ROKA Pro All-Season Jersey
ROKA Pro Bib Shorts
Triathlon Swimwear Company Branches Out into Cycling
ROKA is an American company based in Dallas, Texas, that focuses on triathlon apparel. It started out in wetsuits and swimwear, but in late 2015 ROKA released its first line of cycling clothing (with running apparel due to be released soon to complete the triathlon trifecta). ROKA’s wetsuits are well known in the triathlon community as they are worn by multiple World, Olympic, and Ironman champions.
Knowing that ROKA was reknowned for making comfortable wetsuits, I had high expectations for the comfort and fit of the company’s cycling clothing. I put their jersey and bibs through serious miles and weather this spring – and I was not disappointed.
Pro All-Season SS Jersey
ROKA offers three different jersey options: race, all-season, and summer. I tested the mid-weight all-season jersey and was impressed by the fit and features. The jersey has a performance, euro fit (race cut) that is slightly looser than most other euro fit jerseys I have worn. Typical euro fit jerseys are aero and comfortable on the bike, but can be restrictive and uncomfortable off the bike. The slightly loose fit of the all-season jersey is a great combination of aero on the bike and comfort off the bike that was nice for longs days in the saddle with lots of stops. The jersey is also cut long in the front for better off-the-bike comfort and less mid-riff exposure (= less awkward moments at the coffee shop).
The front of the jersey is a mid-weight knit fabric that provides a little warmth and wind protection, while the back is a mesh panel that works great at releasing heat. I especially like the long cut of the sleeves, which looks great and keeps them from bunching up. Overall, the materials feel very soft and silky against the skin, with ample stretch to fit different body shapes.
There is generous storage with five pockets: three standard back pockets, a center-rear zippered pocket, and a side zippered, water-resistant pocket with audio button hole. I always feel better knowing important items like keys and cellphone are securely zippered in with no risk of them bouncing out unknown to me. Mixed in with the pockets are reflective elements for visibility.
Pro Bib Shorts
The very first thing I noticed when pulling on the bibs the first time was the silicone leg grippers. Without a doubt they are the stickiest I have ever used. So sticky, in fact, that getting the bibs on can be a little tricky as they will lock onto any skin they contact as you pull them up. The reward for this small hassle is bib shorts that will not creep up during your ride. With a long inseam, the bib short cuffs sit just above the knee, and the cuffs are one piece with the bibs, not a rolled over and sewn cuff, making for a very nice, clean look.
As with the jersey, the bib materials feel great against the skin. The bib straps are soft and wide so they don’t dig into your shoulders. The main bib material is super stretchy for a great fit with decent compression around the thighs. The front cut is a bit on the high side, but the fabric is so stretchy that nature breaks are no problem and the material springs right back with no bagginess.
The chamois is well-padded and I found it to be very comfortable for both long and short rides. Of note, though, is where most chamois tend to have reduced padding forward of the sit bones, the ROKA chamois padding seems to extend a bit farther forward than I am used to. While I did not find it uncomfortable, it was a noticeable difference compared to other chamois, especially when in the hooks.
Bonus Coverage: Arm and Leg Warmers
I also had a chance to test out ROKA’s arm and leg warmers, and while these are a pretty standard product across all companies, the ROKA versions did stand out in a couple areas. First, the warmers are styled with the same graphics as the rest of the kit, so when worn together they look great – not your normal boring single-color warmers. Second, they use the same silicone grippers as the bib shorts, so they stay in place superbly, though as with the bibs they can be tricky to get on due to their grabby nature. Leg/knee warmers worn under bib shorts tend to stay in place pretty well, but I’ve always had trouble with arm warmers slowly falling down. This was not a problem with the ROKA arm warmers, as they grip tight and don’t let go.
A Sizing Chart You Can Trust
ROKA operates on a direct-to-consumer business model, so you have to order their products online. No retail stores means you can’t try their clothing on before you buy it, but ROKA makes online purchasing easy by offering free shipping and free return shipping on orders over $100 (U.S./Canadian orders only). Check online for availability outside the U.S.; it appears that the company’s cycling gear has not yet been rolled out for worldwide sales.
Ordering cycling clothing online is always dicey for me, as I have found that most sizing charts are pretty much worthless. So when I selected sizes from the ROKA sizing chart, I fully expected to receive clothing that didn’t quite fit right. I was pleasantly surprised that the fit was dead on. The charts, in both English and Metric, have lots of measurements (chest, waist, hips, height, weight) to help you pick the correct size, and even tall sizes are available for the jerseys. Women’s sizes and kits are also available. While advertised as a euro fit, I found the cut seems to err on the loose side and the stretchy fabric means you don’t have to be a skinny pro to fit in this kit.
The Last Word: A Solid Kit
ROKA’s first foray into the cycling kit market is a solid performer. I found the fit, comfort, and durability to be excellent. A wipeout in a wet corner resulted in a bloody knee but the leg warmer showed no signs of damage. After many washings the kit still looks and feels new. The minimalist angular stripe graphics are good looking, but a lack of high visibility colors may be off-putting for some. ROKA didn’t stray far from typical kit design, but used fabric choices and excellent sizing options to create a premium quality kit that fits and performs really well.
While ROKA’s cycling kit is not cheap, it does come with a 2-year limited warranty and added value in the formof a repair service. ROKA offers free repairs (you pay to ship it back, ROKA repairs and ships back to you free) for all its cycling apparel, whether it has worn out from lots of use or was damaged in a crash.
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.