By Brandon Bilyeu
- Fully customizable graphics
- Angled entrance rear pockets plus one zippered pocket
- Full length zipper
- Silicon gripper around waist
- Mesh sleeves and side panels
- No grippers on sleeves
- Rear reflective strip is poorly positioned
- Fully customizable graphics on side panels and leg bands
- All day comfort Elastic Interface chamois
- Moderate compression
- High-rise waist
- No grippers on leg openings
- No reflective accents
Cost: Varies by fit and quantity ordered, Price Lists
How obtained: review sample from company
Colors: Fully customizable colors/graphics
Website: apogee-sports.com, Jersey, Bibshorts
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 40+ hours
Sizing: Men/Unisex XS to 4XL; Women XS to 4XL; Junior 8-16 years
Apogee Offers Custom Kits Manufactured in North America
Apogee Sports is a Canadian company specializing in custom kit for clubs/teams in multiple sports including cycling (road and MTB), triathlon, canoe, kayak, speed skating, XC skiing, and even accessories like tents and banners. They cover all the bases with offerings for men, women, and juniors. Not only are the products designed in Canada, but they are also manufactured in Canada. Note that if you check out their website apogee-sports.com don’t be discouraged if it comes up in French, you can toggle between languages (French and English) and price units (CAD, USD, EUR) on the top of the page.
Road cyclists can choose between three different fit/feature levels that also help control the price: Club, Elite, and Super Elite. While you can order quantity one, the more you order the better price you get per piece. All designs are sublimated (heat transfer printing) and there is no limit on colors used. Apogee provides a designer to work with you on the layout, though if you want to keep making design changes after three versions you will be charged for further design work. Lead-time is quite quick at a maximum of 25 working days and a 50% deposit is required at time of order.
While I did not go through the process of custom designing a cycling kit Apogee did send me a sample kit to test out the quality of the materials and craftsmanship. Over the last several months I have put in many long and hot days with the Apogee Elite Fit short sleeve jersey and Club Fit bibshorts. More details below, but suffice it to say this is good quality kit that will get even better when you customize it (just admit it, you want a jersey with a huge picture of your face covering the entire back).
Elite Fit Jersey Checks All the Boxes
The Elite Fit jersey incorporates just about every feature we have come to expect in a modern jersey. It is a good balance between the looser Club and skin tight Super Elite with minimal excess material to flap in the wind but with enough stretch to conform to varying body types. The front and back panels are a medium weight solid fabric that has decent breathability, but the real venting comes from the full-length zipper, mesh side panels, and full mesh sleeves. While definitely not an ultra lightweight summer jersey it does perform quite well in the heat.
It might seem expensive at $164 for a single jersey, but consider that you’ll get a completely custom design for that price that is one of a kind. The price drops down to $95 as soon as you hit five, and even lower to $79 each when you hit 11. Quite reasonable if you ride with a regular group that wants a custom club jersey. Unit prices continue to drop as the quantities increase.
Out back are the three requisite pockets, the outer two having angled openings for easier access. The fabric has tons of stretch so you can really jam the pockets full of gear and food for those long rides. An additional zippered pocket is included piggybacking on the right rear pocket. This pocket is not waterproof and there is no audio cable exit port, but it is big enough for most of today’s large phones. The zipper has a reflective strip along its length, but being on the right edge of the right rear pocket means it is not positioned well to be seen from behind, particularly on roads where bike ride to the right of cars and if the pocket is stuffed with gear causing the reflective strip to face to the right instead of rearward.
On the bike the jersey moves well with the rider and stays in place due to the full circumference silicon gripper at the waist hem. The sleeves are a classic mid-bicep length with wide hems sans grippers that don’t ride up too much. Pocket placement is low enough for easy access, though the zipper pocket is more of a two handed job.
“Budget” Bibshorts with Outstanding Chamois
The Club Fit bibshorts are Apogee’s low end offering for bottoms, but they spec’d a great chamois to keep the comfort at a high level. The standard chamois offering for the Club Fit is the EPIC, but my shorts came with the EVO for an extra $10 (men and women versions available). Elastic Interface manufactures both and they are the king of the chamois world. Some brands make their chamois in-house, but the majority outsource and Elastic Interface makes most of them.
The main difference between the two chamois offerings is the standard EPIC is slightly thinner and race oriented, while the EVO is a bit thicker and plush for long days in the saddle. The EVO is fairly thick so is not great feeling off the bike, but on the bike has a great balance of thickness and support. Apogee claim 7+ hours of comfort and I can confirm that I was happy in the saddle for that duration with this chamois. The EVO is also wider and longer than the EPIC which did a great job of keeping the edge seams away from the saddle to avoid any irritation.
Beyond the chamois, the bibshorts are a solid offering that stick with basic design to keeps costs down. The lycra fabric offers moderate compression and folded over leg bands without any grippers do a decent job of holding the shorts in place. Leg length is a bit short by today’s “to the knee” standards, but that is a personal preference. The bib straps themselves are standard mesh with hemmed edges. The strap hems are on the bulky side, but not uncomfortable for me. For racers buying team kit, the shorts do have a race radio pocket at the rear yoke of the bib straps.
Like with the jersey, the bigs are also custom and priced in tiers, at $196 for one, $111 when you hit five, and $95 when you hit 11 units. Unit prices continue to drop as the quantities increase.
While not for everyone, if you are in the market for some quality custom graphic cycling kit Apogee has a lot of advantages. They have you covered for gender (male, female, junior), multiple options for fit and price (Club, Elite, Super Elite), chamois options (EPIC, EVO), and fairly quick turnaround at 25 working days or less. And while many custom kit manufacturers require a minimum order quantity (typically 5) Apogee will do a single kit if that is all you need.