What's Cool In Road Cycling


The problem of what to wear on a ride isn’t so much about choice, as finding what’s right for you. For guys who don’t wanna look Euro-pro wannabe, there are choices too. Enter DeathRow Velo – a company as much about attitude as it is about making kit for riding and racing that has style, and makes good fiscal sense.

After talking a length with company founder John Landino, it was clear his place in this world is not so far from our own – while we provide an alternative view of world of pro cycling, Deathrow Velo offers a line of technical riding gear for riders who prefer a look that’s more urban cool than trade-team chic, and who don’t need to impress by spending $400 on bibshorts.

Perhaps even more interesting is that DRV launched at the bottom of the worst recession many of us remember – and not only survived, but are booking orders well into 2010. Dumb luck, or cunning business savvy… whatever it was, it seemed like a good jumping off point for our recent interview…

While the fit is intended to be between Racer & Club-cut, my size small samples fit on the bigger side of my 5’8”, 140lb frame, with a longer body and sleeves than Euro-cut brands.

I asked company honch John Landino for a few ‘non-marketing 101ish’ words on what makes Deathrow cool:

“I totally dig the new clothing designs in today’s culture and we wanted bring that same street style to the bike. I spend over 15 hours a week training and racing and was tired of riding in my “father’s cycling clothes” especially when we just might be inviting girls to watch us race.”

PEZ: Okay the name… kind of a head scratcher, what’s the story behind it?

John L.: True story: I was on my way back from the Capital Region Race in Albany with a few of my teammates. I was crapped in the back seat on a summer day with a bunch of sweaty smelly racers on a 3 hour ride back home. Race was 62 miles and just a terrible course of climbing. I sat in and held my ground the whole race and with 1K to go was suffering but still had some juice left. Instead of hitting the last set of hills hard to get free of the pack (what was left of it) I drafted and when I was ready to go I got boxed in bad. Had to sit there to the line and finished 21st. I was furious with myself and on the ride home we were playing some hiphop music and I just blurted out “DeathRow Velo” in anger and ever since then have slowly worked on starting the DRV brand. It was very weird but since that moment in the car I knew I had to do this. Moral to the story: DON’T GET BOXED IN…sprint!!!!

DRV jersey’s are made with Coolmax, and the short sleeve models come with a 3/4 hidden zipper.

PEZ: The brand is pretty new, you pretty much launched in the middle of a recession. How has the year been, and the brand been received?

John L.: Good question… as we launched in February and March was the economic low point, we were less than enthusiastic about sales until May, which is when we finally saw the hundreds of page views per day of our website, www.deathrowvelo.com, turn into good sales numbers. Even now as the winter is starting, the orders keep coming in, due in part to that cycling fashion void we fill; fun and aggressive without becoming novelty items. The responses from the consumers really validated our ideas, designs and fabric choices for cycling clothing at reasonable prices.

Shaun Dean, Clothing Buyer, at Sids Bikes NYC told me: “our customers love the edgy look and the quality is very high”. We attended InterBike East just in October and really began the first exposure with the retail segment which is how Shaun met us. What was very interesting is the shop attendees and some of the weekend consumers purchased enough DRV clothes to cover our costs for the trip. We had many comments like “this was the only thing I bought at the show” or “this was my find of the show”.

DRV bib shorts are made from 82% nylon plus 18% spandex fabric, and have a 9 panel construction with mesh breathable shoulder straps and silicone leg grippers. The padding is Coolmax Antibacterial Chamois cooling silica gel insert, which is designed to reduce the loads on the body by absorbing vibrations.

PEZ: Now that you’ve established a foothold in the clothing category, who is emerging as the DRV customer?

John L.: The DRV customer has spread between road, MTB and cyclocross riders. The rider age and occupations are just as diverse, from 55 year old engineers to teenagers whose parents are buying the kits for them. We do seem to have tapped into a segment of cyclists who were previously content to be unattached, as many of our customers apply to join our team as well: www.teamdrv.com. The common thread is a hunger for our unique designs and good quality clothes that don’t run $600 for a jersey and bib.

PEZ: The brand looks to have pretty strong roots in the North east. Is it available at retail in the midwest, or west?

John L.: Yes, of course we are based out of Ridgewood, NJ so the product exposure has been more acute in the NE. Our first foray into the retail space was at Interbike East just last month, and we plan on being at Interbike in Vegas next year. As of now we don’t have any retail outlets in the West or Midwest but hopefully that will change. Interested dealers can contact me directly from the website here.

The line includes jerseys (short & long sleeves), shorts and bibs, vests, jackets, skinsuits, caps, and arm & leg warmers (shown above).

PEZ: How do you reconcile your online store with retail shops – sometimes the two don’t mix.

John L.: We plan on offering direct, 3rd party etail and retail procurement, as each sales portal must have access to consumers to purchase DRV products. We don’t discount on our website –as long as we adhere to this business approach we feel we can be successful, just as other industry suppliers have.

PEZ: The kit – where is it made?

John L.: All DRV products are made in Asia; our manufacturer produces cycling clothing for many other best in class brands. This was key in our vendor selection process, as high quality is at the core of who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. We are very lucky to be working with them, as large or small orders are filled quickly and shipping from Asia now can range from 3 – 7 days to us.

Prices range from US$79.00 for jerseys, up to $110.00 for bibshorts – affordable for most budgets.

• Check ’em out online at: www.DeathRowVelo.com

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