Splendid Cycles

Product Review: Cool weather, USA made kit from Ornot

Posted by on October 24th, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Socks, Bib shorts and jersey colourways sync up for a put together look.
(Photos: James Buckroyd)

Pretty psyched for a change of season, I ordered up some new gear.

I needed some new colder weather kit and wanted to try something different, so I grabbed a few things from Ornot, a smaller San Fransisco company that has been around for about four years. Ornot’s brand stuck in my mind from the play on words in their clever marketing campaign: “You can be a rolling billboard, Ornot.” The whole point being that their kit has no logos, no sponsors, no massive branding. In the cycling world we’ve all been subjected to logos everywhere on cycling kit — some tastefully done, some not. Browsing through the website you see an array of products all with minimal branding and really nice patterns and designs.

I ordered up some winter bib shorts, a winter jersey and socks for the full matchy-match look.

Here are my impressions…

Sizing and overall quality

Cut and sewn in San Fransisco seems like an expensive endeavor and considering what they cost I was expecting lower quality than other gear I’ve tested. I was wrong. The materials are really nice, the construction is well done, and the fit is pretty good too. I say “pretty good” because I did have to exchange some sizes which can be annoying to get to the right fit. 160 pounds and 6-foot-3, I went by the guides on the website and I’d say they are a size off. Initially ordering small, the bib shorts were crazy tight and a medium fit much better, even if on the web it showed they were too big for me. As far as jerseys go, I’m not a spot-on fit, closer to a large in this winter jersey, than to a super skin tight medium, so it’s worth considering sizes before ordering. Generally I would say their pattern grading is different than published sizes on their website. For reference I’m a medium in Rapha and large in Castelli, which translates to a medium bib short and large jersey in Ornot.

The materials are of a higher quality and are sourced from abroad, while the pattern, design and the construction happens in San Francisco. Employing local people in the US costs comparatively more than manufacturing in foreign countries. Profit margins in apparel are generally pretty high, but given their quality and USA construction, it appears to me that Ornot is willing to accept lower margins to support an American workforce.

DWR Thermal Bib Shorts ($175)

Leg gripper.

The bib shorts come in mens and womens versions and are made from a heavier-weight lycra backed with a brushed-fleece lining. The fleece traps pockets of air in its weave and keeps you more insulated (and thus warmer), an ideal for these cooler fall temperatures we’ve been having. Along with a full dyed black material (meaning it lasts longer) it has a DWR coating to repel water. DWR coatings are used in a lot of outdoor gear and rain jackets. It’s proven to be effective at repelling light rain and stopping the material from soak-through.

Leg grippers are taken care of with a two-inch flat band with light silicone backing for a smooth taper to leggings or bare skin and embrocation. The pattern is very form-fitting and the main panels have a high amount of compression that makes the shorts feel snug and holds the muscles in place from vibration. The seams are high quality flatlock variety with no lose ends. The chamois is an unperforated Cytech pad (same Italian manufacturer that Rapha, Assos and Capo use). Ornot has opted for a slimmer, four-hour pad, which makes sense because a six-hour pad in a winter short is probably overkill (given that we’re taking shorter rides this time of year).

The bib shorts feel a lot like broken-in Rapha Pro Team Winter shorts and thats a really good thing, as my Rapha’s are excellent. Slightly compressive, the shorts fit well and the chamois doesn’t feel bulky at all. I personally like the slim pad as it doesn’t feel like a lump that gravitates to the back of the shorts. The leg grippers are thin yet tough material and work really well with knee or leg warmers to give you a tapered smooth transition. With a few sprinkles I did notice that the shorts resisted water.

Code Thermal Jersey – Orange ($150)


The jersey has raglan cut shoulders for a wide fit range and good shoulder articulation (available in mens and womens). The arms are cut longer for a good coverage when in bike position. Polyester geotherm material (185 gsm, milled in Italy) is used for the whole jersey and has a nice brushed-fleece feel on the inside with a thin silicone gripper on the hem to keep the rear drop in place. The jersey’s construction includes side panels which help with a good fit of the garment and stops puffing at the front. Pockets are ample and cut straight across. Seven-inch deep on my size large with a double-sewn elastic cinch hem at the top.

On the aesthetic front, the kit has an autumnal feel. It’s deep orange and covered by a subtle tonal graphic in the geometric abstract Ornot style. The finish of the material is slightly shiny probably due to the top surface being polyester and has a matrix light pattern on the geotherm.

The jersey is versatile, pockets are the right height, zipper is easy pull and the fuzzy feel near the neck is nice. I wore this several times on days which were low 50’s to low 60’s with a very light base layer and it felt great. The jersey doesn’t have any wind-block built into the front, it’s just jersey, so if you are sensitive to this on descents you might want to carry a vest. I found the pockets to be more than ample, and actually bigger than most. I folded small rain jackets in there no problem and a vest would be even easier. The one thing I do wish this jersey had was a small zippered pocket to put a credit card in.

