There is an air of mystery around PAS NORMAL STUDIOS who are one of the many shooting stars among the young cycling kit brands. The Danish brand borrows its name from the French term for ‘Not Normal’. This particular phase was reportedly used by Lance Armstrong to mock (fellow) dopers, now it is being ‘re-conditioned’ intro a new mantra that I think better describes cycling passion and intensity. The young team from Copenhagen have been able to transport this message though their subtle cycle-wear design and brand presentation to gain attention from bike riders across Europe and America.
Like most premium cycle wear brands, this gear comes with a price tag but it also delivers on the quality you that would expect at this price. But unlike most brands, this kit isn’t about loud graphics and crazy colours. PAS NORMAL belongs to a new generation where understated designs will set you, as the rider, apart from the flamboyant mainstream.
The cycling kit I received for review is a good example of this, the Essential Jersey Navy is exuberant like velvet, the rich blue colour shimmers in different light conditions. Emblazoned on the back of the jersey in black, PAS NORMAL STUDIOS stands bold and rubberised, it’s not merely a sublimated print. This delivers a subtle contrast to the navy blue and is quite the opposite of loud and blatant branding. The Essential Bib Black cycling knicks appear completely black with just the brand-name printed on each leg in white.
The Essential series, to which the jersey and knicks belong, is pitched towards the endurance cyclist so has a more relaxed fit and better comfort over their ‘technical’ gear. This range isn’t complex, to accompany the black knicks are further single-colour jerseys; black, pine greens, concrete grey and even a soft beige that reminded me of my grandmothers’ cardigan.
PAS NORMAL STUDIOS Essential Navy Jersey
Sizing is the big unknown when you face any new cycling brand, even more so with a continuing trend of ultra-tight race fitting cycle wear. With this in mind, I decided to choose the XL Jersey as a safe-bet; a loose fit is always better than ‘too-tight’. The Scandinavian sizing of this cyclewear is, as I discovered, more generous than most brands. In retrospect a size L for the Essential jersey would probably have been better. The XL jersey had a more slack than I am used to as I have been conditioned with race-fit cycling jerseys although the comfort while cycling was spot-on.
Most cycling jerseys are constructed from polyester whereas this jersey used a fabric combining 72% Polyamide and 28% Elastane. The Polyamide synthetic fabric is softer than polyester and feels much nicer on the skin. I knew something was different even before taking a closer look at the construction, it felt silky and was distinctly different to regular jerseys. PAS NORMAL still uses polyester on other jerseys but for the Essentials it was a decision to prioritise comfort over weight and moisture wicking.
The collar is generous (which I like) and the zipper has ‘hoods’ which nicely conceal the zipper. There are three properly sized jersey pockets and one has an extra zipper compartment. If you have a ‘plus’ sized smart phone, this compartment will be too small but you can squeeze a regular smart phone inside. The waist has elastic strip while the cuffs have folded fabric for comfort and no elastic. There were no grippers and I didn’t have any concerns about the arms or waist slipping while cycling.
There are three different styles of fabric used in this jersey, on the sides a ‘stretch’ fabric is used while the arms and pockets have a mesh style fabric for breathability. The zipper has been sewn into the garment with razor-sharp accuracy.
On the bike I made the most out of the remaining sunny days in Europe but quickly had to ‘upgrade’ and use a base layer as the cycling temperatures dropped. When it became too frosty to ride without a cycling jacket, this signalled it was time to retired the jersey for a winter pause. The comparatively short testing time still delivered a convincing verdict that this is an easy go-to cycling jersey for enjoyable cycling.
Before moving onto the bib knicks, it is worth commenting on the quality of construction of both the jersey and knicks. I have found that even big-name brands or trendy cyclewear brands can feature loose threads on the inside seams, or occasionally feature sloppy stitching that is only visible on the inside. The PAS Normal garments in contrast were flawless – excellent stitching and no loose threads. In my book, it says a lot about a brand when care is also taken with the entire garment so that it is also neat and tidy under the covers. The Italian manufacture undoubtedly contributes towards this level of quality and helps set it apart from Asian production.
PAS NORMAL STUDIOS Essential Bib Black
For the bib knicks I selected the XL size that was suggested by the sizing chart. I usually wear XL and the bike knicks were a perfect fit, neither tight nor loose.
The first thing I look at with new cycling knicks is the chamois, the black coloured chamois stitched into the Essential Bib Black is split into a left and right padded section and effectively gives it a channel in the middle. This is inline with the science of supporting the sit-bones while removing pressure on the perineum. The chamois has a maximum padded thickness of about 1 centimetre and the material for the chamois (without foam) extends forward into the groin area. On the bike it was immediately comfortable and remained comfortable over longer distances. As it is slightly thicker than my regular bib knicks, a few rides and washes helped to break these in.
Polyamide, rather than polyester, has also been used for all of the different fabrics that are combined to form the Essential the bib knicks. Like the jersey you also get that silky smooth feeling against the skin. The braces on the knicks are a lighter mesh and the overall fit is comfortable, not too tight or loose.
For the sections in contact with the saddle and inside-legs, a lovely material with raised diamond pattern on the inside has been used. As these are the sections that are most prone to chaffing, I assume that this textile has ‘special attributes’. I didn’t actually ‘feel’ any different while riding so it was more of a sensory attribute that looks interesting and is nice to the touch.
Flatlock stitching was used for most of the seams in the bib knicks, just a few of the seams around the crotch and inside leg used the coverstitch. While flatlock stitching is tidy and eliminates the seam inside the garment, on sections of the bib knicks that have direct contact with the saddle, a flatlock stitch also places a lot of thread on the outside of garment and this increases the chance of the thread rubbing and over time, degrading. This reveals that the construction of the knicks, right down to the choice of stitching, are the result of considered decisions by PAS NORMAL.
PAS NORMAL present an interesting contrast to many of the other exciting and young cycling brands, you will pay good money for their cycling wear but are not rewarded with bright and crazy graphics that will capture the attention of bystanders. If you are out to make a statement, it will only be an understatement with PAS NORMAL. But what you will get is elegant cyclewear and other riders ‘in the know’ will take notice.
The biggest hurdle for many Australian cyclists will be the price. With the regular pricing, including shipping from Denmark, the cycling jersey and knicks would cost $530 AUD landed. Even by European standards, this is the premier league. The current discounted pricing brings the cost of the kit down to $290 (landed) which is a pretty attractive price for a kit of this quality.
The regular price of €140 ($215 AUD) for the cycling jersey and €172 ($265) for the bib knicks is already in the top league by European standards. This is a similar realm to MAAP, Attaquer and some Rapha gear. At the time of writing, the stock for the Essential range was low and discounted pricing pushed the total cost of the kit (jersey and knicks) to $290 including shipping to Australia.
It was hard for this kit not to please, and if you know PAS NORMAL is for you, you will be delighted with their kit.