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Reviewed: Giro Chrono Elite cycling kit

Giro’s latest kit takes things to the next level.

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Giro has developed a new level of cycling kit, the Chrono Elite, which builds on the company’s Chrono line. The Sport kit line remains the introductory level, then we have the Giro Expert series, of which I own a previous iteration. My Giro Expert bib shorts from four years ago impressed me, and the Chrono Elite level has made some notable improvements in materials and fit.

Women’s Chrono Elite Halter Bib – $200

Pro: tall torso, silicone lining the back of the upper

Con: multitude of seams including central seam* 

Size/Weight: Medium/180g

A halter bib is constructed of a single hoop strap that goes over the head. It’s a simple form of easy-off, nature-break or drop-tail bibs, which means no need to take off upper layers to use the porta-potty. I find that especially convenient for middling temps, the kind of weather that requires a vest or a windbreaker. This will be a nice addition to the drop-tail bibs megalist, definitely in the top three rated halter bibs of the several brands I tested. 

It ranks highly because of the high, compressive, and supportive waist made of breathable nylon and an interior silicone strip around the halter strap portion of the bib. Generally, there are two main complaints  about other halter bibs: either the back of the bib has little to no support, so it tends to sag, defeating the purpose of a bib, or the single strap pulls so tight at the back of the neck — since it is the only support point — that it can become uncomfortable over time. The silicone keeps the bib from slipping down and pulling at the neck. Now, the question with silicone is will it outlast the chamois based on how riders use and wash the bib? However, for the design alone it ranks highly among halters — I’d give the straps a 4 out of 5: light and comfortable on the shoulders. If anything, it makes me want to bump other halters down a rating on the scale by comparison. 

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*The one downside to the Elite bibs’ pattern at face value is the multitude of seams. The more seams you have, the greater the chance of wrinkles and fit issues — that’s in addition to the commonly found and eventually visually unfortunate central seam. And I once again find Giro fits to be on the larger side. I’m 5’11’’ 140lbs with a 39” hip wearing a medium but maybe could have done with a small. That said, it wasn’t exactly loose, just not skin tight as I would aim for with a halter, because I want that upper to be as tight as possible to alleviate any possible pull on the back of the neck. The main fabric is 80% recycled nylon and 20% elastane knit, while the mesh upper is 73% recycled nyon and 27% elastane — high stretch, which would allow for a smaller size. These particular ecologically conscious fabrics feel a bit heavy to the touch, perfect for spring and fall temperatures (50-75 degrees Fahrenheit).  

The bibs do have grippers but they are wide and offer even compression with the rest of the bib, meaning the chance of sausage leg is low: that’s another 4 out of 5. The multi-density foam chamois is a solid 5/5. Because of that I’d feel fine taking this on those experimental century rides where the bathroom locations are unknown. This is the bib to wear under a pair of shorts with pockets for an all-day gravel ride in unfamiliar territory. 

Women’s Chrono Elite Jersey – $130

Pro: Eco-conscious fabric

Con: meaty bottom hem

Size/Weight: Medium/121g

The Chrono sets are solid workhorse kit and the Elite jersey is the best among them. Like the bibs, the jersey is made of two 90% recycled nylon, 10% elastane blends: a solid one on the front, and a tight, soft mesh on the back, side panels, and the underside of the sealed aero modern-length raglan sleeves (I love the sleeves, where usually I don’t like a raglan). A zipper garage at the top protects your neck when the upright collar is closed, and there’s a zippered valuables pocket on the back.

The collar and the weight of the fabric make me question whether I would wear this on the hottest days as is intended — I  would likely choose something in even lighter weight and with a low profile collar, but summers around the world are not created the same and it’s a great weight for the vast majority of my outdoor rides throughout the year, unlike an extreme summer jersey that will only see play on the hottest days in my temperate climate. It’s also cut with a longer torso than the more aggressive summer race cut stuff like Biehler for instance. The sleeves are about right to camouflage some arm warmers if you decide to go that route as well.

While preferences for or against a raglan sleeve (a sleeve that connects directly to the collar) likely vary by body type, the only real downside to the jersey is the rather heavy and narrow bottom hem. It barely affects the functioning of the kit; it’s just unflattering and maybe a bit uncomfortable. On the upside, the hem holds the expandable pockets in place even when they’re loaded. A good thing to note on the pockets: the three-piece construction helps them lay flat when empty, unlike the pockets on another kit I recently tried (they have a seam and separate panel at the bottom of the pocket — a true bellows pocket). And yes, there are large reflective stitched-in accents on the side of each pocket. 

Giro has once again delivered solid kit with this pairing. The important features are all an improvement over the Expert versions I’ve tried, with new, or rather “Renew” recycled fabric and an excellent chamois, and among the best halter designs I’ve ever worn. This is a great option for a year-round, off-the-beaten path kit.