Reviewed: Paradis Cycling Kit
Luxurious kit for riders who look terrific in animal print.
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Paradis Cycling and Lifestyle Apparel is the brainchild of LA cyclists Christina Ooi and Peta Takai, and is a sister company to Hedo. While the two companies share style touches like the black zipper pocket and branding on the inside of the forearm, Paradis takes the win for bodacious Cali style. The Into the Wild collection offers a taste of Cipollini’s zebra style to the modern rider. Paradis kits come in colors and prints that work well together and add bold mix-and-match options to a cycling wardrobe — and it’s not just flashy, but functional.
Paradis Women’s Bibs in Blue Tiger – $279
Pros: Bib leg panel construction creates the rare comfortable leg band
Cons: Pricy for a non-nylon bib
The brand fully formed in 2020, when the founders did tons of riding and rekindled the search for the perfect bib. They were looking for something more than just a pretty bib — something that was for women but didn’t look like a ‘90s women’s surfboard — with an excellent chamois. Eventually, after many samples and lots of testing, the Paradis bibs were born.
My standard (non-drop tail) bib ratings are simple: 1 is awful and 5 is excellent. I look at the grippers, chamois, straps, seams, and materials. Paradis’ bib earned 5s across the board. The grippers are interesting in that they are built into a leg panel, but the pattern of the bibs makes the leg panel into a gripper panel in and of itself. The injected silicone strips are wide to hold everything neatly in place as the miles rack up, and the bottom edge of the bibs is raw cut in keeping with modern designs.
The 12-hour foam chamois is wide enough for a 168mm saddle rider — as one of the owners of the brand rides a 168 and struggled to find the perfect chamois. It’s multi density foam, and it’s sewn in the same place every time; If you’ve ever wondered why you bought two of the same bib and like one more than the other, it may be the chamois placement, which can be off from bib to bib. Paradis has a much lower margin of error for chamois placement than other brands. That said, I love that they have a 12-hour chamois, but if I’m going to be on the bike that long, especially away from real bathrooms, I’d prefer a bib with a drop tail.
The seaming in the rest of the bib is as precise and anatomically flattering as the chamois placement. The material is compressive and richly printed, minimizing grin, that white sheen that can plague printed fabrics, so it gets a 5. Perforations in the mesh of the seamless lay-flat straps help them feel barely-there. They are patterned and, through a stroke of COVID supply chain fate, red on the inside. The price is luxe, and with the red-backed straps, the comparison to Louboutin is easily made: these are the red-bottoms of bibs.
Therein lies really the only issue with these: the price is definitely on the high end, on par with Rapha Pro Team, for a bib that’s not nylon or drop tail. I think in this case riders are paying for the quality of the materials and the rarity of that sewing pattern and awesome print.
Paradis Cycling Jersey – $179
Pros: Declared long torso length plus race cut is a rarity; Offers a break from earth tones
Cons: No zipper garages on a luxury-priced item
Much like the bibs, the Paradis jersey “platform,” or pattern and materials, helps it stand out; while the bright solid colors are a delightful break from the earth tones that have come to dominate the market, there’s only one animal print Paradis jersey, the white leopard. It looks like a hot-day-only jersey, and it does work very well for that, wicking moisture away from my skin and drying in an instant, but the fabric also retains heat better than I thought, expanding its use down to 65 degrees, keeping up with my heartier short sleeve kits. The side and back panels are a broad mesh, while the front panels and sleeves are solid, raw cut 85 percent polyamide, 15 percent elastane fabric. I was able to start wearing it in early spring with a base layer and a vest.
While it is a universal fit (neither men’s nor women’s), the Paradis jersey is my favorite kind of race cut – higher in the front for comfort in the riding position, but with a decent drop in the back to cover the waist. I’m 5’11” with a 34-inch bust, and I tested an XS women’s/XXS men’s. It fit well: snug, and long enough in the arm with the sleeve coming to just above the elbow, and long enough at the back of the jersey.
I think I’ve come around on the slightly longer jersey simply because I’m tall, though there seems to be a debate over whether a shorter torso or longer cut is better in general. I think a shorter torso generally looks better because it better accentuates the human shape by hitting the natural waist as opposed to the hip, and loaded pockets don’t fall halfway down the butt. But I understand that some people don’t like their jerseys to sit high when riding. Silicone keeps the Paradis jersey from riding up, but it’s also billed as “extra-long,” which worked out for me — I usually end up with a short jersey if I get it tight enough, but not in this case. The one downside I noted was the lack of zipper garages, which seems odd at a $150+ price point.
Overall, Paradis is one of those rare brands that offers high quality kit, but pushes the envelope in visual presentation, showing something a little louder, a little fresher than what most other brands are doing right now. If you’re tired of the same old palettes and want to stand out in the peloton (or to drivers), Paradis offers a balance of luxury fit and bold styling without going full zebra suit.