The Louis Garneau kit ($180) owns Summer and that’s a pretty bold accomplishment.
In appearance, the Superleggera jersey is the sheerest, lightest, most ventilated jersey I own out of the dozen in my closet. It’s scary sheer — Garneau uses their Mesh 1001 across the chest, shoulders, down the side and the middle of the back. So you’ve got mad-wicking and air flow and instant drying, too.
Here’s how sheer the Mesh 1001 fabric is: when I hold the jersey in front of the computer screen I can still read all these words perfectly. The Superleggera has become the Summer go-to jersey for that reason above all. For any temperature over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, I’m wearing it.
Garneau lists the jersey as having a UPF/SPF rating of 50. Perhaps true for the more solid fabric on the lower front panel but impossible for the sheer mesh. One female reviewer suggested you’d need sunscreen on underneath the mesh but I never did that and didn’t feel it was necessary.
I tested the white version but the black kit has a ColdBlack finish which keeps the fabric from absorbing as much heat. I will say the Mesh 1001 is soft against the skin and cut for your position on the bike. I can also report that the combination of the Mesh 1001 and CB Mondo fabrics worked well together. After months of use and washing, fit is still uniform and the stretchy quality of both is super comfortable.
Like the more Aero design of the Garneau Course (our review here) the small, back side pockets are angled so that reaching around to grab a gel is easy. That’s an in-race bonus. The Superleggera also shares the wide width silicon gripper in back. That allows the front of the jersey to be more minimalist at the bottom yet still have a close fit. This design also means it integrates perfectly with our vote for best cycling garment of 2013, the Garneau Speedzone vest. (Like many race-cut garments, it’s imperative that you measure yourself carefully and when in doubt, go up a size. My Superleggera jersey fit is sleek bordering on tight but that’s my fondness for beer, not a Garneau issue.)
The arm bands have a good-sized width and they’re laser cut, giving you that tiny aero benefit. We simply like them because they make our arms look more muscular. (That same laser cut is on the thigh bands of the Superleggera bib (more on that shortly) and Garneau claims it provides an extra measure of muscle support along with the aero.)
The Course Superleggera bib short ($200) is big on compression, ventilation and moisture management. Basically, there are three fabrics working as one: the Lazer Rev for the nice aero thigh bands, then Lycra Power for muscle support and on the side panels, Delfino, a dimpled nylon/spandex fabric that is designed to provide excellent ventilation and rapid drying.
I don’t have scientific tools to measure those claims but here’s what I did notice on my test rides. The Lyra Power fabric delivered a definite compressive sensation. My thighs felt the extra muscle support so check that box. If you trust the research on compression, muscle support and improved recovery, the Superleggera is a good choice. (Personally, we tend to believe the data.) This is a Summer kit and when you’re doing those hill repeats on a hot day, it’s good to know your quads and thighs are getting a beneficial squeeze.
The Garneau 5 Motion Chamois will also improve your Summer riding experience. It’s a wing-shaped design that puts a premium on cutting down abrasion and chafing. The best of the innovations is the Beveled Edge Moulding, which creates a smoother transition in a variable density pad. You don’t suddenly go from thick to thin. Garneau bevels out those differences in thickness so it’s a much more comfortable pad.
I can tell you from my experience that’s a noticeable plus and you can feel that just running your hand over the pad. If you tend to move around a lot on the saddle, you’ll quickly appreciate that. There’s also a center channel that relives pressure and increases moisture evaporation and a small bit of mesh at the front and back of the pad for even more moisture control. Hey, it’s Summer and things do get steamy down there.
The straps on the Superleggera go from Power Mesh on the lower part to Carbon-X Mesh on the straps for a little extra grip and anti-static properties. I’ve never had a traumatic experience with strap-induced electrical shocks so I’ll just take their word on that one.
Overall — and this goes for the Superleggera jersey as well — the construction of this kit matches the price and over several months of use I’ve had no issues with a loose seam, dangling thread, balky zipper or any manufacturing oversights. This is a slick and serious kit. And if you must know, an all-white kit just makes me look tanned and bad-ass and I like that feeling.
In fact, the only drawback for us was the thigh length on the bib shorts. Garneau seems to have gone for a shorter euro look but with our freaky long thighs we prefer a longer cut. Just our preference and we’re not exactly normal in proportions.
The sizzle on the Garneau Superleggera kit is definitely the Summer. It’s designed to excel in higher temperatures, keeping you cool and dry and well-ventilated. The jersey is almost a mandatory on a searing hot day. There are plenty of great kits out there but Garneau took the Summer heat and made it a design priority.