Cheap clothing!

clothing

#1

So recently discovered Aliexpress and at first glance it can be daunting to sift through, there’s no much out there, and of course the question of quality comes up. I have tried a couple of items and figured I’d recommend, and others can feel free to chime in with their own recommendations.

Bib shorts
I have 2 pairs of these Spexcel shorts https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Latest-high-quality-bib-shorts-classic-race-bicycle-bottom-Ropa-Ciclismo-bike-pants-4D-gel/32701740226.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.54734c4dGS1G0C

They’re comfortable, seem well made, and only $20

Jersey
I picked up one of these, and actually paid slightly more ($16) since I got it from Amazon
https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Wholesale-2015-Lotto-Cycling-Bicycle-Jersey-Tour-De-France-Short-Bike-Bicicleta-Ropa-Roupas-De-Ciclismo/1052221_32267343069.html?spm=2114.12010612/itm2home-1.8148356.72.66cb3938z5v1Yo

It’s comfortable, fits well for me (snug but not tight, no flapping fabric). It’s clear it’s not as polished as, say, castelli, in like the sleeves, but that nitpicking and doesn’t affect performance or comfort really.

Anyhow, that’s my limited experience, would love to hear what others are into. I’ll admit I’m a bit vain and am turned off by stuff in which the “brand” names appear to be a random letter jumble, if I’m going that route I prefer as brandless and minimalist as possible (like my spexcel shorts have black branding).


#2

Below are a few observations I’ve noticed with cheaper clothing generally.

First, the quality of the garment is simply not as good. This includes the fabrics used, the attention to detail, the quality of stitching, design and assembly, long term durability, etc. I’ve tried numerous articles of cycling and other outdoor clothing from both AliExpress and Amazon. A relatively few items have turned out to not be disappointments in some regard. There is something to be said for the R&D that goes into developing the more expensive clothing, just like there is for the various components of the bike. The proprietary fabrics and panel designs are typically superior. This is especially evident in the chamois’ used in cycling clothes. Granted, there is some markup for the marketing and name recognition of many expensive brands which is irritating to pay. I rarely pay retail for an article of clothing. Will try to shop during season change sales, holiday sales, other site promotions, and often even buy used from ebay. I’ve had much better luck with used name brand cycling clothing than the Chinese stuff. Just have to know your sizes in a given brand and look for things that still have some life left in them and have been properly cared for.

Second, the comfort of cheaper garments is considerably lacking. This includes such things as the design, cut, and fit of the article. I’ve yet to see a cheap Chinese manufacturer who has designed and executed their design as well as most of the other cycling specific brands. The quality control in production is simply inferior. Like much of the imitation products that come out of China, the cheaper clothing is not designed to be a replacement for products aimed at niche markets with specialty uses such as cycling. Rather, these cheaper clothes are intended to be used by the masses and those unfamiliar with the advantages of nicer clothes. Potentially they could be used as supplemental clothing for short shoulder seasons or something if the rider is not inclined to make the investment for those types of weather given that they don’t ride enough to justify it or something. However, for me, I’ve discovered that it is especially true in the shoulder seasons and other inclement weather conditions that the more expensive garments really make a difference in comfort. I ride indoor and outdoor year round in an area with typical four seasons including snow and subzero temperatures. I’ve especially noticed the comfort difference in the chamois’ of cheap clothing. There is almost nothing as miserable as chaffing and saddles sores ruining your ride as a result of a poorly fitting or designed piece of clothing. Additionally, the weight and durability of the name brand clothes is typically much better. Especially if you buy the high end items. Generally more panels are used in the garment, and a rider can get the desired fit for their body type and use of the garment. Don’t have as many options in the Chinese stuff. Granted some fabrics are designed for very specific uses or temperatures and are not very good if employed for an unintended use. This can result is damage to the fabric. Sometimes you want something very breathable, and others you need something water or wind proof, or light and packable. The Chinese stuff seems to have a very hard time addressing the specific needs of a given type of garment or body type, and rather employs a philosophy of “one size fits all.” Whether talking about actual size, or a given type of use.

Third, part of what you’re paying for in a name brand garment is for warranty and customer service. I’ve had several name brand garments damaged and been able to get repair or replacement (depending on the circumstances) when working with reputable manufacturers. There are several US manufactures that I prefer simply because they are easier to deal with for me. However, there are numerous European manufactures that have this area really well dialed in also. When you buy a cheap Chinese garment, you’re gambling the entire cost of the garment basically, hoping that it will last long enough to get your money worth out of it. Even if comfort were equal to the more expensive stuff–which it is not–you’d have to get the equivalent amount of use relative to the amount spent in order to make it comparable. For example, if the garment costs half as much, you’d have to get at least half the lifetime out of it to be worth it. This rarely happens. Granted, nothing last forever, if you use it, and all chamois’ wear out, even the best. So you have to find the balance between cost and use that works for you. I believe the more you ride, the more an expensive garment will be a better value because they hold up so much better if taken care of properly. Most of the name brands come with a lifetime warranty covering manufacturers defects. You won’t find that in a Chinese garment. I’ve used warranties several times which convinced me of the value of buying name brand.

