- by Michael Bachman
- Published: 17 October 2016
Monton Sports is not a name you would automatically think about when pondering the world’s leading brands of cycling apparel. European, American and even some Australian brands dominate that space. As a Chinese brand, Monton Sports don’t have the geographical prerequisites either. So you may be surprised to learn that clothing and apparel is not one of those dirt-cheap Chinese suppliers of copycat clothing which feature off-colour graphics, miss-spelt names and ill-fitting cycling wear. Monton don’t do the rock-bottom prices either, rather they consider themselves a quality product with Champion Systems their main competitor.
They are dead-keen to prove themselves so asked BNA for a review so I had the opportunity to find out if they live up to the promise. So let’s find out a bit more about the brand. Monton Sports is located in Shenzen, China and this year celebrated 7 years of business. You won’t find any copycat pro-tour team kits on their website, in fact Monton already have to deal with copycat Chinese companies who rip off the Monton brand. Instead they have a full range of cycle-wear as well as offering custom designs.
Unpacked and Raw
Monton Sports supplied a range of apparel for review; the 2016 Lenxon Bibshorts, a ‘fluorescent Cheetah’ SS jersey, long sleeve rain jacket, TT gloves and 3 pairs of their socks in a matching fluro yellow.
When I unpacking my first impression was that it felt like quality gear. The fabric felt good and the zippers were high quality, the zips had a rubberised coating to make zipping / unzipping easier while wearing gloves. The jerseys hem had grippers and one jersey pocket had a vertical zip which I find far easier to use while out cycling. The jersey had reflective logos and tabs along with some logos and graphics that had a dose of ‘lost in translation’ – but more on that later!
Sizing of cycling wear is probably one of the most frustrating aspects of buying gear, particularly online. A great fit with one brand can still be a vastly different fit with another, despite sizing charts which sport the same numbers. Suffice to say – it is easy to get unstuck and sometimes Asian brands use the smaller Asian body types rather than the larger European body types as a reference. when I organised the review I also supplied Monton Sports with my heigh, weight and waist size to ensure sizing was spot on (184cm, 90kg and 36”).
The Cycling Kit in Detail
Lenxon Bibshorts (Bibknicks)
The bib-shorts that were supplied were 3XL which made me feel like a giant. I appreciated that the knicks were plain black and devoid of logos. Great start! The padding (chamois) was well defined and proportioned, so appeared to suit longer rides. The leg grippers were nice and high, the 30mm banding promised a good grip without strangling the legs. The shoulder straps on the bib knicks were nice and wide and featured a mesh insert which looked promising in terms of comfort stakes. I really put the gear through and workout as I was in training for an upcoming cycle trip to Italy and France. My first impressions were that I have a beautiful fit in terms of height and girth but without that ‘corset’ feeling. There was plenty of room in the groin and the chamois seems to be positioned just right.
Fluorescent Cheetah SS Jersey
The first thing that you notice about this jersey is that it is BRIGHT! It looked exactly like the picture on the website even if the description didn’t translate well. It isn’t really a Cheetah print, more apt is ‘Radioactive Giraffe’. Imagine a Giraffe at a nuclear facility and it will end up looking like this jersey.
But I do like it, it transitions from fluro at the bottom to bright green at the top and this bright jersey is a real stand-out for commuting and riding out on open roads. It was bright, but it didn’t have that ‘Commuter safety vest’ look.
The jersey came in size 3XL, somewhat larger than I wear in European and Australian brands but when I tried it on, it was definitely a ‘race fit’, designed for a close fit like the like the pro jerseys. My body isn’t quite as toned as Chris Hemsworth (the Aussie actor who played Thor) so a performance fit is a bit new to me but the fit and finish was on the ball.
The zipper was silky smooth in action, a good sign, the elastic cuffs on the arms were wide and firm and the pockets deep and robust. The hem has a narrow silicon gripper to prevent the jersey from slipping up while riding and to prove that you are getting value, there was a key pocket smartly placed on the right pocket with a vertical zip. I liked this as I found it easy to use, but some may prefer the central pocket with the horizontal zip.
The prominent Monton logo featured on each sleeve cuff (black text on the fluro background) along with some amusing small logo’s on each side of the chest. One was “Strong Wind” which not what I want when out riding, let alone from the bloke riding in front. The other badge was “HopeXFaith” – In essence two different concepts… faith in your ability because you know you have done the training and hoping that you will survive even though you have not done the training. I took this as when you multiply Hope and Faith, you’ll get there. Probably something to remember as I struggle up to the summit of Passo della Stelvio in Italy hoping for a ‘strong wind’ to get me there and combination of faith & hope to make the distance.
Every second, every millisecond counts in time trials which is probably why the Monton Sports TT gloves have no velcro fastener and opt for flexy lycra instead. The cuffs extend well over the wrists and on the palm, the padding is not overly thick, but is position in all of the right places.
I found them easy to get on but a real pain to get off. There are no loops between the fingers to help and in the end I found that it was best to pull them off from the cuffs which would turn the gloves inside out. They worked well on the road but the minor annoyance getting them off would have me opt for regular gloves.
