What's Cool In Road Cycling

Winter Wonder Wear: Giordana Scores a Ten(ax)

Giordana fashions their gear in Bonferarro Italy and the company is the baby of Giorgio Andretta, who also brings you Pinarello, Opera and Merckx bicycles along with other top line gear through Gita sports. The clothing company is also named after Giorgio’s real life baby, his daughter Giordana… Not sure how old she is, but the company will turn 25 this year, and I think she’s pretty close to that age.

The company has humble beginnings back in 1980 as the supplier of pro gear to early US pro teams like Levi’s, Coors light and Aspen Velo. Once on the move, a partnership was formed that has allowed Giordana to become the premier label it is today. It’s design and graphics departments are not only recognized in major corporate deals like those with Disney (launching a slew of followers in the jersey licensing game) and Warner brothers, but of course they paste the peloton with gear as well.

They’ve been podium suppliers for classic domestic events like the Tour DuPont as well as other fairly important races, like supplying that certain Yellow shirt that a bunch of guys chase around in France every year…

Now Giordana are a major market player and are all over the pro peloton in Europe as well as the US, supplying teams over the years like Motorola, Telekom, Cofidis, Lotto, ONCE and now Liberty Seguros (And Manolo never picks anything but the best…) CSC, Colavita, as well as the folks a CTS and the Tour De Georgia. And that is only what they are allowed to mention, as I know that they also supply some other brands and folks that they don’t mention here…

Just a small bit of fabric please…

Good stuff
Part of what I like so much about the kit they sent is that, in combinatio, its is usable through a broad range of temperatures. Most of the gear is from their Tenax line, and it’s well designed stuff. The materials are top mark, and the design throughout the line is very cycling focused. I mention that because some companies still seem to design things in a generic way. Giordana stuff looks great, but it’s made with a focus on the ride to the coffee shop, not the walking around once you’re there (and that’s a good thing).

First up is the Tenax Super Rubaix Bib tights (SRP $150).

And first things first, the Chamois… In this case their Jet Technical insert.

Lots of pattern going on here, but the relevant part are the larger separations that keep things from bunching up. Good thickness (not too…) and a correct placement. The front coverage is nice too and the extra layer is as important in keeping things from “shrinking” as much as showing. Maybe the best part is that things stay fairly dry, as the moisture wicking is very good on this insert.

The stitching on the Tenax tights is also well done. 4x flat seams throughout, and done in a way that keeps things stretching in the right direction without bunching or movement restriction. (while looking good on a great butt like mine)

The mesh back is also a different type than typical. Rather than just being a loose mesh (lots of holes), this mesh has raised and lowered circles that almost look like tiny bubble wrap. The small parts that touch your back are thin material that grab moisture and that moisture heads to the raised parts. That keeps the moisture off of you better and also helps it evaporate quicker. Pretty damn smart. It also covers a very wide area.

Giordana say they are for 40 to 55 degree’s, but they were fine starting out in the mid 30’s, and the ride’s usually finished at or above 55. The fabric is brushed enough to wick well all over, as well as providing a bit of insulation. The feel was just what I like in tights in that I didn’t notice much at all except that I wasn’t cold. That means the stitching and pattern were right on.

Next up is the Tenax Pro Activa Plus Jersey (SRP $160).

Same feel with the jersey… Soft inside, and felt thin to the touch, but for some reason or another, I still felt as warm as with arm warmers that are much more thick. Like the tights, the Tenax jersey is also cut for riding. A little lower in back, as you’ll be bent over, and the panels are laid out so that reaching out for the bars is where you’re most comfortable. The anatomical cut makes for great riding, but it’s a pain in the but to take pictures of, so you’re kinda stuck with this…

note the gripper bottom…

The Activa Plus fabric is also highly resistant to ultraviolet rays. It’s actually 4 times more resistant to ultraviolet rays than untreated polyester. Nice if you’re spending multiple hours rolling up base miles… And yep, the stitching on the jersey is top notch too (note the more breathable underarm fabric)…

Last mention on the Jersey is a nice little twist on pocket design. They tilt the pocket openings to the outside a bit, and it makes rummaging through things with gloved hands just a touch easier. Only thing I would change is going to two pockets from three. I would like having a third middle pocket more than two big ones (tilting the outside one), as its easier to keep tabs on things, but then gloved hands don’t much like small pocket’s either, so I guess this does nicely. And I didn’t forget the small zipper pocket, but since it sits over an existing pocket, it’s good for keys or money and that’s about it once the big pocket is full.

