For several seasons, retro has gathered significant momentum in the cycling market - just take a look at the uniforms of Leopard-Trek or HTC-Highroad's revamped kit and you'll get the idea that in 2011, 'less is more'.
Australian cycling clothing company Babici has taken that philosophy - much in the mould of fellow Antipodean apparel brand Solo - and is finding a receptive audience in the local market.
Classic looks are combined with modern fabrics in a mixture that isn't particularly original but the end result is a range of jerseys, shorts and arm warmers that are functional whilst retaining the taste of yesteryear.
Sticking to message
Babici founder and head honcho Kev Babakian - a rider himself - says he's not aiming to be the premium player in the market but is striving to offer the average rider something that looks good, is functional and won't burn a big hole in their hip pocket.
It's a little large in some areas - we tested a small jersey and found the mid-section of the garment too accommodating - although the area around the neck and shoulders provided a comfortable fit.
When fully zipped from bottom to top, there's no 'choking' feeling that you find in other garments and the finish of the zipper housing - featuring a triangular piece of material - isn't overly original but is effective in protecting the neck from chafing and aesthetically ties in well with the design of the jersey.
The fabrics Babici uses - sourced from a manufacturer in China - was surprisingly good at wicking sweat during some hot Australian summer rides. The colours are of a more 'pastel' aesthetic but remain bold enough to have caught the attention of several in the bunch I rolled with during my first outing in the gear.
Down below was another solid offering, with a chamois that covers all the bases, so to speak. It's preferable to the thicker versions found in other shorts and there was no evidence of unwanted seams and the potential for chafing this brings. The paneling in the shorts was a slight problem, however - it feels a little thin around the sides and could be reinforced in future designs.
Overall the seams and stitching are of good quality, although a few question remain over the choice of colour used for the external stitching around the chamois (yellow stitching on a grey panel for the D'Huez bib shorts draws the eye to a private place). Leg grippers with the subtle branding are effective and prevent 'ride' up the leg.
Giving the people what they need
When it comes to quality, you get what you pay for. Prices are reflective of this and overall the company's garments would last a rider who is doing around 500km a week at least one summer season - maybe a tad longer.
With a new chamois on its way as an alteration on the company's debut run of clothing however, Babakian has plans to make Babici a mainstay of the cycling clothing market. And if the current trend of retro styling continues, he may just have hit the right chord with the market.
Prices: Women's shorts: AU$120-AU$175; Men's shorts: AU$160-AU$175; Jerseys: AU$120-AU$150; Arm warmers AU$45
Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X Large
More information: http:/babici.cc/
Cyclingnews verdict: 3 ½ stars
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