Is This the Best Cycling Clothing on the Planet?
7Mesh, a new British Columbia-based mountain bike clothing company, aims to raise the standard in outfitting cyclists.
The founders at 7Mesh want to make better cycling clothing. The new brand, based out of Squamish, B.C., was launched this fall at Interbike with an eye toward building high-performance, technical apparel for riders.
“As cyclists, we always found ourselves riding in outdoor apparel rather than the cycling brands. We felt that quality and development was lagging in the cycling world,” says Tyler Jordan, president and CEO of 7Mesh. “Cyclists ride extremely refined and expensive bicycles. And we thought it was time to bring the soft goods up to the level of those bikes.”
As a former CEO of Arc’teryx, an outdoor company known for its technical, well-cut apparel, Jordan knows a thing or two about performance in high-end equipment. And the rest of the 7Mesh team boast similar credentials, with years of experience at Arc’teryx and Assos.
That experience probably helped leverage a deal with fabric giant Gore, making 7Mesh, according to Jordan, only the second-ever startup to make such a deal (Mountain Hardwear was the first). That means 7Mesh’s Spring 2015 catalog is full of the latest waterproof breathable and moisture-management fabrics, including jackets built from GoreTex Active, Windstopper, and Windstopper Active.
All the product we’ve received for testing bears a notable resemblance to Arc’teryx equipment, with spare lines and minimal sewing, taut tailoring, lots of welded seams and weatherproof zippers, and extremely understated branding. “We don’t want to be the Arc’teryx of the cycling world,” Jordan told me. “But it’s not a bad company to be compared with.”
We’re impressed with the quality and designs of the pieces we’ve seen so far. Still, it’s surprising to hear 7Mesh talk so critically of the existing market given the range of companies already producing high-end apparel.
Assos, renowned for its fabric development, attentive tailoring, and technological advancements, launched into mountain bike apparel last summer with its Off-Road Rally line. And Gore already uses GoreTex products to great effect in a full line of excellent, cycle-specific gear. Finally there’s Kitsbow, a startup that launched a couple years ago, that has produced some excellent technical pieces with a lifestyle bent. Whether 7Mesh can make gear that’s better than the clothing produced by these companies (and others) remains to be seen.
The other question is whether consumers are ready for yet another top-shelf apparel brand. 7Mesh is definitely aiming for the premium market, with jerseys starting at $130 and jackets up to $450. Those prices are steep, but they are in line with other high-end brands and reflect the company’s use of expensive fabrics as well as its B.C. locale. (It’s worth noting that while development and testing is being done in Canada, production is overseas.) The onus, however, will be on 7Mesh, as a startup, to prove that their goods warrant those prices.
We will provide in-depth reviews of 7Mesh gear as soon as we’ve had a chance to fully test it. In the meantime, here’s a quick run-down of the gear we’ve received.
Revolution Jacket ($450)
The 7Mesh line is broken into two lines—7 Days for expedition-quality stuff to be used over multiple days and in the harshest conditions, and 7 Hours for products intended for use when you’re only out for the day. The Revolution is the company’s burliest, 7 Day piece, constructed of three-layer GoreTex 3L Pro for ultimate protection. The cut favors a riding position, though my size medium is not as trim as similar jackets from, say, Assos or Castelli. Detailing is top-notch, with full-length side zips for venting, a trim snap-off hood, slender Velcro cuff tabs, a tug-open main zipper, and small reflective hits.
Re:Gen Jacket ($350)
Part of the 7 Hour line, this piece is lighter than the Revolution (210 grams vs. 280 grams) and cut from the highly breathable GoreTex Active for waterproofing with excellent moisture transfer. It’s a much more spare piece than the Revolution, though it still has the critical features, watertight zippered cuffs, a gripper elastic waist, and a hands-free main zipper. The cut is trimmer than the Revolution, too, though there seems to be an excess of material in the chest when in a drop, riding position.
S2S Shirt ($130)
Perhaps the most interesting piece we’ve received to date, this mid-weight polyester jersey has more volume than a typical jersey and uses very little stretch fabric. The idea is to create good fit and performance through excellent tailoring, and by and large it seems to work. The full-length zipper is welcome, and the zippered side pockets, as opposed to rear ones that could conflict with a pack, are a smart touch that we’ve come to appreciate from Kitsbow design.
Glidepath Short ($140)
These simple over-shorts are cut from a tough, lightweight nylon that’s built to dry quickly. There are loops for a belt, as well as a fast-buckle webbing adjustment for going without. The two hand pockets are nice for bumping around town, but it’s the zippered side pockets that sit to the back that really make these good for riding. (Once again, we first saw this smart feature on Kitsbow shorts.) Also worth noting: the best way to judge any cycling apparel company is by their bibs, and up to now, 7Mesh is still fine-tuning the fit and form of their padded shorts.