Specialized has teamed up with the winter outerwear company 686 to develop a line of men’s and women’s winter cycling clothing designed for sub-zero conditions.
While not specifically made for fat biking, this new 686 X Specialized edition certainly appears up for the task.
During the winter months, many mountain bikers, including myself, often rely on outerwear designed for snowboarding or skiing for snowy singletrack adventures. Most of the time this gear works quite well, but there’s something to be said for adding details to outerwear that make it a bit more, well, specialized.
This new three-piece collection from Specialized blends high-tech fabrics with fit and features to improve the winter riding experience.
3L Tech Bibs – $450 / £300
The 3l tech bibs are constructed from a three-layer softshell fabric:
The biggest issue with repurposing snowpants for winter riding is that they are designed cover bulky ski and snowboard boots. This is exactly the opposite cut you want for cycling. The 3L Tech Bibs have a relaxed cut that’s easy to layer under with a slim fit through the lower legs to prevent the pants from rubbing against crankarms or getting caught in chainrings.
The legs are slim through the ankle to prevent them from snagging on chainrings and have reinforced panels on inside of the ankles:
Slim through the legs to make them pedal (and chainring) friendly
Other cycling-specific features include vents on the front of the thighs allow the wearer to dump heat quickly and Specialized’s clever SWAT storage system sewn to the back of the bibs.
The 3L Tech Bibs are constructed from 686’s top-end infiniDRY 20 fabric, which is both water-resistant and breathable.
The 3l tech bibs get the swat treatment, with a four-pocket storage system sewn to the outside of the bibs:
Specialized included a four-pocket SWAT storage system on the back of the bibs
Tech Insulator – $250 / £150
The tech insulator jacket gets its warmth from primaloft synthetic insulation :
The Tech Insulator is designed to be worn as an outer-layer or as a mid-layer when the mercury really plummets.
It uses 100g Primaloft synthetic insulation with stretch panels on the sides and shoulders to allow for freedom of movement.
The Tech Insulator has two hand pockets, a breast pocket and two internal stash pockets. On the right rear of the jacket there’s a zipper that allows access to the SWAT system located on the 3L Tech Bibs. We wish there was a matching zipper on the left side of the jacket.
There’s a rear zipper on the right side of the tech insulator that allows access to items stored in the swat panel on the bibs:
Gels and bars are within reach and should hopefully stay above freezing in the SWAT panel
3L Tech Jacket – $500 / £330
The 3l tech jacket is constructed from the same three-layer softshell fabric as the bibs:
This jacket features the same materials and construction as the 3L Tech Bibs. The seams are taped to keep out moisture and there’s a spray skirt to keep out snow.
Finding the sweet spot between too hot and too cold can be a challenge with any cold weather aerobic sport. Specialized has sought to make temperature regulation easier by adding vents to the front of the upper arms and matching exhaust vents on the sides of the back. These back vents also allow access to the SWAT storage system.
The 3l tech jacket has two rear vents that allow air to pass through the jacket:
Double vents also allow access to the SWAT storage panel
While not widely used for mountain biking, the 3L Tech Jacket incorporates the RECCO avalanche rescue system, which can be useful in many other backcountry scenarios as well. This reflector can be detected by first-responders scanning the area with RECCO radar detectors. (POC recently incorporated the technology into its 2016 helmet line.)
The recco system functions as a passive avalanche beacon, allowing first responders with recco detectors to locate the wearer:
The RECCO system is slowly gaining traction for mountain bike applications
Creature comforts include adjustable Lycra sleeve gussets to prevent drafts creeping up your arms, an internal audio pocket and perforations on the collar to improve airflow and reduce moisture build-up when fully zipped.
So how does it all perform?
Stay tuned for reviews once I get some snowy miles in them.