Review: Velocio head to toe winter cycling kit

Cold weather cycling kit to keep you warm and dry during your winter rides.

Photo: Aliya Barnwell

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Summer kit is relatively simple; it’s winter that creates space for — and encourages — innovation. Further, while I have short-sleeved jerseys for every mood, winter kit is more expensive and less forgiving if it’s lacking in quality. When I’m going to get spendy, I do it when I only need one piece of cycling kit, like one good pair of bib tights or one excellent deep-winter cycling jacket. Velocio continues to be a strong contender for the single item a rider really needs in a given category.

Also read: Eliel winter cycling kit review

Velocio Zero Cycling Cap $89 – This is my new favorite winter cap, replacing my reversible wool Pace cap. The Velocio Zero cycling cap is altogether more generous in sizing and warmer than the Eliel I’ve tested. The Zero is stretchier, warmer, and fits easily over my hair and my ears. It features a windproof front, is thermal all around yet breathable with an absorptive strip at the brow, and I couldn’t possibly love this cap more. For riders like myself who normally wear a medium helmet size but also have a lot of hair, fear not! The Velocio Zero will fit. It’s not a regular cap with a flap sewn on; the stitching that circles the head at the brow line and above the ears acts as an elastic band to keep cold air out, while the extended panel pattern allows the cap to accommodate ears and lay flat at the back of the neck. It’s a thoughtfully assembled piece that even includes a reasonable brim to keep winter precipitation and the glaring low sun out of one’s eyes.

Velocio Zero cap
Velocio Zero cap. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)

Velocio Merino 210 Winter Collar $45 – It’s warm, but looks unremarkable. I have to check twice to make sure that’s not the same product as another $2 neck warmer I own in the same color. To be sure, the Velocio wool neckwarmer is longer and thicker. I can feel the difference in warmth and breathability between the two once it’s on, but for $45 I could order precisely 22 of the cheaper non-wool version. While the Velocio Merino Collar is excellent at what it does, the difference in price between it and comparable others is significant.

Velocio Merino Mesh Base Layer $99 – This base layer offers warmth, but the style is entirely utilitarian and dated. Think of clothing that looks the same as gear worn in the 19th century,. That simple functionality is a thing of beauty in Velocio’s exterior kit with complicated paneling, but it’s a little less beautiful on a $99 base layer. This piece is not as soft as the Merino 210 long sleeve, but neither is it as heavy. It proves ideal for rides above freezing, especially when serving as a wicking layer for the Merino Air Jacket. I still recommend it if looking for a base layer, but I wish it had an inch more sleeve length, and a softer fabric feel.

The Velocio Merino Mesh baselayer will keep you dry during your winter rides. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)

Velocio Merino 210 Long Sleeve $119 – Wearing this jersey like wearing cashmere: Warm and plush-soft. It’s a true base layer. Camping out? You’ll want to sleep in it. The Merino 210 holds warmth while keeping your skin dry. While it is visually plain like the Merino mesh, it has that luxurious, snuggly, two-textured fabric that makes it amazingly warm and my preferred winter baselayer.

Luxe Bra $69 – Sweating in winter makes everything worse. The Velocio Luxe bra is light as air and pulls sweat from the skin. What Velocio does well is use buttery-smooth, luxurious fabric in reasonable patterns, and the Luxe Bra is no exception. The immaculate flat seams also help. If you’re comfortable in a $20 Target bra, then you’ve no need to splurge on this item, in my opinion. But, for those who are constantly at war with the dreaded underboob sweat, or women seeking to avoid straps sawing into their shoulders like they’re Lawrence Gordon chained to a radiator (watch the movie Saw), then the Luxe Bra is worth a try.

Velocio Alpha Merino Air Jacket $249 – I felt like a svelte llama: invincible to the cold under a wool coat, ready to spring out of the herd and scare the crap out of some wolves, but perfectly content to fold my legs underneath me and wait through the cold night temps.