Subtle graphics embellish the whole jersey in a tonal manner that doesn’t scream at you.

Summary

The Ornot gear looks, performs and feels great it’s available in both mens and womens specific fits (womens fit not tested). Supporting a USA manufacturing economy at a price that provides really good value for money is something I can rally behind. With its combination of subtle branding, performance and great value, you might like this kit. Ornot.

If you like USA-made apparel that’s great for fall, stay tuned for our upcoming review of the made-in-Portland longsleeve jersey from Wabi Woolens.

— James Buckroyd, BuckyRides.com and @jbucky1 on Twitter

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29 Comments
  • Dave October 24, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Nice bright colors–they’re not trying to help anyone commit earth tone-assisted suicide.

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    • James Buckroyd (Contributor) October 24, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      Yes the saturation of the dyes they use is great, the surface has a slightly metallic shine / sheen value to it also when up close, so the orange works really well.

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    • Dan A October 25, 2017 at 6:47 am

      Suicide?

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    • Chris I October 25, 2017 at 10:40 am

      *Homicide

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  • Merlin October 24, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    “Supporting a USA manufacturing economy at a price that provides really good value for money“ ?????
    How did we ever get to the point where $175 bib shorts and a $150 long sleeve jersey are worthy of this commentary?
    I understand that there are much more expensive items but that’s even more difficult to understand.
    Guess I’m too economical to be fashionable.

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    • James Buckroyd (Contributor) October 24, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      The value equation is slightly different in each persons mind, depending on their needs and limits. However I have ridden and tested bibs from all the brands, from $50 items to $350, I know the price points, materials, fits and methods of manufacture along with the subjective aspects of ride quality and fashionability. Given this, these bib shorts do provide good value for a $175 bib short, (IMHO of course since I wrote the article). If you try a spectrum and ride a ton in them you would also find this same thing. Now you may never purchase a $300 bib short but given the right amount of testing you could objectively come to a value/$ based opinion. P.S. I have some $300 bib shorts that also provide high value, even at $300.

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    • wsbob October 24, 2017 at 11:15 pm

      Interesting gear, way out of my price range. Close ups of the seams show very neat, consistent stitching, which I regard as a good indicator of quality. Except at the bottom inside face of the zipper…stitching there looks messy. The dimensional, waffle texture of the fabric looks interesting. Inside surface looks like soft fleece. Could be worn right against the skin.

      You didn’t mention a cinnamon brown color, so I’m guessing there’s a color balance issue with your photos of the model wearing the jersey. The vibrant orange in the close up shots looks very good. I appreciated your mention of good shoulder articulation:

      “…The jersey has raglan cut shoulders for a wide fit range and good shoulder articulation (available in mens and womens). The arms are cut longer for a good coverage when in bike position. …”

      …because frequently with jerseys I’ve tried on, they feel like they drag and bind too much when I push my shoulders forward. So I wind up taking the next size larger, downside often being a cut that’s too full in the torso. Nothing too wrong with that, but doesn’t look sleek. Not looking for skin tight, but a close fit with a little space for air circulation. I’m a medium build, 6′ guy, about 165 lbs, 40 inch jacket size.

      The jersey looks basically good in the side shot of the model wearing them. For cool temps, nicely long in the back. Maybe too long in front. Seems to be a lot of material bunching up at the top of the model’s left thigh as shown with his foot at the 9 o’clock position on the crank arm.

      Nice review, great to hear about new, quality gear….thanks!

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      • Pete October 25, 2017 at 7:47 am

        Check out some of Castelli’s jerseys. You may be able to find a closeout deal somewhere. I’m 6’4″, 180lbs, and mostly take XL but they tend to run large in order to get the length I need. With Castelli I take an XXL, but their race cut allows me to drop my shoulders without the material pulling, while at the same time not being baggy elsewhere. The downside is they feel tight on the front of the neck when standing up straight, but of course they’re not designed for that.

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        • wsbob October 26, 2017 at 12:56 am

          I’ll look around some more, try some more jerseys on. Seems like I mentioned this to you before in comments to other stories here on bikeportland. I’ve got a medium size Decathlon brand short sleeve jersey that fits me well with room for good shoulder movement without pulling across my back. Didn’t buy it, but don’t think it cost a lot. It’s kind of a team replica jersey, I think, so lots of names and logos, but I like it. FDJ Lapierre.

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      • James Buckroyd (Contributor) October 25, 2017 at 8:38 am

        Regarding the brown comment, yeah something strange happened with image files on bikeportland, like the website compressed the colour, they should be orange – there are a few more lifestyle shots and less colour compression on http://www.buckyrides.com – sorry about that I will ask Jonathon what’s going on there.

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        • wsbob October 26, 2017 at 12:46 am

          James…thanks for the link. On your site, color balance of the jersey in the frontal view looks about right. Other shots have some of the brown. Could be your camera struggling to arrive at a correct color balance under whatever the light source is. I think I’ve got the general idea of what the color of the jersey likely is though, in natural light. It’s what the color looks like under natural light, that’s to me the most important.

