Think Shimano and you think drivetrains — derailleurs, cranks, chains, brakes, the whole lot. Great stuff for mountain and road biking, even the commuter crowd. Ponder longer and pedals come to mind. Wheels and shoes, too. But clothes? Not so much.
Well, turns out the Japanese cycling giant actually has a fairly broad apparel line. But until recently it was only available in Europe and Asia. Then in September of 2013, it somewhat quietly announced that was about to change. Starting in 2014, Shimano would bring a limited line-up of touring and performance road-centric kit to North America. And finally late this past summer those clothes started showing up on our shores.
It’s a small batch for now. Within the pages of Shimano’s 2015 Bicycle Components Trade Sales and Support Manual catalog, cycling clothes occupy just 8 of 266 pages. There are a variety of jerseys, bibshorts, shorts, jackets, gloves, socks and warmers. Pricing is mid-tier for the category, with the top-line Shimano Accu3D short sleeve jersey and bibshorts coming in at $150 each, while the waterproof Storm Jacket runs $160. There are also numerous options under $100. Fit wise the line is broken down into Tour, Comfort, Slim and Tight. There are men’s and women’s options.
We’ve spent limited time in a few of the new pieces (made in either Taiwan or China) and have been generally impressed. Construction and styling are just what you’d expect from Shimano. It’s not the world’s most eye-catching kit, but functionality seems solid and well thought out, and pricing is reasonable.
Take the Accu3D Jersey ($150), which is targeted at the same folks who have Dura-Ace drivetrains hung on their high-zoot carbon fiber frames. Or as Shimano puts it, “It’s part of a collection devoted to racers where the anatomical cut helps you perform better, and the 3D fit provides extra comfort.”
We haven’t busted out any Strava KoMs lately, but fit is indeed race-day snug thanks in part to longer sleeves with bonded seams and a hem that curves around your upper arm to keep flapping at a minimum. There’s also breathable vented material under the arms and down the middle of the neck and back, safety enhancing reflective elements, four-way stretch material in the torso area, and angled rear pockets that are easy to dip into while on the move. It’s a nice piece for sure.
The Accu3D bibshorts ($150) and Accu3D short ($130) are both constructed with 3D cut fabric that’s snug and has seamless thigh construction designed to match body movement. Inside is Shimano’s top-line Racing Chamois. The bibs also use tube-shaped straps to alleviate chafing.
For those primarily concerned with heat management, Shimano offers multiple choices including the Mirror Cool Jersey ($120) and Hot Condition Jersey ($110). According to Shimano, the Mirror Cool Jersey is constructed with a special ceramic coated fabric that’s heat reflective and suppresses temperatures inside the garment, reducing temperature by 3 degrees. It being fall here in Colorado, we’ve yet to put these claims to the test. But Shimano has never been known to toss around unsubstantiated hyperbolic claims, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. The Mirror Cool Jersey also has UPF 50+ sun protection and vented back design that’s similar to the Accu3D Jersey.
Meanwhile, the Hot Condition Jersey opts for a full mesh material design that’s a touch lighter than the Mirror Cool top. And all three of the jerseys have three standard rear pockets, plus a smaller zippered pocket, which is also sweat proof on the Mirror Cool and Hot Conditions models.
We’ve also spent a little time in the Compact Windbreaker ($75), which as the name implies, is a lightweight compactable jacket that’s both water repellent and wind resistant. We found the fit of our size Large tester to be a little looser than we’d prefer, but it certainly folds down nicely as you can see in the photo gallery below.
The touring specific Explorer Jersey ($95), which we have not tested, is billed as being looser fitting, but still enhanced with features such as Shimano’s Wicktex moisture-transferring fabric, easy-access rear pockets and integrated eyewear wipes. The Explorer Short ($120) is a baggy design with a removable internal chamois that utilizes Wicktex breathable fabric.
Shimano is also trying to appeal to fans of the brand with its Print series short sleeve jerseys ($70) and Print Bib shorts ($70) that are made with breathable performance fabrics and have prominent Shimano branding.
Women-specific offerings include several touring and performance line pieces that have special fits and designs. Shorts and tights feature three different women-specific chamois options. The Women’s Hybrid Jacket ($120) has the ability to function as a jacket, then a vest, and also fold into its own pocket. And the women’s Escape Short Sleeve Jersey ($95) promotes heat transfer through its heat ventilation system. The women’s Performance line also includes a 3⁄4 tight ($70).
Finally, the new Shimano apparel line includes glove, arm warmer and sock options for a variety of riders and riding conditions. The glove range includes three short finger glove options ranging from $30-$45 and two full-finger glove options from $35-40. Arm warmers integrate UV protection and an anatomical fit for $28. The sock range includes short, normal and long socks ranging in price from $12-$18.
More info at shimano-lifestylegear.com