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On test: Bergamo Marcello Signature Series winter wear, February 13, 2006, part 2

Marcello Signature Series Winter Bib Knicker

A nice jacket is good, but your legs and knees also need protection. Mark Zalewski adds a lower-body layer to the Bergamo outfit.

Bergamo MSS Winter Bib Knicker
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

The MSS Winter Bib Knicker is serious riding wear for serious riding conditions. The 260 gram Windtex Topazio material, combined with the 245 gram MITI Super Roubaix, give a substantial barrier against the cold weather elements of Mother Nature. These knickers are designed to go with the above MSS Jacket, both in style and function.

The use of two types of material allows the knicker to provide extra protection in certain key areas while still allowing unrestricted movement. The MITI Super Roubaix is a fleece-lined material that is both surprisingly warm and thin, making up around 80% of the construction. The Windtex Topazio is a heavier-duty elastic material that is used in key areas surrounding the mid-thigh, knees and calves, as well as the side of the body. This helps keep joints and the parts of the leg taking the brunt of the weather protected and warm, while the thinner and more flexible material allows for movement and air circulation.

The MSS Knicker utilizes the same flat lock stitching on the outside of the shorts as the jacket. This is even more important here because it prevents uncomfortable situations of seams rubbing against the body -- a definite plus! As with all Bergamo shorts and knickers, the ends of the legs utilize a silicone gel gripper.

Most items like shorts or knickers take a few uses to conform to your body. A few areas were a little tight and some not -- but maybe it was that large meal I had the night before. And with knickers being knickers, there is more material covering a larger part of your body -- which translates into more chances that a fit on one person's body will mean not fitting on another. Adding the flex point of the knee into the equation makes it even more difficult. While I never got a 100% perfect fit with these in all areas, the overall fit was good enough. And true to form, the tighter sections loosened up just enough after a couple of rides. So all fit well... except the padding.

The MSS knicker
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)
Reflective knees
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
(Click for larger image)

Upon first inspection, I noticed that the insert padding was quite substantial, using multiple layers. It seemed even intimidating. When I first put the knickers on, I sure felt the padding. But for some reason, I never seemed to find the right... er... placement whilst pedaling. Even when walking around, that area was a bit off in terms of fitting compared to most of the other shorts I have worn. When riding, it seemed that the padding was too far forward all of the time. It still gave me a comfortable ride, in that it did not rub or chaff and provided good shock absorption. Nevertheless, the uneasy feeling caused me to think more than once that I had the knickers on backwards and had to look down just to make sure. I also spent the first fifteen minutes of rides pulling and adjusting myself, bordering on public indecency in a few instances. But with all clothing items, particularly below the waist, try before you buy -- as everyone's body is different.

Beyond the padding woes, the MSS Winter Bib Knickers are a great complement to the MSS Jacket -- giving protection where protection is needed and utilizing warm lining to keep my lower body warm and happy. Again the price may seem above what a ten panel pair or shorts or knickers should cost, but that money is well-spent in exchange for warm, comfortable riding.

Pro: Warm and well constructed
Con: Insert padding issues
MSRP: $169.95
Fabrics: MITI Super Roubaix, Windtex Topazio
Cut: 10-Panel, Alien (Euro)
Color: Black/Black, Navy Blue/Black, Red/Black
Sizes: S-XXXL
More information: www.uplandsg.com (US importer); www.maglieriamb.it
Cyclingnews rating: Click for key to ratings

See also: Bergamo MSS Jacket; Bergamo MSS Exotex Base Layer