Like a child standing before the lolly aisle at the supermarket, being forced to choose is maddening. I felt the same way trying to choose from the Pandani cyclewear styles for review. Rather than the Retro Grunge or the Euro Chic, I opted for Future Neon Tartan, a style that Pandani simply call ‘Pinstripe’. Who are Pandani? Pandani are a Japanese cyclewear brand and I was blown away by their unique style which extends beyond the artwork, through to the garment design itself.
Pandani are not peddling performance, instead they are a premium lifestyle brand and a cyclist would look at them because they’re looking for something that marks them as an individual. Your ‘three peaks’ and <insert event name> run-of-the mill jerseys are not Pandani’s thing. Competing in the same price segment as Rapha and Assos, the Pandani style means you won’t be mistaken for a clone.
Out of the box the pinstripe bib knicks and long sleeve jersey are a visual overload. While it is well packed and presented, it is difficult to imagine how this kit will look on the body. The cyclewear is made with Italian M.I.T.I fabric, which simply oozes quality. It feels different, finer and thinner, than regular polyester / lycra cycling jerseys and is labeled as 84% Polyester and 16% Polyurethene. On closer inspection, the jersey incorporates different fabric on the front, sides and rear; the front is a windproof style fabric while the back and the side panels are more breathable.
The bib knicks also incorporate different fabric grades for outside and inside panels and have an open mesh above the waist for the straps. The elasticised cuffs are extremely comfortable as there are no unnecessary seams and it is neither too grippy, too lose, or too tight. The chamois is from Italian brand CyTech and is aimed at performance cyclists. Just a stones throw from Venice, CyTech was formed in the year 2000 by two cousins who previously worked with De Marchi but wanted to concentrate on high quality chamois. They subsequently collaborated with Assos to create chamois using more detailed scientific research on rider position, anatomy, and fit. The chamois in the Pandani knicks stretch all the way up to the groin, though the thick padded areas are concentrated around the sit-bones. In these areas, the padding is about 1 centimeter in height and separated by a channel to reduce perennial pressure.
Overall, the cycle wear is well made, it feels precise, and the result was that the cycling kit fit like a glove. I am typically a size L and the Pandani L sized jersey and knicks were a comfortable fit.
The transformation starts when you put the kit on; the kit really comes together and is a head turner. On the first ride I was accepting comments from other cyclists, “That’s a great kit, it really stands out.” Pandani comes with the Cipollini effect built-in, bike riders and motorist just want to look.
On the bike the knicks were comfortable. Riders who have particular preferences with chamois should take the time to look at the chamois and the style first as Pandani retail direct from Japan and you won’t have an opportunity to see before you buy.
I chose the long sleeve jersey version, rather than short sleeve jersey, for the sun-protection; the fabric has a sun protection factor of UV 50+ which is perfect for my fair skin. A common problem with cheap long sleeve jerseys is ballooning and also flapping in the wind. The Pandani jersey was outstanding; the sleeves were a much closer fit than I anticipated (without being skintight) and didn’t have these problems.
The windproof fabric used for the jersey front panels is not as breathable as high-tech moisture wicking fabrics, so for hot Australian days you may opt for a more breathable cycling jersey. I did a few rides in 30 degree plus midday heat and after long hill climbs would have appreciated breathable fabric on the front. The wind protection from the M.I.T.I fabric was noticeable when riding through different climate zones, such as on long downhill rides. While it won’t replace base layers or a gilet when the temperatures drop, it does stave off the wind-chill longer than a regular jersey.
It is hard to fault the Pandani cyclewear; the high price ensures that it is not for the masses and will only reach a select customer group. I did miss the awesome collar, which is a feature of the short sleeve jerseys, but is not used for the long sleeve cycling jersey. With the type of printing on the kit, I highly recommend turning the garments inside-out for washing and using a gentle setting on the washing machine, or even hand-washing.
The knicks and the long sleeve jersey will set you back about $200…. each. The short sleeve jersey is about $170 (the prices converted from Japanese Yen). Pandani is not for everyone, but it doesn’t cost to look!