The Domestique Critique: Femme Velo Ascend Jersey and Randonneur Bib Shorts

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Femme Velo is more than cycling clothing. They are a brand, yes, but a community, a club, and truly an inspiration for getting more women to ride. Designing cycling kit for women is a natural extension for the woman/bicycle concept. 

Dressing for a bike ride is part of the identity of a cyclist, and Nicole Adamson-Wood, CEO and Creative Director of the brand, wanted kit designed with that in mind. Tired of the “pink it and shrink it” concept of secondary women’s collections, Nicole wanted to create pieces that are both functional and fashionable, with style that lasts beyond trends and the comfort that keeps you riding as many days as you desire.

Femme Velo celebrates women being who THEY are, not who anyone tells them to be. The models are women they know and ride with and they are women who love to ride their bikes. It’s rare to find a genuine, authentic community over social media but Femme Velo is the first to make me feel like I can be a part of the raddest group of women on bikes, no matter where I live.

I had the chance to test ride the newest jersey release, Ascend, and the first bibshort release, the Randonneur Bib. I am wearing a size Medium in the jersey and a Large in the bibshorts. For reference, I am about a 36 bust and 30 waist.

Ascend Jersey

Photo Rhea Aldridge http://www.rheaaldridge.com

Femme Velo’s jerseys are gorgeous and eye-catching in photos, but absolutely stunning in person. It was a real treat to open the package and see this new design in my hands. The jersey is lightweight and incredibly soft and feels high-quality to the touch.

The fabric is a high-performing open-weave from Italy that boasts a super-wicking ability that I can attest to. I rode in jersey on average for 4 hour rides in 80F+ summer days in Los Angeles and this jersey did not make me feel sweaty or smelly. The jersey soaked up sweat in the toughest areas (under the arms) yet never made me feel like I was wearing a wet jersey against my skin.

Photo Rhea Aldridge http://www.rheaaldridge.com

The sleeves are made of a separate panel of 4-way stretch fabric that was also superior in breathability but it didn’t quite have the stretch I expected. Fully zipped, the jersey’s sleeve tugged the neckline and widened it a little. The arm bands are made with a Second Skin material, which is a techno-fabric with an extremely soft and silky to the touch feel. It was minimal grip inside the arm band yet it held in place comfortably with absolutely no issue.

Photo Rhea Aldridge http://www.rheaaldridge.com

Thin, lightweight jerseys tend to have trouble with zippers laying flat but for the Ascend this was no concern at all. There was no tugging or twisting and even zipped easily using one hand. The zipper locks in position and doesn’t stray and the zipper pouch at the neckline is an added nice touch.

Photo Rhea Aldridge http://www.rheaaldridge.com

The rear of the jersey features a dark blue stripe down the middle, something that adds contrast and, let’s be honest, looks great in #foreverbutts photos. There are three ample-sized pockets in back with the surprise bonus of a water-proof zippered side compartment. This feature is very appreciated on a lightweight jersey.

Overall, this jersey is truly worth it’s cost and it’s good-looking beyond the current trend. It will be in heavy rotation in my cycling wardrobe and I hope to add other Femme Velo jerseys to my collection. They are definitely a high-quality addition.

Randonneur Bib Shorts

These are pretty impressive bibs for Femme Velo’s first edition. The fit, the feel, and the features are more like an established brand than a first round offering of a smaller brand.

Neither shiny nor matte but something in between, the Italian open-weave fabric is the ultimate in thermostatic regulation of body heat and fast-action wicking of moisture away from the body. Riding with a 95F sun beating down on your black bibs can often mean sweat dripping in unmentionable places, but there was none of that discomfort while wearing the Randonneur shorts. In addition, the high compression of this fabric kept the bibs in place with absolutely no chafing.

Photo Rhea Aldridge http://www.rheaaldridge.com

What makes these bibs so flattering is the wide 4.5cm leg band and the all-black minimal design. Apart from a thin font Femme Velo across the front of the leg bands, these bibs let the jersey do all the talking. The leg bands don’t squeeze and the flatlock stitching feels seamless on the skin.

Photo Rhea Aldridge http://www.rheaaldridge.com

The chamois pad is a soft, comfortable 10mm foam density pad with a carbon fiber upper. Let’s break that sentence down. The chamois feels soft against the skin which is incredibly important for a woman no matter if you’re ride is 5 miles or 50. The ideal aim for chamois density is between 8-13mm to avoid a billowing diaper feel. You also don’t want anything less or you may be left feeling like you sat on a brick block for two hours. The carbon fiber upper regulates body temperature, moving heat away from the body by drying quickly, and is anti-microbial, keeping your lady part happy and healthy.

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I did find the overall length of the bibshort to be a tad short for me. You can see my tan lines are exposed in the photo. But what I was feeling was a slight tug from the mesh straps, meaning the proportion wasn’t quite right for me, and this brought the bottom of the shorts up a little higher than I wanted. I also did wish the chamois pad was a bit wider. I felt the saddle after a few hours riding. I ride a 165mm saddle for reference.

Overall, these shorts are a tremendous first run for Femme Velo. The properties of the fabric do exactly what they promise to do, and they are flattering to boot. I can’t wait to see what more Femme Velo adds to their line.

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