By Nicole Formosa
The Sea Otter spectacle has come and gone, but a few last product-related thoughts linger in the days after. One is new-ish mountain bike apparel brand Kitsbow. If you were at Sea Otter, you probably remember the booth. It was the one with a constant crowd of the caffeine-crazed looking for a good shot of espresso from Santa Cruz favorite Verve Roasters. But the barista wasn’t the only one getting attention. The technical riding pieces like the mixed shell, soft shell shorts, Merino wool polo jersey, all-mountain long sleeve wool jersey and short drew plenty of hands curious for a feel of the fabric and fit.
KITSBOW: NEW, BUT PROMISING
Kitsbow, which was founded by in Marin County by entrepreneur Zander Nosler and Charlie Cronk, former head of design at Levi’s, sources Schoeller fabrics from Switzerland and wool from Australia and New Zealand. The pieces are sewn at Tamoda, a Vancouver, B.C., manufacturer. As such, the resulting apparel is not inexpensive; the pieces in the line are priced between $200 and $400. But it is different from most of the mass produced chamois, shorts and jerseys on the market. The quality is nice, the look is simple and if the performance proves worthy, then Kitsbow could find a loyal customer base among the industry’s deeper pocketed pedalers. It’s sold exclusively on Kitsbow.com and through Portland’s River City Bicycles. Next up for Kitsbow is its first toe-dip into the women’s market with an all-mountain short modeled after the men’s version.
GIRO EXPANDS CLOTHING LINE
Along those same lines of a more-lifestyle, less-lycra look, Giro showed its expanded New Road line at Sea Otter. Since officially launching back in February, Giro has added a few pieces including a puffy vest and softshell to complement its Merino base layers and jerseys and stretch fabric shorts. Like Kitsbow, Giro is also slowly opening to female cyclists, and will introduce a women’s base layer, hoody, leggings and shorts early next year.
CLUB RIDE KEEPS IT CASUAL
Club Ride deserves a mention here too for its Fall/Winter line, which includes a few non-stuffy technical pieces that use befitting fall colors and plaid patterns. Over the past couple years, the five-year-old Sun Valley, Idaho, company has put real effort into designing its apparel to function well on and off the bike, and it’s definitely starting to show. The new men’s Jack plaid flannel is a standout with mesh, underarm venting, quick dry fabric and chest and rear zipper storage pockets. The women’s version is aptly named Jill.
The new slim fit dark-colored Woody jean appeals to urban-minded riders with reflective accents and 2 percent stretch fabric. Other pieces include the women’s Sprint Hoody layering piece, the Wheel Long jersey, men’s and women’s logo track jacket and the women’s Carfree capris.