Overall Rating: (5/5) Highly Recommended
In my search for the elusive optimum base layer ‘bottom’ to wear whilst cycling around the world, I have to admit I was dumbfounded to discover that a small Australian company had long ago solved the riddle of “To lycra or not to lycra” and in doing so had created the perfect article of clothing for the long distance touring cyclist.
A Rare Find :: Custom Choices
I’d be lying by not admitting that, upon first blush, the concept being pushed by the Australian Merino cycling and cycling-inspired clothing manufacturer Lab-Gear (now Eleven Vélo) was a little hard to believe. In fact, at first I thought I was reliving a dream in which, quite by accident, I’d found a small storefront tucked away on a back street in a far away land crafting made-to-order merino cycling clothing. It’s the stuff that dreams are literally made of; not unlike an actual recurrent dream I have of stumbling upon a tiny, out of the way dusty bike shop that resembles a museum but where everything is for sale, including my favorite NOS (New Old Stock) items, like first generation Shimano SH-M110 mountain bike shoes, 90’s era pre-softened Brooks saddles, Specialized Sub 6 helmets, and stacked boxes of shiny Shimano 8 speed XTR groupos.
Well, I am here to let you in on a secret. Lab-Gear (now Eleven Vélo) is not only the real thing, they are just that, a shop that expertly creates custom cycling-specific individual items of clothing using only the highest quality materials. In order to emphasize these points, each customer…no, lets refer to them as benefactors…each benefactor has their choice of, among other things, the color of thread. You read this right. You can have the thread your way. How about your choice of red, black, white or yellow German-made thread to compliment your Australian Merino wool and Swiss-made Schoeller Soft Shell bespoke mountain bike knicks? I digress, but by only a few degrees.
Amazingly too, even though Lab-Gear (now Eleven Vélo) seems to be relatively well known in the U.K. and elsewhere, I have yet to find anyone around here who’s ever even heard of them. That shouldn’t mean much since the notion in this country to care where your kit comes from is still shiny and new.
So, let’s return to the thing Lab-Gear (now Eleven Vélo) does so well, cater to their customer’s whims. After rubbing my eyes and pinching the skin on the back of my arm to ensure I was truly awake, I madly perused their offerings. And look I did…..at Merino cycling jerseys, Merino hats, Merino tees, and Merino arm & leg warmers.
BiPosto Cycling Boxer = Australian for “Comfy”
I perused until I came upon a certain BiPosto boxer. Comprised of a sewn-in elastic waist, merino wool panels, a little lycra (in the high-wearing inner thigh region) and a simple chamois, the BiPosto has the understated appearance one might expect of a utilitarian cycling brief designed and constructed by people intimately aware of the needs of cyclists. It’s such a simple formula, you’d think this garment’s design would be universal. But a quick check of ‘the google’ proves what I already knew – that the only product in the world even coming close to the BiPosto is an inferior and, most likely sweatshop produced, mesh and wool ‘rag’ made for Rapha (I say ‘most likely’ because I never heard back from Rapha about my request for country of origin info and an absence of reply almost always equals “China” or similar).
So, what’s the skinny on these boxers? Not really knowing what to expect, other than what I could make out from the concise description and the photos, I ordered up a pair. Of course, I had to come to terms with the shipping from Oz the same way I’ve justified my other Merino garments; the wool is normally produced in New Zealand (or in this case Australia) and is then shipped to this country to be sewn into garments and that’s just how it is. In an improvement to that formula, that Lab Gear chooses to keep their production domestic ensures that only the finished item ends up making the long trip to the end user. In the other scenario, the waste material ends up being shipped too, which is not nearly as efficient. Unfortunately, any savings this represents was totally cancelled out by the fact that my boxers were passengers on a FedEx Airbus. In the future I think it would be cool if Lab-Gear offered their customers the option of surface freight as a way to minimize the carbon footprint of their products.
But before I really had time to think about it, my Lab-Gear package arrived. Scarcely were the boxers out of their packaging before I had them fitted to my haunches. First impressions being important, I made sure to record my initial feeling. They hinted a bit tight. I thought this somewhat surprising since I’d ordered what I felt to be almost a size up. Then I bent over to scratch my toe. I’d like to say I should have known, but until that moment I’d neglected to register how perfectly these boxers are cut, shaped as they are like a cyclist in the drops. Instantly any restriction disappeared and the boxers and I became one. A smile appeared on my face. I couldn’t wait to try these on the bike.
3 Months In & More Than Impressed
Of course, things being a little hectic in the days leading up to our departure, I never got the chance to take them for spin until the morning we left. It’s now been three months and I’ve never once minded that there was no dry run/test ride. These boxers didn’t need any. In the interim, I’ve worn them under my Chrome Telegraph knickers almost everyday we’ve ridden and aside from the occasional late-day bunching of the fabric (which is my cue to get off the bike, crack open a water bottle and have a bit of a stretch) I can’t say enough good things about them. They fit like a glove and I frequently forget I even have them on. At this point, I don’t know what I’d do without them.
And not to disgust our readers, but worthy of note, is how I take full advantage of Merino’s natural disinfecting qualities by regularly taking my BiPostos four of five riding days between washings. I only decide to give them a little soap and water when I feel that, surely by now, there must be the odd fungus in the chamois. I have a feeling I may push this self-imposed limit once we hit the Baja desert in the coming weeks, out of respect for the dearth of fresh water with which to wash them. No biggie, since I’ve got a backup. The fine folks at Lab-Gear saw fit to include multiple pairs of boxers in my original package in exchange for my honest review of their product. So, honest I have been. And true to their word have they:
“Lab-Gear today is a story of an evolution of ideas, a refinement of processes, and a core belief in the provenance of the product itself.”
Amen to that.
[Our sole intention in offering reviews is to inform fellow consumers about our experiences with products and companies. Extremely picky, we hold everything we own to high standards, and will be, forever, brutally honest about the quality of a product and a company’s customer service. Usually we have purchased the product we are reviewing but, occasionally, we receive gear free of charge from manufacturers (in which case we make full disclosure) in exchange for testing and an honest review.]