Factory Tour: Bergamo Clothing
Going to the Giro is more than seeing a bellissima bike race, it’s also a chance to visit the actual factories of the coolest cycling brands. My trip to this year’s race was not complete until I’d dropped in on Marcelo Bergamo and his family at their factory near Milan, to see exactly how the PEZCycling custom kit is made…
You’ve read about the Bergamo Maglifico Sportivo on these pages for a couple years, first as a brand introduced to the North American market by Upland Sports Group, and more recently as the official supplier of the PezCycling News custom kit.
Pez-Man Nick O’Brien shows off the kit on the Poggio at Milan-Sanremo.
When we signed on with Bergamo, we were as new to the brand as they were to North America, so although we’d been impressed with the initial gear that we’d reviewed, we really had no idea how the kit would hold up through a season of heavy use. Stitching quality, color lasting, long term comfort – all these were things we hoped to be impressed by.
Our kit arrived in January and it’s now been almost 9 full months of hard use in all climates – cold winter riding in Canada and Europe, hot heat in Arizona, Spain, and France in July, and everything in between.
The final version of our custom artwork looks like this. And we signed off on it before anything gets made – so we got exactly what we wanted. You will too.
Going Custom: Getting It Done
All custom orders for Bergamo clothing are handled through Upland Sports Group in California. This was also our first time working with Gary and Rob, and they proved they’re keen to impress… The bike industry is full of Jabba The Huts who’ve been here too long and forgotten who really pays their salary (ie: Clients and customers like you) – this usually means crappy service and you’re on the receiving end. Fortunately Gary and Rob do not fall into this scunge-covered cesspool. Nope – they’re excited about the bike biz, are established riders themselves, like working with people, believe in their brands, and are damn keen to get things done. It’s a good combo.
Once we’d signed off on the final designs, our order was back in about 8 weeks. 10-12 weeks is typical for a custom order, but we also placed our order in the Fall, before the usual winter rush.
The Upland Sports website has full details and some great info on how their custom process works.
I’ve been really impressed with the PEZCycling kit they produced for us – and especially like the more athletic racer-cut of the jerseys and shorts. Pretty much everyone on the PEZ-Crew is an active rider, and it was important to me that we get custom kit that would meet the standards of guys who like to spend 5-6 hours in the saddle.
Durability has been great – I wash my kit after every ride (you should too), and colors have not faded at all, not one stitch has come apart, and the fabric still feels as good as the day they arrived. The short’s chamois have shown no signs of de-laminating, and the elastics around legs and wrists have all held their grip.
Bergamo was flexible in “customizing” our custom order to include the best chamois they offer – and at the time we ordered it – this MLD4 (4 density foam) chamois was not being offered as part of their custom line. The chamois cost us a bit more, but after a hard season of riding, I can honestly say it’s easily among the best on the market – bar none. Needless to say we’ll be sticking with Bergamo for a while.
The BERGAMO FACTORY PHOTO TOUR!
I spent a good couple of hours touring the Bergamo factory, but you can enjoy my photo-tour of the whole production process in mere minutes…
• Once your kit design is created on paper (or on your computer), it’s sent to Bergamo where it’s digitized and used to create the Design Films. The films are needed to create the screens that will apply the colors to your jerseys.shorts, armwarmers, etc. The Design films can be reused, and are stored for future orders.
Marco shows the actual films used to create the PEZ Kit.
The actual films used to create the PEZ Kit. The films are used to create printing screens, to print colored designs onto special paper for the sublimation process.
The giant screens are then made to control the printing of specific colors onto the sublimation paper for each kit design.
The screens are placed onto a giant printing machine, and different colored inks are brushed over the screens and printed onto the sublimation papers.
The printed papers are then dryed…
Immediately after designs are printed onto special transfer paper, they’re passed through a huge dryer to ensure uniform drying of the inks.
…and stacked before transfer to the sublimation process. Papers can be used only once, so one per garment is required.
Some of the actual papers used to print the PEZCycling graphics for our jerseys.
Huge rolls of fabric are kept on hand.
Precise cutting of fabric for each panel of the garment is controlled by computer. Each panel used to create jerseys, shorts, or whatever, vary in size depending on the final size of the garment. So (for example) all size ‘mediums’ must be cut at the same time.
Huge sheets of fabric are stacked together and specific panels for each garment are cut out on a special by a large, mechanized blade – sort of like a huge band saw that moves all around the fabric.
The giant cutting machine in action.
Stacks of cut panels ready for sublimation. These will become side panels in jerseys.
After cutting, pieces of fabric for various parts of the jersey are placed over corresponding panels of transfer papers. The whole thing is then “ironed” with a giant heated press, causing the colors on the paper to sublimate into the fabric.
Pre-cut panels for each garment are placed on the transfer papers, as prep for the sublimation process.
After sublimation, the now colored pieces of fabric are gathered, bundled, and transferred for sewing and assembly of each jersey, jacket, shorts, etc.
A fleet of sewing stations assembling jerseys. Those are real people sewing the Bergamo kit. They operation has grown so much in the past couple of years that another building was needed just to sew the shorts.
Stacks of jerseys get zippers added and seams finished.
And there you have it…
…Custom Kit – direct to you. The costs for custom kit are probably way more reasonable than you think, so check Bergamo out – it’s the way to go for any club or special event. Call Gary or Rob at Upland Sports Group (510.903.0130) – and tell ‘em Pez sent ya…
Check out the Bergamo Website.
Get more info at the Upland Sports Group Website: www.UPLANDSG.com