear is widely available at Denver-area independent bike dealers and online. The company also plans to host a number of seasonal warehouse sales in Denver in conjunction with Denver-based Optic Nerve sunglasses and ski goggles.
This week, we’re taking a look at three pieces from Bellwether’s mountain biking line to gear you up from head to, well, fingertip.
Lightweight, sturdy stitching and breathablity, that’s the theme in most Bellwether apparel and the Fuse Jersey is no exception. It’s designed with most of the conventional features of any biking jersey, but Bellwether’s Nanostat fabric adds a lightweight feel that others don’t have. Thinner mesh around the armpits and shoulders adds to the breathability. In addition to ventilation, the Nanostat fabric is designed to transfer moisture away from the body and dries quickly should you get caught in the rain. It also has a UPF 30+ rating for sun protection. Along with the standard three back pockets and a full front zipper, the jersey also has a small zippered pocket on the side — perfect for an MP3 player or cellphone. Those who prefer riding in more of a synthetic T-shirt, rather than a jersey, should check out the Apex T.
Cost: about $65; Apex T, $27-$36
A sturdy pair of mountain biking shorts are often worth the investment, but you don’t have to break the bank on Bellwether’s Implant shorts.
The first thing we noticed was this shorts’ ability to repel water — a good feature when you’re braving the elements or charging through a puddle. They also don’t necessarily look like biking shorts, making them a good option for wearing around town.
As an added bonus, the Implant shorts come with a padded, removable undershort to make your longer rides a little more comfortable. We also liked the pocket designs. Four separate front pockets — two zippered — add the utility of a cargo short without being bulky. While not especially necessary, zippered thigh vents add to breathability without being obtrusive. The only thing we didn’t like was that the Implant shorts had no belt loops. There is, however, a Velcro system that makes them fairly adjustable to your waistline.
The Vector glove’s lightweight minimal design makes it a great option for summer or early fall riding. The padding in the fingers and palms is strategically located to be useful without being bulky.
The gloves had an extremely comfortable form-fitting feel, with well-integrated seems. Lightweight fabric on the back of the hands keeps the gloves breathable, too.
We wouldn’t recommend them for colder temperatures, but they are extremely versatile under most conditions. These are incredibly durable, well-designed gloves.
Cost: about $25
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