Archive | Clothing

Rene Herse Cycling Caps

We are really excited about our new cycling caps. They are great to wear under a helmet, or just by themselves.

The quality is superb – as you’d expect, since they are made by Walz, a company known for their high quality. They are made in the USA.

Best of all, the caps are available in two sizes: S/M and L/XL. Because, as you can see above, ‘One Size Fits All’ just isn’t true for many of us.

Click here for more information about our new caps.

Continue Reading

Back in Stock: Knickers and Handlebars


Our knickers are back in stock. They are sewn right here in Seattle in small batches, which can make it difficult to keep them in stock. Now all sizes are back.
Inspired by the clothes worn by the stylish Japanese cyclotourists, and refined for even greater performance, the knickers all but disappear when you ride. When you get off the bike, you are dressed to look sporting without pushing the boundaries of good taste. Click here to read a review – by a mountain biker! – of the knickers.

Our handlebars also have been incredibly popular. Their carefully designed shapes provide comfort on long rides by supporting your hands properly. Rather than locking you into a prescribed position, they allow you to find the position that matches your very unique anatomy. Made by Nitto in Japan to our exclusive specifications, they are among the lightest and strongest handlebars you can buy. All models and all sizes are in stock again. Click here to read a comparison of our handlebar models.
More information:

Continue Reading

Back in Stock / Expected Soon


At Compass Cycles, we try to keep our entire program in stock all the time, but some items are so popular that it can be difficult to keep up. Our cyclotouring knickers continue to be one of our best-sellers, as riders appreciate their comfort and light weight. One reviewer wrote: “I am practically living in them.”
The knickers are sewn right here in Seattle. We just received a new batch, and all sizes are in stock again.

I wish we could say the same about our 11-speed cranks. They’ve been exceedingly popular, and the first run of chainrings sold out quickly. New ones are in production, and we hope to have them by early June.

The MKS Allways pedals are also popular, as they combine MKS premium bearings with a large platform. The platform is slightly concave, so your foot has better grip. They are available in standard and Rinko versions (above). A new shipment from MKS is on the way. We expect them in early June as well.
We appreciate your patience when popular items are temporarilyout of stock. Click on the images to find out more about these products.

Continue Reading

Wool Jerseys: Continue Riding Even as the Weather Cools


Now that it’s officially autumn in the northern hemisphere, the temperatures are getting colder, the days are shorter, and there’s often a chance of rain in the forecast. For me, that makes riding my bike all the more important. I enjoy breathing fresh air, feeling the wind in my face, and seeing the landscape change with the season. I come home invigorated.

Speaking to my riding companions, everybody agrees that the hardest part is heading out. It’s rare that we went on a ride and then thought: “I should have stayed home.” Usually, it’s the opposite, and one of us exclaims: “So glad this ride was on the schedule. Otherwise, I might not have gone, but this is a great!”

How do you avoid being miserable when it’s cold (and maybe damp) outside? “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” That old saying is especially true for cycling: On a warm, sunny day, you can ride in almost anything, but in more demanding weather, good cycling clothes make all the difference.
In time for the colder seasons, we have the Bicycle Quarterly wool jerseys back in stock in all sizes, with short and long sleeves. You’ve seen them in many photos, because it’s pretty much all we wear on our rides. Wool is an almost magic material: It’s comfortable over a wide range of temperatures. It insulates equally well wet and dry. And it doesn’t absorb odors. These qualities make it ideal for cycling jerseys, especially at this time of year.
Great wool jerseys can be hard to find. The best Merino wool is soft to the touch, doesn’t scratch or shrink in the wash, and lasts for many years. That is why we offer the Bicycle Quarterly wool jerseys, made by Woolistic in Europe.
We chose the blue color of the Italian champion jerseys, because it offers high visibility, yet looks classy – something that isn’t easy to achieve. We used the same color for the Seattle Randonneurs jerseys, so we get to see them on the road quite frequently. They really stand out from a long ways in any weather.

Why wool over all other materials? I have found that it’s important that the innermost layer remains dry – it’s next to my skin! That is why wool jerseys are much more useful than windbreakers and other jackets. Even breathable shells tend to get damp on the inside. I get sweaty, and on the next downhill, the moisture chills me to the bone.
When I layer up in wool, the moisture is transferred outward, and I stay dry on the inside. This becomes obvious on very cold days, when the moisture generated by my body freezes on the outside of my jersey (above), but inside, I remain warm and dry. (I wore four layers of wool that day. Usually, it’s not that cold on our rides.)
Even in light rain, I prefer not to wear a shell. I find that if the outer wool layer gets moist, it’s OK, as long as the inner layers next to my skin remain warm and dry. Shells have their place: I wear them in downpours, when there is so much water that my body heat cannot keep me dry; and during long mountain descents, when I don’t pedal and thus generate little heat.

