Tuesday, July 23, 2013

{Part 1 - Men's} Road Holland Review: Cycling Clothes for the Rest of Us

If you don't happen to be an individual who's into the typical riding kit/jersey's found on many U.S. cyclists, you may already be aware of a company called Road Holland. I first found out about this company last year when one of the owners, Richard, sent a note in regards to a post I'd put up regarding plus-size wool cycling clothing.  Beyond being happy to hear about a company making cycling clothing in some slightly larger sizes, they are probably better known for their more classically styled, high quality jerseys. Admittedly, this may not be for everyone. I know plenty of cyclists who enjoy wearing the typically found jerseys (I live with one of them), but there are others who like to have the option of something high quality that isn't going to read like a billboard for various companies around the world (I fall into the latter group).
Since our household is split regarding what to wear while riding (though neither of us are horribly extreme in any direction), I thought it would be interesting to see what we would each think about the jerseys from Road Holland.

First, however, I just want to say that I love the philosophy of this company and the two owners (Richard and Jonathan seem like great people)! I can only hope that others - even in other businesses - will follow suit. Here is a snip-it from their "About Us" page:

In 2009, without a lick of apparel experience between the two of them (actually Schneider means tailor in German so Jonathan thinks his family was "in the business"), they started Road Holland.

The goals were simple:

- Make the kind of cycling clothes they and their friends not only needed (i.e. serious) but that they would also want to wear and not be ashamed of to be seen in post-ride (i.e. stylish).

- Be good guys in all they do. Whether that meant making things in the United States, treating each order as if it were the most important one in the world, or sponsoring local events, "doing good" would be the pillar of the new company.

Looking around for inspiration for the name, they drew upon experiences with close friends from the Netherlands and time spent visiting them. In the Netherlands, riding is more than just about the cliche of "suffering." In the Netherlands, everyone young and old rides whether for sport or for transportation. it's a way of life. People are also exceedingly nice in the Netherlands and Jonathan's favorite color is orange - the national color - so it all just seemed to fit.

But, on with thoughts about the actual jerseys we tried out. I'll start with the men's jersey that Sam tested for this post. The Hilversum is a full zip, short sleeved jersey, currently available in three colors: road black, summer white, or nantucket red. Knowing that Sam sweats profusely while riding, I immediately tossed out the idea of a white jersey, and ended up going with the black simply because I figured it would be the easiest for him to like and enjoy. The difficult part with black is that we have some very hairy animals, so keeping the black jersey hair-free may be challenging.
The Hilversum jersey from Road Holland
Honestly, I was a bit surprised at Sam's immediate reaction to the jersey. I assumed he wouldn't be horribly excited because he actually enjoys the flashier, bright jersey's he typically wears when riding (you'll note he still got in his fun gloves for the ride), but when he picked it up and put it on the first thing he said was, "I like the way it feels; it's soft, but it feels like quality. It reminds me of a mountain biking jersey I wear sometimes." What do you know? Score 1 for Road Holland.

Sam is wearing the size small (according to Road Holland charts, it is a 37"-39" chest range), but men's jerseys are available from size XS-XXL. According to Sam, this size fits well. It's not the race tight fit of some smalls, but it's not too much material either. From my estimation, he could probably wear an extra small, but obviously that would take away some of the room that he likes. He also has a good deal of muscle in his arms and shoulders, so that could create some discomfort there as well.
Fully zipped jersey. Lovely details at the zipper ends (both here and on the back pocket zippers).
As you'll note in the photo above of the full jersey, Sam had partially unzipped the front to keep it from "choking him." He wasn't horribly comfortable zipping the jersey all the way up, but I suspect this is typical for most men (though I could be wrong). It zipped up just fine, but I think he was uncomfortable having it up against his neck.
The rear portion of the jersey is pretty cool, too. It comes with a fairly standard three-pocket design, but also has two zippered outer pockets that can hold a key, a credit card, driver's license/identification, etc. The zippers tuck nicely behind their tabs and don't seem to get stuck on anything along the way. The three main pockets should be plenty deep for most, and could hold snacks or a number of items if the wearer so decided. While Sam is not one to typically use the rear pockets on jersey's, I think it's great that things will stay where they are put.

