Sunday, November 29, 2015

Product Review: Primal Helix Kit

As an endurance racer who competes nationally, I have spent some very long hours in some of the most unfriendly conditions.  Just last year alone, I raced 70 miles in the wet and hot conditions of Asheville, NC, several races in the dry and hot climate of Colorado, and one of the hottest weekends in the already humid North Dakotas during the Tatanka 100.  The temperature during the Tatanka 100 reached 96.8 degrees!  On top of that, I've trained in the cold, snow, sleet, rain, and whatever mother nature could throw at me.  When you're out punishing yourself in the elements, the last thing you want to worry about is an uncomfortable bib and jersey (kit).  I have tried many kits in my day, but none have impressed me more then the Primal Helix Kit.  In this review, I will tell exactly why you need to be in a Helix Kit too.

Primal's Grown Up Side

When you think of Primal, you may think of all the fun and sometimes hilarious jerseys like the jersey that looks like you're in a tux!  Don't let these fun club jerseys fool you though; Primal has a whole another side of high end apparel for the die-hard.  This is the realm that the Helix Kit falls in.

The Fit

Nothing is more humiliating then having to size up on a kit.  When your buddy weighs a buck twenty and has to get a medium, you know something is wrong.  Primal kits fit just how you would EXPECT a size to fit.  You wear a medium t-shrit and jeans, you're going to fit nicely in a medium bib and jersey.  That stands true for even their race cut (or what they call Pro Tour Fit) unlike other brands where you can hardly breathe in the jersey and the bibs are cutting off you circulation.

The Helix Jersey

Every single panel on the Helix Jersey is designed for a specific purpose.   The front and back panels are made of Primal's SLR Ion fabric.  This fabric breathes fantastically, is super antibacterial so you can stand your own smell fifty miles in, and has amazing moisture wicking capabilities to keep you dry, and stretches comfortably around the contours of your body without feeling constricting.  The side panels and two panels strategically placed on the upper back are made of Primal's AE Elite mesh fabric to allow even more airflow in the most critical areas.  Lastly, the sleeves are made of the Primal's Z92  fabric which stays tight for better aerodynamics without feeling constricting, is ultra moisture wicking for all the sweat coming with your armpits, and an extra bonus the texture looks super cool!  Even better, after a long year of racing and training, the sleeves still fit great!  No wind sock sleeves after only a couple of uses like other brands.  The zipper is full length exposed YKK which is super easy to zip/unzip even with full fingered gloves.  There are also three decent sized pockets in the back that are super easy to put stuff in and take stuff out.  For a guy who races without a hydration pack and a water bottle in his back middle pocket like myself, I can't stress enough how important this is: especially during a race!

The Helix Bib

Like the Helix Jersey, the Helix Bib is made up of several fabrics to ensure they will be best pair of bibs you've ever worn.  The majority of the bib is made of Primal's Vero fabric.  I personally love this fabric.  It has a little more thickness then other brands which translates to great compression fit, and can take a fall without tearing!  It's just enough thickness to wear with knee or leg warmers without having your crutch freeze on on cold days, but not too thick that it doesn't work great on the hottest days.  Even during the Tatanka 100 at 90+ as mentioned above, the bib felt great!  Once again, Primal uses their Z92 fabric where most of your heat dispenses out of your lower back.  The Z92 fabric is also found around the leg bands on the standard Helix, but is updated on the Helix 2.0 (see below).  The bib straps are made of Primal's comfortable Promesh fabric for a great fit.  All seams are flatlock stitched so you won't feel threads digging into you after a couple of hours on the saddle.  Most importantly, Primal's HX8 chamois is by far the most comfortable chamois you'll ever use.  It's entirely seamless, and so soft and smooth you may want a blanket made of it.  The chamois is also super antibacterial for those times you're in pinch during a stage race and you have to re-wear... yeah, they are that antibacterial.

UPDATE: Helix 2.0!

The Helix 2.0 Kit is everything I love about the Helix kit, but with laser cut arm and legs bands comprised of Primal's Pri-Flex fabric infused with silicone micro-dot technology for a no slip non-constricting tight fit!  Also, the stitching on the chamois has been updated as well for even more comfort.  It's not like I noticed the stitching before, but hey, I'll take it!  Just icing on the cake for the already awesome Helix Kit!

The Ride

It doesn't matter the weather, the Helix Kit feels amazing.  It's so comfortable it seriously feels like you're riding in the nude, minus a nasty draft of course.  You know that a kit is great when you don't even notice it's there even after being on the saddle for five plus hours.  NO discomfort from fabric that's too tight, NO threads from bad stitches being engraved into your skin, NO saddle sores from an inferior chamois design, NO bib straps digging into you, NO overheating even on the hottest and longest rides, NO fumbling to get items in and out of jersey pockets, NO fighting your zipper while unzipping and zipping back up in the middle of a race.... NO compromises!  ALL comfort ALL the time in ALL conditions.

Primal Customer Service

It's clear that the Helix Kit is by far my favorite kit on the market, but as a team manager who deals with a lot of sponsors I can tell that no product is good enough if the customer service is below par.  Primal is located in Denver, Colorado with employees who ride the same trails as I do.  Through my interactions with Primal, I am proud to call a few of them my friends.  The customer service is absolutely outstanding.  This is especially true through the customization process with an amazing set of representatives and designers to put your vision onto fabric like you had envisioned.  Let me tell you, nothing is more infuriating then team kits with sponsor logos that are messed up, and coloring that is way off from what you thought it would look like.  The Primal custom team will help you through each step of the process to ensure your satisfaction with the final product.  

Final Thoughts

I'm not alone in my opinion that the Primal Helix Kit is the best.  Just look at other endurance mountain teams like Topeak Ergon, Feedback Sports, and 92fifty who love their Helix kits as well.  If you're looking for a kit that can take some abuse and stays comfortable for hours on end, you better get yourself a Primal Helix Kit!

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