With spring around the corner, it’s easy to forget it’s still winter in the northern hemisphere until you wake up to a frosty morning and have to scrape your car windows again. Ah yes, it’s definitely still winter.
Cold weather shouldn’t keep you off your bike though. As the old adage goes, “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
Luckily there is some great cold weather riding gear on the market, including this next item.
GS Panache Thermal Kit
Panache is a Colorado based company, and those living in the mountainous state in western North America known a thing or two about cold weather. So I was excited to receive their GS Panache Thermal Kit as the cool, wet riding season is long here in the Pacific Northwest and I’d get good use out of it.
The GS Panache Thermal kit consists of a long sleeve thermal jersey and thermal shorts. Yes shorts. I was surprised at first, too. A winter kit with shorts instead of bib knickers? While Panache makes fleece-lined leg warmers to complete the wintery outfit, the shorts turned out be kind of ingenious in terms of temperature regulation and being able to wear the shorts from fall through early spring, but more on that later.
Fit and feel:
Both the bib shorts and the jersey are fleece-lined with something called WinterDry™ – a thermal Push+Pull wicking fabric. On first touch it’s very soft and comfortable.
The shorts have the same features as the men’s product but with a women’s chamois and slightly altered fit.
The shorts are made of nine panels sewn together with flatlock stitching, and has lightweight mesh bib straps. The exterior of the bib shorts, a blend of polyamide and elastane, is tougher than lycra and has less stretchiness, providing excellent support and a very flattering fit.
Sitting about ten centimeters above the knee, these bib shorts are also longer than any of Panache’s other women’s bib shorts I’ve tried and for me, it’s a good thing. They have an extra wide band which keep the shorts and knee warmers, should you choose to wear them, seamlessly in place. No sausage legs here.
The long-sleeve jersey has unisex fit and is 100 percent polyester. As such it’s soft but doesn’t provide wind or water protection. It fits snugly and can be worn as an outer layer or underneath a shell.
I have worn this kit in pouring down rain, snow and frigid temperatures. Even drenched down to the bone, I was never cold or uncomfortable.
The fleece lining stayed soft and warm even after a dozen spins in the washing machine.
On the first ride, the bib shorts instantly became my go-to choice, and they continue to be my favourite. While I have spent a lot of past winters riding in long bib kickers, I like the adjustability of the shorts. On warmer fall of spring days, the shorts can be worn by themselves with some embro on the legs while on the really cold days, the wide gripper makes any knee or leg warmer disappear – making it appear as one piece of clothing.
While tighter than their non-thermal shorts, I like the snug fit. The fleece feels nice on cold skin and the tightness provides extra muscular support and warmth. Plus, it’s really flattering.
Additionally, Panache has done a great job with their women’s chamois. It stretches with the rider and has just the right amount of padding.
I am however not as much in love with the jersey as with the shorts. It’s certainly soft and warm, and performs well, but the fit wasn’t right for me. While the sleeves are long, the torso seems a bit short in comparison. Worn by itself with only a thin baselayer the jersey felt fine, but given that one tends to layer up in cold conditions, the fit felt restricting. The look however is quite nice. Black and white is simple yet elegant. And the white stripes on the lower half of the sleeves sets it apart without screaming “hey, look at me!”
The kit holds up well, too. I have yet to wear it on a ride where I don’t return with mud or grid stains all over the white highlights yet it turns white again after every wash. No bleeding or greying.
– Comfortable, warm in any condition
– Shorts allow for temperature control for fall-through-spring riding
– A must-have if you ride outside year-round
– Price: $340 for a complete kit might scare away some
– The unisex jersey fit was a little too short, too tight