Best custom cycling kit: Our pick of the best, and a guide on what's important
When it comes to finding the best custom cycling kit, what should you look out for?
No matter the reason you're buying it, finding the best custom cycling kit is about more than just the quality of the garments. When it comes to custom, the process itself can be equally important.
Cycling is a sport in which custom clothing is a highly popular consideration, and as such, it's extremely likely that you'll see some form of custom kit on every club ride across the world, and even more so in racing. However, despite its broad reach, the idea of getting custom cycling kit of your own can seem daunting.
Luckily, the best custom cycling kit brands have made things easier than ever. Beginning at the initial concept, many brands can help you with the design process. They can offer a 'club shop' so your club members can go online and process orders directly, they can aid with delivery and distribution, and even support you in the after-sale service.
There is a seemingly endless list of brands out there promoting a custom solution. Some will simply take a selection of template designs and allow you to add logos and choose colours; others go a little further, offering a suite of online design creation tools with millions of possible configurations; the best, however, offer project managers, in-house designers, end-to-end support and more, and contrary to probable assumption, this extra service rarely costs any extra - as custom kit brands know the value of a high customer retention rate.
Many custom cycling kit brands have a minimum order requirement, however, how that is quantified will vary by company. Some do this using product quantity, others by order value. So the size of your order will no doubt affect which brand is best for your needs.
So whether you're looking for some custom cycling kit for you and your mates, a charity ride, your new race team, or a large cycling club, we've rounded up the best custom cycling kit brands below, and if you're unsure exactly what separates the best custom cycling kit from the rest, our guide on how to choose can be found below.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Endura as a brand can be found across all spectrums of cycling both on-road and off. As a result, the brand is well known and well-loved by many. For its custom offering, the brand will customise everything from kids winter jackets to pro triathlete skinsuits and even kit bags.
Sample garments can be sent out to help with sizing, and Endura will help you through the order process from start to finish. A charge of £75 will be added for all orders that feature new artwork, even if you don't enlist the help of a designer, However, this is waived for any orders over £2000. Minimum orders stand at five units per garment, however, for certain items such as the D2Z skin suits, this is reduced to one unit.
Orders can be processed via the club shop where club members can pay directly, and orders can be shipped directly to the member. Pricing drops off quickly as the quantity rises, and Endura is happy to begin production with just a 50% deposit, invoicing the remainder upon delivery.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Borne out of Colorado, Pactimo reaches customers around the world, and has offices in Germany and London to service its European customers. The brand has been in business since 2003, which gives a clue to the brand's success and reputation.
To get started, Pactimo requires a deposit of $200 to allocate an account manager, however this is then subtracted from the eventual order payment, and the account manager will guide you through the entire process, so you don't need to find your own way. Designers are available for hire at $45.00 per hour, however the first hour is free, and they're happy to work with anything from professionally created designs, right down to a sketch on the back of a napkin.
There are also various fees to be aware of throughout the process though, such as an $80.00 processing fee for orders below $1000, and varying fees for things like special colours and contrast stitching. Once a design has been decided, a 'proof plus' is available (at $35 for orders below $5000), which means your chosen design is printed onto a garment for a real-world clarification of how your finished product will look.
A club shop is then available, where club members can order directly from Pactimo, and a choice of three shipping options is available. Either delivered in bulk to a single location, delivered in bulk but individually sorted for easy distribution, or delivered directly to each club member.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Kalas is probably best known as the kit sponsor to Mathieu Van der Poel's Alpecin-Fenix team, but the brand has been around since long before Van der Poel was even born. Established in 1990, the Czech-based brand is now known across Europe, Africa and Australia for its custom cycling kit offering.
Kalas' custom process is straightforward and easy to get to grips with, but to make it even easier, a project manager will be assigned to all orders to help guide you through the process. Kalas is even happy to help with design without charge, however, if you do want free rein, they also have templates you can download into your own design software, as well as colour swatch books they can send so you know exactly what each of your chosen colours will look like when printed. The whole process is so refined that Kalas boasts a 95% customer retention rate.
Every Kalas product is manufactured under the same roof in its factory in the Czech Republic, meaning the brand has complete control over the manufacturing process. As a result, the brand's clothing is at the cutting edge of performance. Its aero jerseys and skinsuits lead the way in material choice and contemporary design, and few brands offer a winter jersey that can outperform the Kalas Rainmem.