Monsoon’s are something we get here in Arizona, but it’s what we call the rain, as it comes down hard and fast here (but only for about 10 seconds…). Monsoon Island Vest (SRP $110) is what Giordana call this next item (also available in a Jacket)

The vest it’s self is made from Giordana’s Island fabric. If you’ve every seen Assos’ clima-micro jacket, you’ve seen something very similar to this material.

It is fairly see-through and lets out perspiration, while also holding out rain (neat trick that…). Then again it has a mesh back panel that I am pretty sure doesn’t hold out anything while venting very well… It also has a pretty nice sized pocket (but I would have used a white mesh for the pocket and vent material as it would have not shown up as much as the black.

A very well though feature on the Monsoon vest eliminates something that annoys the crap out of me on other vests… Giordana gave it adjustable arm hole elastics. You want warmer? Done. You want more aero? Done. I like this better than the baggy sleeves on most other vests, especially since you can also leave it fully open if you just want to vent…

This might be my favorite piece here, as I can use it for a large percentage of the cold weather riding in Arizona, as lots of that occurs in temps above 45. The perfect set for a good portion of the cold stuff would be this vest along with the Tenax tights and jersey. And as it’s semi clear (and shows colors through fairly well) It will match everything else when I have soiled my Tenax kit…

For the days when a Vest just won’t cut the mustard, you need the Tenax Pro Activa Plus GTB Jacket (SRP $240).

This is a triple layer, water resistant, wind proof, breathable jacket. It’s a true cold killer with a range of 20 – 50 degrees. And when we say wind proof, we mean it, as we used the Pez Wind Tester on a 34 degree morning…

Groupset probably not Campy…

Not a Pinarello, but a pretty good way to see if wind proof means “up to a point” or “beyond what’s necessary”. Giordana’s combination of a flap behind the zipper and a good high colar with an added wind flap make this wind proof as fast as anyone has ever peddled anything (and then some).

It is also cut for riding and is at home reaching for the bars without pushing up around your ears or bunching at the shoulders. Very flexible (especially given the wind proof function) and the same tilted pockets as the jersey work well holding loads of gear (or the odd speeding ticket…)

Giordana rounded out the kit with Tenax Pro gloves and Booties (gloves were also “wind tested”) also made from the same Active Plus GTB materials as the Jacket (SRP $70 each).

Top notch booties with Big Cleat holes (THANK YOU) that don’t pinch between pedals and cleats. As with any good booty, these also have a big zipper in back for super easy access.

The gloves do what gloves do… Very warm, flexible enough so that you don’t feel like your fingers are glued together and a very soft nose terry cloth nose wiper thank you very much!

And So…

All in all, this was one hell of a great Christmas present from the folks at Gita.

If you are wondering what to replace your crap gear with in order to get you through the next couple months, or are wondering how you could possibly go ride that new Christmas bike when it’s too cold out, Giordana might have the solution for you here. They also have a few more economical items that are also very good quality and functional, even if they lack the super-fabrics of the Tenax Pro stuff.

The stitching and materials are good enough that you’ll be sporting these clothes for several cold seasons. The flexibility and ride-position cut means miles on miles forgetting you are all bundled up and that really is what winter gear should be about. The less you notice something, the better it’s working, and the flat stitch seams and high pliability of even the wind proof stuff allow for top of the line freedom of movement.

There are a few folks making high end winter gear this good (very few), and Giordana live up to the high price points with high performance and quality to match. The ability of the Tenax gear to remain breathable while keeping me warm was also exceptional. It sounds strange to say, but remaining cool in the cold isn’t always easy to pull off. Building up sweat when fabrics don’t function properly robs you of energy as you shiver when cold hits sweat build up, and you spend the whole ride zipping and unzipping trying to get comfortable. Not that I don’t have to use the zippers on the Giordana kit, I just do it less frequently and with way less sweat pooling on my skin.

You can see Giordana’s line up here at Gitabike.com. You’ll also find a dealer locator on their site for your closest retailer!

Happy r-r-r-r-riding!

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