MK1 Bib Shorts
New Company Delivers Great Bibs, Unique Jersey
7mesh is a newer cycling apparel company, launching its first products in early 2015. It was founded (as are so many cycling-related companies) by some guys who love cycling and wanted to make better cycling apparel through material choice and different design approaches.
The core founders of the company are not new to the high-performance athletic apparel business, though, as they once worked for Arc’teryx and Assos, respectively. I should note early on that both the pieces reviewed are men-specific; the company thus far has a limited number of women’s products.
7mesh offers a good selection of road and mountain bike clothing for all seasons. I put their short-sleeve jersey and bib shorts to the test and was impressed with the quality fabrics, stitching and great fit through tailoring, not through excessive panel counts. They threw the standard jersey and bib recipes out the window and came up with some unique pieces.
S2S Jersey: Doesn’t Quite Achieve Moisture Mgt. Goal
The first thing you will notice when you put on the S2S jersey is that the fabric feels very different than every other jersey in your closet; that’s because the fabric is markedly different, but still soft and comfortable.
Typical jerseys use lots of elastane (aka, Lycra or spandex) to allow the jersey material to mold to many different body shapes. This approach is effective for fit but, according to 7mesh, moisture management suffers because elastane is hydrophilic (easily retains or absorbs water). Because elastane likes to absorb and hold water, typical jerseys lose breathability and get soggy once you start sweating.
7mesh addresses the elastane issue in their S2S jersey by using only a small amount of elastane in strategic areas. The front panel fabric is woven nylon and provides a decent wind barrier in cooler weather. The back panel is knit polyester for excellent moisture transfer.
As a profuse sweater, I was able to put the moisture control properties to the test during summer rides and found the back to have excellent wicking and evaporation while the front, with the denser woven fabric, could not quite achieve its aim on really hot rides. To 7mesh’s credit, the front fabric did not absorb sweat at all, but instead if I forgot to ventilate by unzipping a little bit,I found sweat would start to pool between the jersey and my skin, which was a little uncomfortable.
That said, the wind resistance of the front panel makes this a great shoulder season jersey for slightly cooler weather. The makers may want to consider using the same back panel material on the jersey front to make this a winning high-summer piece.
Tailored Fit, Sun Protection, Other Details Apparent
To accomplish a close fit with minimal stretch fabric, the jersey uses extensive patterning. The result is a jersey that has a tailored fit and is very comfortable in the riding position. The minimal stretch fabric does mean that picking the correct size is very important. I found the sizing charts to be accurate, though if you are right on the upper limit, I would suggest sizing up.
The cut is definitely more racer/Euro than club fit. One major drawback to this build approach is that the fit is biased toward thinner cyclists, and those on the thicker side may find there is just not enough room inside the jersey. (7mesh offers a looser-fitting “shirt” with many of the same features.)
Besides sweat management, 7mesh also put a lot of thought into the detailed features. All fabric is UFP50, and a full-length zipper allows ventilation and easy on/off while the waist and sleeve hems have grippers to keep the jersey in place. A couple reflective details provide some low light safety. There are the standard three back pockets, plus an additional two zippered pockets.
In addition, there are two internal holes so you can run headphone wires inside the jersey from a device stored in the secure zippered pockets. Just inside the neckline are two fabric loops to hold headphone wires and keep them from falling down into the jersey. (Whether you believe riding while listening to music, etc., is safe or not is a different discussion for a different review.)
MK1 Bib Shorts: Unique Solution to Exceptional Comfort
The MK1 bib shorts are a bit more traditional in design than the S2S jersey but still pack in some great design details. The first thing you will notice is the bib straps, which are more reminiscent of lederhosen than high-end bibs, but are very soft and comfortable. The discrete connection points between the shorts and the straps play an important role in the most unique feature of these bibs.
In typical cycling bibs the chamois is sewn directly to the short material. This can result in the chamois moving more with the shorts than with the user’s body, which can cause discomfort/chafing and require manual adjustment if it shifts out of place during a ride. In an effort to create a better connection between the rider and the chamois 7mesh attaches the chamois to a soft knit panel and then partially connects this panel to the shorts. The connections are minimal at the chamois sides and the front/rear is connected to the bib strap junctions.
Pulling on the shorts feels normal, but then when you put on the bib straps you feel the difference. The straps pull directly on the chamois panel, so as you pull the bib straps over your shoulders you feel the chamois jump right into place on your body. Think of it as a chamois hammock. It’s a great-feeling fit that is like no other bib short I have worn. On the bike, comfort is exceptional; the chamois stays right with you in or out of the saddle.
The chamois itself is supplied by Elastic Interface and is well-padded for long days in the saddle, but not bulky. The short material provides a solid level of compression and uses paneling and darts for a great body hugging and supportive fit (elastane is used in the shorts for the type of fit we all expect in shorts). The inside of the material has a grid pattern that increases surface area and leads to better wicking properties. Comfortable leg grippers kept the shorts in place perfectly on every ride.
My only minor complaint is the short’s waistband up front between the bib straps is abit high and stiff. When I first lean over on the bike it wants to dig into my belly instead of sliding up. A little wiggling around helps it move up into a more comfortable location. The high and stiff waistband also makes nature breaks slightly more difficult compared to most of my bibs.
I love the subdued styling of the 7mesh kit. There are no crazy colors or huge logos, just classic earthy hues with a small 7mesh logo. Durability has been great through many washings and even a couple cyclocross training wipeouts that the fabrics weathered just fine.
The S2S jersey is an entirely different approach to jersey construction that focuses on better moisture management, but it falls a bit short for high summer heat riding due to the woven front panel material. That said, the wind resistance of the front panel makes this a great shoulder season jersey for cooler weather. If you have the right body type, the fit is excellent, but this jersey won’t fit everyone well.
The MK1 bib shorts are easily one of the most comfortable bibs that I have ever used. The well-thought-out design and material choices lead to great performance but also to a pretty high price tag, though by no means the most expensive bibs out there. For me, the big selling point is the chamois comfort. If you have issues with chamois discomfort/chafing, these are certainly worth a try.
Brandon Bilyeu is an avid recreational roadie who lives in Portland, Oregon, and enjoys road, track and ‘cross racing. He’s also a year-round bike commuter and is a mechanical design engineer by trade. Click to read Brandon’s full bio.