Low prices are great, but the real question is: How does the gear fit, feel, and perform? To answer that question, I asked Decathlon to send me a sampling, which I’ve been riding in and testing for the last month. Here are my impressions so far.
Road 900 XRed Jersey and Cycling Shorts 900 ($47 and $58)
This road kit is probably the best of the products I tried. The jersey is built from a range of fabrics—a wicking polyester in the main body, lightweight mesh under the arms, stretch Lycra across the shoulders for fit, and grippers at the sleeves and waist—and the tailoring is pretty good. There’s a full-length front zip, three stash pockets out back, plus a zipper pouch for valuables. The shorts have flat elastic bibs, rubberized grippers at the thighs, and a dual-density pad that did a good job of keeping me comfortable on rides up to three hours. Together, it’s light and comfy and even looks pretty good. You’d probably pay 50 to 100 percent more from other brands for comparable quality.
Cycling Short-Sleeved Jersey 100 and MTB Shorts 900 ($8 and $47)
These two pieces aren’t necessarily intended as a kit, but I wore them as such because they were complementary. The jersey is loose-cut from a soft, lightweight polyester, with a mid-length zipper, two small rear pockets, and a gripper waist. The fit was a touch wonky for me, high in the armpits and tight in the waist, and the fabric wasn’t as breathable as I expected from the feel. But for $8, it’s a heck of a cheap and easy way to get riding. The soft-shell shorts felt like higher quality, with an elastic band out back for fit, rubberized Velcro cinches, and two well-designed zip pockets on the thighs. Fit was a little weird again: tight in the hips but loose in the waist and legs. If these suit your shape, they would be a great pair of mountain-bike baggies.