Cycling may rely on pedal power, but it’s always had engineering at its heart. And over recent years it’s apparel that’s seen some of the biggest advances. Nowadays the decision about your kit goes far beyond small, medium or large. At Mavic we consider every detail, from physique to riding style, to get the perfect Mavic fit.
We’re going to talk you through the key questions you should be asking yourself before buying two of the most popular pieces – your bib shorts and jersey.
SIX STEPS TO GETTING THE RIGHT FIT
1. Gender: Am I male or female?
OK, you probably don’t need to ask yourself this one, but it’s key for us. Men and women are anatomically different and require muscle support, padding and elasticity in different places.
Fig.1 The difference in pelvis width determines chamois position
Bib shorts are a great example. The core padding zones in a women’s chamois need to be further apart than in a men’s as their pelvis is wider at the base. Likewise, it’s more comfortable for women to have slightly more elasticity in the waistband than you’d find in a men’s bib. And when it comes to jerseys we have to create room around the chest without causing flapping at the sides or back…
2. Ride duration: More than six hours in the saddle?
If you’re expecting to spend six hours or more on the bike then you need bib shorts that can offer extra cushioning, muscle support and vibration damping. That’s partly because of the long hours on the bike, but also because of the proportion of that time you’ll spend sitting on the saddle. In our bib shorts, that extra cushioning and vibration dampening comes from a radical new generation of chamois inserts with a reverse padding construction (see Figure 2). This increases the surface area and lowers the pressure on the pelvis.
Fig.2 By reversing our chamois we increased the surface area of the pad and reduced pressure on the pelvis
One the other hand, a climber will not only spend less time on the bike, but they’ll spend a higher proportion of that time standing up out of the saddle. So padding is less important and it’s more about finding the right balance between support, lightweight materials and breathability.
Getting the right balance into each of our chamois is something we put a huge amount of effort into: right down to specifically testing them on two of the most iconic saddles around: the Arione for climbers and the Aliante for endurance riders.
Fig.3 Padding becomes less important the less time you spend in the saddle
When it comes to jerseys, an endurance rider should again be slightly more focused on comfort and flexibility. Conditions may change throughout the ride so you need kit that can adapt. Pockets will become a bigger factor and we’ve recently done a lot of research into fabrics that will only stretch in one direction, so the pocket expands sideways but won’t bounce up and down when loaded.
Fig.4 Rear pocket configuration becomes more important the longer you spend on the bike
On short rides it’s easier to pick the right jersey for the conditions so it’s all about managing heat and moisture – features like one-handed zips and fast wicking fabrics are critical.
3. Riding style: What’s my head and hand position?
This is a massively important factor in apparel design. We engineer our kit based on your riding position, not when you’re standing upright, and there are big differences between jerseys and bibs for all-out racers and those for endurance riders in a more upright position.
Fig.5 Cold kidneys – one result of your kit not matching your riding style
The most visible difference is seen in jerseys. For example, for spinners we’ve designed our Pro Fit. These jerseys are longer at the back to avoid ‘cold kidney’ syndrome (see Fig 5) and with lots of work around the collar area so there’s no pulling on the neck and no parachute effect from air entering behind the head. It’s shorter at the front to avoid excess material in the tucked riding position. It can also be longer in the sleeve for aerodynamic advantages. And it uses really tight, technical fabrics.
Fig.6 A typical sprinter’s position with hands on the bottom bars causing a more crouched position
In contrast, a typical endurance jersey will use our Regular Fit. This is slightly roomier with softer fabrics, a close-fitting collar and less of a backdrop on the hem as you won’t be so far forward.
Fig.7 A typical endurance position with hands on the top bars
As for bib shorts, endurance riders will probably use the top bars and sit slightly more upright so they need the chamois to be positioned slightly further back. A sprinter or climber will use the lower bars so will be more crouched over and will need the chamois further forward.
4. Fit preference: Wiggins skinny or just streamline?
Of course, as well as how you ride, the fit you choose can also be a question of preference: some riders love the professional skinny and ultra tight style of our Pro Fit. On the other hand, some riders – including many racers – prefer our Regular Fit as it’s slightly easier around the body. And lots of others riders have both in their locker, ready for different occasions.
Fig.8 Some people just want to look like their racing idol (Photo: Gruber Images)
When it comes to bib shorts, again it’s a question of taste. Some riders like lots of fabric and a high Lycra ratio to provide lots of muscle support. Other riders want to feel like they’re riding with nothing on – to be as light and breathable as possible. To help you find your perfect set up we also manufacture bib shorts, 3/4-length bib knickers and full-length bib tights.
Fig.9 Lightweight Mavic bib with breathable mesh back
5. Size: small, medium or large?
As for sizing (from XS to XL), we use a combination of the body measurements provided by the French Textile Institute and our own findings from a huge study of riders competing at events around the world.
At Mavic HQ we’ve also identified staff members who are perfectly shaped for each of the different fits – we use them for our on-bike fitting sessions too. And because they’re riders themselves, we can send them out to test-ride our apparel and report back on how it felt.
Fig.10 Our perfect Mr Medium testing out prototypes in different positions
6. Weather: Fair weather rider or winter warrior?
The final factor, and one which determines our entire range, is weather and seasonality. Within our Fall/Winter range we go from 100% waterproof and windproof jackets with storm zips and 360° visibility detailing to lighter jackets that convert into gilets for autumn rides. For summer we include UV protection across the back and shoulders of our jerseys and even produce a top that’s so tight it registers the lowest drag on the market, saving riders 20W in energy over a standard jersey.
Fig.11 Details like staydown zips and added wind-proofing across the shoulders and chest make even more sense on the bike
Our bib knickers vary in length but also in thickness, wind-resistant abilities and wicking properties to match the season. We’ve got soft, brushed linings to keep you cosy in winter and Skin Power fabric to keep your muscles going for longer in the heat.
TEST, TWEAK, REPEAT
Pulling together all the different ranges for different riders is incredibly complex but it’s all part of our dedication to cycling. Everything we do is to make our gear work better on your bike.
Fig.12 Testing our kit and making adjustments in the riding position is key
Of course, whichever piece of kit you buy from Mavic you can rest assured it’s been built with incredible attention to detail and tested to last you for years.
Which one to choose? Well that’s the big question, but we hope this has helped!