H&M Releases Cycling Collection and We Tested It
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Our editors hit the roads and trails on the newly introduced lineup of jerseys, shorts, and bibs from one of the world’s largest clothing and fashion brands.
Takeaway: H&M entered the cycling market with jerseys, bibs, and shorts for road, gravel, and trail riders. The colors look good and are on-trend with taste-making cycling clothing brands, though the sizing, fit, and details are a little wonky compared to contemporary high-end cycling kits. While the H&M selection isn’t as broad as bicycle-specific clothing brands—only six dedicated cycling products—overall, the pieces performed better than we expected from a mainstream brand best known for its presence at malls and shopping centers across the world.
Cycling-specific clothing helps make riding more comfortable and enjoyable. Sure, you can ride in a cotton tee and jorts, but on longer rides—and especially on hot days—it can be downright miserable without shorts or bibs with a chamois and a cycling top that wicks away sweat.
However, clothing is not cheap. A complete set of bibs, jersey, gloves, baselayer, socks, helmet, shoes, and eyewear can add up to almost $1,000. And that’s just for a mid-tier, warm-weather riding kit—The prices for winter apparel or comfortable clothes for riding in the summer heat can cost even more. These high costs keep a lot of riders from owning decent-quality kit that feels (and looks) good while they are on the bike.
Buying cycling clothes can be overwhelming or even intimidating for new riders (and for many experienced ones, frankly). If you are uncomfortable purchasing clothing in person—and yes, many folks (including myself) are—purchasing at your local bike shop or REI might be difficult. Plus, buying online from cycling apparel brands or retailers can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with the sizing norms, terminology, and uses for particular pieces of bike clothing.
For these two reasons (pricing and accessibility), H&M dipping its toes into the cycling clothing market is important for cycling. H&M is one of the largest clothing brands in the world, operating in 75 markets with 4,800 stores. When a brand of H&M’s scale offers functional and good-fitting riding apparel (even if online only) at reasonable prices, it opens the door for more riders to obtain comfortable bibs or a jersey that they would not otherwise purchase. And if this leads to more people, riding more miles, more often, that is a net win, right?
After I posted some riding photos and a short video on my personal social media of the H&M jersey and shorts I was testing, I got a lot of comments from friends and fellow cyclists. Many were curious about the kit’s build quality, and some commented (positively) on the look. And a couple of riders noted they were interested in the H&M apparel due to the price and wanted to know about its comfort.
Unsurprisingly, a few friends commented about their general dislike of “fast fashion” and/or unease about H&M as a company. These concerns are warranted given the obscene amount of excess inventory and returned goods sent to landfills around the world each year by fast fashion brands and retailers. Added to this are the past headlines and controversies about factory conditions, treatment of workers, unlawful wages, and human rights abuses at factories used by H&M.
As one of the biggest brands in the world, H&M has an undeniably huge impact on the global sourcing and supply chain. H&M also makes the sourcing and materials for each clothing item clear on its website. This was more detailed and transparent information than we found on almost any website for the dozen brands we researched for this story. (Pas Normal and Rapha offer more detailed sourcing assessments than most cycling-specific peers).
Shoppers have every right to make ethical choices with their money. This includes purchases within the cycling world. Spend your dollars with brands and retailers that best match your needs, budget, and ideals.
Trevor Raab (Bicycling’s Senior Photographer) tested the H&M men’s apparel. He is an elite-level cyclocross racer, stands 5 foot 8 inches tall, and weighs approximately 140 pounds. Raab typically wears XS or small jerseys from other brands and small-sized bibs.
This cycling shirt (aka jersey) has a very fitted cut but is a little looser in the arms and shoulders. Raab noted that “the jersey materials feel nice and are thin enough to be comfortable on hot summer rides”. There was nothing uncomfortable about the jersey (which is good) but nothing strongly sets it apart. The only real downside we found in testing was the lack of a zippered pocket. “Overall, the H&M jersey is solid for the price,” he concluded.
Cycling bibs are a very personal choice, so what works great for one rider might not work well for someone else. If you are used to high-end bibs with a tight cut and a lot of compression, the H&M bibs might not be for you. The fit on these bibs feels a bit relaxed compared to most brands, and bunch up a little while riding. Raab felt the bibs could be more compressive (and would suggest sizing down). He also felt “the chamois was better suited for shorter-distance rides” and that “the long bib length might not suit everyone”.
Cargo bibs with lots of pockets for riding essentials, nutrition, phone, etc. are currently all the rage. The side pockets on these H&M bibs are small (at least on the size we tested) but feel solid and hold snacks well. The overall design is understated and aligns with current trends in cycling kits, though the brown color of the bibs is a little questionable (it’s not quite as dark brown as the AG2R Citroen Team’s bibs).
