At the start of cycling east I was pretty anxious about using brand new and untested clothing for such a long trip. Put simply, it couldn’t be just good, it had to be fantastic. There were countless long days in the saddle ahead
and I couldn’t accept missing days from a sore ass or some chafing issues!
The trip tuned out to be a pretty thorough and intense test, I doubt you’ll see another pair of bib shorts being used so much in just three months, so hopefully this makes for an interesting read! For this review I decided to write a summary from each of the 14 countries that I rode through wearing my Morvelo kit:
Not long after setting out from Suffolk I had crossed the north sea (by ferry) and I was in Holland and Germany. I quickly realised the Morvelo jerseys fitted me like a dream, I guess my skinny physique is pretty standard among cyclists out there! Despite being closely fitted it’s not unpleasantly skin tight and racey, just fitted well enough that it doesn’t flap around in the wind.
The classic looking 1985 red and white design went down really well in these cycle loving countries, so many bike enthusiasts, whom I chatted with loved the quirky Morvelo look. In fact I looked so good I was invited to a jousting festival by a knight and his henchman:
The jersey was contoured so well while riding that it needed to be unzipped to get out of it, which to me is the sign of a superbly cut full zip jersey. I never get why some people don’t like full zip, it means they can add ventilation on hot days and when done well they fit a natural riding position better. However in rural Czech Republic we discovered 30p pints – there was a real risk that a rapidly developing beer belly might soon fail to be zipped inside! It was especially a worry because the locals were too hospitable to ever let use pay and the beer kept coming faster than I could drink it!
In Slovakia the Morvelo style blended in well with the growing band of hardcore roadies here. It surprised me how many fast riders were pounding the stunning roads winding through the inspiring High Tatras mountains, Slovakia should be on every cyclists bucket list. Here was a cool little backroad where we crossed the border:
Then Budapest in Hungary was so full of hipsters I could wear the cotton 1985 cap in the street and along with my beard I was camouflaged like a local. It wasn’t just hipsters here, the architecture was mind blowing:
While Romania was a definite highlight of the entire trip, the constant staring from the villagers in remote Transylvania and then all the attention from horse and cart riding gypsies started to unnerve me. I decided the Lycra drew too much attention so I covered up. I t was a chance to wear the fun ‘Ride fast, travel far’ T Shirt Click here
However my Morvelo kit was out in full force up the incredible Transfagarasan climb, one of the best road climbs in the world:
For me it was a definite must do before you die road cycling route:
After flying through Bulgaria with some inappropriate solo bib short riding in the heat:
we were soon in Muslim Turkey where I started by covering my white lycra shorts up. This time it was out of respect but no one seemed bothered when I was riding along the liberal minded black sea coast and it was just too hot to add another layer!
It was so hot I was mostly riding in swim shorts, ready to dive into the Black Sea! The navigation in Turkey was not always easy, so the Jersey’s super useful rear pockets were used every day for stashing my GPS, they quickly developed grubby hand marks on them. These were further ingrained after my Go Pro bar mount snapped so the jersey pockets proved useful for holding my Go Pro between time lapse shots. As I said before the extra side pocket isn’t super trustworthy with stuff occasionally falling out. This is me entering Turkey, which was country number 9 hence the hand gesture:
When we arrived into Tbilisi, Georgia I wrote my thoughts on the Morvelo cycling kit so far. That was after about 5000km of daily use and it was an overwhelmingly postive review. We had no real negatives on any of the kit. From Georgia, Marion was heading home and I wanted to reduce my set up weight for central Asia. I wanted to fly through the desert and glide up the vast Tian Shan mountains. As part of this process I took the somewhat bold move of using just my 1985 Morvelo kit and sending home the now less than white Unity bib short and jersey, I also begrudgingly sent home my fantastic and much loved bright green gillet!
It was onwards and eastwards and I was now all on my own riding through Central Asia. This was where wearing full lycra bike kit goes down like wearing a clown suit to a formal wedding: some laugh and some hurl abuse at you! These guys were super friendly though:
While it never resulted in physical violence it was clear I was pushing the boundaries of cycling apparel in central Asia. As I said in my blog: “One small step for mankind but one giant leap for cycling apparel in Azerbaijan”. I think the look on these men sum up the reaction nicely:
In rural parts of these ex-Soviet states, a man is only a man while driving fast, drinking vodka and wearing full furs on a huge horse. All three are hard to do at once, but sadly the first two seem all to popular. Borat my have worn a mankini but if he had worn lycra kit on a bike near Shymkent, he would have been chased back to America! However my Morvelo bib shorts were so darn comfortable still it was a risk I was more than willing to take!
Oddly enough I passed four Astana riders and team car on a training ride near Taraz; this is Kazakhstan’s very own professional cycling team and I wonder if they get the same reception I got!
After about 8000km (I don’t know exactly how far because a kind chap stole my computer in the Kazakh desert!) I was into Kyrgyzstan where for some reason the 1985 jersey often seemed to imply I was American. For example, I often got asked in Russian “Where you from? American?”. “No, Anglia” I reply. “Ah, Anglia. Wayne Rooney!” they say. Then a friend turns up and they say again in Russian “Yes, he is from America”. I heard you and I am not American!!
Sadly the weather was changing with an unseasonally early winter was rearing its freezing head in the mountains.
It was all about layering up and getting my wool socks and base layers on just to get through it.
I hoped on a plane from Almaty to Kathmandu in Nepal where the weather was fantastic!
In Nepal the 1985 Morvelo kit got a good few stares, but maybe any cyclist risking their life on these roads would get the same reception! The kit certainly earned its mettle as I slowly wound my way up unfathomable vertical heights in the foothills of the mighty Himalaya.
Did I mention how comfy the shorts are? Yep after 9000km they are still superb to wear on a scorching hot 2000m climb!
In Nepal the kit also got the thumbs up from the local monks and monkeys, here is my in front of a temple in Kathmandu.
In India the kit was looking fast as I raced the famous steam train during a short touring loop to Darjeeling.
As you can probably tell if you have read down to here, the Morvelo kit has been the perfect partner and in no small part it helped ensure my trip of a lifetime was always fun. The comfort of the Morvelo bib shorts blew me away at the start of the trip and despite wearing them for about 90 consecutive days I still feel the same. They are just unbelievably comfortable, I was never hindered by a sore ass or any less than pleasant chafage issues. Let’s face it that would have made it tough to enjoy swinging my leg over the saddle and simply riding east everyday!
The build quality is fantastic the pad hasn’t degraded at all, it has been hand washed and then wrung out to dry every other day during the trip and they genuinely look as good as new. It’s fair to say I am no hand washing expert and after three months on the road they aren’t totally white still! The zips and seams have been stretched to the limit but all are still perfect and I guess this reflects a well sourced European manufacturer over the standard Chinese option!
If this review hasn’t inspired you to get out there and ride something fun, big or small and use some Morvelo kit along the way I am not sure what else you need for motivation!
There are some great offers on Morvelo kit at the moment here: Take a look here
Please note I am not paid to publish this review, it is my independent personal opinion.