Once you have the right clothing, temperatures – at least down to freezing – no longer need to discourage you from riding. It’s truly liberating when you realize that you can go for a ride when you want, not just when the weather is “nice”.
Once you have your clothing dialled in, you may consider installing fenders on your bike, not so much because you want to ride in the rain, but for all those days when there is merely a “chance of rain”. Being prepared allows you to head out and enjoy the day, and most days, the rain never materializes. Even more independence comes with generator-powered lights. They free us from being limited by the short days at this time of year. But those are topics for future discussion.
If you are new to autumn cycling, focus on your clothing first, so you can enjoy riding on those many dry, but chilly, days.
Readers who live in the southern hemisphere are heading into spring. We envy you! And yet, you’ll want good clothing, too, since the weather in spring is as unpredictable as it is in autumn. Having a good wool jersey in your wardrobe will allow you to enjoy many more memorable rides.
Click here for more information about our wool jerseys.

Continue Reading

"I'm practically living in them" – Compass Knickers Review


I really like our cyclotouring knickers. They are based on a design I discovered in Japan. The ones we offer are a development from that, a little lighter and even better for spirited riding. I’ve been wearing mine on almost every ride since we introduced them. So it’s no surprise that I like them – I developed them!
That is why it’s important to get independent feedback. The ideal reviewer would be somebody who isn’t interested in Allroad cycling or cyclotouring. How about a mountain biker who is into 29ers (not 650B mountain bikes!)? Enter the blogger “Grannygear” at TwentyNineInches.com.

Not only did he review the knickers, he even bought them with his own money. The first we found out about the review was when it was published. (I got permission to quote him, but the photos are our own due to copyright restrictions.) Here is what TwentyNineInches.com had to say about the Compass knickers:
“I not only wore them for an 8-hour road trip, I practically lived in them. […] I really, really like them. On the bike, they never bind or pinch or ride up or ride down. Pedaling is easy. […] They breathe well in hot temps and dry fast.
“They are cut slightly higher in the back at the waist, so they do not ride down at all. They do pack up very small, and I can’t get them to wrinkle no matter how much I stuff them when stored.”

Dislikes? The small openings of the pockets. We agree, by the way, which is we’ve already enlarged the pocket openings since his knickers were made.

He wrote: “Other than the pocket openings, I can’t think of anything I do not like about them, and they are made right here is the U S of A.”
Thank you, Grannygear!
You can read the full review here, and you can order your own Compass knickers here.

Continue Reading

Why Synthetics for our Knickers?

knickers_mountain_road
I’ve long championed wool as a great material for cycling clothes, so some riders were surprised that our Compass knickers are made from synthetics. Why didn’t we choose wool, or some other natural material?
We chose the fabric after careful consideration and rigorous testing. We briefly considered cotton, but it gets heavy and cold when wet – not a good choice for cycling clothes.
bq_jersey_mountain_road
 
Wool is a great choice because it adapts to a great range of temperatures, and it doesn’t smell even when you are sweaty. That is why it’s virtually ideal for cycling jerseys. (Our Bicycle Quarterly jerseys are made from ultra-soft Merino wool.)
However, wool isn’t very abrasion resistant. Where your seat rubs on your bike’s saddle, wool tends to wear out relatively quickly. Within a few thousand miles, I wore through the seat on all wool shorts and knickers that I’ve tried. In fact, since I started wearing the Compass knickers over my wool tights, the tights no longer wear out as they used to.
Key to the Compass knickers’ performance is the thin fabric that doesn’t constrict your pedaling motion at all. The cut is very sophisticated to prevent bunching up as you pedal. Features like the hidden drawstrings at the knees require multiple layers of fabric that would be too bulky when made from wool. That is also the reason why we don’t use a thicker material like Schoeller fabric – it would inhibit the performance of our knickers.
jan_pbp
We’ve tested the final prototypes of the Compass knickers over many thousands of miles. I wore them for a Flèche 24-hour ride, during most of last year’s Paris-Brest-Paris (above), and on various tours in the Cascades, in France and in Japan. I now wear them every time I head out on a bike. During cold weather, I wear them over my tights. I’ve even used them for hiking.
My prototype knickers finally suffered a long tear and had to be retired, after more than 10,000 km of hard riding. And the tear was in a weird location and may have been caused by the brush I was hiking through, rather than wear and tear from normal riding. So we know these knickers last a long time.
What about the propensity of synthetics to retain odors? The knickers are airy enough that they don’t get smelly, yet they are close-fitting enough that they don’t billow in the wind and slow you down. Two months ago, I wore the original prototypes in the Seattle International Randonneurs 100 km Populaire. That event is open to all, and it always sees some very strong riders participate. We rode the 100 kilometers, including stops for controls, in 3:24 hours. During this spirited ride, not once did I notice my knickers. But when we went to a pub afterward, I didn’t feel conspicuous in too-tight-fitting cycling shorts.
knickers_back
It’s what makes the Compass knickers unique: They offer the performance of technical cycling clothes with a more traditional style and superb durability. In fact, that is the goal for all our components, and we go (or ride) the extra mile to get there.
Find out more about our knickers!

