Cost: $39.95 (Men’s Classic); $49.95 (Men’s Superlight)
Source: Company website
How obtained: Samples from company
RBR advertiser: yes
Time tested: Several rides
Eco-Intelligent Performance Wear
Innovation is not a word that you would normally associate with a cycling jersey. Like most roadies, I’ve got a closet full of them. Aside from what’s printed on them, They’re all variations on a theme: Three rear pockets, a front zipper of varying length, polyester fabric, with or without elastic in the sleeves, etc. The cut and the particular polyester “weave” may be slightly different. But those, in a nutshell, are the everyday features of a typical modern jersey.
So I was especially intrigued when I read the “eco-intelligent” tagline, and the story behind the company, when ECOS managing director Christopher Husa contacted me to offer a couple of his new company’s jerseys to test.
“We started ECOS to create high-performance cycling and running clothing that is environmentally-friendly,” Chris wrote. Avid cyclists and runners, the founders wanted to do what they could to help protect and preserve the natural beauty like that in the places they loved to ride and run. They wondered about the impact on the environment of the gear they wore, and they researched what environmentally-friendly products were available.
What they found was a smattering of eco-friendly gear that “sacrificed performance features or was charging a premium price??_. We weren’t interested in sacrificing performance and we didn’t much like the idea of paying more for a product simply because it was environmentally friendly.”
Recycled — AND Recyclable
They hit on the idea of using recycled polyester to produce cycling and running jerseys. The reasoning is straightforward: “Polyester is a petroleum-based product. By using recycled polyester fabric in our jerseys, we reduce the use of oil and create less air, water and soil contamination??_. We know that using recycled materials won’t solve all of our environmental problems, but we think it will make a difference.”
ECOS makes several jersey models from 100% recycled polyester. And the company found a supplier to provide recycled plastic zippers as well. But they take it a step further with six of their jerseys (including the Superlight Grey that I tested), which are made from 70% recycled polyester — but can themselves be recycled into new polyester fabric. Users simply have to mail back the jersey at the end of its lifetime, and ECOS takes care of the rest.
Comfort and Style
I tested both the Superlight (recyclable) and Classic (100% recycled) jerseys. The Classic looks like your basic jersey. Mine was Olympian Blue with Yellow Glow piping and contrast stitching. With raglan-style sleeves and what I would call a fairly typical “club cut” (though ECOS does not refer to any particular cut for their jerseys), its loose fit was quite comfortable. If you prefer a snug fit, you’llprobably want to order the smaller size, if you’re on the fence. The fabric looks and feels no different from most of the other jerseys in my closet.
While the cut and styling of the Superlight are the same as the Classic, the polyester fabric both looks and feels significantly lighter. Holding it up to the light, you can see a solid “framework” in the weave, and inside the framework the fabric is less dense. It’s definitely the lightest, airiest jersey I’ve ever worn, and I’ve already got it pigeon-holed as my “go to” jersey for those broiling summer rides that are unavoidable in Hotlanta (and so many other places these days!).
Both the Classic and Superlight are only available in solid colors (the Men’s Event jerseys are 2-tone; and the Women’s jerseys offer even more variety). However, with the contrast stitching and piping, They’re still fairly stylish. Indeed, wearing an ECOS jersey, you certainly don’t feel like you’ve given up anything in terms of styling or performance.
My main quibble is the half zip design that is the only style ECOS currently offers. I prefer a full-zip jersey every time. Chris Husa told me that the company does plan to expand the line of jerseys to include both more color variations and full-zip options.
The Bottom Line
I applaud companies like ECOS for providing folks who love the outdoors with options that allow them to do at least a little bit to help preserve the environment. The fact that they’ve created gear that doesn’t skimp on quality, and doesn’t fetch a premium price just because it’s “eco friendly,” appeals to me, too. You may or may not choose to wear ECOS gear for its eco-friendly cachet, but chances are you won’t be thinking about that while wearing it, anyway. You’ll just be enjoying the comfort of a well-made cycling jersey.
John Marsh is the editor and publisher of RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com. A rider of “less than podium” talent, he sees himself as RBR’s Ringmaster, guiding the real talent (RBR’s great coaches, contributors and authors) in bringing our readers consistently useful, informative, entertaining info that helps make them better road cyclists. That’s what we’re all about here—always have been, always will be. Click to read John’s full bio.