Never heard of Bodhi? Don’t worry, neither had I until this striking and beautifully-made riding kit arrived at my doorstep. However now I’ve had the chance to take a closer look – and wear it on a few rides, of course – I think it’s safe to suggest we might be hearing a lot more from this new label of Belgian custom cycling clothing.
Bodhi may be less than a year old. But several of its key players bring considerable experience from their time with some of cycling’s best-known garment brands. Company founder Duncan Dilissen, for example, was a senior executive with Belgian brand Decca, official kit supplier to Katusha for many seasons. Significantly, Bodhi also partnered with eminent Italian designer Alessandro Scudeller (who’s worked with Trek, Craft, Movistar and Orica-GreenEdge, amongst others) to perfect the chamois for their bib shorts. Yeah, these guys know their stuff.
Bodhi isn’t cheap riding kit. But nor is it ridiculously expensive. In fact, I’d suggest one of the greatest appeals of Bodhi is going to be that it looks and feels more expensive than actually it is. Developed in close consultation with several current World Tour riders (Bodhi wouldn’t tell me their names, as their teams mightn’t appreciate their riders helping out a rival clothing brand) the entire range of garments has been designed in Belgium, then hand-made in Poland from premium Italian fabrics.
But enough background. What’s this kit actually like to wear? In a word: awesome.
The review kit came from Bodhi’s top-of-the-range ‘Black Eye’ collection and is impressive. With a pro-style contoured body-hugging fit, the short-sleeve jersey is exceptionally comfortable with gripper arm-bands and longer sleeves in line with recent trends. Three rear pockets, plus a smaller fourth pocket with zip closure and headphone/race radio hole ensure plenty of functional storage space.
Close-up inspection reveals the fabrics and construction are quite technical. The result is excellent moisture management and ventilation ensuring it’s an ideal jersey for the warmer months. For the not-so-warm months, like right now in Australia, the long sleeve fleece-lined jersey quickly usurped the rest of my wardrobe to become my early morning jersey of choice, until I had to send it back. The fit is snug, but not restrictive, and noticeably it breathes very, very well – important as your inner thermostat starts to rise with your effort.
As for the bib shorts, they’re once again super comfortable and I have to say that in the plain black model worn for this review they really do look the business. The leg length is fashionably long and feature grippers that really do… grip.
The all-important chamois boasts similar technology to that used by several WorldTour teams – most notably 120kg density foam and Wave Body Contour design to remove unnecessary bulk from the sides. The transitions between the foam densities in different sections of the chamois are also quite subtle, especially in the crotch area, further maximising rider comfort and minimising fatigue.
The bib straps feature a super-light super-flexible mesh construction I’ve never encountered before – something Bodhi says ensures rider comfort for a wider range of body shapes. At first I found the uber slim straps a little fiddly to flatten into place. But once you get the hang of it they’re refreshingly unobtrusive with just the right amount of flex and support. You barely notice you’re wearing them.
Custom kit is one of the fastest-growing markets in cycling apparel and, shrewdly, it’s been set up as a Bodhi specialty from day one. In fact this very blog – after shopping around with several of the better-known manufacturers – has recently placed its long-awaited first kit order through Bodhi.
Time will tell how just far the Bodhi brand can make inroads into the Australian market. It’s certainly a competitive place to make a buck. But as someone who’s ridden in a lot of different kit over the years, good and bad, expensive and cheap, this Bodhi gear has plenty to like about it. Well worth a look for your next team, club, bunch kit.
Oh, and just before we finish up … like many of my riding mates, you may have noticed the decidedly non-Belgian Bodhi logo, more reminiscent of a Maori tiki, and be wondering what it’s all about? Well it’s actually a Japanese-inspired lucky charm known as a daruma doll, styled after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. The eyes of daruma are often blank when sold. Tradition says you colour one eye of the doll and set a goal. In your process of achieving that goal luck will be on your side. So now you know.
Bodhi Australia Online Store: http://bodhicycling.net