After a 5000 mile trip riding across the US a few years back, Redfrog Athletics founder Jaimee Erickson was inspired to create technical riding clothing for women that would make her as comfortable on as it was off the bike. The crop of women-specific cycling kit is improving, but there are lots of flowers & butterflies that just don’t appeal to all women. And as my own wife has complained, it is all to common to find a nice looking women’s jersey that leaves out some obvious feature, like rear pockets.
Erickson’s solution was to make it herself – she was a designer already anyway – and now a couple of years of design & development later and Redfrog is launching with a boost from a crowdfunding campaign that has already passed its early targets. The brand is kicking off with a line of women’s cycling clothing with four core pieces: three different jersey variants and a light jacket, all made of a mix of soft, functional merino wool and a blend of synthetic fibers to balance performance and fit. Take a closer look and get the full information on the pre-order below the fold…
After falling in love with the sport and lifestyle of cycling Erickson’s goal for Redfrog was to spread the love and thus encourage more women to get on the bike. Her target was to design for the independent, free-spirited, female touring cyclist. It wasn’t about trying to outperform your typical road race or mountain bike kit, bit rather to craft a line of cycling tops that fit well and function both on and off the bike.
The four introductory products then became the Racerback, Hammer T & Long Sleeve jerseys. Designed to transition from hot weather summer riding to cooler conditions in the spring and autumn, these three jerseys offer a lot of the same fabric, details, and functionality. The slightly heavier Commute Jacket makes a jump more to layering for when the weather gets colder, and really functions as well on or off the bike.
The Racerback is the lightest of the jerseys. Ideal for warm weather, it gets a pretty standard athletic racerback tank shape and a wicking and odor-resistant merino blend. The 50% merino, 50% nylon blend was selected to balance the natural comfort, temperature regulation, and soft feel of the wool with the added structure and durability of the synthetic.
Like the other jerseys, the $75 Racerback gets flatlock stitching for comfort, a silicone gripper along the hem to keep it from riding up, and reflective accents for added visibility. Something a bit rare for a tank-style jersey, and for many women’s jerseys of any type, all of the Redfrog jerseys including the Racerback get three traditional rear pockets and a fourth 3.5″ x 6.5″ water-resistant zip pocket. This 3+1 arrangement has become the standard of premium men’s jerseys, but still gets left off of a lot of women’s kit, often using small sizes as an excuse. Erickson made usability a big focus of this kit and has worked hard to make storage work across all sizes, helped here by slightly longer cuts than more racy cut jerseys.
The Hammer T is the next step up in coverage with a bit shallower cut neckline and mid length short sleeves. Designed for three season use, it shares a similar 50/50 merino blend, but in a slightly heavier mid-weight fabric. Still benefiting from the natural comfort and performance of merino, it will keep you cool on the climbs and your core warm on the descents.
This $83 Hammer T gets all of the same flatlock, silicone gripper, reflective accent, and 3+1 pocket layout details, plus the same short zipper for a bit of temperature regulation, and in addition vented mesh panels at the shoulders front and back to match the ventilation of the tank-cut jersey.
The Long Sleeve jersey uses the same mid-weight merino as the Hammer, but adds a tall zip collar and of course log sleeves to make it work for riding in cooler weather, partially inspired by Redfrog’s San Francisco home. The $96 long sleeve jersey adds a few more tech features to all the ones that carry over from the short sleeve kit, live the hem gripper & 3+1 pockets.
At the end of the extended sleeves it gets thumb hole loops that offer a bit more wrist & hand coverage when riding without gloves, and with gloves ensures a good overlap so cold air doesn’t creep in. Across the back the Long Sleeve adds an open mesh from the neck crossing under the shoulder blades for improved heat & sweat management so that it can be comfortable even in relatively warm weather. If you need more insulation for cold riding, it pairs well with a standard merino baselayer as well.
The Commute Jacket is the most crossover piece of the new Redfrog line, essentially blending a riding jacket to an off the bike style as well. It still gets cycling features like the same flatlock stitching for comfort against the skin while riding, the silicone gripper hem to keep it in place, and reflective elements for low light visibility. It even gets the extended arms and thumb holes of the long sleeve jersey, as it goes to a full length zip and a taller bunched turtleneck for more warmth. But the jacket reorganizes the pockets for a more conservative look out of the saddle.
The $217 Commute Jacket still gets two jersey style rear pockets, and adds a couple of zippered handwarmer slash pockets on the side for versatility off of the bike and so that you still can carry things securely and comfortably if you are riding with a backpack as well. For added warmth the jacket uses a heavyweight 90% merino blend that keeps good breathability, wicking, and anti-odor properties, with just 10% of nylon to help it maintain its shape.
For now all of the new Redfrog merino blend tops will come in black only. That’s pretty much a function of the lower numbers of the start-up of production. Erickson has told us that since she has already met her Kickstarter funding target with more than a month to go, she has added a stretch goal that will see a vibrant red merino fabric available if her campaign passes that threshold. If it doesn’t you’ll probably have to wait until they go into full production for more color options.
As for now, Erickson told us that she is “beyond excited to get these products on the bodies of my wonderful backers”. With such early success of her crowdfunding, she’s already started the ball rolling to get the transition into production ready once the Kickstarter closes on the 10th of January. From then, the schedule will have production get started in the new year with deliveries slated by the end of April so you’ll be riding in new merino Redfrog kit this spring. We haven’t had the chance to try any of the new kit out yet before production, but Redfrog has assured us that our women testers will be some of the first to sample the gear when it is ready in the new year, and we’ll report back when we have it in hand.