Note: After some months of using these, I have some further thoughts to add at the end.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that yesterday we had a good look at the new kit from Cinettica. If not, here you go. If so, you are now ready for part 2. Does it deliver?
After the ride
I’m starting to get some longer days on the bike as I’m preparing for a second crack at the 3Peaks in March, so it’s straight into the deep end for the Cinettica kit. Three rides of six hours in the saddle through hills and flat with a stop to refuel for some sitting-around-testing gave me a solid amount of time for a good first impression, so here we go.
Preamble: Reviews are a rough guide, at best. What I like, you may not, and vice versa, so I don’t want to hear any, “but you said!”, nonesense. You are also bound to be different proportions to me to a greater or lesser extent, so factor that in too. I’m going to give you as objective a review as I can. Just the facts. I’m about 6’2″ and 66-67kg, depending on the day. I’ll probably be 64-65kg if I ride as much as I should over the next few months. Short torso, long legs. I usually have a hard time finding long sleeve jerseys with arms long enough, or fitted enough if the arms are the right length. I’m not the skinniest, but I certainly don’t appear to have even lifted, bro. Ever. Actually, I did a long time ago during Uni for 6 months quite seriously, 5 days a week, and it did absolutely nothing. If I had a superpower it would be that I’m impervious to getting huge. With that said, these are a medium.
Alright. So, the bibs. In general, I didn’t really take much notice of them, which is a good thing. No distractions, no irritations. When I dedicated some on-bike analysis to them, they felt nice and comfortable. The soft material was indeed soft and comfy, the level of compression being enough to take your shape but not enough to have any squeeze. Physically, the seams were invisible – a non-factor. I have had issues with other bibs where the stitching at the edge of the chamois rubbed against my thighs, which is terribly uncomfortable, but none here. The straps didn’t wander around (though I’ve rarely had that problem before) and while they were tight enough to let me know they were there, they weren’t tugging down on my shoulders. The straps were probably the part of the bib I was most aware of, but they didn’t dig in at all, having no stitched edge running the length of them. The front is cut low enough to allow for natural breaks sans contortions, and the back never really got sweaty, thanks to the very light mesh material.
The chamois is from CyTech, which are high quality Italian chamois that are found in many bibs that cost significantly more than these. The Cinettica bibs are designed for longer days in the saddle, so CyTech’s Endurance 2 pad is used. I don’t have much in the way of natural padding and my sit bones can be a bit prone to getting sore, but the CyTech chamois did it’s job admirably. The chamois wasn’t too thick (there is no diaper-like feel as with stiffer chamois, either on the bike or walking around), it didn’t chafe at the edges, and provided enough cushion to still be comfortable after six hours of pedaling. I wasn’t sure if there was a little bunching in the middle of the chamois on the first ride, but after the last two rides, all is well. It is not overly thick or too dense, but I could notice it against my legs as I was pedaling. If it were any thicker at the edges, this would be a problem like it is on another pair of bibs that I have relegated to a short ride/last-resort pair. Fortunately the edges are quite thin and the chamois in general is quite soft, plus the stitching is fine enough that although I could feel the chamois edging up to my legs, it didn’t become irritating. Yesterdays ride was on the warm side (over 30C), and the chamois is perforated to aid in airflow for keeping you as cool as you can be. I don’t know if the perforations were really of any benefit, but the chamois never felt like it was holding undesirable levels of moisture… though, I can’t recall ever being aware of that being a problem with other bibs. The overall verdict on the performance of the Endurance 2 chamois? I wouldn’t go as far to say that it provide a level of comfort that makes your eyeballs roll into the back of your head, but, like I said, they get the job done with no complaints. So, technically, a winner.
Finally, the only other, other thing to mention is that the knit isn’t a compressive one. They feel more like a second skin than many bibs, but I found it comfortable. On the other hand, on yesterday’s ride in these, I decided that going to the size down would be better for the fit around the legs and mid-section, where the material was far from tight and was actually a tad bunchy. Loose around the crotchal-region isn’t ideal for bibs or shorts. It would be a stretch to say that these were loose, they could have been a closer fit. Or a size down. Going a size down, however, would then make the legs even shorter, which I wouldn’t be keen on. Maybe I just need to put on a bit of weight. If you pull on compression socks/legs/arms after a ride, these might not be for you.
Aesthetically, these are a nice looking bib. I mean, they’re black, and they’re bibs, but they’re not overdone with stupid logos or other sillyness. They contain a few little reflective bits (the two tabs in the rear and the Cinettica logo on each leg), one small badge on the front left hip, which didn’t make itself known on the ride, by the way, and a little orange tag on the front. Nice. Simple. What bibs should be.
I like: Nice chamois, comfy leg grippers, comfy legs (mostly), comfy straps, soft material, mesh back keeps you cool, easy to deal with nature breaks, seams located in the right places, once the bibs are on you don’t notice them, clean and minimal design, reflective elements.
I dislike: Not very compressive if you’re into that (I’m neutral on the matter), and a little short on the leg for my tastes. I can’t say for sure until I try on the smaller size, but while the straps and back fit me well and the legs were comfortable, the upper thighs and crotchal region were a bit roomy. There was a bit of excess material bunching a bit that you can see in most of the pictures, and *certain* other things had a tendency to wander about a bit.
Cinettica’s Racer Jersey is much the same as the bibs, really. The materials are all the same, which is to say that they are soft, light, and breathe well. The first ride was a cool start and a warm finish and with a base layer underneath I was a little chilly at first, but nice and comfortable once the sun came out. Probably not the best winter jersey, but I don’t think you’ll find anyone overheating in it in summer. With that said, I’m curious to see if the material on the back is light enough to give rise to concerns over the effects of the sun, especially if you live where you don’t have the benefit of a functioning ozone layer, as I do. The second and third ride were on the warm side, especially towards the end, and the Racer jersey functioned as you would expect with such light materials. Heat escapes, sweat evaporates. Job done.