The Velocio Alpha Merino Air jacket pockets can be accessed even while wearing winter gloves. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)
The Velocio Alpha Merino Air jacket has dual zippers for enhanced ventilation and easy pocket access. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)

The combination of advanced (Polartec, Pertex) and traditional fabrics (wool and milled polyester) keeps the garment light while still being incredibly warm. The fluffy batting is what makes the jacket feel cozy as a “snuggy” you can ride in, thanks to Polartec Alpha insulation with wool on the front panels and sleeves. Pertex’s Quantum Air is the exterior layer that feels almost like a windbreaker to the touch, and the back is a fleece-backed Italian milled poly blend to allow body heat to escape. The Alpha Merino Air is claimed to not be ideal for rain, but it is water-resistant; I’ve ridden in it through light rain and didn’t feel any seepage. It even has a double zipper to help with venting, once again preventing the sweat that can make winter rides uncomfortable. Three large rear pockets are ideal for winter carry-access even while wearing heavy gloves. It also means there’s no need to wear a jersey with pockets under the jacket or to unzip to reach stores mid-ride. This is officially my favorite winter jacket – it’s not a shell, but a cozy piece that makes me want to keep my bum on the saddle longer and enjoy the ride, as opposed to attacking like I’m Mathieu van der Poel denied winter kit and attacking just to stay warm.

The Velocio Alpha Merino Air jacket interior of Polartec Alpha and exterior of Pertex Quantum materials make for a water-resistant and warm outer layer.
The Velocio Alpha Merino Air jacket interior of Polartec Alpha and exterior of Pertex Quantum materials make for a water-resistant and warm outer layer. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)

Velocio Zero Bib Tight $299 – Initially, I worried that the stirrups would not fit my 34-inch inseam since I’m otherwise a size small. The Velocio Zero Bib Tight fit is snug, but it does stretch to fit. When I have to do it again I’ll choose a size medium. Sizing aside, Velocio maintains its exceptional quality in winterwear. These bibs do not gap at the ankle; there’s no riding up. Otherwise, the fit is slick to the leg and still insulating. Effective winter-weight tights hold warmth in the loft of the thermal material even though they’re tight, and these are a perfect example of snug warm tights. Of course, the drop-tail feature of these winter bibs is key — there’s no need to open any rear clasps, which is annoying at best in summer but possibly tricky and drafty in winter with gloves and extra layers in the way. The only downside to these was the mesh panel in the front of the bibs that holds the straps at an even distance. Because I’m tall, when I pull the bib down in the back, that panel rises up and chops my neck. This may not be an issue for shorter riders, but part of me wishes the Zeros were similar in structure and fit to the Concept or Foundation line —  neither of which have the front panel. Otherwise, the Velocio Zero is the winter bib to buy, especially for women, because of the drop tail. The great chamois, large reflective rear lower leg panels, and warm fabrics are a solid go-to for every rider, regardless of gender.

The Velocio Zero bib tights make nature breaks relatively easy, without completely disrobing. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)
The mesh material in the Velocio Zero Bibs rises high between the straps. (Photo: Aliya Barnwell)

Velocio Stealth Legging $119 – I threw these on over my Velocio bibs when I wanted to ride in middle fall/winter temps. In any conditions greater than 35F degrees, it’s too hot for me to wear the Zero bibs. I’m sure The Velocio Stealth Leggings are not designed to go over tights, but they functioned incredibly well in that capacity. The compression throughout the leg and the wide waistband kept them well in place. They are not gravel tights with tons of storage options, but convenient pockets served me well for a long ride day – I could let my gloves flap over the edge without fear of losing them.

Velocio Alpha Glove $119  – For glove insulation to work effectively, there needs to be a little room, because this allows the space for warm air to gather. The Alpha is a good glove but for the price.  Be sure the glove fits with a little space around the hand and at the tip of the fingers. The cuff could be a little longer; it’s barely long enough to tuck the sleeve of a jacket into if those items are sized correctly. A little extra length in the cuff of the extreme winter glove of the collection would be welcome, but the glove keeps my hands warm in sub-30F degrees for an hour. Fair warning: my S21 Ultra phone didn’t detect any screen touches when wearing these gloves, so I recommend glove liners that offer touchscreen sensitivity if you use your phone during rides.

Velocio Recon Wallet $39 – Light gray isn’t an ideal color for something made to be handled constantly, but the color shows dirt and reminds me to wash it often. I wish it was stiffer and had a separate zippered pocket for valuables and a tuck-away pocket for things like my phone or lip gloss that I frequently use. On the upside: it’s water-resistant, and it does have a loop for my keys.

Pricewise, the Velocio accessories are a harder sell for me, particularly items like the wallet that aren’t unique to Velocio. The core pieces — like the cap, baselayers, jacket, and bibs — raise the bar for winter cycling kit. I’ll need two different items to replace the Merino Air Jacket as well as the Zero Tights, doubling the fuss and possible fit troubles. If the aim is to be warm and comfortable on the bike, Velocio makes that easy without wearing an entire closet worth of clothing.

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