Specialized’s newest clothing lines feature updated fits and the latest materials, all in a variety of colors and sizes.
Specialized is a major player when it comes to just about everything involved in riding your bike, including of course, the bikes themselves, as well as helmets, shoes, tires and accessories. But the California company’s clothing has always been, well, a bit lackluster when stacked up against competitors’ high-end cycling garments. ‘We even admit that the clothing was never the best,’ notes one employee. ‘Our goal for quite some time has been to evolve our clothing into a true ?Specialized’ product, something we would consider to be truly innovative and exciting for all cyclists to enjoy, even if they’re not specifically brand-loyal to us.’ Enter 2013 and, with a dedicated apparel development staff assembled over the past few years, Specialized has unveiled two distinct lines of road duds that it feels represents the company’s passion for both riding and producing a quality product. RBA headed to Specialized’s Morgan Hill, California headquarters for a first look at the new Spring 2013 clothing.
One of the primary goals for the new clothing project revolved around protection from the elements, most notably the sun. ‘UV-protection is a big deal at Specialized,’ said Peter Curran, Specialized’s Apparel Product Manager. ‘Riders are out in the sun all the time and we want them to be safe, healthy and riding their bikes for a long, long time throughout their lives.’ So, Specialized developed ?Deflect UV’ technology for all of the new garments, which ensures that each piece has at least a UPF 30 rating (UPF is the protection rating standard for clothing, just as SPF is for sunscreen and lotions). Along with jerseys, shorts and arm, knee and leg warmers, Specialized’s 2013 clothing range includes arm and leg covers that are lightweight and thin and provide significant UV protection during bright and even cloudy days.
Specialized’s 2013 clothing range falls into two distinct lines: SL and RBX. These designations are nothing new for Specialized clothing, but the company’s apparel team feels that the newest garments better represent the terms within Specialized’s vast catalog than ever before. The ?SL’ line is the high-performance option, with lighter materials, more fitted cuts and some bolder graphic options.
The ?RBX’ line is designed more for the endurance-oriented cyclist, or the recreational rider who may not prefer an ultra-skin-tight jersey and shorts combination. The cuts feature a bit more of a relaxed fit than the SL line, what Specialized calls a ‘semi-fit’ design. The RBX jerseys also come with slightly larger pockets for carrying more items. And while the RBX chamois is the same as that found on the SL shorts, it’s a touch thicker for longer days in the saddle and also features a small bit of comfort gel.
Speaking of the chamois, Specialized opted to keep the entire clothing development process in-house, meaning that the team even designed an all-new chamois. ‘Making sure that the chamois and the saddle are working together as one unit, well, that was the holy grail of the development of our shorts,’ said Curran. ‘We optimized the new chamois to work best with Specialized saddles, of course, but it will really work well with any other saddle on the market, too.’ Other key features that the team focused on during the chamois development were ample airflow, anti-chafing stitch patterns, and even ensuring that most of the pad volume was situated towards the outside of the short for a ‘smoother interface between saddle and body.’ For an easy visual reference in the bike shop, note that the SL chamois is blue, while the RBX chamois is red.
Specialized focused heavily on sit bone placement when developing its new chamois. ‘When you look at your sit bones from the front, you’ll see that they are actually V-shaped,’ said Curran. ‘So as you rotate your hips forward into a more aggressive riding position, the front of your sit bones require a different shape of cushioning. That’s the reasoning behind the unique padding shape [shown in black above on a demonstration chamois].’ The same focus on sit bone shapes went into the development of the women’s chamois, too.
Specialized’s apparel development team has a dedicated space within the company’s headquarters where pattern-maker Anne Asnis and seamstress Natalia (above) churn out ride-able clothing samples daily.
The Men’s SL line includes ‘Pro’ and ‘Expert’ level categories. Both include a variety of color and size options. The above SL Pro jersey and bib shorts retail for $150 and $175, respectively. Expert-level equivalents sell for $120 and $150.
The Men’s RBX line is the biggest of all Specialized’s 2013 clothing offerings. Jerseys range from $65 to $150, while shorts and bib shorts range from $50 to $150. The above Sport shorts sell for $50, while the Sport jersey sells for $60.
The Women’s SL line is comprised of only one category, ‘Pro,’ with one jersey ($150), one short ($150) and one bib short ($175) on tap in a few color options.
The Women’s RBX line is comprised of two categories: ‘Comp’ and ‘Sport.’ Above is the Comp short ($90) and jersey ($100). The Sport-level equivalent shorts and jerseys are $50 and $60, respectively.
Here’s Peter Curran, Specialized’s Manager of Product (Apparel), modeling the new SL team kit. The day after the clothing presentation, Specialized led a 60-mile group ride through the Santa Cruz mountains west of San Jose, complete with 6500 feet of climbing. So how do the clothes feel, perform and ride? Check back soon for a full ride report, as well as an exclusive tour of the company’s headquarters!