[related_articles]We were stoked when Giro Sportswear invited us to come and test out their brand new range of apparel in the stunning Swiss mountains, and even more excited when we saw it.
Giro told us that throughout their 30 year history, they've been devoted to science and soul - in equal measures. That's great, but we were more impressed with the way they've created their men's and women's apparel in equal measures, too.
The Chrono range is brand new, ready for the launch at Eurobike this week.
The kit has been two years in the making, thanks to relentless product testing, and sample after sample in the pursuit of perfection.
Italian designed, Giro have created many of the fabrics used in the kit from scratch - and they've tried to cater for a wide range of riders, with 'Pro', 'Expert' and 'Sport' varieties.
The brand have a genuine dedication to creating quality kit for women, too. Product Director Nathan Mack told us: "Giro as a company is made up of 30% to 40% women at this point - which gives us a unique position, rather than saying ‘I think she’ll like this’, women are designing on the team."
Giro were keen to make sure we gave their new creations a proper test run, so we took the kit for an 86 mile ride up some fairly mountainous climbs. Not every element was perfection, but a lot of it was pretty damn close, and they were keen to hear our feedback on any areas of improvement. Here's what we found...
Giro Empire Shoes
Not technically part of the Chrono range, these caused much excitement when we first arrived to check out the kit laid out for us ready to ride in.
Giro's Empire shoes took the men's market by storm when they first arrived. As Director Mack explained, "we didn't want to just use a dial or a boa because everybody else [in the market] does it."
Initially, there was cynicism - can laces really cut it in a sprint? With pro teams's like BMC wearing the shoes, that question was soon answered with a positive 'yes'.
Until this launch, the shoes have been one of those 'not for girls' products we've drooled over from afar. Some women have opted to wear the men's shoes, but many women do have narrower feet than the data sets and averages used to make the men's "last" (the 3D form shoes are built around).
Last year, Giro produced what they called a 'super limited edition' women's run, using a women's last, but they're now available for a wider market. We can confirm these beautiful booties fit like a dream.
With laces you get 7 points of adjustment, which means you can dial the fit to work with your body, and we adored the well formed insole. The shoes come with a selection of arch supports, so you can dial the fit even further - and the extra support felt great to me.
I did feel a little bout of 'hot foot' pressure during the second of two long climbs of the day - but I imagine if I'd taken more time to dial the laces in to fit me exactly, this issue could be eliminated.
You can fit them with black or green laces, which give more of a 'pop' of colour, to complement some other items in the range.
Chrono Women's Jersey
The jersey has been manufactured at three levels - Pro (£139), Expert (£74), and Sport (£50).
Each is available in a couple of different designs, and we had the the pleasure of wearing the 'pro' jersey in the Galaxy design, which comes as part of a range, with matching shorts, gloves, and cap, along with similar colours on the Empire shoes and Amare II helmet.
Giro worked with Italian production companies to create their own fabric, which is a mix of polyester (80%) and elastane (20%). We don't want to sound overly gushy - but we seriously loved wearing this jersey.
Often, a high end, aero, pro fit jersey sits very tight against the skin, but doesn't have much stretch. There's always a heart-stopping moment, when you join the zip at the hips and think: "Oh, no... is this too small?" Then you suck in. This usually works ok on the bike, but you often find yourself self conscious off it.
With the Giro Pro Jersey, the material stretches blissfully, to accommodate for your own individual curves, without sacrificing aerodynamics or comfort via flappy, extra fabric.
The fabric is stunningly light - at 117 grams - and incredibly breathable.
Moving to the Expert level, the fabric becomes 100% polyester, so you lose a bit of stretch, but other features remain. At Sport, you've got a polyester and organic cotton mix, and there's around an inch of extra breathing space to ensure the range is approachable for riders of all shapes and sizes.
Pro: Galaxy, Fade White
Expert: Pade Purple, Matrix Black, Matrix Turquoise
Sport: Race Red, Turquoise, Highlight Yellow, Black
Chrono Women's Shorts
The women's shorts are also available at three levels - Pro (£119, waist shorts, Galaxy and plain), Expert (£119, halter bib), and Sport (£59).
There is one elephant in the room we'll address first: it is disappointing that the high end shorts are waist shorts, and not bibs.
We know from experience that the Giro halter bib is an excellent design - I've got a pair and I love the idea. If I was choosing for myself, I would forgo the extra chamois technology of the pro, in favour of a bib, and I expect this might be the same for many women.
When I asked about this, I was told that Pro Bibs are on the way. What Giro are concerned about, is that this will take them to a much higher price point, and they're not sure the market is ready yet. We say unto you: go and buy bibs, women, let's prove the market is there!
The shorts (bib and waist) feature one special party trick that particularly impressed us - the lumbar compression panel. This panel of ribbed material made from nylon (61%) and elastane (39%), provides support at the lower back, where cyclists often experience fatigue over long distances.
The chamois at all levels is created by Cytech - an Italian company known for creating the best in the business. Variable density is used, with a little extra padding the the Pro and Expert options, making the pad suitable for 5 hour rides, whilst the Sport chamois is great up to 3 hours.
We wore these shorts for just over 5 hours in the saddle, and felt perfectly comfortable, despite riding a Fizik saddle that was definitely not designed for a woman!
Chrono Jacket, Vest and Warmers
The range doesn't stop at jersey and shorts. There's also a Chrono wind jacket (£99) and vest (£79), alongside a Chrono base layer (£49) and luxurious arm and leg warmers (£24).
Director Mack told us: "A jacket or wind vest should be a constant companion, you should be able to have it always with you", so they've made these items to be incredibly light weight and easy to roll to the size of a clemantine. Unlike many wind layers, breathability and stretch have been carefully considered, as we could see by the use of a stretch nylon, mesh panels, and a two way zip so you can get air both ways when you need to.
The base layer and warmers are made from a Wickpro fabric, which is incredibly stretchy and breathable. Admittedly, however, I still felt that I'd rather forgo a base layer when climbing a 20km brute of a hill in the mid-day sun, but body temperatures do vary.
Chrono Galaxy Accessories
For an added little 'pop' in the Galaxy style, there is a matching cap and mitts, plus an Amare II helmet, and the Empire shoes are designed to complement the look - we do love to be co-ordinated, so this was a genuine treat!
Fancy treating yourself? See the full range here.