There’s a moment when your legs hurt as much as your ass and the whole lower body kind of blends into some mess of centrifugal pain, spiraling out from the quads to the calves to the hammies to the ass to the lower back to the small muscles in your ankles that you didn’t even know could hurt. That happens. Usually on hills. And in the Swiss Alps, it happens more frequently than not (going up).
In those moments of pain it’s good to have a competent partner in your corner. And so it’s the Swiss Alps and the ring of pain that Giro threw a handful of riders, myself included, to test out their new line of performance clothing (launching mid-September) — Giro Chrono.
The Chrono line is the revision and expansion of Giro’s Ride line, and it’s set to take on the likes of Rapha, Assos, Castelli, etc. The Santa Cruz, CA-based outfit spent two years R&Ding the line, and aim to fulfill the high standard they’ve set for themselves in their renowned helmet and shoe line. The line will host three levels of bibs and jerseys (Pro, Expert and Sport): base layer, arm and leg warmers, wind vest and wind jacket. If one goes full-on, they can color-match their helmet (Synthe), gloves (Zero glove), kit (Chrono Pro bib and jacket), socks (HRc Pro) and shoes (Empire SLX). Which is good, because at the times when you’re spurting a literal fountain of sweat and spit down on your top tube just to get up the 9 percent grade (for 12 kilometers), it’s reassuring to know you can look good even if centrifugal pain doesn’t feel good.
At the times when you’re spurting a literal fountain of sweat and spit down on your top tube just to get up the 9 percent grade (for 12 kilometers), it’s reassuring to know you can look good.
Yet. Giro aims to not just supplement your pain with style, but to alleviate it through science and design as well. At the Pro level, the bibs ($250) feature a pad with three different foam densities — 120 kg/m2 for the sitz bones, 80 kg/m2 for the grundle region, 60 kg/m2 for the rest. They’ve also used a light compression fabric (Miti lycra) for the legs and waist and have bolstered support through the back with a lumbar panel composed of a woven fabric that leads to extra compression to keep blood flowing and muscles not aching. In the long climbs, the lower back is often a point of pain you don’t want to bother with. And in the Pro bibs, while everything else ached from the ascent, my back felt cozy and supported. The straps are also custom designed by Giro and most closely resemble the comfortable wide-panel approach by Assos, which keeps things smooth on the nips and elastic for those of above-average height (like myself, at 6’5″). There’s also a radio pocket, for obvious reasons.
With the Chrono Pro jersey ($180), Giro used an ultra-lightweight, perforated fabric (117 g/m2) for the main body and sport vents under the arms. Pocket placement is convenient and easy to access, featuring a water-resistant zipper pocket for valuables. The jersey does as any good jersey should do: it disappears on the body and doesn’t draw attention. The sleeves are appropriately long, and the neck line doesn’t rub or suffocate. The design, well, that’s up to your own eye (the muted black “elevation profile” design is my pick). The Expert and Sport line draw inspiration from the Pro line, but with their own set of more approachable designs and, perhaps more importantly, price points.
Giro’s entrance into the performance clothing line is a natural extension of their existing product line and the work they’ve done with their New Road line (now named “Venture”). And, it’s really good. In the world of pain the Alps wreaked on my body, the complaints eschewed anything to do with the clothing. The kit was simply the silent companion, doing what it could to quell the suffering. Did Giro need to break the body to prove their product works? In most ways, yes: if your kit can handle the Alps, it can handle your weekend ride. And someday, despite the pain they’ve suffered, my legs will forgive them for it.