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          • James Buckroyd (Contributor) October 26, 2017 at 1:28 pm

            No problem. Looking at my jersey in natural light (on the floor from a ride this am) I think what you are seeing is a natural degree of metamerism that is present in that material due to the sheen, fibre and angle. Might also be your computer screen, maybe. And could also be some colour compression that can happen in jpgs.

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          • James Buckroyd (Contributor) October 26, 2017 at 1:41 pm

            I can shoot you some natural light pics to show you. I will append them to the buckyrides review, you will be able to see the “shimmer” from different angles. I will try get them up later today. It’s a great orange.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu October 24, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    High quality, high performance kit is generally kind of spendy. And you’re supporting US manufacturing, US workers. Retail is all about choices.

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    • Chris I October 25, 2017 at 10:41 am

      With a larger carbon footprint.

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  • Pete October 24, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    I would love to see this in short sleeve. Pearl Izumi used to make a thermal short sleeve but unfortunately it’s just hard to find these days – I imagine the thought process being if it’s cool your arms will need to be covered. The weather here in the bay area often calls for arm and sometimes knee warmers when you head out, getting rolled away or taken off as you warm up. Since these wick water, chances are they trap sweat too, which means you cool down quicker towards the end of the ride (like my Castelli fall jersey does).

    Well, Mom’s sewing machine is in the closet, so it looks like my older thermal PI is about to make a sacrifice (though would prefer silicon grips).

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  • Scott Kocher October 24, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    “Winter” and “shorts” don’t usually go together for me. What I am really looking for is not-too-baggy pants or tights that will keep the rain out of my overshoes, and not feel like a plastic bag.

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    • David Hampsten October 24, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      Ornot seems to want to appeal to a national customer base. Out here in the Deep South, home to 50 million Americans, winter is usually the only time its not too hot to ride. Here in central North Carolina, it gets as cold as Portland as often as it does in Portland, but then warms to the 60s and 70s a few weeks later, Dec-March. From mid-June through mid-September its 93 degrees with 99% humidity, but October, November, April, and May are wonderful here – mild, dry, and beautiful foliage.

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    • John Liu
      John Liu October 24, 2017 at 11:42 pm

      Castelli make rain pants that are non baggy.

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      • Ryan October 26, 2017 at 11:09 am

        I don’t think Castelli makes anything baggy! 🙂 I know I don’t fit the traditional cyclist body type (6’1″, 195 lbs, somewhat muscular build), but it felt a bit ridiculous the few times I tried on some Castelli kit and the XXL was cutting off circulation! Material sure feels and looks nice, though

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    • BradWagon October 25, 2017 at 9:20 am

      I ride just about year round in thermal shorts. I have knickers but unless it’s very cold I find my knees and lower legs are fine being exposed. And often I opt for just knee warmers paired with the shorts anyway. PNW just doesn’t have enough of the weather I would consider needing full tights for to justify owning them. When it’s just rainy my mindset is it’s easier to dry off my skin than deal with wet/sweaty clothing (thus short sleeves and shorts are used as much as possible).

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      • BradWagon October 25, 2017 at 9:21 am

        Obviously I don’t mean year round to include summer… haha.

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        • James Buckroyd (Contributor) October 26, 2017 at 1:43 pm

          A lot of the leg warmers now how DWR coating, I find this to be great as the warmer won’t get soggy, and water directly on skin only seems to make me colder. The rate of soak through and length of ride is key.

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  • hotrodder October 25, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Castelli makes a short sleeve jersey in a thermal fabric, with a high collar.

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  • Vince October 25, 2017 at 9:03 am

    If making product in the US matters, then please use the standard US spelling of colorway in the caption.

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    • Middle of the Road Guy October 25, 2017 at 10:16 am

      If you are being that pedantic, shouldn’t it be U.S. or U.S.A.?

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  • John Liu
    John Liu October 25, 2017 at 9:55 am

    One thing I’d like to see on this sort of cool-weather jersey is a collar that is higher in front when fully zipped. Also, retro-reflective trim never hurts . . .

    I’m still waiting for the bike kit with built-in girdle/tummy band.

    Until then, I typically wear wool jerseys (Castelli, etc) and either stuff a rain cape in the pocket or add my Gabba. eBay is a great source for wool jerseys, albeit usually vintage, with occasional moth holes, and often logos from some long-defunct French cycling club.

    Hey, when’s the review of rain jackets? Our brief season of “cool but not raining” weather is pretty much over.

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  • bendite October 26, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Came to see the complaints about price. Left satisfied.

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  • Bennett October 27, 2017 at 7:49 am

    I’ve been using OrNot for going on two years. The fit, aesthetics, and durability are all top notch. They’re also not owned by Walmart heirs, which is great. Regardless of how much disposable income you might have, if you compare prices across the apparel market, you will be hard-pressed to find kit this refined anywhere near this price point. When you factor in that it’s sown in California by someone who is paid a humane wage, that makes the value even better.

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