Continue Reading

Compass Knickers: Back In Stock, and in New Sizes

compass_knickers_road
The Compass knickers have been our most popular product ever. The gray color sold out within days, and the tan ones weren’t far behind!
Our local supplier worked overtime, and we now have the second batch of gray knickers in stock. (To save time, we limited ourselves to only one color for this rush order.)
Matt, who makes the knickers right here in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, reports that they are devilishly difficult to make, with their hidden, adjustable, elastic cuffs. He is the only one at his company who can sew them, and we are glad he did an awesome job for us once again.
compass_knicker_tan
We are now offering the gray color in sizes 38 and 40 in response to many requests. People had specific concerns about how sizes larger than 36 should fit, so we prototyped those sizes and had 2 cyclists test the size 40. They both really liked them, and they fit well. The cut of the knicker is on the roomy side on the sides of the thigh, so the fabric doesn’t constrict you when cycling – it’s a bit hard to see it in the photos above, but it was one thing that our testers noticed while they stood in front of the mirror, before they took them out on the bike. Once on the bike, they really liked the fit, and the loose fit didn’t billow in the wind or slow them down otherwise.
The tan color also is available in the sizes from our introductory run, sizes 28 through 36, but not in the larger sizes 38 and 40 yet.
The top photo shows the knickers in summer, but as you can see in the bottom photo, they also work well when worn with tights underneath. The knickers don’t have a pad – wear them over your normal cycling shorts. When riding, they disappear (I did the last third of Paris-Brest-Paris with them, and they never slowed me down), but off the bike, you look stylish and presentable.
Click here for more information or to order your Compass knickers.
 

Continue Reading

Compass Knickers

compass_knickers_road
We are happy to introduce our Compass Knickers! Now we can be more confident when entering restaurants or shops, knowing that our cycling clothes do not stretch the boundaries of good taste by being too tight and revealing. Yet on the bike, these knickers are slick with the wind, and do not billow like many “casual” cycling shorts. I’ve ridden many spirited rides on them, including part of this year’s PBP, and they simply disappear.
During my first trip to Japan, I discovered Japanese cyclotouring knickers. I started to wear them on most rides, and whenever a photo of me appeared in the magazine, on our blog or on other social media, we received requests from readers who were interested in the knickers. Clearly, there is a demand for performance cycling knickers, but unfortunately, none of the Japanese manufacturers were interested in selling small quantities to North America.
The solution was to make our own. We worked with a local company in Seattle to develop knickers that combine the best features of various knickers we have tried. We have tested a number of prototypes with different cuts and fabrics over thousands of kilometers.
Compass Bicycles_2064 cop 1
The final model uses a synthetic woven fabric with a little stretch, so they don’t constrict your pedaling, no matter how fast you are going. The fabric wicks moisture, so it is comfortable even in very hot weather. The cuffs below the knees are elastic and adjustable. The waist is both elastic and features a belt, so you can dial in your fit.
Compass Bicycles_2037 cop 1
They don’t have a pad, so you also can wear them off the bike. I’ve found them perfect for back-country hiking as well. On the bike, I simply wear my normal cycling shorts underneath them. They also pack so small that you could just stuff them in your jersey pocket and only wear them when you arrive at your destination. (They fit over your cycling shoes, so they are easy to put on.)
Compass Bicycles_2036 cop 1
The Compass knickers are finely detailed and hand-made in Seattle. They are available now in five sizes between 28″ and 36″, in two colors. The fit is adjustable, so order a size up if unsure, especially if you wear padded cycling shorts underneath. Click here for more information about the Compass Knickers or to order your pair.

Continue Reading

Bicycle Quarterly Wool Jerseys

un-meeting_rainier
When we received our first shipment of Bicycle Quarterly wool jerseys, they sold out within days. They are specially sourced from Italy. The weaving of the fabric, sewing of the jerseys, embroidering of the lettering – all takes a lot of work and time, so supplies can be a little erratic. We just received another shipment.
People around Seattle recognize me by the jerseys I wear. They are simply the most comfortable jerseys I’ve tried. They are scratch-free and comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. Unlike synthetic clothing, they don’t retain body odors, even when you’ve been on the road for days during a long brevet. And they are remarkably durable: I am still using the very first Seattle Randonneurs jersey we ordered from Woolistic 14 years ago!
They are also easy to care for – I wash mine on the “wool” cycle in the washing machine, and then hang them out to dry, if the weather permits, or put them in the dryer on the lowest setting. Over the years, my jerseys have gone through hundreds of washes without shrinking or getting threadbare.
The one thing that will ruin wool jerseys is putting heavy things in the back pockets. Have your bike carry your stuff! It’s more comfortable that way, too.
They are available with long and short sleeves, in sizes from S to XL. Click here for more information.

Continue Reading