The Bontrager name is one that is associated with only the highest quality of cycling equipment, designed to stand up to the elements and the tough nature of the sport. Kieth Bontrager is a true do-it-your-own-damn-selfer with the brains and the brawn to know what it takes to make equipment that lasts in the field. Before moving to the bike equipment industry, Bontrager was already a figure in motorcycle racing, who started his component construction in his garage with an innovative vision and motivation to match. This time around, Bontrager has developed world class cycling apparel to get you through the heat of summer, and they sent it to Mountain Bike Tales' Central Texas Department for the real heat challenge.
B1 Short Sleeve Baselayer
To start with the first layer, we have the B1 Short Sleeve Baselayer, an undershirt designed for temperatures over 60 degrees F (16 degrees C). Many of you might wonder why would a baselayer be useful for a high temperature ride. Bontrager's jerseys use synthetic 37.5TM “active particle” technology. This is a proprietary technology that makes this jersey a must have for a hot ride by working at micro level to increase evaporation.
As the body heats up, our most efficient mechanism for cooling is evaporation. If clothing builds up a layer of moisture, a barrier to evaporation is created and the body will begin to overheat, not to mention the extra weight you will be carrying in sweat. 37.5TM active particles use electrostatic forces to attract vapor away from the body. They also add surface area and absorb the natural infrared energy the body produces, heating the moisture to evaporate even faster. Ultimately, the final effect is faster and more efficient drying rates that reduce the amount of energy your body needs to use to keep your core temperature stable. That's more energy to crest that climb you have been fighting all summer. The best part of the technology is its natural derivation that will not wash out, ensuring a quality product that will pass the test of time.
With all of that amazing technology talk out of the way, we can get down to the real performance. Donning the base layer, it had perfect form fit and it even provided posture support. Initially, I was leery that there was no way I could wear it under my jersey and remain comfortable. That feeling disappeared within minutes of riding and I completely forgot I was wearing it by the end of my ride. I'm usually a sweat-covered mess by the end of trail session, I have always been that guy, but the base layer was so effective I only noticed a sense of dampness occasionally.
The comfort was the same with all of my jerseys and I always forgot I was wearing it with in minutes of hitting the trail. On rides without the base layer, when it was in the dirty clothes pile, I actually noticed the lack of its presence and could absolutely feel the difference of the weight in my upper body due to the moisture. The technology is sound and completely effective. Even under my form fitting Bontrager Velocis Jersey, the presence was unnoticed.
Everything that stands true for the base layer, the Velocis exhibits in style. With a full zipper for ventilation, three open back pockets and one rear zippered sweat-proof pocket, you can carry all you need knowing that this fantastic technology is saving you weight in the form of sweat evaporation. The added Profila Dry with Profila Cool inserts are a Bontrager proprietary fabric that make for a comfortable fit while utilizing 37.5TM tech.
The powerband gripper on the bottom seam of the shirt provides a precise fit that stream lines your ride. Again, the comfortable fit had posture support. For night riders, there is a reflective element built in for enhanced visibility after the sun sets. Combined with the B1 base layer, barely any moisture was present after my ride, and the added confidence of a great fit helped to conquer some great riding. After all, every ounce counts when your charging a climb or lining up for a big drop.
A true engineer, Kieth embraces the mantra of “Strong, light, cheap- pick two”. As someone who got his engineering degree before moving into the biking community, I have grown familiar with this reality and had to deal with combating the “pick two” mantra. This time, Trek and Bontrager have designed a jersey and base layer that stay true to the mantra, and guess which two were picked. Let me give you a hint, it wasn't “cheap.” But that's great news for anyone who knows what its like to trust your gear.
The B1 Short Sleeve Baselayer will run you a reasonable $39.99, an easy sell after my experience. The Velocis Jersey runs you a bit-steeper $119.99. This puts it well out of range of modestly priced, but for anyone who knows what its like to own “the jersey”, this is a very satisfying purchase. This jersey only sits in my dirty laundry for a day before I am looking for it and washing it immediately. Bontrager has created a pair of riding garments that I will confidently take into any terrain. The tough material is extremely lightweight, wicks away moisture with haste and provides the intangible quality of confidence. Check out these and other garments here: