Kit: cheap vs high-end - worth it?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:50 pm

by mvcap

I wear good shorts, but jerseys are a different story...

All my jerseys are China/eBay sub-$20 buys with varying fit quality. I figure if they fade from the sun badly or get stained from puddle splash it's no big deal.

But I am dying to hear opinions on the higher-end legit kit (Eliel, Rapha, Castelli, etc brand-name) and WHY it is better. Clearly consistent cuts in materials is one aspect, but help me understand. I am eager to add to the 'What Have You Bought Today thread' haha

And if you have tried both the cheap stuff and the expensive stuff, what did you learn?


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by TonyM

Expensive is not always a better quality. When companies are investing many $ in marketing for example...

I use only high quality products (frame, components, sunglasses, clothes, shoes, tools...). Why? My only hobby is cycling and life is far too short to spend time and energy testing low or mid quality products. In the long run high quality products (which are often expensive) are ok for me in terms of cost (again if you keep them a long time).

But I understand people wanting to have a good deal, etc....or people who don’t have the financial resources to buy high quality products (as a student I rarely had high quality products...)

by Weenie

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by mvcap

@TonyM thanks. Can you please describe the quality differences more specifically? That's what I am wanting to hear about. And you're right on expensive not the same as quality across the board. Thanks

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by RyanH

I have had poor luck with Castelli and Pactimo on the longevity end of things. I have jerseys from Rapha that are over 4 years old and still look good. It's quite possible that some of my Rapha jerseys have been worn and washed 100 or more times each. I haven't had to retire a Rapha jersey because it was faded or worn out. Pactimo barely lasted a season and Castelli's logos would fall off after a handful of washes.

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by brackc

My humble 2c:
While bib shorts need replacing due to the pad wearing out, jerseys tend to last a fair while longer before dying, hence a better option to spend more money on.
Visual design is probably the easiest to notice, jerseys are a place you can show a bit of personality or style e.g. options from attaquer/maap/pedal mafia/etc
Cut - people tend to cut cheaper jerseys baggy and loose, if you want that tight-fitting slim-body aero road cut they tend to be on the more expensive jerseys (a cheaper improvement than say a new bike or wheels for a larger gain)
Other features -fabric(s) used, zip, number/location/design of pockets, high-vis aspects

Fabric is probably the biggest of those, I've got an event jersey that's cheap and baggy that's my go-to warm winter jersey as it I tried it on a warm spring ride and came home with heat stroke...

That being said if you pick up a half-reasonable jersey, especially if you find one a season or two old on sale, that fits you and you're not racing in the middle of summer heat, they'll do the job just fine. I've used a cheap sugoi jersey a whole heap and whilst I prefer my morvelo jersey it's perfectly usable.

oh yeah and some just ride the new expensive stuff because they're sponsored, or for better instagram content, or as a statement of wealth.
Ride what you like, ride it however you like, just go enjoy the ride and if anything is stopping you from enjoying your ride (e.g. you're coming home with heat stroke) then go get something to solve the problem.

Personally I'm going to go buy a pair of windstopper gloves because today my hands were cold in the glove liners I usually wear through spring/autumn and I'm definitely not going to go high end with them (they might even come from a hiking store in the end, we'll see!)

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by 2lo8

I avoid cheap no-name shorts. The lycra material is sometimes not very good, pads not sewn on in the right position, and sometimes the pads are just really badly shaped (very bad chafing on one pair). I imagine this partially because sewing stretchy material is hard and the no-name QC is bad, and they just use whatever for a pad, sometimes they don't even match photos.

Jerseys are great though. I like Fineou jerseys in particular. The construction is basic, normal seams, basic panel shapes, but it has all the functional features you want out of a jersey, race fit, full zip, back pockets, back gripper, sport tech cloth, etc. You aren't forced to wear a 1/2 zip club-fit jersey like you are with budget options from big name brands.
[6.6kg of no carbon fiber]
Your one-stop source for information and reviews on cheap eBay bike junk.

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by AJS914

I have a lot of Pearl Izumi and Castelli. I like Pearl bibs. A lot of my Castelli stuff is ancient and has lasted forever. Maybe they don't make it like they used to? I also look on ebay for deals.

I just refuse to pay over $200 bibs or $100 for a jersey. Call me cheap but lycra just doesn't seem to be worth that kind of coin.

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by antonioiglesius

I've tried eBay/Asian stuff, bibs and jerseys because I was curious. I found that the chamois quality isn't that great: they're quite thick, collapse quickly, and chafe. I use those for 1+ hr rides only. I found that the Asian jersey fit works better for me: skinny arms/sleeves, long, and the quality didn't matter as much as the chamois does. Jersey-wise it feels like only the zipper matters most other than fit, because I need to work those during climbs/descents and their longevity is most important. I also had a wonderful spot of luck with two pairs of Castelli-branded gloves bought from Asia via eBay: I suspect they are the real deal except direct from the factory, the stitching was great, and after a few years they're still holding together quite well.

I had no idea Castelli is considered high-end...

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by Zakalwe

Cut makes a huge difference in comfort for me, especially the sleeves - if you ride in anything like an aggressive position then having a race fit with the sleeves pitched properly stops them pulling and bunching up. Cheap jerseys are usually cut pretty box-like. Not all expensive jerseys are that great though, Rapha’s race jerseys fit me well but the pockets are too stretchy for my liking, so only really wear them when doing local hill reps where I’ll leave the pump, spare tyre etc at home

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by NiFTY

Rapha jerseys pro team fit. - last forever, fit snug without being tight and breath well. No broken zips. Agree the pockets can stretch a bit.
Assos bibs - last forever, some fadding, good chamois.
Cheap stuff - doesn't breath, broken zips, crap chamois, cuffs creep up or compress skin.
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by Wookski

I’m in the process of transitioning my system from Rapha to Assos. That’s not to say that Waffa is bad quality- i’ll second RyanH’s comments around durability. Also waffa kit is generally well styled and well cut with good quality fabrics and zippers etc.

Assos on the other hand is next level. Perfect for building a complete system around. The cuts are anatomical and seem to fit exceptionally with very little sagging/ creasing etc. Bibs and pads are extremely comfortable on long rides on full carbon (non-padded) saddles. The proprietary fabrics are very good at managing heat, sweat, water etc.

I guess it comes down to what you value. I’m happy to spend money to look good and be comfortable. I look after my gear and rotate regularly to ensure absolute freshness.

It sounds like you’re trying to quantify what can be emotive decisions or purchases. If that’s the case I think you’ll struggle justifying $200+ on jerseys and $300+ on bibs.

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by silvalis

Definitely the materials and the cut in high end jerseys, but even if you don't buy high end and at least buy midrange brand name stuff you get some of the features. The chinese jerseys I've got all are single material and a bit of a straight cut (which might work well for you)
Chasse patate

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by KCookie

I certainly wouldn't buy cheap clothing, seems silly when we all spend a small fortune on our bikes, and spend endless hours on them. From the start I've only worn Assos, so can't make a comparison, as said above you can build a complete system with Assos. The climate seems to be changing a lot here in Adelaide and the vast selection of Assos clothing is certainly helping. The quality is excellent and fits so well.
If you shop around you can get some great deals. I would never pay retail, my last purchase was with 65% off, so it seems silly to spend small amounts on Chinese eBay clothing.

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by robertbb

Buy Pearl Izumi elite or pro level stuff, in either semi form (elite) or form (pro) fit and never look back.

If price is an issue, Amazon always has last season's jerseys/bibs on sale for a fraction of what it is at full retail and the difference is really only colour/design. Their chamois are quality and their jersey material is UPF50+, wicking and washes very well and the material itself hasn't changed in years. Check the sizing chart, if any doubts, buy a few possible sizes... try on, return anything you don't use to Amazon for full refund.

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by naylor343

My best looking kit, when new, but poorest quality for longevity is all castelli, less the winter thermo suit which is excellent. Their materials may be great for team sky who have a never ending supply, but I have found that jerseys materials and short grippers loose elasticity too easily and pull and snag with ease. For the prices I find this pretty poor.

Two excellent brands I have found are Inverse from Spain and Sismic from Denmark. These two brands produce the Spanish and Andorran team kits respectively.

by Weenie

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