The Chainlink

Beestmode: Training in Polka (Dots, that is).

By Jennah Dunham

All riders have their on the bike and off the bike personas. Let’s name it, sometimes, us cyclists cannot even recognize each other without helmet, kit and bike in tow. The way in which I blend my on and off the bike worlds is through the pieces I sport while in the saddle; however, these products must combine fit, form, function and of course, fashion. Oftentimes, I discover that I spend more time sorting through my cycling wardrobe to assemble the day’s style instead of plotting out the day’s route. On the road, in the woods, or wherever you might find me pedaling, you’ll notice immediately I play up my kit with bold patterns, loud socks and bright colors. Cycling kit, from head to toe, is the canvas for riders to express their personality and individuality.

The women’s-specific brand, Shebeest, is easily recognizable amidst a sea of muted jerseys and bibs by their colorful designs and distinct patterns. Their product line certainly is eye-catching, but it’s the brand’s commitment to producing comfortable and quality products tailored for the women’s cycling experience that impresses me the most. The level of detail and practical consideration found in the pieces from the Polkamania Collection and Fall Line that I put through the ringer the last few weeks reflects this company’s mission to empower women on two wheels all while riding in style. I firmly believe that a product you don’t notice while riding (despite the colors and designs that is - Shebeest’s line is hard to miss!) is one that is doing its job well. A ride when all you need to focus on is what’s ahead of you and around, but not on you, is the ride we all look for, especially when trying a new jersey, chamois or gloves.

Divine Spray Dots Jersey
MSRP $90.00

Out of the box, I had the strongest inkling this jersey was going to become a staple in the jersey line-up. You can’t unsee this jersey with it’s high-vis neon yellow, which I loved for two reasons - it’s loud and offers a level of safety. The majority of the roads I train on are 45+ mph, so the option to be even more visible and in a flattering jersey is a huge plus.

The visual appeal of the jersey was love at first sight, but the technical features are the ones that make this jersey extra special. The jersey’s fabric is silky, lightweight and breathable. I’ve never worn a jersey that felt this good to the touch. After long miles, the jersey wicked away moisture and kept me feeling dry and cool.

Wide-band cuffs, oh, be still my heart. As a smaller framed rider, I’ve had issues with ill-fitting sleeves and cuffs that have no give as my arm size doesn’t fit the standard “XS-S” mold, thus providing an all-around inconsistent jersey fit. The Divine jersey’s stretchy material allows for movement in the shoulders and the wide-band cuff keeps the sleeves in place. No more sleeves inching up or cinched biceps!  

 

Pockets - the place we tuck away our needed training essentials. Shebeest’s pocket design on the Divine Jersey is well-thought out with practical touches. First up, angled pockets. I had no idea these were missing in my life. The ever so slight angle of the two outside pockets simply made functional sense. While reaching for mid-ride snacks, the positioning of these pockets were exactly where my fingers naturally fell. I spend enough time fiddling around tracking down a bar or gel, so I’ll happily save a few seconds in this area! Next, the addition of sweat-resistant liner in the center pocket to keep your phone dry and fog-free. If you happen to forget your ziploc bag or pocket wallet, then have no fear your camera lens will not hold moisture when you’re ready to snap that #fromwhereiride or #baaw photo.

This jersey is one of the few that I’ve worn that was obviously designed with women’s bodies in mind. The “shrink it” model that unfortunately some companies use misses the mark every time. The Spray Dots flattering fit gave me a boost of confidence with every wear and a nice reminder that yes, women ride bikes.

Polkamania Petunia Bib Short
MSRP $110.00

Halter bibs are a game changer. The halter is a godsend when nature calls mid-ride, but it’s also great for those sneaky costume changes post-ride. The halter goes up and over your head (and helmet!) for quick and discreet bib removal. My biggest concern with the Petunia halter bib is whether or not the halter and mesh will overstretch with time. After many removals and washes, I am glad to report that there are not any noticeable signs of wear and tear with the halter or mesh.

To be honest, I was unsure about the mesh prior to trying the bibs on as I was worried that the webbing would rub while riding. The skepticism on my end was high. To my pleasant surprise, I completely forgot the mesh and halter were on my body. I’ll call that a comfort win!

The true comfort test though was the chamois. A cyclist’s nightmare is discomfort in the nether regions. The pad provided the “goldilocks” of support on various terrain levels, distances and time. The pad is ideal for rides less than three hours.

