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Apparel & Accessories

Reviewed: 7Mesh women’s road cycling kit

Bib shorts, cargo bib shorts, and a standout swing-season cycling jersey.

Basics

Best for: spring, fall, and mild winter days, especially long, windy rides.


Pros

Synergy Jersey: Smart use of windproof material, dual-zippered pockets


WK3 Bibs: Easy to pull down


WK3 Cargo Bibs: Solid pockets, ease of use

Cons

Synergy Jersey: Bulky body shape, only comes in one color


WK3 Bibs: Seams weren’t anatomically friendly


WK3 Cargo Bibs: Seam placement


Our Thoughts

Innovative use of fabric is key here; the Synergy Gore Tex windproof jersey is a rarity with a wide usage range. The WK3 bibs are following the right route, but went the wrong way for this writer’s fit – the seaming is straight where the human body curves.


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7Mesh Synergy jersey ($180)

7Mesh may not get enough credit for thinking outside the box, as demonstrated by Synergy’s trademarked windproof fabrics, and 7Mesh’s pocket design. The jersey is billed as negating the need for a wind vest, jacket, or arm warmers for cooler days, and I agree. It is the perfect heavyweight, windy-day jersey, ideal for the type of day where you want to wear a long sleeve but need something to keep wind gusts from cutting through you like a sharp knife. I’ve not seen a “heavy-weight” jersey like this before.

The 7Mesh Synergy jersey had me all smiles in low-50F degree temps. (Photo: James Brosnan)
The 7Mesh Synergy jersey features a rear zippered pocket on each side and performs as advertised. (Photo: James Brosnan)

The arms and front panels are made with Gore-Tex Infinium softshell fabric, which is slightly stretchy and windproof, almost like a Gabba. The main back panel is a softer elastic-poly blend, so heat can escape and avoid turning a rider’s back into a river of sweat. When rides heat up, a large rope-like zipper-pull allows for easy opening with long-fingered gloves: note, it doesn’t have a double zipper, which would add weight and push it firmly into the “jacket” category. It does, however, have dual zipper side pockets (one zip pocket on the right-side rear pocket and one on the left), a rarity among jerseys, but common with 7mesh. I consider it a plus: two zip pockets add to my secure carrying capacity for longer rides. The symmetrical reflective detailing on the pockets, as well as reflective branding on the chest and at the top of the back panel, are not unusual features, but they are welcome.

There are other clothing items that are similar to the Synergy, but they are either a bit heavier and baggier, making them jersey jackets as I mentioned, or they fall into the stretchier, lighter “soft-shell” category and use thermal lining instead of truly windproof material.

Riding in the Synergy on a night with 25mph wind gusts and temps in low-50-degree weather, with a midweight sleeveless baselayer; while my core and arms feel the wind against them (which is horrifying), I am not feeling cold. Had I been wearing my usual stretchy “wind resistant” thermal, I would have needed a vest or windbreaker over the top. Once the temperatures dip into the 40s, I need a heavier long-sleeve baselayer or tights for my legs, but that’s another story.

That is the only real issue with the Synergy: the Gore-Tex material may never be quite as body-hugging as jerseys made of higher elasticity material. It’s classified by 7Mesh as “Trim fit,” designed with some room for layering – put this over an insulating base layer and this would work well into winter temperatures, so I understand why it has a “roomy” fit, but it does not negate the frumpy impression. If sizing down to reduce that bulk, there’s a chance it won’t fit at the chest, shoulders, or sleeves.

Despite my preference for a race fit, I really like the Synergy; it fills an untouched niche in my huge collection. There is no single jersey I have come across in my searches or testing that balances jersey fit and wind-blocking as well as the Synergy. It’s like those blocky Gore-Tex cycling jackets with zip-off arms, only cute, lighter, and with no awkward zippers at the shoulders. I wish it came in more colors than aqua, I’d get another one. The men’s is black, and it looks sleek. The Synergy is a solid five out of five ratings: it does exactly what it says “on the box.”

