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by Matt Wikstrom
June 29, 2016
Photography by Matt Wikstrom
Marcello Bergamo is both a man and an apparel brand. The man came first, of course, born in 1946 in Ponte di Piave, to the north of Venice, in Italy. He began his professional cycling career in 1969, and by the time he retired in 1978, he had 11 victories to his name, two near misses at the Italian road championship (1973 and 1977), nine starts in the Giro d’Italia, and one lap of France during July.
Bergamo founded his apparel company upon his retirement in 1978. During the early years, Bergamo relied on wool for his cycling garments before switching to synthetics during the second half of the ’80s. At the same time, Bergamo adopted sublimated screen-printing, and by 1998, was ready to embrace the latest digital technology for custom clothing production.
Over the years, Bergamo has been the clothing sponsor for a variety of amateur and professional racing teams, so it’s not surprising that custom clothing production has become an important part of its business. They have a simple goal — “to provide our customers with the same look and feel as the professionals experience in the peloton.”
All of Bergamo’s garments are “100% made in Italy,” and the company prizes durability, taking care to use the finest materials for its products. Bergamo has developed two ranges for its custom orders — Race and Sportivo — both race-oriented and generally tight fitting, however the Race range is a little looser than the snug Sportivo range.
For those unfamiliar with custom kit production, there is always a minimum order quantity (MOQ). For Marcello Bergamo, the MOQ is ten, and applies to each garment (ie. ten jerseys or ten bibshorts must be ordered, not five jerseys plus five bibshorts). Pricing includes art design and Bergamo promises delivery six to eight weeks after final approval for the design.
For this review, I spent a few weeks wearing the long-sleeve jersey and bibshorts from Bergamo’s Sportivo range, courtesy of Marcello Bergamo Australia.
I also had the chance to test out one of Bergamo’s specialty items, the Danny, a long-sleeve jacket that is also available for custom orders.
The Sportivo long-sleeve jersey is designed for cool mornings in spring and autumn, where the light fleece lining of the elastic fabric (called Sanded) keeps the rider warm. According to Bergamo, Sanded is breathable and quick-drying so it can contend with a light shower and/or the sweat produced during a race effort.
The rest of the jersey is a familiar affair: full-length zipper at the front, three pockets at the rear, and an elastic waistband with a silicone gripper. Bergamo keeps the cuffs of the sleeves simple with a loose fit so it’s easy pull them over the hands.
Bergamo’s sizing chart recommended a size L for me, and the result was generous for a race-fit jersey. Put another way, it was a close fit without any of the fabric clinging to my body.
I found the long-sleeve jersey was very easy to wear. The fleece was immediately warm on the skin and the Sanded fabric was really quite stretchy. The sleeves were also a pretty generous length, reaching all the way to my wrists even when I was stretched out on the bike.
I wore this jersey during the last weeks of autumn and early weeks of winter in Australia, and it served me well on milder days. The jersey didn’t offer much protection from the wind on its own, so while I could protect my torso with a base-layer or vest, my arms were left wanting when the temperatures and/or wind chill dipped below 10-12°C (50-54°F).
For colder or wet days, I found that the Sportivo long sleeve jersey worked well with the Danny Print jacket (see below) to keep me warm and comfortable. Better yet, it simplified dressing. In the past, I would have worn arm warmers and a short sleeve jersey under a rain jacket to achieve the same effect.
Bergamo offers the long-sleeve Sportivo jersey in nine sizes for men (2XS-4XL) and six sizes for women (XS-2XL) and cost AUD$175 (US $130) each with any order of ten custom-printed jerseys.
The cuffs of the jersey are kept simple and hug the wrists to keep the cold out.
Bergamo’s Sportivo bibshorts are constructed from six panels and two kinds of Lycra fabrics to provide a supportive fit and a measure of compression. Performer Lycra is used for the seat of the shorts where the dense weave provides extra durability, while Piave Lycra is used for the rest of the legs and cuffs because its patterned weave enhances compression and keeps the fabric in place.
