OORR Cafe Pro Women’s Jersey
OORR Cafe Pro Women’s Bib Shorts
Eco Gear Turns Bottles and Grounds Into Soft, Stylish Apparel
OORR stands for Out of the Rat Race, an Australian maker of eco cycling and fitness apparel. Founder Tim Christian is launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund the company’s next generation of cycling and fitness apparel. I was very excited when Tim contacted RBR about testing OORR’s new kit, because the company is committed to the use of sustainable and recycled materials for constructing its apparel.
As a long-time environmentalist and avid recycler, I couldn’t wait to try a kit made from recycled plastic bottles and used coffee grounds. You can only guess the images that went through my head.
But from the second I opened the package, I was amazed by the softness of the material. The Cafe Pro “Lollipop” kit design was very simplistic, mostly black with a splash of primary colors down the full-length zipper, on the back pocket and on the bib leg. I liked the fact that if I wanted to mix and match the kit with other items in my cycling wardrobe, it was easy to do. There was also the little attention to details that impressed me. It’s something you normally only see on a higher end and more expensive kit.
Initially I wore the jersey only twice because the sizing was off and was simply too tight. But later in the summer I received the correct size and have worn it about six times. However, I’ve worn the bibs dozens of times in temperatures ranging from 65-98 degrees (18-37C). And Chicago in the summer is very humid, so this was a great way to test moisture management and drying. My rides ranged from 25-122 miles (40-196km) in length.
The fabric is what makes this kit, so I think it is worth providing more details on what makes it so unique.
- Each jersey incorporates approximately five plastic bottles, saving them from landfills or the ocean.
- The inclusion of coffee grounds, on a microscopic level, means the yarn surface becomes randomly bumpy and porous. It also makes the yarn refract more harmful UV sunlight and kills odor.
- The yarn has more surface area and skin contact points, which wicks away more moisture and allows more evaporation.
- Jersey fabric is made from RPET, recycled plastic (which REPREVE makes into polyester using post-consumer plastic bottles). The fabric currently includes 30% RPET polyester in the knitting, 55% coffee polyester and 15% Lycra. Should the Kickstarter funding reach AUD$370K, OORR will make the coffee polyester with RPET, so it will be 85% coffee RPET polyester, 15% Lycra.
- ‘Frog skin’ nanotechnology is used to kill bacteria in the bibs. It permanently bonds to the fabric and will not wash out, lasting the life of the bibs.
Jersey Has Nice Touches, Overcomes Shortcoming
Since OORR’s new line is part of a Kickstarter campaign, the kit that was sent to me was custom made and the production version will have slight modifications based on feedback from testers. The jersey is a racer cut and fits very snug, so I suggest ordering up in size if you have any doubts.
Click to read the review of OORR’s BOORD Room Men’s PRo Kit
As mentioned previously, the design was nicely simplistic and the fabric was lightweight as well as unbelievably soft. The overall construction was well-tailored with little finishing touches you only see on higher end kits. The fabric under the arms is designed for increased breathability and moisture management. The full-zip was also a welcome feature.
I was frustrated with the single pocket and the side openings (see photo), along with the fact that the pocket goes down to the bottom of the jersey back. It’s quite deep, in other words. Items would shift in the pocket, and I wasn’t sure if they were on the left, right or middle of my back – making it hard to locate and retrieve them.
Also, when trying to reach in the rear pocket, it was hard to get my hands in and out – even harder with cycling gloves on. The openings were not large enough, and my glove kept getting caught up.
There is a small reflective strip around the rear zipper, a nice touch. But I would have preferred more color blocks on the back to help be more visible to drivers in the daylight.
(OORR founder Tim Christian did tell us that the company has “other designs specifically created based on research to improve rider safety on the road,” but that the Cafe Pro kit was created to meet the desire among some roadies for a mostly black kit.)
Bibs Are Ride-All-Day Comfortable, With a Winning Chamois
The minute I slipped on the bibs, I was ready to go for a ride. They fit perfectly with no gapping or tight areas. The sides came up fairly high so gave a nice smooth look under the jersey.
I was curious to see how the chamois would feel, as I’m a bit like the Princess in “The Princess and the Pea”; the littlest shortcoming can cause me significant aggravation. It’s always been difficult for me to find a comfortable chamois that works well for rides of more than 25 miles. But this pad (my kit included the Pro-level chamois) initially felt like it could be a winner – and it was.
Even on a hot 122-mile ride there was no discomfort or chafing. It felt like I could ride forever. For the production version, the chamois will change slightly to accommodate a more aggressive riding position.
I liked the “modesty panel” that is added in the front, so if you do unzip your jersey to cool off, your sports bra is not exposed. The fabric of the modesty panel is a black-and-white rat race maze, a takeoff on the OORR name (Out of the Rat Race). Another note: The final version of these bibs features the “lollipop” colors on the right leg band instead of the maze print. (See photo.)
The bib straps were also nicely designed. They never dug into my shoulders or chafed. The criss-cross design allowed me to wear a jersey with sleeves, sleeveless or racer back. Nice to have multiple options. With all my other brands of bibs, I can’t wear a racer back jersey.
If I could make any recommendations on improving these bibs, I’d suggest a little more compression in the material and a make the leg inseam a bit longer. These are both personal preferences. I’m 6 feet tall with a 34-inch inseam, so my legs are longer than the average woman. This is a common issue on many shorts/bibs I try on. (Turns out, according to Tim Christian, OORR will offer the production version in standard and long leg lengths.)
Bottom line, I really liked this kit. Between the excellent moisture control, comfort and all-day-ride capable chamois, I give it high marks. The fact that the company is committed to developing eco-friendly apparel is a huge bonus to me. I believe we should all do our part to leave this earth just a little better than we found it.
I look forward to OORR expanding its line to include sports bras and other apparel. The Kickstarter campaign will offer some other apparel (e.g. socks and caps) with their unique fabric. I’ll be keeping my eye on them.