Riding kit choice can be a polarising conversation between mates: loose or baggy; somewhere in between; half zip, full zip, no zip? Over the years, the humble cycle jersey has undergone an evolution. What began as woven woollens transitioned to saggy and way-too-stretchy Lycra, and has now been replaced by high-performance fabrics and associated race cuts. Nowadays, though, we're seeing all manner of garb worn on the bike - even the old cotton tee sees a return, alongside the aero-pro-wannabe look. Like it or not, the kit you wear speaks volumes about your identity on the bike but, hopefully, whatever you're wearing, the designer has managed to combine perfect function with perfect form.
Trek's Solstice Jersey sits squarely between the race-inspired Lycra of the pro peloton, and the looser-fitting MTB jersey style, drawing design cues from both sides. Classic features from pro-level jerseys bleed across, with three rear pockets, a full-length zipper and a dropped tail, sewn from a soft, breathable fabric. Thanks to a 'regular' fit that is more 'every-man' than 'skinny race guy', the scope for who's likely to wear it has widened.
Over the years, I've really only worn two styles of kit - either a baggy MTB jersey, or a skin-tight aero cut style (insert sausage skin jokes here). The Solstice is the first regular fit jersey I’ve spent any time wearing, and it got a thorough test run during the heat of our three-day trip around Banks Peninsula.
The sizing is in line with other brands I've worn. I'm generally a medium in most brands so picked a medium in this jersey. Spot on. Room-wise, it's similar to a medium tee on me, with a bit of space all over, allowing freedom of movement but also ample draft to help with comfort and cooling. The fit combined with the moisture-wicking fabric meant that although we were riding in over 30-degree temperatures, I never felt like I was overdressed or being cooked in the shirt. And, although sweating profusely, the fabric wicked well and kept my torso relatively dry - helped by the full-length zip at times.
Small details easily go unnoticed but do make a difference. The zipper garage at the neck stops abrasion against the wearer's neck when zipped up; small reflective strips help with low-light visibility; and minimalist logos help with the low-key appearance of the jersey. This isn't a place for loud, in-your-face logos.
Delivered in a waxed paper package, it's clear the changes Trek have made towards being more sustainable have gone further than just the recyclable packaging for their bikes - we're now seeing similar changes starting to bleed across their entire range. They’ve taken a similar step forward in their clothing line, with much of it now manufactured from recycled materials. The Solstice shirt saves 29 PET plastic bottles from landfill, certainly significant considering the global volume of sales.
When all's said and done, if you're trying to avoid looking like a MAMIL, but still want some of the functionality, but not like you’ve stolen the look from a pro, then the Solstice could well be just what you're looking for. No over the top flare, just a good quality, functional shirt that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Trek Solstice Bib Short
There was a time when the 'Little Black Dress' (LBD) was a staple for every fashion-forward woman: versatile and stylish for any occasion, dressed up or down by the accessories that accompanied it. A good set of black bib shorts are the LBD of a cyclist's wardrobe - whether you're a roadie, gravel rider or mountain biker, at some point a good pair of plain black bibs will come in handy. Whatever accessories you choose to accompany them with is up to you - maybe some baggy over shorts?
The Solstice bib shorts are Trek’s entry-level bibs, designed for rides up to 1.5 hours long. Priced at $179.99 they pack a punch for their price.
Fit is paramount with a pair of bib shorts; a bad fit can quickly ruin a ride while a good fit, on the other hand, can make you completely forget you're even wearing shorts. I recall years ago being told that the more panels a pair of bibs was sewn from, the better the fit and the more comfortable they'd be. Unfortunately, more panels also equal more seams to rub the wearer up the wrong way. These days, I think the pendulum has swung back the other way, in favour of fewer panels but better quality fabrics, ensuring modern shorts fit well. The Solstice bibs are adequately comfortable, and the fabric strikes a nice balance of compression and breathability. Often, fabrics woven with compression in mind leave you feeling like you're trapped in a plastic bag, but these seem to breathe well enough. The mesh bib straps are plenty comfy, no complaints here, and the height of the front of the shorts is spot on, enough height to secure any wayward spare tyres, but low enough to allow for a not-too-awkward nature break.
A crucial element for a good pair of shorts is their chamois, certainly a make-or-break feature. The Solstice is fitted with Trek's 'Comp inForm Dual Density' chamois - no frills here, simple yet effective. No chafing or hot spots, the chamois gets a tick from me. For huge days in the saddle, however, you may want something a bit thicker, but this certainly does what it's supposed to.
I wore a size medium in these shorts, as I do with all my bib shorts. Personally, I think the fit was slightly large, meaning they didn't quite fit as firmly as I'd imagine they were designed to. The legs don't have a silicone gripper but use a slightly tighter band of fabric to keep them in place which, for me, wasn't tight enough, causing the legs to work their way up to a mid-thigh sweet spot - higher than I'd like and higher than I'd think the designer envisioned them to sit. In hindsight, if I had downsized and worn a size small, I don't think these issues would have occurred.
The Solstice shorts are ideal if you're out and about on the bike a couple of times a week for a couple of hours, however, if you're doing more serious miles, then it's worth the step up to Trek’s mid-level Circuit ($209.99) or even Velocis bibs ($269.99) - their top tier offering with better everything; designed for longer, more frequent rides.
Distributed by Trek New Zealand