03 February 2010

bikefix Exclusive Review: Ground Effect Baked Alaska jersey

I really like Ground Effect clothing. Unfortunately, they are based in New Zealand and have no distributor here in the USA. It’s easy enough to get a hold of their stuff though- they ship anywhere in the world and it usually arrives in less than 10 days (for me in New Mexico). This requires a leap of faith of course, because you have no idea how the clothes are going to fit, and shipping them back to NZ would be expensive. Ground Effect has a pretty accurate sizing chart and descriptions on their website, which really help to minimize the chance of mistakes. Still, it means they aren’t going to sell a huge amount of stuff in the States. I have personally tried to help them get a foot-hold here though- I buy their apparel as gifts and I let friends try it on and even use it. Since I’m surrounded by bike gear and people all the time, it’s nice to have (and to give out) things that most people have never even heard of before. Not to mention that everything I have of theirs I really like. Hopefully this review will help people size themselves better, and peak their interest enough to order a garment or two.

The Baked Alaska is Ground Effect’s cold weather riding jersey. It has a windproof front torso using their “WindFoil” material, with a very long, but not full-length, zipper. Like most of Ground Effect’s winter clothing, it is made with their “Heatwave” Merino material, which is a blend of 62% Merino (18.5 micron, 190g weight) and 38% polyester. The idea is that the Merino supplies the warmth and odor resistance while the poly handles venting and vaporizes sweat better. They are not the only company to blend Merino and synthetics and I tend to like these types of clothes as they do give you the best of both worlds. I love pure wool, but I also see (and use) the benefits of added synthetics. The only thing I have noticed when using these blends is that they aren’t usually as warm as the same weight in pure wool. This is neither here nor there of course- just an observation.

On the trail, this jersey can be used down to some very low temperatures with a slim base-layer underneath. Just open the zipper all the way on long hard climbs (or risk overheating) and then zip it up when you head down. The wind block front keeps you warm even if you were sweating like a pig on the way up. The New Mexico sun is strong even in winter though, so the long front zipper is key here, because even though the air is below freezing, you can heat up quickly an a long hard trail climb. On the road this guy is about perfect. The increase in wind speed that comes with road biking and the (usually) lower gradient hills really makes the WindFoil front shine. The Baked Alaska has some reflective piping over the twin rear pockets which make it nice for commuters too. The two pockets on the back have zippers, which is nice, but even better is that they zip so far to the side that you can’t feel the zippers under a backpack- a good solution to a pet peeve of mine. Like most Ground Effect clothing, the Baked Alaska is made by the company in New Zealand and features a hidden tire patch sewn into the back. The patch is more of a gimmick though- after a few wash cycles it usually comes off- but I still like the idea. Yes, by the way, the Baked Alaska is a fully machine washable product- like most good Merino wool products these days. Another nice detail is that it has thumb loops to keep the sleeves from climbing up. I have never met anyone who uses thumb loops though, but it’s a nice touch for those who do.

As far as the fit issue goes: I am 5’10” and 195 lbs and have a chest of about 43.5 inches. I am mostly muscle with a small layer of “personal insulation.” I can fit into a Medium fine but it is on the tight side. I do tend to order mediums though, in things that I want tight- like the Baked Alaska. The large sizes fit very comfortably but drape a bit more compared to the mediums. The Alaska has a whale tail so even a tight fit still prevents any plumbers' crack. The tighter fit also keeps the fabric against the skin which improves the wicking properties of the jersey's material. Hopefully this, and the photos, help you figure out what size to order.

I have owned Ground Effect clothing for many years and everything they make holds up very well. I highly recommend their products, and am not getting paid by them- they don’t even know who I am. The Baked Alaska comes in two color combinations this year which I call: red/orange and grey/charcoal (they have slightly different names, but I like to use simple color names). It lists for $94 (American dollars- make sure you check this when looking at the website) before shipping.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

all I know is that is one sexy model