What's Cool In Road Cycling

Nalini Pro Gara Jacket, Jersey, Bibs and Polaris Shorts Review

Cold Weather Kit: Nalini are hand crafting some tip-top cold weather cycling gear in their Castel D’Ario home. Just in time for winter, here’s my review of the Pro Gara jacket, Pro Gara jersey, Bib Tights and Polaris Winter Bib Shorts.

Tucked into the small town of Castel D’Ario in Italy, Nalini’s modern production facilities sit right next to the modest house in which the Montonavi brothers started it all in the 60’s.

I stopped in to see Vincenzo and roughly 300 associates,  now working in a few hundred thousand square feet dedicated to raw material storage, fabric weaving (Nalini also mill fabric…) pattern designing and cutting, logo and art design, printing, sublimating, sewing, packaging, and shipment.

See the Nalini Factory tour here: Inside Nalini – MOA Sport

Nalini is a powerhouse, creating some of the highest quality performance gear in the world.

This go-round we have their Pro Gara winter kit and Polaris Winter shorts.

Multiple fabrics make up the Pro Gara jacket.

For the front of sleeves, chest, and shoulders, a triple layer material that is circular-knitted polyester and elastane make up the outside surface and circular knitted polyester on the inside. These layers sandwich a middle layer of Nalini’s Mantotex, which is a thermoregulating membrane that keeps wind and water out BUT still allows for moisture to exit.

At the back, sides, and rear of sleeves, a highly breathable “Blizzard” material is a durable outer weave with a soft inside, and this gets Nalini’s WRT (Water Resistant/repellant) treatment.

Note the Triple-layer material on the chest and front of the sleeves (Orange) has a bit more sheen than the venting material on the back and back of sleeves (Green)…

The inside of the jacket is a low pile, ribbed fleeced (white) on the Mantotex sections and a medium pile fleece that makes up the balance of the more vented but still insulating “Blizzard” sections.

It’s not like body shapes have changed over the last 20 years, but technical clothing sure as hell has become MASSIVELY better at keeping you warm and venting sweat. This is a combination of better details and better materials rolled into what have become tried and true cuts and styles.

One of the details and materials that are making life better are being placed at the edges of garments and on the Pro Gara Jacket, this means the cuffs and collar.

The Cuff material is a comfort stretch that feels a bit like rubber but has a fabric backer that gives it structure and durability and is also a little better at moving against hands and gloves while maintaining a seal. This is a combination of polyurethane, polyamide and elastane.

The collar doesn’t get the rubbery layer but does have a slightly stiffer hand. The collar is two materials, an inside wicking soft layer against the skin and an outside layer for support that stands up well rather than rolling up and leaving you exposed. It also has clever venting holes that allow it to maintain this stiffness and coverage but blow off moisture around a particularly critical area.

Out back, the jacket gets highly reflective dots (when man-made lights hit these, they REALLY pop).

Three pockets are cut at a slight angle (making the largest pocket on the left) leaving the 4TH zip pocket exposed for access.

This pocket is made from polyamide materials that form a mesh (for structure) and membrane. The pocket portion is water/sweat blocking (though the zipper is not taped so you can’t call the full pocket “waterproof”) and is fairly large, taking up more than a pockets space when you see it from the inside.

The Pro Gara Jacket is similar to the bib tights (below) in that it’s no-nonsense performance gear that feels very light and more flexible than it should while still keeping you comfortable in relatively low temps. For the past 20 years, cold-gear always felt and sounded like “cold-gear”, stiff, thick and coarse sounding as you move. The Pro Gara kit feels like spring weight product.

This jacket is at home combined with a jersey and base layer underneath for weather dipping into the low 30’s. It works as well with just a base layer as the inside is relatively soft and I can run this comfortably into the 40’s and 50’s.

The Pro Gara Jersey may be the Answer… if the Weather is into the upper 40’s, 50’s and low 60’s,

A lot of similar features to the Pro Gara Jacket here. In fact, this jersey might be called a light jacket in a lesser product line.

The cuffs get the same PolyU/Polyamide/Elastane material.

The collar is the same materials and feel as the jacket as well…

There’s also a Silicone gripper at the bottom hem.

The Pockets are also tilted and feature the 4th pocket… (Note, no reflective dots…)

The pocket also gets the Water blocking materials…

You might note that this whole garment is black inside rather than the white and black internal materials in the Pro Gara Jacket….

The Pro Gara Jersey is a 4-way stretch material that is a mid-pile fleeced polyamide lining and a softshell feeling outside that is elastane and polyester. The combination allows for warmth and insulation and excellent movement.

The whole Garment (apart from the collar and cuffs) also get Manto WRT treatment to repel water.

Something else to mention about this treatment is that it also helps reject oil and dirt. This not only keeps you comfortable but helps extend the life of the garment and makes for easier and more complete washing.

That’s quite a bit on materials features but its all worth mentioning as it adds up to the Pro Gara Jersey being a stand-alone garment, ready to go in the 60’s and 50’s by itself. Matched with a long sleeve base layer, the Jersey works into the upper 40’s and matched with a vest this will be good into the low 40’s… Bear in mind this is my personal winter-hating ass-o-meter talking and YMMV but that is a solid range of temps for a “jersey”.

Anchoring the upper-body are Nalini’s Pro Gara Bib Tights

Like their Pro Gara jacket/jersey cousins, these are an ergonomic / race fit piece of kit that is snug (and in the case of the tights, supportive) and move very well with little room for anything flapping in the breeze.