7Mesh WK3 bibs ($175)

In my never-ending quest to seek out drop-tail bibs, the WK3 design brings the 7Mesh brand to my attention. All of its women’s bibs share a similar, cross-back strap design, where two straps come straight up from the front of the hip and cross over-the-shoulder blades to attach to the shorts on opposite sides of the back. This means they’re easy for people with mobility issues to use since riders don’t need to be able to fold an arm up between their shoulder blades to reach any opened bib strap, as with a racerback design.

The 7Mesh WK3 bibshorts have some excellent features and a few that could be improved. (Photo: James Brosnan)

The bibs look fantastic, but I found them bunching up around my hip on short rides. The wrinkles not only look terrible, but it’s also a bad sign and means the garment is moving, which defeats the point of a bib. These bibs also are advertised as lacking compression, and the material feels smooth to the touch, which is a bit disappointing. I could maybe size down, but it would then become uncomfortably short on my leg and shorter in the straps.

The straps feel good; they’re smooth and seamless, and I give them top marks, independently, as well as a five of five for ease of use. Unfortunately for me, these bibs may favor shorter people. The back, which makes the drop tail function so well, exposes my skin when I wear my jersey unzipped, for instance on a hot climb, or when wearing a jersey with a shorter torso. I’m taller than man other riders, so it would make sense I’m more likely to have a gap at the back when wearing these bibs with a shorter torsoed jersey. This simply may be a case of fit favoring a different body type. To be fair, I ride a road bike where my not insignificant saddle-to-bar drop makes me stretch forward. Also, these bibs also hit me a little higher on the leg than I’d like.

When I keep the zipper closed, or wear something with a longer torso, that still leaves the less-forgivable issues of dangling threads on the gripperless leg panels, and “cameltoe” at a lunch stop. The chamois doesn’t cause chafing, and isn’t the densest pad I’ve had the pleasure of riding, which may be the cause of the “cameltoe;” or it could be that the pad was a little too far back for my personal preference. I gave it a three on the chamois rating scale: “Good; Century acceptable.” Visually, however, the short was not appealing.

The first thing I did after I put these bibs on was trim dangling threads (one is ok; two or more is worrisome), so while the seams are neatly done around the chamois and don’t cause chafing, the unsightly wrinkling at the hip was not helped — and possibly created — by the straight seaming pattern, and combined with the loose threads, that knocked the seams rating down to a three: “Normal, faux flatlock, loose threads.”

The leg grippers on the other hand are a solid five: “One smooth leg panel, no separate gripper strip. It feels like it’s not there, but it is.” 7Mesh uses a printed silicone for its leg grippers, meaning no need for a separate sewn-on gripper panel.

In general, WK3 bibs aren’t bad — I’d give them a three rating for “good”— but I’d probably prefer the 7Mesh Foundation bib short that offers the same design, but is made as a base layer to go under something else.

7Mesh WK3 cargo bib short ($200)

I prefer the cargo shorts to the pocket-less WK3 shorts. The pockets are solid material, which I prefer to mesh pockets – everyone doesn’t need to see my empty Skratch Labs wrappers, so that’s a plus. They’re also neatly folded into an actual pocket in the corner rather than a simple fabric flap sewn onto the side of the bib. There are also pockets at the lower back that makes for a substantial feel in that area. I love the way these felt in a size medium (I’m 5’11 140lbs for reference), but I should have sized-down since these bibs presented the same problems with riding up as the WK3s. It also felt like the chamois was positioned a smidgeon too far back, leaving tender areas unguarded. That’s to be expected, as there is some slight variance as to where a chamois is positioned within a short, and much like saddle position, a millimeter or two can make all the difference.

Even though I don’t love the 7mesh bibs, they’ve got some good things going for them and it may simply be a personal issue with the fit. I do love the Synergy jersey – it blocks the wind exactly as it claims, and is a unique piece. The Synergy jersey, is a true standout piece, and I recommend taking a look through 7Mesh’s line, which includes trail and mountain gear.