As cyclists, we all got hit pretty hard with quarantine in 2020. I started the new year relaunching WomensKit after maternity leave and was very excited to test ride the IRIS kit for a review. Then lockdown happened, and it was unsafe (and at times, against the law) to ride outside and it’s unfortunately taken me much too long to post my review on this kit. All, forgive me.
Let me start by telling you who Iris is. Her story is the truest evolution of a creative mind turning passion into product, finding the thread of cycling woven through every step. Iris Slappendel retired from pro cycling in 2016 and began working on her vision of a cycling brand, IRIS. Its not only her name, it also stands for ‘I Ride in Style.’ With a degree in design, the grand stage opportunity to design the leader’s jerseys UCI Women’s Road World Cup, and a vision for so much more for herself, she set forth building one of the most well-designed brands on the road right now.
I had the chance to test ride the newest SS20 collection – the Catch-Up Jersey and Signature Bib Shorts (in a brand new cinnamon color). Everything is still available online. I’m wearing a size Large in the jersey and an Extra Large in the bibs. For reference, I’m 63 inches in height, 160 lbs in weight, with a 36 inch bust, 34 inch waist, and 43 inch hips. Yes, yes, American. I know.
The first thing you love about this jersey in photos is the color palette. It’s playfully geometric, full of pattern, yet it flows perfectly together in tone. It’s as stunning on as it looks in those photos, I’m pleased to say. You feel like you’re wearing a designer piece of clothing.
The fabric is super-soft, almost silky, and has an excellent stretch. The jersey is ‘race fit’ but I never felt restricted or squeezed in a Large size. I love the added design element of a colored zipper. Thin, lightweight jerseys tend to have trouble with zippers laying flat but for the Catch-Up jersey this was no concern at all. There was no tugging or twisting and it even zipped easily using one hand. The zipper locks in position and doesn’t stray. I appreciated the soft, barely there low-profile collar, with the slight v-neck shape so the top of the zipper never irritated my skin.
The mesh underarm is a nice bonus for hot weather rides, and I greatly appreciate that the mesh did not run all the way down the side. I don’t like when jerseys overdo the mesh. Being covered does a great job of cooling the skin. Especially when the backside of the jersey is a micro-mesh and helps with breathability. You can see tiny holes in the back panel of fabric when held up to the light, but you never see through it to your undergarments.
Although I wouldn’t wish for a too short jersey that rides up, this one was a bit too long for me. My pockets, albeit quite full of snacks and necessities, sagged a bit and I had a few too many wrinkles in the lower half of the jersey while riding. Once I placed the jersey where I wanted it, though, the excellent waist band gripper did its job well. It never moved on me. Even the band of reflective material around the waist is a well-designed element.
I like the longer sleeve but I would have wished for a raw edge to it, or a variation of the waist gripper instead, for a quality upgrade. For a jersey with such high-quality fabric that features a complimentary stretch, it was the sleeve stitch that was the most restrictive part.
Overall, this jersey is top quality and absolutely beautiful, all in one. It’s good design from inside out, and it’s a purchase you won’t regret.
Signature Bib Short II
I tested the Signature Bib Short in the newest Cinnamon color in a size XL. I usually opt out of colored bibshorts because of my self-conscious fear of showing something I don’t want to – sweat, cellulite, you get the idea. But you saw that photo at the top of this review. How could you not drool over the beautiful color combinations that IRIS puts together. Tell me how!
In photos, the shade of Cinnamon can look more eggplant but in my hands it was a slightly lighter shade of maroon. It does show some cellulite and sweat through the fabric but, as I’ll explain in my review, the comfort and softness of these bibshorts still made me feel great when I rode and, truly, I ride for myself, not to be judged by how I look.
I absolutely love that the upper straps are a lightweight black mesh with a magnetic quick release at my lower back. I never felt that release when dressing, riding, or even sitting with my back against a cafe chair. However, the bib straps were too long for me, as if made for a torso much longer (or taller) than mine. I ended up with very loose straps for the ‘bib’ portion that never did much to work in conjunction with the ‘short’ portion.
The most winning part of this bibshort was the chamois pad. I have finally found a chamois pad that rivals Machines for Freedom in width and comfort! In this photo, it doesn’t look like much, but riding with this chamois was a dream. It’s incredibly soft, it disappears with movement on the bike, it was wide enough for long rides of several hours in the saddle, and it washes incredibly well by hand and by machine for several months now. Praise an amazing chamois!
I had a love/hate relationship with this leg gripper, however. Believe me when I tell you it stayed in place (did it ever!) but the silicone sometimes irritated my skin because it virtually suctioned into place. I had to spend some extra time before a ride placing the gripper exactly where I wanted it to be on my leg, but through pedaling, sitting, standing, and even lowering the chamois area for a pee break, this leg grip NEVER moved. Silicone is not a breathable material naturally, so this gripper also caused a bit of a sweat line that I noticed on the first ride (albeit a hot day on the bike).
It was unfortunate that I did experience sweat stains in several places on the bibs, and arguably a black bibshort color would have hid it better, but YES I sweat, and YES I am working hard enough on my bike to sweat. Maybe I sweat more than other people? Who cares. If I worried so much about it then I wouldn’t exactly be 100% enjoying my ride, which I was in this bibshort and chamois pad.
Overall, these Essential Bib Shorts are a great purchase when needing an excellent chamois for your weekly rides, but I would like to see a bit more evolution in a few areas in the next iteration.
Full disclosure: I received the kit reviewed in this post free of charge. The decision to write this review and all opinions expressed are 100% my own. This is not a sponsored post. Thanks as always for reading!