Shorts and a jersey that get the job done without a hefty price tag
Well-made kit for the price
Comfortable and soft material
Baggy in some places, short in others
Features that seem designed for beginners
Many of us get our start in Louis Garneau clothing for a reason—it’s cost-efficient but still gets the job done. Overall, this kit is a deal, with soft material and comfortable chamois. But don’t expect any of the high-end bells and whistles that come on the more expensive kits. And even the bells and whistles that do come with these shorts and jersey almost feel as if they’re designed with beginners in mind or are for cyclists who might not yet be comfortable in tighter and longer cuts.
Louis Garneau Fit Sensor 5.5 Shorts 2 ($90, backcountry.com)
We should start by saying these shorts come in two lengths: 7.5 inches or 5.5 inches. I went with the 5.5 to try out something different and if you’re used to more standard length cycling shorts then the 5.5 length will feel short. It’s more the type of length you think of in terms of running, not cycling. The downside is: the edge of shorter shorts tends to hit right where your leg is on the seat (or at least it does for me), which can cause rubbing. The upside is: your legs look really long (if that’s what you’re going for).
There’s a reason, though, these shorts are an LG standard for people getting started in cycling. For the price, you get a quality and versatile cycling short. The material is softer and thicker than I typically think of in cycling shorts. (Again, think more what you see in running tights.) This may be because of the higher portion of nylon and spandex—though the fabric maintains its quick-drying abilities and is SPF treated. It also has a wide semi-yoga-style waistband, so as not to pinch on your stomach, and a pocket on the side of the leg. There aren’t any elastic grippers around the bottom of the shorts to keep them in place on your legs—it’s just a cloth band similar to the waistband. This can cause it to slide up slightly, but it wasn’t bad (mostly stayed in place anyway for me) and some women prefer the soft touch to prevent “sausage legs.”
The main difference between these slightly cheaper shorts and the more expensive high-end ones is in the chamois. This is a fairly simple chamois with one uniform piece of foam throughout—as opposed to different sections and inserts of different widths for different parts of your sit area. It does taper off, with the thickest parts under the most needed areas and thinner foam around the edges, which are also perforated for breathability. It’s not the fanciest chamois and it’s relatively on the thinner side, but I never had a problem with it over shorter rides. It 100% gets the job done.
Louis Garneau Zircon 3 Jersey ($85, garneau.com)
For what it’s worth, this kit (and especially this jersey) were the most popular among onlookers, who all loved the color and fabric. The main part of the jersey is a very light polyester knit with bands around the collar, pockets, and arms—which are reflective, look almost shiny, and never quite actually gripped my arms. What’s most interesting about the jersey is the mesh along the sides and part of the back. It’s a kind of diamond knit pattern that keeps you cool but also provides some coverage. To me, this jersey felt like it was designed to be all about coverage. It’s not as form-fitting as any of the other small or XS jerseys we tried. It’s designed to be somewhat baggy I think for those who are more comfortable with that look.
Which brings us to the last thing that seemed like it was really designed for a cyclist who isn’t me: There’s a headphone port in the back zippered pocket. First off, the fact that the middle back pocket was zippered kept throwing me off every time I reached back, because it’s medium-hard to unzip a back pocket while riding, so it isn’t something I expect when I go to grab a bar. But there’s a port for headphones inside that pocket—it’s where you might zip in your phone and then run headphones up the inside of your jersey from there. However, I have to say: I don’t think it’s a good idea to be riding around outside with headphones in. I know some people do it, but I don’t want to miss hearing a car or a person and crash.