Shouldering the Shoulder Season: Bontrager Velocis Apparel Line by Greg Gentle

During the final days of October, a box of joy landed on my doorstep full of cold weather riding gear from the kind and generous folks at Trek/Bontrager.   Earlier in the month I received a message from Gomez with a contact name in the Apparel Division at Bontrager. Nick Anger from their marketing team sent a request to name a few items we might want to feature for our readers at  They have a few new items hitting the storefront this season and wanted some feedback. Eager to oblige, I reached out to see what he had in mind. I mentioned to Nick that I was working on a winter riding apparel guide. He kindly dropped a pile of goodies on me to preview and include in the story.  I was surprised by the bounty. The package included a variety of new offerings from Bontrager’s 2019 Velocis apparel line including the Velocis Softshell Sub-zero Softshell Jacket, Velocis Softshell Thermal Bib Tight, Velocis Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey, Velocis Softshell gloves, and a complete set of thermal arm, leg, and knee warmers, a thermal cycling cap, merino blend beanie, and a merino long-sleeve base layer.   While many of these items are not suitable for the frozen days ahead, we are still in the “shoulder season” leaving plenty of opportunity to put these items to the test before the deep freeze.

My man Seve invited me to join him for a time-trial mountain bike race in Webb Lake, WI a couple of weeks ago.  I chose to race my fat bike because the course was supposed to have quite a bit of sand. Turned out to be the right call.  The temperatures were forecasted for low 30s at the start climbing to the low 50s by early afternoon. I did not expect temperatures to exceed 40 degrees given the start time.   This seemed like an ideal opportunity to put some of the Bontrager wear to the test. For race day I chose to start my layering with the merino long-sleeve base layer, followed by the Velocis Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey in Radioactive Yellow.  This color is a perfect match to my new hot-pink Team Hollywood Cycles/One on One Bicycle Studio race kit.  To note, the thermal long sleeve jersey has very long arms, and I have long arms.  Freakishly long arms. I’m the guy at the grocery store helping the little old ladies reach that box of Stove Top Stuffing out of reach on the top shelf.  Even my monkey arms were too short for this jersey. If there were thumb holes on the cuff it would make sense. I dig thumb holes. Without, it just meant a lot of bunching on the cuff.  I topped of my race day jersey combo with my THC team vest. Under the helmet I wore the Thermal Cycling Cap. It’s lightweight construction was perfect for the conditions.

The long sleeve merino blend is amazing.  If you’ve seen my other reviews, you know I’ve got a soft spot for wool cycling gear.  The sizing on this product is “fitted”. As a reasonably fit six-foot, 165-pound dude I usually wear a medium in most tops, but I needed to size up in this product.  Despite of the sizing, I found the Velocis Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey, and merino base layer to be a perfect companion for racing in 30ish-degree temps with a wind vest.  This is under high intensity conditions. You would definitely want to throw another layer on if you were just out for a solo ride or a rip with friends. I do recommend topping off the base layer and long sleeve jersey with the Velocis Softshell Sub-zero Softshell Jacket and you’ll have it dialed in for temps in the high 30s/low 40s.

Below the waist I chose the Thermal Leg Warmers instead of the Velocis Softshell Thermal Bib Tight for the race.  The bib tights would have been over kill for the temps that day. The heat retention and breathability of the leg warmers were perfect for race conditions.  Temps at the finish were in the mid 40s. Bontrager layering setup I chose was on-point. A great feature found in the merino base layer and leg warmers is good compression to keep the blood flowing.  Bravo to the design team at Bontrager for their smart designs and functionality. (Apparently, I’m not the only one that likes the Merino Blend Base Layer. As of writing this article, that product is out of stock.)

Prior to race day I did get a chance to give some of the other gear a ride.  I took the Velocis Softshell Sub-zero Softshell Jacket and Velocis Softshell Thermal Bib Tight a spin on my Twin Six Rando single speed.   We’ve had well below average temperatures in my neck of the Wisconsin woods, so I’ve had the need for thermal wear. Like the other garments in this collection, the jacket and bibs are fitted meaning they are cut for slimmer bodies.  This works for me, but it might not work for everyone. What’s to like about the jacket? Plenty. The color for one is unique. It comes in a steel blue with radioactive yellow neck and wrist cuffs. Obviously, it plays nice with the Velocis Long Sleeve Jersey in radioactive yellow. 

Here are further details on these products from the Trek web site:

Velocis Subzero Softshell Jacket Product details

·      Softshell fabric is wind- and water-resistant for inclement weather protection

·      Soft ribbed material at wrists and collar add warmth and allow easy layering

·      Three open-back pockets with built-in stretch for easy access while wearing gloves

·      Additional rear zippered security pocket stores valuables

·      Thermal inserts under arm allow excellent breathability

·      Fitted cut provides streamlined body fit for enhanced performance

Velocis Softshell Bib Tights

·      Softshell front panel is wind- and water-resistant for inclement weather protection

·      Thermal rear panel is engineered for excellent breathability

·      Proprietary Arcus inForm chamois – Italian made, OverEasy constructed Aircell pad

·      YKK semi-auto lock ankle zippers ensure easy on-and-off with unmatched durability

·      Stretchy silicone free bib straps for a comfortable and hypoallergenic fit

·      Fitted cut provides streamlined body fit for enhanced performance

Velocis Long Sleeve Jersey

·      Thermal fabric is engineered for maximum warmth and breathability

·      Full-length YKK zipper with draft flap allows temperature regulation

·      Three open-back pockets

·      Elasticized silicone printed gripper keeps the jersey in place

·      Fitted cut provides streamlined body fit for enhanced performance

Trek/Bontrager does not list a temperature guideline for the Velocis line.  This is something I encourage them to consider. It is helpful to see how a product holds up to temperatures.   I tested the entire Velocis kit shipped including the jacket, bib tights, gloves, merino blend base layer, and long-sleeve jersey, in 30-degree temperatures with light rain and 10-12 mph winds.  The wind-stopper and water-resistant fabric held up well under those conditions. However, it took me about 45 minutes to get my body temp up to a comfortable level. Another shell or wind jacket would’ve helped.   The bib tights did a great job of keeping my legs warm. I normally don’t prefer bib tights with a chamois in favor of having the option to wear my favorite bib shorts or knickers. With that said I was comfortable in these bib tights and they performed really well under the conditions.  The gloves were great for this temperature range, but I would add a merino liner for deep winter temperatures. All in all, the Bontrager gear is highly dependable and worth your hard-earned dollars.

For more information about Bontrager’s Fall & Winter Apparel visit –

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