As with the bibs, the knit isn’t all that tight. Unlike the bibs, there isn’t a smaller option available to sort that out for me. I have the small, and there is no XS. You can see that it’s not a very close fit, so if you like a close-fitting jersey (I do), you may find this a bit loose, especially as the material has a fair amount of stretch. You can clearly see that I’ve got room to put on about 10kg and still fit into the small just fine. If you like a more relaxed fit, this should be good. The info in the tags tells us that the jersey is “anatomically shaped and panelled for maximum comfort”, but that it’s also “built for speed”, so, there you go. The pockets were equally as roomy, which I think is partially due to the larger than required sized jersey for me, but even so they leave ample room for stuffing them full for a long day in the saddle. I’m going to say that perhaps the idea was to make them roomy as this jersey, like it’s matching bibs, are meant for long days in the saddle, and so maybe it is Cinettica’s intention that the pockets can accommodate the needs of many hours in the saddle. The downside is saggy pockets when full. In the photo above, all I have is a small set of keys in the left pocket, so you can imagine what a full pocket looks like. Again, if you like a tighter race-cut feel or look, then going a size down would likely fix that (unless you are already a small). The middle pocket is a bright red/orange colour for a bit of contrast and rear-visibility. I haven’t used the water-proof iPod pocket with the handy ear-phone routing inside, but I can’t see that having any issues whatsoever. Would work as a good money/keys/phone pouch as well. Good feature.
The grippers on the arms are a nice touch, but I’m a little baffled on why they’re needed? When do short sleeves ride up your arms? Perhaps they would help arm-warmers from travelling south, but with my string-bean arms and a one-size-too-big jersey, they weren’t quite tight enough for that to be tested. In any case, they don’t get in the way, so nothing lost there, and they tidy up the arms without being too tight if you are packing some guns. The same gripper is found on the rear hem at the bottom. It didn’t do much for me, but, again, I’m pretty sure it is because this was a little big on me.
The arms in general are a good length. I liked the wide-ish cuff, functionally and visually – one arm has a nice little flash of the same red/orange colour, which just adds a subtle flare to the otherwise aesthetically simple jersey.
The zipper. Good quality zip, medium-sized teeth, with a big enough slider/pull-tab/whatever-it’s-called to grab on the fly, but not big enough to dangle around annoyingly. The v-neck is something that I was, and still am, potentially somewhat not sure about. This is a form vs function situation. I’m not sure if the v-neck look is for me. I asked the guys I was riding with what they thought and one didn’t even notice. When I pointed it out he wasn’t too sure about it either, but the other thought it was fine. Functionally, however, it’s a success on two levels.
First, there is nothing to aggravate your neck. Whether it’s a scratchy zipper or a too-tight neck when done up, it’s not a problem here. Actually, if the neck is somehow too big for you, it’s likely to be less noticeable there too. Again, it’s not something that I noticed during the ride until I specifically paid attention to it, but it feels good.
The second thing, and something that I definitely did notice on the ride, is that it’s far easier to zip up all the way and unzip from a fully closed position. Normal length zips are often a struggle to undo with one hand on the fly, and some can be a downright pain. Because the zip on the Cinettica jersey doesn’t fold over with the extra material at the top of regular jerseys, it is free to slide down without hesitation. Perfect for when you’ve been chewing on your handlebars to the top of the climb and it’s time to zip up for the decent, heart pounding, hands shaky. Simples. The function outweighs any potential aesthetic grievances in this light.
I like: Nice material, nice wide band on the arms and bottom of jersey with mild grippers, zipped and waterproof iPod pocket with internal earphone access, full zip, v-neck is comfortable and functions brilliantly, super light mesh back (and under the arms) for hot days, classic simple aesthetics, stretchy material provides comfort in all positions (provided it isn’t too big for your tastes).
I dislike: Not convinced about the look of V-neck, but that is waning, and the rest are all about the fit for me: slightly too loose a fit if you already a small, material is a bit too stretchy (though if you fill it out a bit more, that would turn into a benefit), pockets sag when loaded up (not a functional negative, I realize), lack of an extra-small size for the skinnies out there. That last one should really be addressed.
Let’s put this into context. These don’t cost all that much. Like I mentioned at the beginning, Cinettica is Netti’s high-end brand and they deliver with high quality fabrics, well thought out design, and a pretty clean aesthetic. What isn’t high-end is the price. These are AUD $159.95 bibs, and the Racer Jersey is AUD $129.95. That’s pretty entry-level pricing for a higher quality set of kit, especially one with good Italian fabrics and a chamois that is found in bibs that cost considerably more. Time will tell how they perform in the long-term. I’ll come back to that after a summer of riding.
I don’t have a rating system, nor do I feel the need for one, so I’ll just say that I would feel comfortable recommending these to anyone who wants to try the next level of kit but doesn’t want to splash out Rapha or worse still, Assos money. Thumbs up.
Ok, so, four months on, and what do I think? The jersey is still the same. A little smaller for me and it would be perfect. The bibs, however, have taken a bit of a dive in my opinion, and it’s all to do with the legs.
Too short to start with, and they appear to have got the travel bug. The material seems to have relaxed a bit even though my legs have gotten a touch bigger, and the subtle leg grippers are a bit too subtle, which means that within a few pedal strokes, they are well past my normal tan-line. This is serious hot-pant territory, and this is why they have become the third or fourth choice lately.
It’s a shame, because I really like all the other aspects of them. Good straps, nice material, comfy chamois… just needs a few more inches in the leg length.