While many apparel brands take up wall space at your local independent bicycle dealer, one name has recently been brought to the forefront of my limited attention span that has quickly made it to the top of my most-washed pile, and to be honest that’s no easy feat.
The Bontrager Classiuqe line was inspired from the idea that cyclists all have a deep affinity for the traditional wool, bold, stylish garments that cycling culture grew up with over the last century.
There’s something about how wool looks and makes us feel that was hard to ignore, said Bontrager (the apparel and accessory arm of Trek) marketing manager Sam Foos.
Classique complements other Bontrager cycling apparel in a high-end, warm yet breathable, detailed out, retro-inspired garment line for roadies who may appreciate the finer things in life, both on and off the bike, as so many are want to do.
(Keith Bontrager was a moto racer who greatly contributed to the development of contemporary mountain biking in America, and ran Bontrager Company from 1980 to 1995 primarily as a component brand, until they were acquired by Trek Bicycle Corp. Trek started marketing apparel under the name around 2009.)
The only problem with wool, however — the same problem that outdoor brands have been overcoming for more than a decade — was that people tend to think wool is for winter. “That’s why we worked with 37.5 to deliver a summer wool execution with modern features of a high performing garment and a nod to traditional style to deliver a timeless look,” said Foos.
What is 37.5, you ask? It’s one of the lesser-sung ingredient brands now on the market trying to change the way apparel “breathes” and therefore dries, therefore keeping users cooler. It works as a breathability/wicking enhancer, embedded into fabrics ranging from nylons to naturals (37.5 degrees Celsius is the body’s ideal core temperature).
All images courtesy of Bontrager
The company was formerly known as Cocona, and its patented “active particles” made with naturally derived materials are permanently embedded at the fiber level to capture and release moisture vapor. Not only do these active particles provide 800 percent more surface area to the fiber, according to the brand, they also provide a unique driving force to remove moisture vapor unlike any other technology. By actively responding to body heat, the particles use energy from the body to accelerate the vapor movement and speed up the conversion of liquid to vapor, increasing drying rates.
And it’s been tested out through clinical trials on athletes at the University of Colorado, as well as through real-life scenarios with top brands such as Carhartt, Under Armour, adidas, First Light, Eddie Bauer, and other major manufacturers of gear you’re supposed to sweat in. According to the brand, fabrics made with 37.5 technology dry up to five times faster than similar fabrics, diminishing wet cling, and increasing performance by 26 percent, and the active particles are permanently embedded into yarn and will never wash out or degrade.
Trek/Bontrager continues to make components, footwear and helmets along with a full line of apparel, managing to compete alongside Pearl, POC, and other quality brands available in U.S. bike shops and online. According to NPD retail sales tracking data, Bontrager is the top cycling shoe brand (followed by Specialized, Shimano, Giro and Pearl, in that order); and the second highest selling cycling apparel brand under Pearl.
Highlights of the new Classique kit are as follows:
The Classique Jersey is a road jersey steeped in a timeless aesthetic, offering modern features for superior performance and sophistication. Simple elegance effortlessly combines with modern features including Merino wool powered by 37.5 active particle technology; full-zip for ventilation on long climbs and warm days and easy of on-off; three open back pockets and one rear snap security pocket, ideal for wallet or phone; metal trims; drop tail design and streamlined for cycling-specific fit; reflective elements enhance visibility for maximum anytime safety.
The Classique Bib Short again focuses on classic elegance and functionality embued with modern features. Simply put, these are the nicest bib shorts I’ve ever used, although the wool-blend is definitely on the warm side, with the fashion to match. An Arcus inForm BioDynamic Chamois (Italian made, OverEasy constructed Aircell pad) keeps you comfortable for as many miles as you can handle. Strategically placed Profila Cool mesh bib back; lightweight, low-profile, luxurious bib straps offer great support and comfort; a nine-inch fitted inseam; silicon leg grips; and reflective hits round out the performance package of this investment.
The B1 Short Sleeve Baselayer is a high-quality, ultralight, cooling short sleeve baselayer that provides comfort (yes even on warm days) and makes a great synthetic layer under a wool-blend jersey. Bontrager’s lightest weight baselayer fabric (B1) is a comfortable first layer of Profila Cool fabric enhanced with 37.5 technology that regulates the body’s relative humidity to maintain ideal core temperature, allowing greater performance. Comfortably fits under every jersey you own.
The Classique Cycling Cap offers the usual functional benefits of a cycling cap in an elegant and stylish package. There will never be an accessory more central to the spirit of cycling and the Classique cap is inspired by the same timeless aesthetic that harkens back to an era before aero helmets and skin suits. Profila Merino Wool blend fabric is quick drying and naturally moisture wicking for all season use while the traditional style cap brim provides sun or rain protection.