Finally, I do agree, and there is an argument to be made that cheap clothing is useful sometimes. For short rides such as indoor trainer rides, out of inclement weather and in controlled temperatures, I believe there is value to using and wearing out a cheaper garment than a nice name brand one. The clothing used on the trainer tends to get washed more frequently and has the added wear that comes with that (I only air dry my synthetic clothing, never in the dryer). It is nice to have a clean pair of bibs for every trainer ride, but that is probably an unrealistic expectation if we’re talking about nice name brand bibs. Unless you’re washing clothes every other day, which will take a toll on the life of the garment. Additionally, for a cyclist who isn’t riding as frequently, or just getting into the sport, these cheaper clothes have a place. When I first got into cycling I was using almost exclusively cheaper clothing. In my ignorance I could not justify spending $100+ on a pair of bibs or shoes when there is such a prevalence of what appeared to be adequate cheaper clothing. I’ve since affirmed my belief in the adage, “you get what you pay for.”

That is probably enough said on that matter for now. Take it for what its worth. But as Plato said, “opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.”


#3

I have a few jersey’s from Aliexpress, and have been happy with them for the price. I find the $20 jerseys from Ali compare with jerseys in the $50-$80 retail price range in the US. I’ve found what appear to be exactly the jerseys from Aliexpress selling for about that from other retailers - you might as well go direct. (unless you want returns/customer service.) I do have one that has some stitching coming out after about 5 washings. These jersey’s are not as comfortable or well fitting as higher quality/cost jerseys I own. The ones I’ve gotten tend to have more whimsical designs - ones that I would not choose on a high cost/quality jersey. A $100+ jersey is much nicer, and as I’ve gotten a few more of those I gravitate towards those when I ride. I tend to pick my cheaper jerseys for centuries/fondos where I have to pin on a number, as I don’t mind pinning those (I’d really just rather not deal with numbers…)

Getting the size right can be hit or miss, and returning isn’t practical. Sizing is especially problematic on long sleeved/legged items. I tried long stuff once - not again, it was long enough but the rest of the fit was horrible.
Also, the comfort from good bibs is not something that I’m going to sacrifice. Maybe I have a sensitive rear, but bib/chamois quality makes a huge difference for me - a rash after 2 hours vs no rash after 10, so I don’t compromise on that.

I think you get a bit more than you pay for - cheap for mid-level quality, and you should consider what types of items you would buy there. I think where it makes the most sense is to buy $20 jerseys direct instead of $60 full retail - you’re getting pretty much the same thing from what I have seen.

Something I haven’t tried, is a custom jersey. It seems you can get custom jersey’s for about $25-$50 quantity 1, so this could be another reason to go direct. You can get kits too, but again I have no interest in bad bibs.


#4

This is amazing! Thanks for the link. I need new stuff desperately and don’t have the money to toss at cycling clothes. All of my stuff is pretty trashy and it works great. So if I only have to spend $20 for more of it, I’m down.


#5

Excellent point, I completely agree. My previous remarks were focused more particularly with bibs/tights then with jersey’s (mostly due to chamois quality). I agree with you though that it makes me cringe to pin an expensive jersey. Can get those little button snap things (race clips?) so that you don’t have to poke through the fabric. Also the Chinese must have short arms/legs and those always seem to be troublesome in the clothing. Especially when you’re in a bent over cycling position.


#6

I’ve been reasonably happy with a couple of jerseys. Long sleeve fleece ones are decent for the price, although the elasticated arm cuffs are a bit old-fashioned versus the tapered/laser-cut cuffs on my Sportful or Morvelo items.

I’ve got a short sleeve jersey too, they all seem to use the same basic Coolmax fabric/cut and print on the design. Again, the weak spot is the arms, no tighter stretch material so they can be a bit flappy.

I’m happy with them though. Perfectly fine for training rides, still comfy and do a job.

I wouldn’t get bibs, that part of the kit serves a mechanical purpose as opposed to just being cosmetic.


#7

Regularly bought jerseys and some bib shorts from aliexpress and been v pleased with it all. I’d not use bib shorts on longer rides but on turbo or commuting or rides upto say 2hrs they’ve been great.


#8

Another great brandis Santic. Their prices aren’t the cheapest ones but the quality is really good for the price. I have several of their bib shorts and they are really comfortable. I have one Racmmer jersey like the one you posted and the Santic one is clearly better while a bit more expensive too.

I think they even sponsor a pro cycling team, not sure if it’s still there.

https://es.aliexpress.com/store/1985488


#9

Thanks for the tips, @hubcyclist and @gabig! I’ll be giving Spexcel and Santic a try during the trainer-season. I wash my clothes after every ride, so I’ll report back if they can’t handle it. Would be great to save my more expensive kits for outdoor rides only.


#10

I totally understand the skeptics, especially regarding the bibs, I was definitely prepared to not even touch those, because of the potential to bad chamois and poor construction. But I got the spexcel ones based on the recommendation of someone I had asked with long term experience with those. Honestly, the $20 spexcel ones are far better than some lower-mid level demarchi, santini, and capo shorts I have and paid far more and are holding up to the demands of riding on the trainer far better than those other brands have.