One major benefit with Kalas is that the minimum order is a mere five items and more impressively, this can be mixed-and-matched so you don't need to wait until five members of your team/club need the exact same pair of bib shorts as you before you can order. However, it's worth noting that accessories don't count into this. Additionally, there's an online 'club shop' that can be opened at any time, allowing members to head online and order their own kit, meaning you - or the chosen representative of your club - needn't collect cash from members or be left out of pocket.
Reasons to buy
Bioracer has a long history of making great custom cycling kit, and this reputation sees them partnering with countless national federations and pro riders looking for the fastest or finest kit available. What's more, many brands turn to Bioracer as a B2B supplier and rebranding it as its own.
Rather than being a predominantly 'design online' system, the process with Bioracer is more like Kalas in that it is tailored to the customer's needs. Upon contact, Bioracer will apply a quantity/price bracket based on the customer's likely order value, and as the customer's account grows, so does the discount.
Designers are on hand if needed, or a template is available if you want to go it alone, and once design has been finalised, Bioracer is able to send product samples and sizing samples to aid with ordering. At this stage, they can either set up the MyBioracer webshop, or team leaders can simply fill out an order form.
The webshop is opened for a window of time, enabling club members to order and pay individually, and at the closure of the window, the items are created and either shipped in bulk to the club, or individually to each member.
The biggest USP here is the no minimum order requirement for main garments, meaning you can literally order a single product if you so wish. However, accessories such as caps and arm warmers do have varying minimums.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Cuore is a swiss brand with a reputation for truly premium quality products, although, with its custom-only business model, the brand's garments rarely get the credit they deserve.
The cycling product range is split into three segments: gold, silver and bronze, making the choice of product pricing structure reasonably straightforward, however, the website as a whole is geared more toward showcasing its product range than guiding the customer through the order process, so it's a little complex and takes time to find out the basics when doing your initial research.
That said, once you've made contact, a design team is on hand to help you turn your concept into reality, however, it's worth noting that there is a separate design charge for tops, bottoms, and accessories, so if you want all three in your order, you'll pay the full €225.00 fee. However, you'll only pay this design fee once (per design), so you can continue to order shorts, bib shorts and bib tights on a single 'bottoms' design charge.
There are no minimum orders, and discounts rise quickly in line with quantity, with a 25% discount applied at just five of a single item, and the maximum discount rising to over 50%. A team shop can be opened to enable your club members to order directly, and sizing is broad, ranging from XXS to 3XL on most jerseys.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Castelli is one of the most well-known brands in cycling, and while its custom program is a secondary focus behind its core range of products, it's still one to consider if you're after the best custom cycling kit.
For anyone buying non-custom kit, Castelli will be at the forefront of consideration. It's likely many of your club members will already own some Castelli kit, so when it comes to ordering your club's custom kit, it makes sense to take the guesswork out of choosing the right products in the right size. Also, by customising products that your club mates will be familiar with and be happy to wear, it should mean they choose to wear it more often, giving your sponsors more exposure.
As for the order process, Castelli's service is bespoke only. There's a team of in-house designers who can help you, however, the design fee will vary depending on your locality. In the US, you'll get three hours of their time for free, with subsequent time charged at $100.00 per hour. In the UK, the fee is unquoted but will be waived upon reaching an (also undisclosed) order threshold. There are various fees to be aware of, too, such as for incorrect logo formats.
There is no minimum order value, however, Castelli does stipulate quantity minimums of each style, which also varies by locality. For most styles, this is 10 in the UK and 5 in the USA.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
In response to the usual process, NoPinz set about doing things a little differently with its custom process. Offering a forever-open team shop, no minimum orders and short lead times, NoPinz is certainly a worthy proposition to your team, club or group's custom needs.
To set up your team shop, NoPinz does require a £100 fee, but in-house designers will help you either design your own kit, or replicate an existing design onto the NoPinz templates. Then, once the setup is complete, you simply share the joining code with your club members and they can come and go as they please, ordering kit at their own behest.
