• Nation of Flandria: Product Review

    by  • August 1, 2012 • tech, too random

    Tim Westmore, awesome photographer took this picture! Rough testing of the kit on dirt at a Mtn Bike XC race.

    You can call me a “cycling kit snob.”  Or you can also call me a picky “cycling kit snob.”  I’ve been cycling for over ten years and the most important clothing in my closet is my cycling apparel.  It is a fetish in a way and I’ve seen all sorts of cycling apparel and designs in different countries.  Some I kinda like, some I toss out after a couple of washes, others I cherish until my cheek butts are visible through the shorts.  My cycling travels around the world, experience in ordering custom clothing for a team and business, riding many miles on my bike and even shopping at cycling stores around Europe is actually coming in handy.

    Cycles Fanatics requested me to do a review of their custom cycling apparal specificically WSD or “Women Specific Design.”  Up front, I spoke to Phil Roberts who is the owner of Cycles Fanatic USA and warned him that my reviews will be honest and non-biased.  No bullshit when it comes to cycling kits.  Luckily, Phil agreed and is open to any sort of feedback or concerns for product improvement.

    Already, I want to do business with a company that listens to their customers so that is a good sign. I can write up a long post about what to look for in a cycling company to do business with but that is not the focus on this post.  My focus is to find out how Cycles Fanatic custom cycling apparel match to Flandria’s standard.

    My headless pose to show off the slimming features...

    GOOD QUALITY AT A LOW COST

    I won’t sacrifice quality for low price, period.  I’ve made this mistake before by ordering cheaply made cycling kits for my business and never really wore the end product.  I learned my lessons and don’t want to re-live that again.  I will pay extra for quality and that includes durability.  Cycles Fanatic surprisingly offers good competitive pricing on their custom cycling apparel with pretty good quality.  Initially, I was a bit skeptic about the low price and quality of the kit.  Not having gone through the process of ordering and sending in designs and turn around times, Phil is a pretty very responsive guy.  My communication with him during the process of figuring out my sizing etc was comfortable and his response to questions, inquiries and issues were very prompt.  As busy as he is with his other business I was taken care of as a valued customer and that is key to building a good relationship with customers.

    Before we get into the juicy part of the review, let find out more about Cycles Fanatic USA through an interview with Phil Roberts:

    Flandria: How did you come up with the brand name “Cycles Fanatic USA?”  You sound very fanatic about Cycles Fanatic!

    Phil: I chose the name “FANATIC” for our brand because the word describes a person that is extremely passionate and really into something, bordering on unhealthy obsession. It also describes the passion and obsession towards cycling competition of many of the cycling fans I’ve encountered at huge events such as the World Cyclocross Championships.  Some of those fans are just plain nuts, but their passion/love of cycling/cyclists, is contagious and they make it really fun! They truly appreciate the commitment, sacrifices, and efforts of the racers and are just huge fans of the sport in general. People that are really into Cycling themselves are well informed, want all best features,  and are very selective. Nothing but the best will do for these type of Cyclists.

    Flandria:  So, you are a fanatic guy!  What makes “Cycles Fanatic USA” stand out or “competitive edge”  from other cycling vendors?

    Phil: Our competitive edge is the quality/price ratio. Similar quality products are sold at 2-4 times our prices. We have low overhead and we’re not out to make huge profits or to support a corporate infrastructure. Basically, we are a company started by racers making products for racers and enthusiasts. We are serious about racing and our products, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously and savor experiences like a fine wine, making the most out of any situation. The company is driven by passion of the sport and not by profits. What sets upart is our cutting edge products that are offered at factory direct prices to consumers.  Also, our frames and wheels may not be the lightest, but they are durable and long-lasting. You can find lighter frames and wheels, but you’ll pay three times the price and they may not hold up. They also may not be covered under warranty if you use them for racing! Our products are guaranteed and there’s lots of info on our site about our product testing and EU Certification.  All framesets are FUCI certified and approved.

