Alpinestars Does Cycling Clothing?-by Grannygear
Or at least mountain bike clothing? How about that! I thought they were moto guys! Well of course I knew of them from ‘back in the day’ when there were even Alpinestars bikes, but that had long passed into memory. So when Nic Sims, ex-Specialized marketing wizard, now with Alpinestars, called and asked about us reviewing some clothing, I was not sure what to expect. I have had branded clothing from other companies before…some were from clothing specific companies, some not…that seemed like a marketing person picked a jersey from a catalog and slapped a logo on it. Here ya go…that will be $75.00 please. And the results were meager for the cost. Nice, but nothing special.
But the Alpinestar’s cycling gear has been a real surprise. We received two baggy shorts and two jerseys – a long sleeve and short sleeve Drop jersey, a pair of Manual baggy shorts, and a pair of Hyperlight baggys. The devil is in the details, so they say, so let’s take a good look at the gear. I got the clothing in the transition from winter to spring, so the long sleeve jersey caught my eye first off. Picking up the LS Drop jersey, the fabric stood out as nice to the touch. There are vented mesh panels (shown in the black sections) sewn into the jersey and it is well branded with Alpinestars logos, but not garishly so. The cut of the sleeve length and the long tail was just right. There are no zippers anywhere sleeve or neck/chest. There is a two panel pocket sewn into the back and closed with a zipper. The smaller pocket is good for an mp3 player or smart phone (my iPhone4 and case fit in there but barely) and has a sewn in ‘button hole’ for the headphones to pass through. At the neck opening there is a sewn in loop to help the headphones cord stay organized. Nice touch! As well, there is an eyeglass cleaning pad of soft fabric sewn into the inside of the jersey at the hem, left front. The short sleeve version is pretty much the same thing but has a bit larger mesh sections for hotter weather.
The Manual shorts came with a snapped in chamois liner, easily removable for washing, etc, and are a moderately full cut baggy, not too billowy, but long enough to cover the knees. The fit is still close enough to stay out of the way of saddle noses, etc. The Manuals have a double snap and velcro fly with adjustable waist sizing. The entire short is lined with mesh and the pockets are a combo of two ‘normal’ hip pockets (no closure), two velcroed thigh pockets of good size and easy access, and one smaller zipped pocket on the left thigh above the knee. There are also belt loops if you feel the need for a belt.
The Hyperlight shorts are a bit more lightweight in the fabric and do not come with a chamois liner. They have a closer fit and do not go as far down the leg as the Manual shorts do. There is a single snap and velcro fly and a waist band adjust for sizing (no belt loops). There are two mesh lined slash hip pockets (zipper closed) and a smaller zipped pocket low on the right thigh. The Hyperlight is more minimalist, almost a board short approach. They are also completely lined with mesh and have a handy drying/hanging loop sewn into the waistband.
So, after wearing the jerseys a lot of hours and the shorts for a few rides, here is what stands out to me.
- OK, someone put some thought into this stuff. Really. Then they actually wore them to see how they felt, I bet. Because things like the fit being right is one thing, but the nice touches like the jersey’s zipped pocket split, the headphone routing, eyeglass patch….yeah, that is well done.
- Overall the fit and feel is one of quality. They look like nice pieces of gear that should last for a good while. They do not look or feel cheaply made. No seam has itched or scratched or bothered me.
- The LS Drop jersey is my fav, possibly because it hit my door at the right time of year to be the perfect outer layer over a base shirt of some kind. I wore this on a 12 hour ride in Moab in temps from the high 40s to the low 80s and in combo with arm warmers (under the long sleeves) and a base tank, it was good all day. After many wearings and washings (lots of time by hand in the shower post ride…just a quick soap and rinse), the jersey still is comfy. The one time I had it machine washed in warmer water, it seems like it shrunk ever so slightly at the sleeves, so I have been careful not to dry it other than hanging it up. I do this with all my cycling clothes…never stuff in the dryer.
- The baggies vent very well, so well that the first ride in the Manuals was well into the 50s when I dropped into the first downhill to the ride meet and was surprised by all kinds of cool air over the nether regions. WHEEEEE!!! These are NOT winter shorts in my opinion.
- The Hyperlight shorts are a very snug fit, perhaps too snug for my liking as I notice them more when I go through the pedal stroke while seated. Not terrible, but I am not really a baggy short wearing guy…they always make me feel slow, all that material, but baggys have a place in riding function for heavy trail rides, etc. I know some folks always wear bags…mostly ones that are lycra-shy, I bet, but I did prefer the fit of the Manuals and the longer length.
- The chamois is OK in the Manual short, but not top end. I ended up pulling it out and running them over a set of Specialized bib shorts and that was mucho better. I am not surprised at the medium quality liner included as putting a top end short liner in there would make for a costly package that many would not see the value in. I bet that most weekend riders and guys doing less of an XC approach will find the stock chamois acceptable.
- The lack of a zipped front will turn away the roadie in you, but the name…Drop Jersey…is a clue to the mindset here. The mesh panels do make for a wider comfort range than you might expect though and so far I have not missed the zipper at all.
Prices seem to be from $80.00 to $100.00 for the Manual shorts, the Hyperlights running around $70.00 from what I see on the net, and the jerseys are in the $55.00 to $75.00 range. I did not get suggested retail from Alpinestars, but a quick Google search came up with that range of prices.
So although cycling related clothing does not seem to be at the top of the priority list for Alpinestars, they obviously did not treat these as an afterthought to grab some market share. This is nice gear worthy of your consideration for your next trail outing.
Note: Alpinestars sent over the clothing for test/review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being bribed or paid for this review. We will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.