What's more, if your team puts a lot of value in aerodynamics and performance, and you're based in the UK, the NoPinz team is able to provide a complete body scan and provide custom kit tailored specifically for each rider. Alternatively, if you're not in the UK, a made-to-measure guidance chart is available so you can measure yourself at home. Both of these services come with an extra cost that is then applied to each garment ordered thereafter.
How to decide which is the best custom cycling kit for you
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Consider your needs
Considering your club or team's circumstances will be the first step to deciding which is the best custom cycling kit manufacturer for you. Are you a big club or a small group of friends? Are you happy with a semi-custom design, or do you want an entirely bespoke design? Do you need help with design or are you happy and able to create it yourself. Are you racers looking for performance clothing at any cost, or club riders simply looking for a good value jersey that provides a sense of individuality. Answer these questions and you'll be on the way to knowing what you need from any prospective custom cycling kit maker.
If you are a small group of friends looking for three jerseys, then your preference will likely be different to someone who is ordering custom kit for a club with over 300 members.
Some brands have a minimum order requirement based on quantity of each style, while others are based on total order value. If you're in a small group, then we recommend opting for a brand that operates on order value, allowing you to mix and match styles so that each member gets the product they want, rather than compromising in order to get five of the same jersey.
Also consider minimum reorder quantities, because beyond the initial order, the wear rate of each member's clothing will differ, and it's likely that certain members will need new kit before others, making bulk reordering difficult.
Prices vs process
It's unlikely that anyone will ignore price entirely, however it's worth bearing in mind that custom kit is about more than just product versus cost, and the best custom cycling kit makers provide a whole host of intangible value in the form of guidance, assistance and advice.
You could while away the hours trying to learn how to use Photoshop in order to design your own kit, before trying to calculate pricing vs quantity, collecting funds from club members and distributing the kit upon delivery. But a good custom kit brand will guide you through the entire process, answering questions, providing kit samples for sizing guidance, colour swatches for design assistance, direct ordering and direct delivery. This will save you hours of valuable time and countless headaches, while no doubt also providing a better design and better experience for your club members.
For each of the 'Entry price' specs above, we acquired the price of the entry-level bib short and jerseys on offer from each brand. This was in a bid to normalize the comparison, so that it is possible to compare apples to apples. Our thinking is that anyone with a keen eye on price is likely looking at the budget end of the pricing spectrum. However, these prices aren't representative of the brand's entire offering, and a budget entry level doesn't necessarily mean a budget brand and budget products. Some brands here cater to leisure cyclists at a budget price, whilst still maintaining a high performance product line.
Whether or not you need design assistance will also come back to your personal circumstances. If you - or someone on your team - is an accomplished designer, then look for a brand that offers a blank template which you can download and work from. If not, you might be happy to design from a preset choice of designs or you might want complete bespoke identity. Choose a brand that matches your needs, and don't be afraid to reach out to the brands to ask your own questions.
Many brands pride themselves on a personalised approach, and will allocate a project manager to each order or each account. If you've never shopped for custom cycling kit before, a project manager can quickly become the difference between a good shopping experience and a complete headache, as with the complex nature of custom clothing, not all information is published, and this personal touch might be the only place you can find the solutions to your club's individual needs.
When ordering kit for various club or team members, it can quickly snowball into a complex military operation: Did Janet order the Pro Jersey or the Elite Jersey?... Has Kevin paid yet?... "Are we still waiting on anyone to order?"
A team shop removes all of this complexity, by simply creating a 'closed' website, whereby club members can create their own account, access the shop, then place orders in the same way they would buy from Wiggle or Amazon.
Each brand operates slightly differently, but a typical example is that the team shop is open for a short period of time, and then upon closure of the team shop, orders are processed. Some brands then offer individual delivery, while others will deliver in bulk.
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As the Tech Editor here at Cyclingnews, Josh leads on content relating to all-things tech, including bikes, kit and components in order to cover product launches and curate our world-class buying guides, reviews and deals. Alongside this, his love for WorldTour racing and eagle eyes mean he's often breaking tech stories from the pro peloton too.
On the bike, 30-year-old Josh has been riding and racing since his early teens. He started out racing cross country when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s and has never looked back. He's always training for the next big event and is keen to get his hands on the newest tech to help. He enjoys a good long ride on road or gravel, but he's most alive when he's elbow-to-elbow in a local criterium.