Neon Team Socks
These are not particularly expensive sock but they compete against higher priced ‘brand name’ socks. Following the review of the Swiftwick socks here on BNA, I lashed out and purchased two pairs for $25 each. After wearing the Monton socks over a course of two months, there are differences in the construction between the brands, but in my opinion, I find the Montons just as good as the more expensive competition.
The sole of the socks as well padded, there are no internal seams (I am REALLY fussy about internal seams) and the ankle cuffs are tall and well elasticised which keep the socks up during long rides. The light weight material mean that these are great for summer riding and will keep you comfortable down to about 15 degrees. The website suggests that the sock are fluro but they are in fact yellow.
Fluorescent Windbreaker/Rain Jacket
I call it a rain jacket and Monton call it a windbreaker. Whatever your preference, it is portable and folds down easily into a fist sized packed that can be easily stowed in your jersey pocket. It seems to have a reinforced ‘internal’ webbing which should ensure that the jacket has a long life despite it’s light weight. Speaking of weight, it comes in at a paltry 73g on my digital scales.
One thing that surprised me with the 2XL size jacket was that there was still room underneath if you are wearing a thicker winter weight jersey or base layer. Another pleasant surprise was that the arms were the right length too – something that has been an issue in the past for Asian sourced clothing.
Is it Road Worthy?
All of the clothing supplied by Monton has received a pretty solid workout, I’ve used it on short rides and century rides and it has been the go-to gear for riding. It has also been washed after every ride to test how well it will hold up both in terms to structural capability as well as colour fastness. Apart from a minor thread issue on the glove cuff (which didn’t get worse), the garments have been fine. I have grown used to the gear, their fit and feel and am actually looking forward to a long life.
The standouts for me are the bib knicks and cycling jersey. The bib shorts have enough padding to remain comfortable for century hilly rides (featuring a lot of seated climbing) and the jersey has never felt constrictive or presented any seam itch issues.
The jersey appears to be of the same fabric as the bib shorts, in that it has a ‘sheen’ and hugs the torso and arms well, but never feels like a compression garment. Despite the material, on hotter days it never presented a problem and still able to wick the sweat away. I have tended to prefer a looser sleeve, but have now become accustomed to the wider, snug arm bands.
Both the jersey and knicks have stood up well to their repeated use and washings without any issue, and the zips maintain their free running and tags are still perfect.
The socks also proved to be much better than expected. Despite being thin and having a mesh upper, they proved to be very comfortable and provided good cushioning even on the longer rides. They have not lost any colour or elasticity during their use following multiple washes.
The windbreaker has only seen limited use as it’s either been warm or pouring, which is the nature of these jackets. But when I have needed it, the jacket has been good. The zip works well, the jacket is bright and the size is good. I appreciate that it is nice and snug and only on long descents has it tended to slip up a little. One concern I have is that the elastic on the sleeve cuffs is not as tight and wide as I would like so on long descents, the wind tends to funnel up through the arms and it gets cold.
So would I buy a set ?
Monton Sports cycling gear is classified as Asia-Direct cycling wear and it is not cheap as many other Asian brands and Alibaba regulars. But now that I have seen and worn them, I feel that they are well priced. In fact, Monton Sports have created a reputation for their brand and have to deal with counterfeits.
In terms of the fabric quality and manufacturing quality, I can easily equate the kit I received with other good brands such as Santini (from Prendas in the UK) and Cycology in Australia. If you are after value for money, I reckon Monton delivers.
That said, a lot of the Monton range don’t match my tastes in style. The ‘radioactive giraffe’ jersey and the bib shorts (without the logo) are spot on, so take a look to see what catches your fancy. You will also find ‘winter weight’ jerseys which I haven’t tested.
For Australian cyclists, Monton Sports is an online retailer and prices are in US dollars. Shipping costs are a flat rate of $5 (USD).
Finally, pay attention to the sizing. The Monton Sports sizing is not directly comparable with a lot of European or Australian sizes but rather is much smaller. If you are usually a size L, for the Monton gear you may be a XL or even a 2XL so measure the width and length of your current gear and check the width and length on the Monton sizing chart. In short, follow the chart and not the sizes you usually wear with other brands.
A Quick Word on Custom Clothing
Beyond the off-the-shelf range of men’s and women’s cycle wear, the brand offers custom designs. They make the garments in their factory which helps to reduce the number of steps and mixed messages. A template is provided on the website to help with design and the price depends in the material selection and quantity. Estimated turnaround is about two weeks for custom designs.
Last year, Monton Sports kindly supported Bicycles Network Australia with a charity fundraiser (for Mental Health) and supplied base level custom jerseysfor BNA forum members. Over $1,400 was raised and the jerseys were a hit.
Monton are seeking an Australian distributer and dealers though at this stage can only be purchased from their online website. I daresay that the online prices are lower than you would expect to pay in a bike shop although bike shops offer more certainty with sizing when you can try before you buy.
Monton are among a new breed of Chinese brands which have taken more time and care in understanding their customers and recognise that if you escape the lure of cheap and nasty and instead opt for better quality and fair prices, then they have a better change of building an audience of happy cyclists.
Checkout the Monton Range: www.montonsports.com