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Product Review: Cool weather, USA made kit from Ornot

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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