There are so many kit options out there, how do you even begin to know what you should get? Is X better than Y? Do I care more about fit, fashion, or function? What if I want all three? What type of chamois do I want? How compressive do I want the fit to be? What materials matter?
All of these questions are far from straightforward. In the end, it’s almost like alchemy to figure out what the right combination is to truly have the perfect kit. To add further complication, what is perfect for one person could be horrible for another. These kits may be casually used by a recreational rider, or put through rigorous paces by a serious hardcore rider. That is a lot of ground to cover with a lot of diversity inherent to it.
Search and State is an option to consider. They’ve tried to make the complex decisions for you and prepare something that meets your needs. It is a high-end brand that focuses on “performance and lifestyle” apparel. They use high quality performance fabrics, pay special attention to fit and quality, and put in a nice spin on styling. Their kits are made in Midtown Manhattan made in the heart of the Garment District in NYC, so made in the USA. Target demographic is really everyone, but on the higher end of the spectrum as their kit is definitely not inexpensive. Do not be fooled, these are not the kits you will pick up in a mass market sporting good store. If that is all you want or need, then feel free to go with the mass market kits. If you’ve ever ridden using some of the higher performing (and costing) gear, you’ll appreciate the improvements and attention to detail they afford.
On the the review, I received a full set of the S2R Performance kit to check out as part of feedback and for evaluation in relation to a base for club kit. In particular, I received the S2R Performance Jersey and the S2R Performance Bib Short in black. This is the latest offering from Search and State and builds upon the past success of the S2-R jersey and S1-S bibs.
I haven’t had the kit long yet, it arrived about a week ago now, but I’ve already put it through a decent preliminary evaluation. I’ll share some thoughts and some comparisons to other options out there.
After giving the kit a nice hand wash, I did a trial fit and I have to say I was quite impressed with the feel of the materials and the general fit. A couple immediate notes, the leg bands on the bib shorts are fairly tight for me (I suppose I have large thigh muscles?). It’s not uncomfortable, but it is definitely noticeable. The benefit of this is that the shorts are guaranteed not to ride up but the drawback is that they are abnormally tight just at the leg band (the rest of the fabric fits well). The shirt fit exceptionally well right away. It has these two side pockets in addition to the back 3 pockets that (once riding) are excellent to have.
So, on to the ride, functionality, and comfort of the kit. The chamois is a nice density and fairly thin for the amount of comfort it provides. Per SAS, they slimmed it down from prior versions but still chose one specifically for endurance riding. It has “wide” coverage in the front with no seems in bad places. This helps prevent chafing and other issues with your private bits and also despite being wide, doesn’t bunch up or feel like a diaper. Bonus.
I took the full kit out on a maiden voyage, ending up with 106 miles by ride end. Perhaps I’m a bit crazy for jumping right into brand new kit for such a long ride, but I have to say that I did so without any discomfort or issues. The tightness of the leg band on the S2-R bibs was okay, but I think I would still prefer a slightly different approach to the leg band. The jersey performed great and the side pockets were super useful considering the back of my jersey was stocked with energy bars, electrolytes, etc to get through the century properly fueled (and some extras just in case). the zipper while extremely high quality, was a bit difficult to unzip on the bike, sometimes catching rather than just unzipping cleanly. That may be because it is brand new, so I’ll just leave that as a note for the moment and defer judgement on that until it gets a few more rides on it. There was some minor adjusting of the bibs during the ride, but nothing that was required mainly just for a little more comfort or to remedy a slight shift causing things to pull slightly somewhere.
So, great… but how does this compare to any other bibs? Well, truth be told this is a great bib set, but for me, it isn’t as good as the Assos S7 Mille that I have. Based on the cost as well, I’d buy the Assos over these bibs, BUT bibs are a very personal thing and some people absolutely do not like the chamois “hammock” style of the new Assos… so that should be taken into account as well. With just over a hundred miles, they performed flawlessly so I can’t complain about them at all.
The jersey I really like though. It’s a favorite now and a high contender for future purchases and base for club kit options. It isn’t cheap. It isn’t perfect. But it is understated, minimal, super functional, comfortable, and shows really neat salt designs after extremely long rides.
Anyway, check out the kit at SAS and see if it works for you.