    Flandria:  Would you share the latest product from Cycles Fanatic USA you would like to share to your customers?

    Phil:  New products with new innovations are constantly being developed by our factories and quickly become our offerings such as,
    650b Mtb frames and wheels, Disc-brake compatible Cyclocross Framesets, new clothing designs such as “Aerodynamic Body Paint” jerseys and skinsuits with compression band lycra.

    I also learned that Phil owned a Courier/Legal Services Company for about 10 years and preferred to work on the bicycle (as opposed to the office or driving), so he rode to work, raced every Tuesday night (Alameda Twilight Crits) and raced every weekend. LOTS of miles on many different bikes. Phil’s been a licensed bike racer since 1991 (Road, MTB, Cross, Track) and often had a new race bike every year, so he’s very experienced with different frame and wheels materials, construction, and design.

    Let’s now check out my review of Cycles Fanatic USA custom cycling kit!

    Website Information about Cycles Fanatic USA:

    Cycles Fanatic USA Website
    Check out Cycles Fanatic USA custom apparel information here
    Cycles Fanatic USA Facebook Page

    Shorts silicon strip

    Custom Bib-Shorts:

    One feature that is highly desirable in the bib shorts are the silicon leg grips.  It gripped really well on long rides and hard effort racing without cutting circulation.  I tested the shorts on a mountain bike race over the weekend with all sorts of movement on the bike and it held on pretty good.  The grips were also tested with leg warmers and it did it’s job.  The bib shorts was washed in the washing machine about five times and the silicon gripper is still in tacked and still looks new.

    Material is soft and comfortable similar to pretty much any medium end lycra shorts.  It’s a good enough quality that won’t wear out easily.  The seams are clean and straight.  The colors on the design are bright and after five washes remain in tact.

    I did notice minor bleeding on the color but in one spot on the inside of the shorts.  I immediately called Phil of my concern.  Phil worked with his suppliers to resolve the problem recently and he immediately sent me the newer version of shorts a couple of weeks later.  No problem in the bleeding.  Interestingly, the ink color used are environmentally friendly which is a plus so there were some kinks that needed to be worked out.

    The chaimos pads are good quality basic pad and soft on the tush.  I was able to ride more than 3 hours without a problem without chaimos cream.  Also used the same shorts to race with chaimos cream and it was also fine.  I also used the bib shorts in the gym and running just to see how durable the material is and it looked pretty durable in the current tests.

    Custom Jersey:

    Clean and durable stitching

    The material of the jersey is very comfortable and of what I consider high quality material.  It is a similar material to some of my Santini and Nalini jerseys I bought from Italy many years ago and I still wear it today.  It is very breatheable wicking fabic and light.  The zipper is not a cheap quality zipper and zips smoothly without hiccups.  I am mostly impressed with the seaming and the stitches on the jersey (even the shorts).  They are straight and clean.  There were no loose threads anywhere on the jersey or the shorts.  Usually, loose threads indicates sewing done in a hurry and untidy work.  The jersey also has waist grips and worked as well as the short’s leg grippers.

    Seemless sleeves

    Colors were retained after washing the jersey in the washing machine four times.  No bleeding, I had to make sure.

    One new feature Phil wanted to point out is the seemless sleeves.  It is very comfortable and hug the arm nicely.  I really liked the feature.  It also doesn’t leave a sleeve mark unlike the rubber arm bands.

    It is race fit and the design overall looked really slick and sharp!

    The colors used in the current Cycles Fanatic design is bright and strong.  It stands out in the race and makes good quality images for sponsors.  That is one other important component in a custom cycling jersey, visibility and cool looking jersey with sponsor logos that easily attracts attention.  Additionally, the design configuration specially women’s specific should have a good fit, aerodynamic and slimming design.  Cycles Fanatic custom cycling kit delivered.

    Overall the custom kit is reasonably priced for a really good quality kit.

    Cycles Fanatic USA is based in Oakland, CA and Phil is a proud to support NorCal bike racers!

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