In this preview I’ll be taking a look at some custom CycleTechReview branded kit from Kalas Sportswear. This Czech company was founded in 1995 by Cestmir Kalas, former cyclist and national level coach. In the five years before 1995, Mr Kalas was working with Tony Maier, founder of Swiss premium brand ASSOS. Kalas’ clothing is produced entirely in the Czech Republic with modern printing techniques and “vastly experienced seamstresses”. They use premium fabrics from Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland for their products.
Kalas already provide kit to Team Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Team Ford Ecoboost and the Mountain Trax-Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team. In 2017 Kalas Sportswear won a four year deal to provide TeamGB riders and staff with on and off-bike clothing.
British Cycling chose Kalas because of their “detailed understanding of the performance demands of such a technical partnership” according to Iain Dyer, Team GB cycling’s Head Coach. The staff that I spoke to at Kalas have alluded to some interesting projects for TeamGB that will be announced later on this year. They also supply Cambridge Cycling Club (my local club!) with their kit and the members I’ve spoken to are happy with it.
There’s top level features in the Kalas clothing, but slightly more realistic prices than the leading premium brands. The company caters for everyone from commuters and leisure cyclists up to pro-level teams. They also have extensive women’s and children’s ranges. Although they have off-the-shelf ranges, Kalas specialise in quality custom cycling kit. They have low minimum orders and standard lead times of 4-6 weeks. Kalas can also process urgent orders even faster because they control the entire process on-site.
The jersey and shorts I have here can only be found in the ‘custom’ area of Kalas’ website. The RainMem warmers can be found under both the ‘shop’ or ‘custom’ headings. I found the site a bit confusing to navigate at first glance but the customer service staff are exceptional.
The PRO 76 Verano Ultra Jersey is in their top tier PRO range, it’s a race jersey designed to help you go fast. The Verano Ultra fabric is extremely lightweight and breathable, some of you may recognise that Verano is the Spanish word for our favourite season, Summer. You are advised to use suncream underneath this jersey and if you have any embarrassing tattoos hidden on your torso you’d better get them lasered, the jersey is pretty much see-through.
A low cut neck, longer sleeves and race-cut fit of the jersey are all designed for aero gains. The three pockets at the rear are arranged for easy access, and the right hand one has a detachable waterproof pouch for your phone/valuables. You’ll also find a hole for your headphone cable too.
There’s a full length hidden zip which is designed to be used one-handed. Silicone strips at the waistband and arms should keep everything in place. The design that Kalas came up with for this test kit is based on the CycleTechReview logo. Kalas’ designers will let you have as much input as you want in the process to produce a design you’re happy with.
The ARCO-PRO 29 Goffrato shorts are Kalas’ top level bibshorts made from Goffrato fabric, which translates from Italian as embossed or waffled. A good pair of shorts needs a good pad and Kalas have used a Cytech Elastic Interface Endurance Pro pad. Made from carbonium fabric it’s benefits are; all-way stretch, excellent breathability, moisture transport characteristics, heat dispersion, friction reduction, plus natural bacteriostatic and antistatic properties.
The bib straps are minimal and give the item a quality look and feel. They have mesh panels for ventilation rather than being made entirely from mesh like on most bibs I own. If you read the description you’ll find that there’s a radio pocket in these bibs, however you’ll probably never notice it because it’s designed into the shorts instead of being tacked onto the mesh at the back like an afterthought.
There are mesh panels at the back of the thigh to give a better fit and a nice wide gripper that doesn’t look too aggressive but should keep the leg material in place. Flat seams all round mean less chance of rubbing.
The PRO07 RainMem arm and leg warmers are made from a wind and water-resistant material with a brushed lining for warmth. This material is less stretchy than regular warmers due to its nature as a wind and rain barrier, it should still be quite breathable though. The brushed lining will be nice for cold mornings.
There’s reflective material around the zip opening on the legs, which is to the back of the leg as you ride. The leg warmers also have a stretch panel at the rear of the leg which is made from a slightly thinner, stretchier material than the rest of the warmer. Each side of the arm and leg warmers is anatomically shaped and marked with L or R, which also helps you get any decals facing the right way.
The arm warmers have a gripper strip at the bicep end, and a regular cuff at the wrist. The leg warmers have a silicone gripper at the thigh and a zip and regular cuff at the ankle. Most of the cycling kit brands are now making water-resistant arm and leg warmers, Castelli pretty much started it with nanoflex and they’re the ones I most commonly see about. RH+ and DHB also have their own versions now.
They do let you wear summer jersey and bibs a bit longer in the year with the knowledge that in your pocket you have the key to nice cosy legs and arms. Unfortunately none of them roll up quite as tightly as the non-water-resistant kind. Personally, I’ll settle for bulgier pockets because I hate being cold! I’ll dig out a pair of regular ‘thin’ warmers and get a photo for comparison when I write the review of these.
So, there you go, Kalas Sportswear cycling kit. It looks and feels like excellent quality kit. All the seams are perfect and there’s some nice design touches in there. The printing is good, all the lettering and graphics are crisp. Look out for me at a café stop near you!
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