What's Cool In Road Cycling

Test: De MARCHI Contour Plus Shorts + Retro Jersey

You’ve probably heard the name and worn their products, but possibly never actually seen the gear until now. De Marchi, the world’s oldest established cycling clothing maker, is about to change that with a renewed commitment to their own brand. And if their Contour Plus shorts a Retro jersey are any indication, you’ll be glad they did!

I recently talked to Mauro Cocchia, the grandson of company founder Emilio De Marchi, about the very long history of the brand and long path they’ve traveled. In 1929, Emilio was making cycling togs for his pals. His stuff was good, and soon he was making clothing for local cycling clubs in northern Italy. The business survived WWII, so in 1945, with jobs scarce as Italy began rebuilding, he officially started the De Marchi clothing company.

The company grew considerably for years, building the business by making custom kit for teams, in fact 90% of their revenues in the early 1980’s were from team kits. The business grew even more in the 1990’s when major brand makers contracted De Marchi and their production expertise to produce lines for Adidas, Nike, Trek, Fisher, and Specialized. There’s a good chance you’ve worn their product without even knowing it.

Like a lot of Italian businesses it’s a family affair – but who better to do things your way than your own flesh and blood? De Marchi is in it’s 3rd generation of family management, and since most family businesses don’t make it past the second generation – it’s a real testimony to how the family does things. Emilio’s daughter Elda was a bike racer and basketball player back in the 50’s – obviously not your typical Italian girl – and she joined the business in the 1960’s. Today, Emilio’s grandson – that’s Elda’s son Mauro, is running the company.

DeMarchi has been noted for a number of technical innovations over the years, like their gel-padded shorts (1990), the air-inflated short chamois (1992 – perhaps a predecessor of the Victoria’s Secret air-bra?), and in 2000 they introduced the first stretchable flexible chamois. Bottom line is these guys have been making comfort in the saddle for a long time.

Their technical advances come from an independently owned and operated company called Cytech, which primarily makes chamois for cycling shorts, including the much revered Assos chamois.

CONTOUR PRO Shorts – The Proof is In the Padding
I’d heard a lot of good things about these shorts and was keen to try ‘em. Most notably, the chamois came with a lot of hype.

The chamois is nice indeed. It’s made of a couple of different densities of foam that are covered with a smooth felt-like layer that feels darn good next to ‘yer privates. The material is designed to move that sweat away from you, so you stay cooler longer. The stitching is as you’d expect from any hi-end short – hidden or concealed so chaffing is minimized. Personally, I’d like to see a bit more coverage from the front of the chamois, but these provide coverage comparable to most brands.

The body of the shorts is make from two different types of stretchy fabric – so that certain parts hold you in place while others let you move as needed (see the gray and the black in that photo above). They feel good on, snug where they’re supposed to be while allowing lot’s of room for the correct pedalling movement. And like the name says – they’re contoured to minimize bunching.

The bib is high in the back and med-low in front – which is good. The mesh back allows for plenty of airflow, while the higher cut keeps the suspenders in place on your shoulders. The lower front keeps you cooler and just makes certain non-riding activities… easier.

I liked the fit, feel and construction of the shorts, but what really stands out is the price. You can easily pay $300 or more for a comparable pair of high-end shorts – but you can own a pair of these for $129.95 msrp – and that’s darn good value!


Now this is a cool item. There’s a big movement these days back to “classic” and “retro” styled clothing, and here’s a piece that’s functional as well. It’s styled as an exact replica of the original DeMarchi cycling jersey, but is made from a super-comfy 50/50 blend of acrylic and merino wool. You want merino wool because it’s feels great against the skin – gone are the days of itchy and scratchy wool togs.

It’s got a taller ribbed collar than modern jerseys, and the zipper is heavier too. It’s got three pockets in the back that are easy to reach, and comes in cool retro colors like this light blue.

In this dramatization – I demonstrate how functional the rear pockets really are, and easy to reach like they should be. You bet you could ride in this!

The jersey is really light weight – and Mauro assures me it’s designed for riding – but I’ll admit that I’ve only worm it as street wear – it looks great with a pair of jeans! You can cold wash it in the machine, hang to dry, and it’s priced at $125.00

For dealer inquiries, contact Team Sales via their website: TSCYCLINGUSA.com

Get more info at the De Marchi website: www.DEMARCHI.com

Where To Buy ‘Em
You’ll find De Marchi gear and a ton of other cycling products at www.BICYCLINGHUB.com.

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