The Laser line from Giordana is about sleek, form-fitting pieces that are high-tech without being explicitly racy. The jersey is stretchy and should fit like a skinsuit top. The shorts have been redesigned as high-compression bottoms. Both of these items were interesting to us, particularly the bibs.
Cycling shorts with compression. Lots of companies claim their shorts have compressive qualities beyond just the spandex hugging your legs, but this is the first time we experienced bibs that really felt like they were actively compressing our legs. The surprise came when tugging them on for the first time. They were sufficiently tight that getting them on took a little effort. The method was get them on a bit, then a bit more then a bit more, than pull each cuff at the leg bottoms up with two hands and then set it in place.
We started with Medium shorts, the size we’ve been wearing in Giordana bottoms forever. The mediums were too long for our legs. Giordana reports that they designed these to be a bit longer than their non-compression shorts; they seemed almost a size longer to us. With the legs at what appeared to be the proper length, the Medium legs reached down almost to our kneecaps. When we tried the shorts higher, too much material bunched around the chamois. So we briefly rolled the legs up to our char line. Then we tried Smalls. The Smalls fit even tighter, but the leg length is much better.
We measured the short legs unstretched as being 11.5 inches long, from the center seam under the chamois to the ends of the legs on the Medium bibs. The Smalls measured at 10 inches. Naturally, the circumference of the legs also goes down when you drop a size. The leg bands measured 13 inches around on the Mediums and 12.5 inches on the Smalls. For the purposes of comparing at home, we wear jeans with a 30-inch inseam.
The Smalls were definitely harder to pull on than the Mediums. But once on, they felt much more comfortable. The leg-gripping bands at the bottom of the shorts appeared to be squeezing our legs, but the short legs didn’t move at all once on. There are little gripper lines on the inside of the bands, but we can’t imagine that did much of the gripping. We had some moments of tugging the bibs on where we wondered if we were going to burst a seam, but we never did, and the shorts didn’t move at all once they were on us. Better still, the Moovix fabric seemed to grip the smooth leather of our saddle and did a great job of sticking us to the saddle on hard efforts.
The Moovix mated to thick flat-stitched seams appear to be the keys to the compression. The matte finish hides the fact that there is a pattern to the material; fine ribbing is apparent when you take a close look; it is the result of a honeycomb knit. Giordana says the material stretches in eight directions rather than the conventional four and while it goes in all directions, it doesn’t stretch as much in total. The White panel on each leg is made of a lighter, stretchier spandex that seems to stretch equally in all directions, which we assume allows the shorts to fit people with different diameter upper legs.
Inside the shorts is Giordana’s new top-shelf Cirro OmniForm insert. It’s a stretch chamois that is 4mm at the thinnest points and 14mm at the thickest. While multiple densities are almost expected these days, what we really noticed most was the covering. The top seemed to be some sort of brushed synthetic material, and just underneath it was some sort of thin layer of waffle foam. This top layer is extremely comfortable. For us, it’s the kind of thing that seems to be the difference between needing chamois crème and not on long, hot mountainous days in the saddle. Smoother materials don’t seem to agree with our undercarriage as much.
The bibs are comprised of a few sections. There’s a section of Ametista fabric by the stomach that stretches much more horizontally than vertically. The bib straps are made of two layers, the outside is Ametista and has carbon thread woven into it—it’s the pinstriping you see. The inside is Antigua, a mesh spandex with large holes. Together, they make straps that have controlled vertical stretch. The back panel between the bib straps is a fourth spandex, one that is another mesh pattern.
Once the legs were on, they were tight. The bib straps also feel tight when standing around. It’s a fit that was begging us to go for a ride, just so we’d notice the shorts less. Riding, it took a few miles for us not to notice the bibs. But the tightness in the legs disappeared almost immediately, and we didn’t notice how tight they were until we had to tug them off.
The claims for compression shorts are many. Your legs are being massaged as you ride, your legs are having lactic acid squeezed out of them, your body is regulating temperature better; ultimately, you’ll go faster. We couldn’t figure out a way to evaluate any of these claims. But we did plenty of long, hard rides in these shorts and they proved themselves to be very comfortable on cool days, on warm days, on hot days, and even on wet days. The times when we noticed the shorts while riding was grinding up steep climbs in the saddle, as the shorts seemed to help us hold one position on our saddle rather than the shorts sliding against the saddle.
With the bibs so tight, the form-fitting Laser jersey almost felt loose. This is a sleek top that should wear as a second skin and with our legs being compressed; it was hard to notice that this top was stretched around our torso and arms.
The material for the front panels, the side panels the arms, and part of the back is Moovix Light, which seems to have little relation to Moovix other than being stretchy. It certainly isn’t compressive. At the same time, it is much more comfortable and much more wicking than traditional Lycra. This isn’t like a skinsuit top or a Lycra jersey; the Laser seems to breathe well, and that’s before you consider the mesh panels under the armpits and the Aerostat mesh panel down the back. The Aerostat panel works like the spine panel in more and more stretchy jerseys these days. It is the anchor for the jersey; it stretches very little horizontally and a little vertically, which means that the jersey still conforms around you while filled pockets won’t bounce when you’re out of the saddle. It works, a great solution to a problem that plagued body-hugging jerseys for years.
The collar and the sleeve caps appeared to be made from Moovix Light as well, just doubled over. For the sleeves, this made the arm gripping light. If we wanted to rock the long look, with biceps covered, we could. If we wanted to match our existing tan lines, we could push the sleeves up a bit and they’d stay, too. Very comfy. The collar felt as if it was barely there, which on a hot day, is a fine thing. The little notch in the back didn’t seem to make a difference, but might for people with thick necks.
We wore this jersey with a base layer in the low 60s Fahrenheit and went without when the temperature went into the high 60s. On the cooler end of the temp scale, the Laser seems to work like many other jerseys. On the hot end, it is definitely cooler and more comfortable than the traditional team jersey fabric. We did a number of hot rides in the Laser top, including a day of hill repeats on a humid day when the thermometer was hovering in the low 90s. It never felt like we were overheating. Of course, we took advantage of the full zipper, but some jerseys, even with that full-zip, still seem to bake us.
Keep in mind that this was a jersey that is almost entirely Black in color. Years ago, people were warned off of dark colors on hot days, on the assumption that the Black hue would cause the jersey to absorb the sun rather than reflect it, as a light-colored jersey would. Always wondered about this, and this Black Laser top is more evidence questioning that contention.
There were two things that surprised us about the jersey. First was sizing. We wear Smalls in most of the cycling tops we own, the one exception being Assos, where we size up to a Medium. While this jersey fit us, it seemed as if we were almost too small for the top. When we’d hammer on the flats or down a hill and the jersey was fully zipped, we could feel a little material flapping in the shoulders.
The second surprising thing was the stitching around the zippered pocket on the outside of the center back pocket. These are fine things in general, and like many such pockets, there is a port from the pocket through the jersey so you can run audio wires inside the jersey if you so choose. The problem was that this resulted in narrowing the pocket at the opening. The result made it harder to fit a bottle or jacket in while riding. The items did fit in, but when you’re riding one-handed and trying to stuff something into the pocket, the stitching made it harder than it should be to get it in, especially if, like us, you typically use your right hand for pocket-fishing and your left for steering.
In all, the Giordana Laser Bibs and Jersey were good-fitting, well-executed items. We were happiest in them while riding hard on hot days, but even in cooler summer weather, they rode well.