The materials mix here is all purposefully placed for performance.

The belly and chest are raised coverage and protection and a zip fit to @ your sternum.

The Back Panel is similar to the chest…

This is perforated material that still has reasonable coverage but is meant to transfer moisture very well from base layers to the jersey / jacket and away from the skin.

The two slightly different finishes from the Pro Gara Jacket is here on the Bib Tights as the front panels are designed for wind resistance and the back sides are for warmth and venting.

The front (wind facing) side is a 3 layer membrane to protect against the harsher elements. And similar to the jacket, the inside layer is a soft fleeced material with a slightly different pile (3-layer membrane is Orange // stretch and breathe Green).

The lower legs get the splash/oil/grim resistant cuff material (though here it feels slightly more stretchy, which could just be the size of the pieces…).

This material covers the ankle to lower calf…

Inside it’s a soft touch finish like the cuffs of the Jacket and Jersey.

The Chamois for the Bib tights is very nice…

This is Nalini’s 3D Carbon Gel. It’s a 9 (NINE) piece construction of 6 layers that features small Gel damping at the very bottom.

This is a bit thicker pad and you can actually see the little Gel bits…

But I didn’t feel the gel bits… just the support and damping of a very nice pad.

The Pro Gara tights don’t extend the full range of weather that the Jersey and Jackets combine to provide… They’re absolutely good in low 30’s to 50’s but into the 60’s and you might have wanted for Leg warmers or something a bit less warm. They breathe very well, but at 65+ these will get a little toasty.

The problem I have with leg warmers and bib shorts though is that most bib shorts will leave your sex parts unhappy in rides starting in the 40’s but then ending in the 50’s or 60’s where you might want to pull off the legs…

With that, Nalini have a great option with the Polaris Nanodry Bib Shorts.

Nanodry is Nalini’s most breathable water repellant treatment and is a perfect match for MOA Warm fabric that is water repellent and soft-shell like outside…

And a thin/soft fleeced interior.

This material is very comfortable and relatively thin for its warmth. It also moves really well as the fabric has good stretch and, as you can see from the pics above, this is also a complex, multi-panel cut that helps position and shapes the material to direct the compression. Stretch and expansion aren’t overly easy to accomplish on a water repellant material, but it works with the Nanodry material for these shorts.

The back panel is a highly breathable mesh for the Polaris…

The Chamois is a stitched, 3-layer x 5 piece construction that offers mid-density and mid-high thickness.

This has a ventilated mid-layer and the layers are hydrophilic (draws in moisture) and then hydrophobic (rejects moisture and dries quickly) to build a comfortable climate in a pretty critical area…

Thin, Laser-cut grippers at the knees that will hold leg warmers well without adding bulk.

Note the light fleeced material, not too thick

This is a GREAT short for those days in the mid 40’s to 6O’s. They’re not bulky and just warm enough to keep your Sex-bits from having to shrink up.

Ah and lastly, Nalini tossed in a pair of neoprene toe warmers.

This is a simple piece of kit that you tug on over your shoes in the case that it’s too chill for going naked.

They’re also thin enough (2.5mm) that on those extra cold days, you can snug them under a set of thinner waterproof boot covers for a layer of warmth.

On the Road
I hate the cold.

I would rather do just about anything than an outdoor activity between November and April and part of that is down to hating the 40 minutes it takes to select and put on bulky gear that makes whatever performance related function I’m about to do less enjoyable with restricted movement… Add to it that the gear itself either lets in the cold more than I want or gets so sweat soaked that the cold creeps in. Nalini’s kit suffers nearly none of that and I find myself not hesitating to get out and ride.

Yes this winter kit helps to stay warm, but this gear is thin and flexible to the point that there’s not a performance downside to be had.

The Triple-layer Pro Gara Jacket and Bibs have very good stretch and feel for a membrane-inclusive product. Most kit (Jackets or Tights) with multiple layers feel like one of the layers is cardboard.

Nalini’s Mantotex pieces are comfortable, conforming and light. I’m not sure if that’s down to the materials or just a clever pattern and panel cut (probably both). What you get are a jacket and tights that don’t make you feel like you’re putting on frigid gear, and don’t move like a lot of gear workable in the same temperatures.

The Polaris shorts are probably the bigger win for me when I’m home in Phoenix in the winter. Here the temp swings 20+ degrees from ride start to end and they cut the early chill and then I can strip off the leg warmers and the shorts breath well enough that I can finish in the 60’s with zero fuss.

The Pro Gara Jersey is also impressive and works through a big temp range here, but it also combines with the jacket to allow me a genuinely cold blast in NYC/Chicago in the dead of winter as well.

Beyond the performance, the fit and finish on all the pieces are fantastic. All of this kit is put together in a fashion that I believe will give me years of continued use.

As I said in the Nalini tour article, Nalini-MOA sport are making gear for themselves and are also the “made in Italy” manufacturer for some other Tip-Top brands that are quite a bit more costly than this.

Pro Gara Bib Tights: US$199
Pro Gara Jacket: $249
Pro Gara Jersey: $149
Polaris Bib Shorts: $149
Neoprene Toe Covers: $29

All of these pieces are ready now and you can find them at the retailers listed here: Nalini Dealers

For more information, you can visit: Nalini.CC

For Distribution in North America, visit: Albabici.com

Have Fun,

Charles Manantan
[email protected]

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PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products you see here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper / safe use, handling, maintenance and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

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