High Fashion: La Passione Duo Jersey & Bibshorts Reviewed

Here’s an up-close look at the Italian brand’s Duo jersey and Minimal bibshorts.

You know what they say about the best laid plans, right? Well, the original PEZ plan was to review La Passione kit in late winter/early spring when the weather was colder. So something like a long-sleeve jersey and thermal bibs (maybe even 3/4-length bibs). But COVID changed all that and the world as we know it was essentially put on hold. Italy – one of the countries hardest hit by COVID – had more important things to worry about than shipping out cycling product.

Fast forward to today.

As I write, the world is beginning to emerge from COVID and in my part of the world (Babylon on the Potomac) the seasons are changing. It’s not yet officially summer, but we’ve already had some days in the 80s and even 90s(F)! Italy has re-opened and La Passione was able to send warm weather kit. Che grande! 

La Passione Duo Jersey Blue/Red – $95

New for this season is the Duo jersey. Even though La Passione is an Italian company, I’ve always associated their “signature” look with their blue/red kit, which is more French, and the Duo Blue/Red is a favorite. It’s a more understated/classic look, yet still stands out just enough. But if you want more color/pop, the Duo jersey is available in five other colors.

But the Duo jersey isn’t just about how it looks. This is a serious race fit aero jersey. Speaking of fit, you would be advised to actually consult with La Passione about sizing before buying (if you’re not able to try on beforehand). Based on their size guide, my measurements trend towards XS. But the only XS kit I have in my cycling wardrobe is my Ripcor (my mates across the pond) jersey that’s club fit (I sized down because I prefer race fit). Everything else from every other manufacturer is size small. After trading several emails with Sara at La Passione, we decided that based on how their kit actually fits, size small would be the right size. Indeed it is. Mille grazie!

The first thing you notice about the Duo jersey when you pick it up is that it hardly weighs anything

As you would expect, the Duo is a full zip jersey. The zipper has a little “garage” at the bottom and if I have one little niggle it’s that this can make getting the zipper pin into the pin box a little fiddly. Not a big deal getting dressed for a ride. But it might be annoying if you’ve un-zipped on a ride and want to zip back up again.

Full zip … check

Low collar = more aero

Tight sleeves even on my skinny arms

Construction-wise, the Duo jersey is seven panels (including the sleeves and collar). The sleeves are set-in with raw cut ends (meaning no seams or gripper) and the inside seams are serge stitched. Against bare skin, the material is soft and smooth. The compression is firm without being suck-your-gut-in constricting. But most definitely race fit.

Besides being lightweight, what makes the Duo a warm/hot weather jersey is the different materials used. The front, sleeves, and rear pockets use a “solid” stretch/compression fabric. The side panels are a noticeable “open” mesh material. And the back of the jersey is a “micro” mesh material.

All that mesh means more air flow and moisture wicking

The La Passione “hold the line” logo plus a reflective accent on the back of the jersey

Three rear pockets … check … but no secure zipper pocket that is becoming more common on jerseys

Silicone gripper … check … but not all the way around; just at the back of the jersey

All in all, the Duo jersey is a stylish and functional jersey. And it’s worth noting that it’s not La Passione’s most expensive jersey, but shares many of the same features as the pricier Prestige jersey. One of La Passione’s goals is to make high quality cycling clothing at a fair price. I think it’s fair to say that they’ve achieved that with the Duo jersey.

La Passione Minimal Bib Shorts Blue – $150

My PEZ compatriot Ed Hood would say black is always the safest bet for a pair of cycling shorts, but the Minimal Blue bib shorts pair well with the Duo Blue/Red jersey (although the hue of dark blue is not an exact match). Together, they evoke the look of “Les Bleus” (again, that French vibe even though La Passione is Italian kit).

Although all bib shorts aren’t created equal, modern bibs are basically the same design. Which is to say:

  • Relatively high cut front
  • Y-back
  • Wide straps
  • Wide leg gripper panels

It’s a don’t-fix-it-if-it-ain’t-broke design that La Passione follows. But that doesn’t mean the Minimal bib shorts are like every other pair of bib shorts.

Nothing new here: relatively high cut in the front

A true Y-back … plus reflective accents on the back of the legs

It’s not unusual for bibs from other manufacturers to have a plethora of panels (sometimes more than ten) to help provide better fit. However, as its name suggests, the Minimal bib shorts are … well … more minimal, with only two panels — front and back with flat stitched seams. But because of the material’s fairly firm compression, the Minimal bib shorts hug your body contours and fit as well as — if not better — than other high end bibs.

Two panels really means two panels. There aren’t separate leg gripper panels that you would find in most other shorts. Instead, La Passione bonded a silicone gripper material to the inside on the bottom of the legs.