The polka dot design won me over with the product. The dots are subtle and can easily pair with other jersey designs already in your closet. For the matchy-matchy types, Shebeest offers a wide range of jersey designs that pair perfectly with these bibs, like the Spray Dots jersey for example.

The overall construction of the Petunia Halter Bib Short provides for a sleek fit, fun pop of dots and a cozy ride. Ladies, if you do not have a pair of halter bibs in your closet yet, visit your local bike shop and get yourself a pair!

Envy Dots Legging
MSRP $85.00

The Scandinavians say, “There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing.” As the temperatures dip, you can guarantee I’ll still be out logging miles. I have a hate-hate relationship with the trainer, so I’ll layer up before succumbing to soul crushing indoor riding.  I will preface that I have struggled over the years to find a cycling tight that fits well, has appropriately placed seams, and stays in place. I’ve longed for a tight that fits, moves and performs the way my fall and winter running tights do.

The Envy Dots Legging far exceeded my expectations. The construction of the legging has several of the elements I desired in a cycling tight. Let me share the design elements I am grateful are not found on this piece of apparel: drawstrings, outer seams and zippers. Upon first look, I seriously questioned whether or not this was a running tight, but the blue chamois, same as in the Petunia Halter Bib, reminded me these tights were indeed made for the bike.

The high cut back and wide waistband ensures that the waist will stay in place. Ah, a tight that didn’t slide down my backside. No more retightening drawstrings!


Another issue I previously faced with leggings were the ankle zippers. The zippers would often unzip causing a breezy draft or when zipped be too tight around the ankles. The designers at Shebeest nixed the zipper and opted for a stretchy ankle cuff. The ankle cuff on the Envy Dots Legging also features a reflective piping, which adds a safety visibility factor in your fall and winter training sessions.

Short Finger Polkamania Glove

MSRP $25.00

Gloves are an essential cycling accessory while shredding singletrack or grinding gravel; however, I usually opt for full finger gloves.  Gloves, for me, are less for added support on the bars, rather, more for protection when nature fights back - rhododendron, branches and rocks strike when least expected. The minimal palm padding on the short finger glove was right up my alley.

The neon yellow polka dots always brightened every ride, even better that they matched my grips oh so well. Fingers crossed that a full fingered edition is in the works!

 

Polkamania Femme Cap
MSRP $30.00

Caps not hats, friends. I have more caps than I can count. Caps are another functional accessory to showcase your personality, brand loyalty and local bike shop support. The Femme Cap, with its neon spray dots, brought the right amount pizazz to my rides. The cap is 100% polyester technical material, so it regulated temperatures well - keeping the noggin’ cool in the heat and warm on those cool, breezy days.

The reflective piping incorporated on the brim is a nice touch for added safety protection. The scalloped cut of the piping, featured on the Envy Leggings, Polkamania Gloves and Femme Cap is designed with fashion and safety in mind.

I also opt to ride with my glasses more often than not, so I always appreciate a cap brim to help keep the sun rays at bay.

 

Short Sock Polkamania
MSRP $12.00

 

Cyclists take pride in their sock game. This is coming from a rider who has an entire drawer dedicated to cycling socks. The Polkamania Short Sock is exactly what one would suspect from the description - all polka dots, all over. A welcomed design to the sock collection. The short sock cuff comes in at 3.5”, which is a departure from the 6” cuff I rock on the regular. Sock height is a much debated issue in the cycling world.  Unfortunately, the sizing (L-XL) was too small and tight for this gal’s size 11 shoe resulting in some tingling and numbness on long rides.

Final Reflections

Shebeest’s product is stylish, functional and intentional designed all at a fairly reasonable price. Overall, I found the sizing, with the exception of the socks, to be true to size. The only garment I would possibly consider sizing down in is the jersey, but I think that is purely a rider’s fit preference.

I look forward to exploring more roads and trails donned in polka dots. I will gladly throw my support behind a brand that supports women in cycling and develops products with women’s bodies in mind. Be sure to take a look at their other collections for more kitspiration. PSA for cycling teams and clubs, Shebeest does custom orders. Pair their incredible product with your design - a winning combination!

Jennah Dunham is a higher education professional, coffee and stout addict, transplant to Asheville, NC via Chicago, singletrack shredder, and climber of the steepest roads and mountains in Western North Carolina. She rides for the thrill of competition, freedom to explore and to eat all the pizza and cookies. You can follow Jennah's two-wheeled adventures via Instagram: @jennah_dunham.

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