These pieces are sold by H&M for commuting, but their details make them well-suited for mountain bike riders. The DryMove t-shirt and water-repellent shorts have a neutral fit. For commuting, both pieces have reflective accents.
Like the DryMove jersey, the tee breathes well. This is important when riding on the trail because you’re often moving at slower speeds than when on the road. This t-shirt features pockets on the rear, which are a nice touch. Unfortunately, Raab noted in his test report that “the pockets don’t support anything with much weight” and that “the cinch at the shirt’s bottom is also not too helpful”.
The H&M shorts are good for commuting and cross country-style trail riding. “They are short enough to not bind up on your knees while pedaling. But the length is a little too short for use with knee pads without the shorts getting snagged on the top of the pads,” Raab said.
These baggy shorts feature a partially hidden belt with a magnetic buckle, two diagonal front pockets, a rear pocket, and two zippered pockets on the legs. For longer rides, you will probably want to ride the shorts with a padded liner or bibs.
First off, these are cycling shorts, not bibs. If you prefer riding in bibs, you probably will not be happy with these. But shorts-lovers rejoice because these might be up your alley.
H&M’s women’s cycling shorts have a relaxed fit and are long. I wear a size XL or XXL in most cycling shorts and bibs. These XL shorts felt big; I would probably reach for the size L if I were trying these on in person before buying. The women’s-specific chamois is bulky but not too firm. It was surprisingly comfortable for 30-mile rides.
When riding, I found the front of the shorts would sometimes roll down when I was in the drops. I’ve had this happen with other shorts and it’s why I choose bibs for most rides. Another note: the leg grippers are tall and a little chunky (they remind me of the ones on Rapha Core series bibs).
The upside to these shorts is the pockets—Four in total (two on the back and one on each leg). The side pockets are easy to access but sagged a little from the weight of an iPhone 13 Pro Max. The rear pockets are hard to access while riding but are good for keeping items you don’t need immediately when pedaling. These extra pockets are great for hot days when you might want to wear a tank top or trail riding when you want to wear a tee or baggy jersey.
Last up is the women’s cut of the DryMove cycling top. This jersey uses lightweight and breathable fabric. While not as lightweight as high-end summer jerseys, it wasn’t bad on a particularly hot and humid afternoon ride. The grippers on the arms and bottom are a bit bulky, noticeably tall, and (at times) slightly annoying.
This jersey has a relaxed fit but it is not baggy—it’s close to some brands’ “club fit” styles. The length was okay for my height while static. However, it tended to ride up me while pedaling (especially without weight in the rear pockets). Also, this jersey has a long sleeve length for a short sleeve jersey.
The three rear pockets are large and can hold a lot. But they might be a little too stretchy and sagged under the weight of my iPhone or a larger-size multitool.
While it might be tempting to think H&M’s cycling kits sell for much less than those of established cycling brands, that is not the case. The Black Bibs, for example, sells bib short for $40 (men’s and women’s), and full-zip jerseys (men’s and women’s) for the same price. Heck, poke around in Rapha’s archive sale (men’s and women’s) and you can find jerseys for less than $60.
But certainly, H&M’s cycling kits are on the lower end of the price scale and are also more fashion-forward and on-trend than the, typically, very staid and basic designs of inexpensive cycling gear.
While not the best fitting or most comfortable kit we’ve ridden, H&M’s is also far from the worst. We’ve sampled bibs, shorts, and jerseys from cycling-specific brands that cost more, fit worse, and don’t perform as well.
If you are a rider who needs the flashiest name-brand cycling apparel on your back, this is probably not the kit for you. For everyone else, some pieces of the collection might be worth considering. This clothing functions well, particularly considering H&M isn’t known for its performance cycling wear. Plus, the clothing looks good and features the on-trend colors and features usually reserved for high-end kits but for a much lower price.
As Deputy Editor, Tara Seplavy leads Bicycling’s product test team; after having previously led product development and sourcing for multiple bike brands, run World Championship winning mountain bike teams, wrenched at renowned bicycle shops in Brooklyn, raced everything from criteriums to downhill, and ridden bikes on six different continents (landing herself in hospital emergency rooms in four countries and counting). Based in Easton, Pennsylvania, Tara spends tons of time on the road and trail testing products. A familiar face at cyclocross races, crits, and bike parks in the Mid Atlantic and New England, on weekends she can often be found racing for the New York City-based CRCA/KruisCX team. When not riding a bike, or talking about them, Tara listens to a lot of ska, punk, and emo music, and consumes too much social media.
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