The bibshorts are finished off with flatlock stitching, elastic mesh for the braces, and Bergamo’s Gavia elastic padding. The latter is designed for up to four hours of riding, on- or off-road, though there is the option to upgrade to a Gavia Gel pad (which is rated for five hours of riding) for extra comfort.
I found myself caught in between sizes according to Bergamo’s size chart, so opted to go up a size by selecting a large. The shorts were an easy fit thanks to lots of elasticity but ultimately, they weren’t quite as supportive as I would have liked, probably because they were a bit too big for me. Be that as it may, they stayed in place and were easy to wear.
The padding was comfortable, effective, and well-suited to medium distances. The standard weight fabrics were merely adequate for the cool weather conditions that I experienced during the review period. Best to consider these shorts for the warmer months of the year.
Bergamo offers Sportivo bibshorts in nine sizes for men (2XS-4XL) and six sizes for women (XS-2XL) and cost AUD$145 (US$107) each with any order of ten custom-printed bibshorts.
According to Bergamo, the Danny Print is “the perfect all-in-one jacket” — water-resistant, windproof, and highly breathable. However, what is perhaps more relevant to racing teams is that the Danny can be sublimated in the same way as a standard jersey without compromising its breathability.
It’s for this reason that the Danny has found a place in the professional peloton above and beyond current sponsorship agreements. UCI regulations require that rain capes must be transparent or resemble the team jersey, so the utility of the Danny Print is obvious.
Looking more closely at the features of the jacket, it is designed to be slim-fit, with a long tail to help keep the lower back dry and/or mud-free. The jacket is equipped with a full-length zipper at the front, three pockets at the rear, reflective piping across the back, and elastic wristbands.
The Sportivo long sleeve jersey (left) combines well with the Danny Print jacket (right) to handle cold weather.
This was my first experience with a soft-shell jacket, and it was a great one. I selected a size L and it was an easy fit over my jerseys, regardless of whether they were short- or long-sleeved.
The fabric was smooth and soft against my skin, and very quiet too. I was pleased with the length of the sleeves (I have long arms) and while the wristbands were a loose fit, I was able to fit my winter gloves under them without any fuss to block out the cold.
The breathability of the jacket was impressive. On longer rides, when the day started warming up, I could notice some sweat on my arms, but never suffered any overheating. This is in contrast to some hard-shell jackets I have used, which offer exceptional protection from the cold and wet, but very little breathability.
I was prepared to compromise a little on the protection against the wind and rain, however there was no need to. In light showers, the water beaded on the surface of the jacket and I stayed dry; in rain, the water soaked through (unlike a hard-shell jacket) and I started to dread the feel of a cold wet jacket on my skin, except it never eventuated. Indeed, I remained warm and well insulated against the cold.
A look at the waistline of the Sportivo long sleeve jersey (left) versus the Danny Print (right).
The tail of the jacket didn’t do much to keep my back or butt dry in the rain. However, I appreciated the extra insulation it provided, especially when I was wearing the lighter-weight Sportivo shorts.
The rear pockets are made from a mesh that is quite stretchy, which means there is plenty of room for stowing unwanted gloves and knee warmers. And on the one occasion when I’d misjudged my need for the Danny Print, I was able to roll it up to fit into a jersey pocket (however, I had to get off the bike and take a little extra time to get it as compact as possible).
Bergamo offers the Danny Print in nine sizes for men (2XS-4XL) and six sizes for women (XS-2XL) and costs AUD$243 (US$180) each with any order of ten custom-printed jackets. Alternatively, the jacket is available as part of Bergamo’s signature series for AUD$305 (US$225).
Bergamo’s Sportivo kit is a sound offering that should suit race-oriented riders very nicely. The quality of printing, construction, and finishing was very high for each of the garments reviewed here, however the Danny Print jacket really stood out on the strength of its performance in demanding conditions.
One important aspect of any custom order is the ease with which the whole process takes place. This is not something that I can comment upon, as I didn’t go through any part of the design or ordering process.
For Australian buyers at least, there appears to be strong support from the local agent, where buyers can order a sizing kit to test the fit of the garments, and a personalised online store can be created to help with collating the orders.