So the good folks at Voler sent me the latest iteration of their Black Label kit. I reviewed the original Black Label kit back in 2014 and one point of feedback in the review was that the jersey was a little loose on me. This time I requested the newer DX version which is slimmer fit and is described by Voler as “Aero/Tight”.
As I noted back in 2014 Black Label is a premium line that avoids the fanfare of team or sponsorship logos and is targeted against other brands where the cache is the brand/badge/logo of the manufacturers, think Castelli, Hincapie, Santini and the like. It’s a limited line in terms of items of clothing currently only offering bottoms; bibs and shorts, top; undershirts, jerseys, vest and jacket and thermal booties. New this year is the introduction of Woolen undershirts. It combines all the elements found in their proven team kits and serves them up in a highly functional and cosmetically simple but satisfying formula.
This year I am actually 7-8lbs lighter this year compared to 2014 (this morning I was 167.7lbs vs. 175 in 2014) so the slimmer fit would be a good choice. I am still 6’1” and so compared to my previous experience I ordered a size Large. All the photos below were taken with my Garmin VirbX.
Out of the bag both the jersey and bibs ooze quality. Soft and strong fabrics form the construction and they are both extremely lightweight.
The jersey. The jersey is constructed from multiple fabrics. There are distinct color coded DryTech panels on the side and at the base of your neck are made from a moisture wicking and heat dispersing fabric, this works very well in letting you cool off. Despite the darker colors I had no issues with heat management.
The DX version has longer than average sleeves that sit closer to your elbows vs. the typical jersey sleeve which is more likely to sit mid bicep. The base of the sleeve in banded with PowerGrip, this is a silicon free fabric that holds the jersey in place.
At the back you have the customary three pockets and the added benefit from a small zippered pocket, ideal for a Credit card or cash and handy when reaching behind you grab a gel and don’t litter the road with all your valuables. There is some reflective trim on the back too. At the bottom there is a PowerGrip strip to stop the jersey from riding up etc. The pockets are plenty spacious and I had no issues filling them with all my usual goodies; bars, pump, phone, spares etc.
One new item which I really like is the light weight zipper on the front of the jersey which avoids zipper bulge when in a riding position.
The entire jersey is constructed with Flat Seams, crucial in avoiding chaffing.
The bibs; I have been wearing bibs for many years now, there really is no comparison to wearing shorts. The Black Label line up does offer shorts for folks who prefer them but for this review I opted for bibs. Similar to the jersey there is distinct feel of quality. It’s a seven panel construction and is highly compressive. The fabric is the Italian milled ForzaHC. This fabric offers a visually interesting dimpled look, it shimmers in the sun but is not shiney. As I opted for the red jersey the matching bibs came with a subtle splash of color on them that match the jersey.
Similar to the jersey the legs are finished on the inside with PowerGrip. These did a great job of holding the bibs in the right place and avoid them sliding up. The inseam on the large measures and is a little shorter than those found on Pactimo bibs which I usually wear. I had no issues with this other than the visual of seeing a little more leg than I am used to. The straps/braces are made from the same DryTech fabric as the bibs and are quick wicking.
The most important part of any cycling bottoms is the chamois and Voler have stuck with the tried and true Cytech CompHP. Italian made, Cytech manufacture chamois for many cycling brands including Assos, De Marchi, DHB, Gore, Rapha, Spuik and many others. Designated as a pad that can be used for 6 hours plus I had no issues on my three test rides the longest of which was just under 5 hours. The best thing I can say about it was that I didn’t notice it. There is lots of technical information available here of you really want to get into it.
So as mentioned I rode it three times for test rides.
A 75 mile, 4500’ gain 4:47hrs ride.
A 54 mile, 5100’ gain 4:09hrs ride.
A 25 mile, 1400’ gain 1:27hrs ride.
So just over 150 miles, over 10,000’ of climbing and over 10 hours in the saddle. For each ride I had no issues and was comfortable for every mile and every foot gained. I even garnered a couple of complements at traffic lights from other cyclists.
Overall much like the original I really like this kit. The understated non logo or overly patterned material is just timeless. The focus on quality is evident and the less is more look really appeals to me. The changes from the original; PowerGrip finishes and the lightweight zip on the jersey are great upgrades as is the use of PowerGrip on the bibs.
So if you’re looking for something that is full of quality and makes you noticeable without looking like a billboard or an explosion in a paint factory and want to save some $$ to actually be able to buy a espresso on those coffee shop rides this could be the kit for you.
There has been a slight price increase in two years and the bibs are now $149 and the Jersey is $119, the DX versions are $10 more than the non DX version.
Black Label is made in Grover Beach USA, in fact 99% of what Voler make is made in the USA. The name may sound French (it’s pronounced “Vol-lay”), and the style may err on the side of the Mediterranean but the elbow grease that goes into them is good old fashioned USA!
PS I paired the kit with a pair of SGX 8” socks from SockGuy which took my MatchyMatchy game to Level 11!