Since I had trapped Sam just before he was heading out for a ride with a local group, I asked him to just let me know what he thought when he got home. I think the greatest thing he had to say upon his return was that it was good. Meaning, there was nothing to complain about. It wasn't riding up in weird places or being a nuisance in any way. He wasn't too hot (and it was a really hot day), and everything went well. It was "good," which I think means he will actually continue to wear it.
In the end, for someone who isn't naturally drawn to the more subdued colored jerseys, Sam really liked this one. I think, if nothing else, it will certainly help him stand out in a group of typical cyclists. In addition, he's comfortable riding in it, and I think that's what really matters to anyone.

I would also share that just as I was getting ready to publish this post, I got an e-mail from Richard - just to check in and see how the jerseys worked for us. I have to think that a company that goes through the effort Road Holland does will be successful over the long term. Everything from shipment tracking numbers, order receipts, and contact e-mails has been pleasant and easy - and not pushy or annoying, as can sometimes be the case with businesses trying to get sales. I appreciate the efforts and I think many customers will as well.

I will be writing up some thoughts on the women's version of this jersey soon as well - hopefully, in the next few days. In the meantime, if you haven't heard of Road Holland, feel free to head over to their site to check it out. They have long sleeve versions, bibs, and a couple of other items to check out while you're there. Though the choices are limited, I think the products are quality, and in the end I'll take quality over quantity any day.

**The women's jersey review can be found by clicking here.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I was offered a great deal on these jersey's in exchange for a photo. However, no request was made to write about Road Holland or their products. Any opinions, thoughts, etc that are not stated to have come from Road Holland or their website specifically are my/our own.

3 comments:

  1. Great looking, fitting, and comfortable jersey. I was suprised myself! like most, i always question how I "look", but I would not hesitate in wearing this one everywhere, awesome product!

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  2. The devil is in the details. I was excited to see this post, as larger than European sized bicycle clothing is hard to find. For those of us in the big and tall category, that would be a real discovery. Unfortunately, after looking at the sizing guide on Road Holland's website, I found nothing that is really "plus" sized for men - especially for shorts. Road Holland lists "XXL" shorts as 38-39 inch waist. That's only slightly larger than a Size L as shown on Eddie Bauer's website - a mainstream American sportswear and clothing store. Road Holland does a little better with their men's jerseys, which go up to "XXL" and a chest measurement of 46-48 inches. That would be a size XL at Eddie Bauer. I noticed some of the men pictured in the group photo on the Road Holland website would not likely fit their shorts. Perhaps they do better with women's clothing?

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    1. You make excellent points (and it's nice that there are both men and women out there riding who are willing to speak up about this issue). I, unfortunately, don't have an answer that solves the problem. In my email back to Road Holland, I did bring up this very topic (that there are those who would love to see even larger sizes). I keep hoping that cycling clothing makers will start to address this and increase their sizing. On the business side of it, I have to wonder if perhaps there isn't a market and thus they don't want to make the clothing larger, but I've had a number of comments and e-mails asking about larger sized cycling clothing (admittedly, mostly from females, but I'm sure it's just as big of an issue for taller or larger men too).

      The cycling bibs for women are very similar, in that they don't go up quite as much in their sizing (and for someone like myself who is bottom heavy, that could be an issue, depending on the individuals size).

      For what it's worth, I think this company has a great start to something that could be completely amazing. Like other companies I have contacted regarding making larger sizes, I honestly think it's going to take time. I've had better luck speaking to organizations that are smaller and haven't been in the business quite as long, but none seem quite ready to branch out into the truly larger sizes. I think contacting them directly (and getting friends to do so as well) is a great way to show that there is a market for this size of cycling clothing.

      If you haven't looked at Aerotek, they might be somewhere to take a look as they have big/tall sizes for men (and women): http://www.aerotechdesigns.com/big-and-tall-cycling-apparel.html Some of their shorts go up to a size 60 inch waist, which is definitely beneficial to those in need of a little more.

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