Every year, when colder weather rolls around it seems that there is a continual battle between riding outside and training indoors. As trainer technology continues to improve, fall and winter clothing also gets better making it easier than ever to get outside. Cold weather clothing isn’t just about staying warm though – you don’t have to look very far to find a too-close-for-comfort moment out on the road, so staying visible is as important as ever.
Along with a new winter clothing system designated as S1/S2, Bontrager is diving into visibility with their Halo initiative. Instead of just focusing on high visibility or reflective hits, the Halo products blend the two based on studies of how the eye of drivers see and react to both. The goal is to provide total visibility either day or night as well as providing needed warmth at the S1 level…
Starting off with the lower half, the Halo S1 kit includes the Velocis Softshell Bib Tight. As for that S1/S2 designation, Bontrager positions anything with an S1 label as ‘at or above freezing’ (30°F/-1°C and up), while S2 is for anything below that mark. Obviously, your personal needs may vary from that designation, but it’s a good place to start. Since it’s part of the Halo system, the Velocis S1 bib tights include the Pixel reflective technology on the lower parts of the leg for 360° visibility. Similar to many other reflective printing designs that we’ve seen, the Pixel fabric includes many tiny dots of reflective material printed over top of high visibility Profila Thermal fabric.
One of the best parts of any Velocis bib or bib tights comes from the incredibly comfortable straps and the bridge support on the back which make these super comfy – especially while layering. The bib tights do not have a chamois so you will have to layer over something else. For me, most rides required just a standard bib underneath, but for colder rides I layered the Velocis thermal bib shorts below.
Made with a fitted cut and softshell inserts on the knees, the legs each have zippered openings with silicone ankle grippers to keep them in place. The smalls seemed to fit me pretty well (5’8″ 30″ inseam) but the legs were a bit long which is pretty typical for me. Sold in XS-XXL, the Velocis Halo S1 Softshell Bib Tights sell for $219.
The bib tights are meant to be paired with the Velocis Halo S1 softshell jacket which is covered in the same Pixel reflective printing that is on the legs. Combined with a high visibility yellow fabric, this jacket is nearly impossible to miss – day or night. The only catch seems to be that the fabric doesn’t feel as stretchy as some other jackets which combined with a very tight chest made it a bit uncomfortable for me to wear. Sizing up to the medium would have solved the fit issues around the chest, but the sleeves are already on the long side for the small.
Put together with a combination of Profila Softshell and Profila Thermal fabrics, the jacket uses an asymmetric zipper, and provides a zippered chest pocket, three rear open pockets, and an additional zippered security pocket. Priced at $299.99, in the end I really like what this jacket offers in the visibility department, it just didn’t work for me fit-wise.
Fortunately, Bontrager sent along another jacket that easily took its place. The Velocis S2 Softshell jacket doesn’t have the Pixel reflective touches, but it does have large hits of visibility yellow and reflective accents to keep you seen. Part of the new crop of Bontrager clothing to use Profila fabrics with 37.5 active particle technology, which is supposed to help maintain your core temperature more efficiently by better managing moisture. It’s hard to say how much the 37.5 technology was contributing, but I instantly fell in love with this jacket. Though for me, in order to reach temperatures much below freezing, it took some heavy layering. The good news there is that the S2 is quite a bit more forgiving in the cut which makes layering quite comfortable.
Similar to the S1 softshell, the S2 features a zippered chest pocket and rear security pocket, three open pockets and adds thumb loops for additional warmth around the hand. I also like the additional high viz hits at the wrist to make it easier for you to be seen when signaling. Available in Black/Visibility yellow or Viper red, the S2 Softshell sells for $199.99. Together, I used the S1 bibs and the S2 softshell to ride down into the 20’s (F) and found it to be an ideal combination when paired with thermal bibs underneath. Out of all the gear here, this was my favorite combo.
If you need more warmth up top, you’ll probably need it below which is where the Velocis S2 Softshell inForm Bib Tight comes in. Offering quite a bit more warmth and protection from the elements than the S1, the S2 also adds an Arcus inForm BioDynamic Chamois. A zippered chest and zippered leg openings make them easier to get on and off. Available in XS-XXL, the S2 Softshell bibs sell for $169.99.
If you’re less sure of the warmth needed on your ride, Bontrager is offering the Starvos S1 Softshell Convertible Jacket which zips off into a vest. On the surface the jacket is very similar to other softshell jackets with rear pockets and a zippered chest pocket, but the added ability to remove the sleeves may appeal to some. Frankly, none of my rides ended up necessitating a removal of the sleeves, but then again I tend to run pretty cold. Offered in black, Viper red, or Visibility yellow, the Starvos S1 goes for $179.99.
Even though the Volocis Thermal inForm Bib Shorts don’t fall into the S1 or S2 categories, they remain one of my favorite pieces of cold weather gear from Bontrager. Thermal bibs span that gap when you have to start wearing knee warmers to full on cold rides where the insulated bibs are so nice to have under a shell like the S1 bibs, and the Bontrager Velocis are top notch. Not only are they super comfortable throughout the legs and the gripper, but the straps are sublime – wide, soft, and perfectly stretchy. Add in the impressive Arcus inForm Biodynamic Chamois, and you really can’t find a much better Thermal bib for the price at $159.99.
Bontrager also has quite a few new cold weather accessories for your head, neck, and hands. Fingers can be kept warm with either the Velocis Windshell 5 finger gloves or the S2 softshell split finger gloves which include inForm Fusion GelFoam padding, silicone finger grippers, and adjustable wrist velcro closures. The S2 Split fingers bulk up on 70g 3m Thinsulate insulation for better protection from the cold, but the Windshells obviously offer better dexterity. I will say that the Windshells run small, so I should have gone with a medium instead of the small here, while the small S2 Softshell fits great. Both gloves also feature eSwipe finger to keep you form having to pull of the gloves to use those smart phones. Pricing is set at $49.99 for the Velocis Windshell and $69.99 for the S2 Softshell.
On your head, you can go full ninja with the B3 Balaclava or a little less extreme with the B2 beanie and neck warmer. Bontrager has a history of putting out great merino wool baselayers, and this headwear is a worthy extension of that. For the beanie and neck warmer, you’ll find Profila dry fabric which is merino wool with 37.5 active particle technology, while the Balaclava goes full Profila Thermal. Each is a quality piece with pricing set at $24.99 for the beanie, $34.99 for the neck warmer, and $59.99 for the Balaclava.