George Hincapie was a classics man in the most miserable sense of the word.
He thrived on the windy, bone-cold days and rain-drenched cobblestones of Belgium and Northern France. The worse the conditions, the bigger the grin on his face at sign-in.
So it’s no great wonder Big George knows what gear works best for races like Roubaix and your three hour January ride when the mercury drops. He put all his personal Classics experience into the design of his Arenberg bib short ($140).
First, the Arenberg brings warmth and comfort that borders on pajama-cozy. On the inside, the SuperRoubaix fabric keeps you in the feel-good zone. This fleece is super soft and plush — it’s not Arctic apparel but the Arenberg is made for cold days and Winter riding. Pair the bib with Hincapie’s Arenberg arm and leg warmers and, other than a bar-mounted space heater, you’re geared up for chilly conditions.
The fleece does a good job of wicking so the drying speed is high. What – did you ask about breathable? We’ve found the Arenberg allowed us to stay insulated and warm. On our cold weather rides, we’ve been about to keep a stable, even temperature no matter how hard or easy we’re riding. Temperature regulation dialed and the Arenberg should function well in temps all the way down to 20°F (-6°C) depending on how hardman you are. (Should you need even greater Winter protection, go with the Arenberg Zero Tight.)
The SuperRoubaix fleece is cozy on the inside and tough on the outside. The lycra/nylon blend feels strong enough to that if you crashed on the cobbles, you might shatter a collarbone but not scuff up the bib. Again, this isn’t summer-weight fabric; it’s called Arenberg for a reason.
Last year the winning time in Paris-Roubaix was 5 hours, 45 minutes and 33 seconds. With that amount of saddle time, the Arenberg pad better be comfortable. We didn’t ride any cobblestones but yes, after two months on the Hincapie Power chamois, we can say it’s a good way to travel.
In the past, we’ve owned a Signature Hincapie bib and that pad was overbuilt. The Arenberg is much more pliable and conforming but certainly generous when it comes to pad density where the sit bones hit the saddle. You’ve got four-way stretch, variable thickness and the bonus is a antimicrobial treatment. The highest compliment you can give a pad is you never noticed it and that was the case with the Power Chamois.
We found the overall fit to be excellent. Some observers have noted the Hincapie sizing runs a tab big and we found that to be true. If you’re between sizes, take the smaller one. We’re 6’4″ with long, skinny legs and our Large Arenberg fit perfectly — the straps just the right length, pad placement ideal, thighs wrapped firmly but not too tight.
Like many brands, Hincapie has replaced the traditional silicon gripper on their top end apparel but the Arenberg sticks with the tried-and-true Gel Gripper for Winter conditions. That works extra well when paired with the Hincapie leg warmers that have Gel Gripper on both inside and out. It’s a guarantee things will stay in place and you’ll stay warm.
Details. While styling for the Arenberg is on the understated side, we like the small triangular inserts on the front thigh. They look like cross-weave carbon fiber, giving the Arenberg a dash of high tech.
Final thoughts: The Arenberg bib is a fine choice for Winter riding conditions and by golly you have the hardman Classics-cred of Big George Hincapie himself. At $140 it’s also a good reason to own a Winter-specific kit. You are now Roubaix-ready.