You may have missed the memo that helmet leader Giro is now designing a line of cycling apparel, and that would be understandable. Thus far, Giro has targeted its riding and lifestyle collection more at the skinny-tire sect, presenting it as an option for riders who are more focused on adventure than speed; those who seek off-the-beaten-pavement routes through gravel and dirt roads. Those would rather linger at the coffee shop post-pedal instead of rushing home to upload their ride statistics, and prefer sipping espresso dressed in a casual style instead of loud Lycra.
But after spending a half-dozen rides in the newly released women's New Road apparel, I'm starting to think the marketing minds behind Giro should have called it New Mountain–or perhaps a more neutral New Ride–because the pieces seems to be just as comfortable on singletrack as on asphalt, if not more so.
The women's collection launched this year with 22 types of leggings, base layers, jackets and shorts, all designed to be comfortable and, well, look good on and off the bike. Giro uses a mix of wool, polyester, nylon and cotton across the line, and most of the pieces come in neutral colors like blue and gray. There are no loud logos splashed across the jerseys or the shorts. The fit of the CA Overshort is definitely snugger than most mountain bikers are used to, but the stretchy Schoeller fabric provides plenty of movement. They may seem too tight at first, especially if you ride in traditional baggies, but they broke in well and weren’t at all constricting. The CA Overshort has front and rear pockets, which is a nice touch, but I did find myself wishing that Giro had designed them with a side zippered pocket that the Ride Overshort has because it's perfect placement for a phone.
The nylon-Merino wool blend Boy Undershort fits nicely underneath the overshorts, although the chamois is pretty minimal so if you're going on a full-day ride, you'll probably want to opt for something more substantial. Another great piece is the Merino-polyester blend racer-back base layer, which could actually be worn on its own on a hot day. There is also a mesh base layer with three rear pockets to stash full of food, phone, spares and air if you don't want to ride with a heavy pack.
For Giro, the bigger-picture idea with New Road is to transcend cycling altogether and appeal to a larger audience. Think Lululemon. Plenty of the millions of women and men who sport Lululemon apparel have never contorted their body into a yoga pose, but plunk down big dollars for the brand's stretchy pants and tank tops nonetheless.
For me, the Wind Guard hoodie definitely fits this bill. Sure, it's $130, but I wore it every day for a week after I put it on for the first time. Other pieces like the Ride Legging, Mobility Pant and Long Sleeve Mobility Shirt also seem like they would have pretty good crossover potential.
Giro is just starting out down this 'new road,' (the women's line has only been in shops for six weeks), but it's coming out at a time when I think a lot of us are craving alternatives to the often-unflattering options currently on the market. And despite its road-inspired name, Giro's offerings are definitely worth a go on the trails.