Reviewed: Eliel Del Dios Kit
Cycling kit to look and feel like a god
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Based in California, the creative riders behind Eliel have given us a woven kit in Del Dios. Yes, woven bibs are easy to find if not exactly common, but woven jerseys are a rarity. You may notice the supportiveness of nylon bibs — generally woven fabrics like nylon-based bibs have less stretch than knits.
Ryan Cady, Eliel’s founder, told VeloNews, “As yarn technology has advanced with more built-in stretch, it allowed woven fabric to be made with enough stretch to accommodate the needs of cycling. The weaving process also allows for more control in the construction of the fabric to build in textures and different internal structures to increase different performance properties of the fabric.” The result of 5 years of development is an all-black, hot-weather kit with varying functional textures built into the pattern.
“There are some drawbacks and the main one is that the machinery that weaves the fabric is currently more narrow than most knitted fabric machinery and runs slower so the production process is more expensive which leads to higher fabric costs,” Ryan explained. “However, we felt the technology and performance benefits were worth the additional cost and really allowed us to push the envelope of what was possible from a cycling kit.”
The Del Dios kit is designed to be aerodynamic, insulating, and to aid evaporation. It’s the multiple fabrics that make this possible — black fabrics that may look the same from a distance but are different close-up.
Women’s Del Dios Jersey
Pro: feels like a second skin
Con: Voluminous pockets look terrible empty
The Women’s Deli Dios is not just any black jersey. As mentioned, its woven 80% polyester, 20% elastane blend helps to move sweat away from the body and keep the rider cool. The intentional design that, according to Eliel, deposits “salt and minerals on the outside, away from your skin,” did not lead to the sweat Rorschacht test (salt deposits from sweat on clothes) even though it sounds like it should — and I have taken it out on a sunny 90-degree ride. Perhaps the jersey has been so effective at keeping me cool I haven’t had that problem yet.
The materials improve aerodynamics as well: the wind-tested sleeve and shoulder panel material features a proprietary 3d pattern that smooths airflow. The side panels have a directionally ribbed micromesh that keeps the rider cool as well. Even though it’s a race fit, it still has reinforced pockets with zipper storage. The unique materials and clever pattern rate a 5 out of 5.
As for the cut, the downside about those pockets is they look a bit billowy without anything in them, like a bellows pocket, which does not help the otherwise svelte nature of the kit. Further, I prefer a sleeve as close to the elbow as possible, and this still stops a bit shy of that for me, but it is probably reasonable on someone of different proportions. I also prefer a more extreme drop to the tail of the jersey, so I don’t end up with a straight elastic line around my waist or hips. But the low profile collar is spot on. For the cut I’d give the jersey overall a 4 — these are all preferences but functionally it stays put and doesn’t look bad, just not as flattering as I might like.
The fit is pretty standard at this stage of the game, though the materials ensure it hugs the form on and off the bike. It feels like a second skin. If looking for a black jersey, this is way up there, especially for riders with more torso than arms. Also I’d point out if I were a man and didn’t have the concerns about fit at the hips, I recommend this as the black jersey to get. Still, the price means every bit of information counts so we included the weights for tested sizes as well — for the weight weenies out there.
Women’s Del Dios Vest
Pros: Double zipper; unique material combination
Cons: Blue interior; price
The Eliel Del Dios Vest has the features I look for in a vest: double zipper, high collar, and packability. Functionally, it’s a great vest, but the blue makes no sense in the context of this otherwise visually razor-sharp kit. I understand the “flocking” is a unique form of insulation, but the question remains: Is it better, in weight and wear, on the garment and the environment, than other forms of insulation — and does it have to be blue?
Personally I’m not a fan of the visual of the blue grid in the context of this kit, and I’m concerned about its longevity. A friend of mine who can afford to get every earthtone kit in existence only wears black, so of course when he saw this, he had to have it. Now, there’s nothing wrong with turquoise on its own, but my friend’s disappointment that the vest was not all black was palpable. It begs the question, why not at the very least change the accent color on the Eliel tag to turquoise instead of red, or the flocking to red instead of blue? Yes, I know it’s small, but it would at least draw the whole kit together. And personally, for $225, everything needs to be right about the garment, visually as well as functionally.
Visuals aside, the vest does exactly what it says it will, which is work through a wider range of temperatures without turning me into a sweaty puddle. I admit, I rode this vest on a day when I would normally just have worn a baselayer, and I was fine. I ended up using the zipper to regulate my temperature, but the vest was warm when the temps dipped and surprisingly breathable and light during the day. I didn’t have to take it off and stuff it in a pocket like I would have my $20 Spexcel vest. The subtle loft in the weave stores warmth, which again begs the question, why the blue dots? Is the benefit worth the unfortunate visual? I personally don’t think so, but I also have a couple jerseys in the same bright color family so I can make the vest work, and it’s a unique piece for someone like me who already has a different plain all-black vest if that’s what I’m looking for.
Women’s Del Dios Bibs
Pros: Supportive fabric; chamois
Cons: price; shorter leg length
These bibs fooled me at first glance: I almost thought they were drop-tail. For the price, it’s a shame they aren’t. Instead Eliel has opted for that extremely secure feeling standard bibs provide. The straps form a triangle at the lower back to allow the skin to breathe (and the Del Dios jersey fabric to work its wicking magic). The bib fabric is marked poly/elastane, but feels like nylon to the touch: tough and supportive. But it is not transparent as nylon can sometimes be.
The polyurethane grip strips woven into the leg panels are a unique addition. It takes the place of silicone grippers, which drag over the skin when the bibs go on. The polyurethane responds to skin temperature and moisture, keeping the bibs in place once on: so the Del Dios “grippers” rate a strong 5.
The chamois gets a 5 star rating as well. Because of the secure fit and perfectly placed multi-density chamois that is thick yet not diaperish, these are among the few bibs I would choose for a century-plus ride day. They’re up there with my Giordana NX-G nylon bibs, which are a bit longer to aid in muscle compression. I missed that length, especially since I have a 34-inch inseam — I prefer a longer leg.
For riders with an average or shorter leg length, I think these would be ideal known-route bibs. They are perfect for a long, difficult ride that I’ve done before, where I don’t plan to stop a lot but where I know there are real bathrooms not porta-potties or hidden spots in the woods.
Overall, the Del Dios is a strong contender for the “one kit,” to buy if you’re a one-kit rider. I consider it ideal for shorter people or people with longer torso to limb ratios. As I’ve said before of Eliel, they are a brand that makes their name on California-based design, unique materials, and thoughtful construction, so I wasn’t expecting insane prints (I’m grateful they didn’t go that way, it never works without an artist). They also didn’t force ugly or overused pantones on us. That said, a black kit has to be special in some way, and the nylon blends and patterned materials make this stand out. The reflective Eliel branding on the chest and thigh is a nice touch of bling as well.
The Del Dios is a little black dress of cycling kits. Spend on a good one, and it will get a lot of use as it’s dressed up (white-on-white socks and shoes for road) or down (Chewbacca socks or other equally silly accessory for cross) for the occasion. The price is high, but the gear is quality. If you have godlike finances you can wear the cycling kit of the gods.