Varlo is a triathlon kit company, but we’ll forgive that. Guided by D1 track star turned triathlete and cyclist Soj Jibowu, the company’s Tairo line and Lazarus jersey come together into a visually interesting and functional kit.
Tairo long sleeve jersey – $139
Pros: waffle sleeve material is very warm
Cons: no zipper pocket
The Tairo long sleeve jersey is deceptively thin for the warmth that it offers. The 80% polyester, 20% spandex textured fabric on the arms trapped warm air effectively — usually it’s my arms that get cold. To be clear, the weight provided is supposed to give an idea of the fabric feel and it seems deceptively light: this is not a summer long sleeve. I wouldn’t wear this above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The front panel has a little extra weight to block the wind and the zipper is backed as well. The sleeve on the women’s small was almost long enough for my 23-inch arms, but doesn’t hit my wrist as you can see — the highly elastic fabric does the wearer a lot of favors, but can’t make up for the sleeve length of the small jersey not matching my arms.
The downsides are scant: first, it lacks a zipper pocket, but the traditional three flat patch rear pockets are deeper than average to hold all the necessities for a ride. Second and lastly, the visual downside to the long-sleeve — which is debatable, some readers may not view it as a downside. When worn with the vest and bibs I looked like a TV on static. Sometimes I was in the mood for that, sometimes not, such is the joy of fashion. That said, I do look forward to cooler weather when I can wear this again because I love a good print, and it’s a well-made kit that fits me well — a functional, flattering fit is the goal. And, because it’s a slate-blue/black print, it’s easy to pair this with other kit. This would work well with black bibs, jackets, and vests that are likely to be found in any rider’s wardrobe.
Tairo Gilet – $89
Pro: double zipper, small zip pocket, print
Cons: doesn’t pack into the pocket
I prefer a vest with a double zipper so that I can get into jersey pockets underneath, and easily regulate my temperature. The vest’s stretchy, breathable back panel allows body heat to escape, but the front panels are windproof, which means venting was a must as temps warmed. Pocket slits let me get into my pockets, but not easily and they don’t allow for vest venting. Having two zippers means I can open the vest from the bottom and close it with one hand. This vest gets a thumbs up for that alone. It’s also worth noting that double-zipper wind vests in any print, let alone an easy-to match print like this, are hard to find. The printed fabric isn’t paper thin, so while this isn’t the vest I’d choose for a mid-summer ride where I’ll likely be carrying it more than wearing it, it’s perfect for three-quarters of the year (spring, fall, and winter). While thicker than, say, my Universal Colours vest, the Tairo is light enough to roll up easily for storage, while leaving the vest pocket with my keys and card in it zipped closed. That right rear zip pocket is handy for cash and keys, but not designed as a stow-away solution. It is convenient for those days when I don’t want to open the vest, and works as secure storage for both jerseys since neither have a zipper pocket.
Tairo Cycling Bibs – $159
Pros: interesting print, quality
Cons: no drop tail
While they’re more common than in the past, bibs that are fully printed are still a relative rarity. Screen-static print claimed its place among both streetwear and high fashion years ago. This rendition is one of those that’s worth grabbing to add some spice to the wardrobe without going full Cipollini. The elastic straps are printed in the same pattern, which looks great compared to white in this case.
The print on one leg makes that gripper look like a band, but there is no separate gripper elastic strip and both legs are the same. Silicone is printed on the inside of the leg panels, evenly distributing compression over the leg and keeping the bib in place. The lightweight elastic straps and upper aren’t easy-off, but it’s difficult to make an easy-off bib that stays in place quite the same way as the standard racerback bib configuration the Tairo (and most other bibs in the world) uses. The waist is high to hug the body and accommodate race-cut jerseys without exposing skin off the bike, and the upper is printed to match the bib instead of dyed black or bleached white. These are solid century bibs.
Lazarus Cycling Jersey – $128
Pros: Cut, invisible zippers
Con: no zipper pocket
The splatter-paint print features the Tairo pixel static print on an arm band to tie the lines together. Calypso is the other colorway, but works with Tairo just as well.
The jersey feels midweight to the touch, utilizing three different poly/spandex blend fabrics: midweight mesh on the front panels, a lighter fabric on the back panel, and a denser, honeycombed blend for the race cut sleeves. The sleeves are stitched, not raw edged, which is fine for a jersey that’s not purporting to be the lightest hot-weather garment on the market. There is no silicone sleeve backing, but the length, cuff, and somewhat stiffer material kept them in place nicely. The collar is minimal and the zipper is recessed, meaning the zipper’s interruption of the print is minimal.
This cut takes the best of current design — flattering race cut, sleeves closer to the elbow, low profile collar – and adds it to the best of traditional commercial jerseys — stitched sleeve hems in a heavier poly blend that holds its shape a little better than other similarly stretchy fabrics, so no need for silicone.
If these pieces are an indication of Varlo’s sizing, I’ll say they run a smidgeon on the smaller side — closer to a Eurofit than an American one. I’ll also point out that the jersey fabric in particular is more the slick-to-the-touch type than the soft, brushed “jersey” found on other brands’ spring-through-fall short sleeves. The static and paint splatter prints are a nice addition to any cycling wardrobe, offering more than solid-color kits riders can find anywhere. Worn together, the juxtaposition of the Tairo and Lazarus makes for a very cool kit. And the pieces arrived with no loose threads: Varlo proved to be solid quality stuff with familiar, useful design points like the double zipper on the vest. If you want to stand out in gear that won’t quickly wear out, I’d grab these prints before they sell out.