The gripper isn’t as wide as some other shorts, but still wide and grippy enough to keep the legs in place

It’s worth noting that the compression means that it takes a little effort to get the bibs on — La Passione suggests “you flip the leg hem while putting them on, so the gripper does not create friction.” Maybe that’s what the “worth the effort” moniker is all about? Once on, the Minimal bib shorts about as comfortable as comfortable gets. The material is soft and smooth, and the compression is firm without being overly tight.

In a word: Yes

The bib part of the Minimal bib shorts is true Y-back design and made with a single piece of perforated stretch material. If I’m correct, it’s laser cut and the result is a “lay flat” design. That means there are no seams so the straps are more comfortable on your shoulders. More and more bibs are using this design and I’ve become enamored with it.

Wide, lay flat straps = comfortable

For the Minimal bib shorts, La Passione uses a pad sourced from Elastic Interface (who supply chamois pads to a number of different manufacturers). I don’t know exactly what pad it is, but La Passione says it uses EIT’s Hybrid Cell System and is rated for more than 7 hours in the saddle. The pad in the EIT catalog that comes closest to this is the Road Performance Force so I’m guessing it’s a variant of this made just for La Passione.

The real “money” of any pair of bib shorts is the chamois

Whatever model the chamois is, it has a long center channel for blood flow and perineal relief. There are some perforations at the front for air flow. The material feels smooth to the touch, which means comfortable and no chafing. It’s not a dimpled chamois, but La Passione claims it provides breathability. The chamois is thick enough that you can feel it but not so thick that it feels like a diaper. The padding is dense and firm, which is how I like it.

Like the Duo jersey, the Minimal bib shorts are not La Passione’s top of the line (that honor belongs to the Prestige bib shorts). But the Minimal bib shorts are top-of-the-line by any other name and demonstrate that you don’t have to spend top dollar to get top shelf quality.

Minimal means light

Socks and Gloves to Match

If you’re a rider who likes matchy-matchy kit top-to-bottom, La Passione won’t disappoint. They also sent a pair of Duo Blue/Red socks ($15) and Duo Blue/Red gloves ($35) for PEZ to check out.

The Duo socks are 6-inch height and provide just enough compression without feeling too tight. They’re made with Meryl Skinlife, an ultralight yarn that feels like silk, and may be the thinnest socks in my sock drawer (and maybe the lightest). There are “aeration” panels on the top to help cool/wick moisture.

Feets don’t fail me now!

I don’t wear gloves when I ride in warm weather, but the fit and feel of the Duo gloves was comfortable. The padding isn’t too bulky so should still provide good bar feel. And the stretch material on the back of the gloves is ventilated. There are little pull tabs at the base of the palm and in-between the index and middle finger to help put on and take off, respectively, the gloves.

I ride like Toemke so don’t wear gloves, but these are definitely chic

Hot fun in the summertime

My first ride in the La Passione Duo jersey and Minimal bib shorts was a 70-miler on a mid-to-high 60(F) degree morning. It was warm in the sun but cool in the shade, so I wore a base layer given the ventilation properties of the jersey (I’m of tropical ethnic heritage so tend to feel the chill more easily). My riding compatriots noticed I had new kit and were suitably impressed. The “CC” after La Passione stands for “cycling couture” and I think it’s fair to say that the look of their kit is that, i.e., high fashion.

And I was suitably impressed with the fit and feel of the kit. If anything, it was comfortable to the point that I didn’t really notice it. The sleeves and legs stayed perfectly in place. There was no need to re-adjust anything on the fly (I didn’t even feel the need to un-zip the jersey during the warmer parts of the ride). Although I could feel the compression, there was no restriction of movement (the terrain was Belgian-esque so a lot of getting out of the saddle on the steeper pitches). Between the blue/red color scheme of the kit and constantly rolling roads, I felt like I was channeling Julian Alaphilippe and was inspired to animate the ride on a few occasions.

The bib straps were comfortable and I never felt them digging into my shoulders. Combined with the high compression of the shorts — they held the chamois perfectly in place throughout the ride. And the chamois felt just as comfortable at the end of the ride as at the beginning.

I was a little worried that the Duo socks being so thin would mean they wouldn’t be as comfortable in a pair of uber stiff racing shoes like my Lake CX402s. But I’m happy to report that my dogs weren’t barking putting power down for 70 miles.

I’m not necessarily looking forward to the heat and humidity that are the trademark of east coast summers (but I’ll take heat and humidity over cold and wind), but I’m more than looking forward to wearing the La Passione Duo jersey and Minimal bib shorts when it’s sweltering hot. It’s the kind of weather this kit was made for. Not only does it perform on the bike, but it looks good at the coffee stop too!

Bring on summer!

• Get more info at LaPassione.cc

Dancing on the pedals like “Lou Lou” aka Julian Alaphilippe

Note: If you have other experiences with gear or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

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