There is little arguing that Pas Normal Studios is a brand that has, historically, been more associated with fashion than high performance. The Danish kit company was, in fact, co-founded by Karl Oskar Olsen who has a background in fashion design and this is reflected in the minimalistic and stylish branding as well as often creative patterning seen in Pas Normal Studios kit. However, the newly-released Pas Normal Studios Mechanism Pro collection is a clear attempt at Pas Normal Studios aiming to infiltrate the more high-performance kit market, something they see as a crucial step to eventually seeing the brand in the WorldTour peloton.
The Mechanism Pro range is a development of the Pas Normal Studios Mechanism collection, formerly the brand’s most premium and race-focused kit. The Pro range sees some radical differences when compared to the original Mechanism range, however, with most of these stemming from an innovative, all-new proprietary fabric. Pas Normal Studios explains that it worked with fabric mills in Italy to create this new material – it features a four-way stretch and woven, synthetic fabrics. This fabric is said to be abrasion resistant, high wicking and fast drying and it also features textured ribbing on the fabric in certain areas both to give compression and aid aerodynamics. Although they have opted not to share these results publicly yet, Pas Normal Studios claims that the Mechanism Pro kit has performed better in the brand’s own wind tunnel testings than some key competitors.
At the time of writing, the Pas Normal Studios Mechanism Pro range is made up solely of a base layer, jersey, zipless jersey and bib shorts. While both the jersey and shorts come in men’s and women’s versions, the zipless jersey is currently available in the men’s collection only (Pas Normal Studios explains this is due to the sheer design of the garment which needs some development based on feedback from female testers.) The size range spans from double extra small to double extra large and the jersey comes in four colour options while the shorts come in two colour options.
Over the last few weeks, we have been able to put the new Pas Normal Studios Mechanism Pro range to the test in some hot conditions in an indoor velodrome and outdoors under the Spanish sun, ascertaining whether the compressive and aerodynamic qualities of the kit make it usable for the everyday rider (and if the hefty price tag can be justified.)
Mechanism Pro Jersey
The Mechanism Pro Jersey is likely the flagship item in the new Pro range. It utilises Pas Normal Studios’ proprietary 4D stretch-woven fabrics in varying areas in order to give riders compression in particular zones and to create minimal air resistance when sitting in aggressive race positions. The varying compression zones on the women’s jersey sit around the abdominal area, providing support to muscles in a rider's core. Impressively, Pas Normal Studios has managed to achieve this without the Mechanism Pro Jersey feeling at all restrictive, the stretch in the material ensures that you don’t feel like the jersey is too tight or hindering breathing.
Along the sleeves and the rear of the jersey is a different ribbed fabric which Pas Normal Studios says also has aerodynamic qualities. This material is also extremely breathable, it wicks sweat in areas where it can sometimes build up during hard rides or in hot conditions, in the underarms and on the back of the jersey. The sleeves have a laser cut edge which means they sit extremely close to the skin but Pas Normal Studios has achieved this without the sleeves cutting into the arms at all, the material is still extremely flexible. I didn’t have any issues with the sleeves moving upwards when riding either, a problem that can occur in other jerseys which don’t feature grips on the arms.
I really liked the low profile collar on the Mechanism Pro Jersey, it means that the garment isn’t at all restrictive and there is no risk of chafing or discomfort around the neck. The fact that the compression material doesn’t span upwards on the jersey across the chest is a good decision from Pas Normal Studios, it means there is no stretching or pulling when closing the YKK zipper which feels secure and durable.
At the bottom of the jersey, the integrated hem gripper blends seamlessly into the Mechanism Pro shorts, it does the job of keeping the jersey in place – I didn’t have to pull it down even when consistently getting in and out of the saddle – but also means that the jersey and shorts together have the look of an aerodynamic skinsuit. Pas Normal Studios has placed the three pockets at the rear of the jersey high up on the garment which stops anything falling out even when on the drops, they remain easily accessible too.
When it comes to aesthetics, the Pas Normal Studios Mechanism Pro range sticks to a simple style with small Pas Normal Studios logos, it forgoes the big ‘Pas Normal Studios’ lettering on the rear of the jersey which is seen on the original Mechanism jersey. I tested the plain black colour, but the jersey also comes in a white colour and green colour combination. Retailing for £195 – £45 more than the Mechanism jersey that the brand offers – the Mechanism Pro Jersey is an expensive piece of kit, but the technologically advanced materials and aerodynamic properties go a long way to justify this price tag.
Mechanism Pro Bib Shorts
Over the past few months, I’ve worn both Pas Normal Studios Essential bib shorts (which the brand intends for everyday use and long distance riding), the original Mechanism bibs, and the Mechanism Pro bib shorts. Of the three, the Mechanism bib shorts surprisingly seem to have the most compressive fit, despite the Mechanism Pro bib shorts being the most performance-focused in the range. This is a testament to the incredible comfort and stretch properties that the 4D fabric used throughout the bib shorts featured, they felt tight but never as if they were cutting off my circulation or causing any discomfort. The shorts feature more compression around specific muscle groups, something that Pas Normal Studios describes as “advanced structurally mapped fabric and integrated zones.” The brand commented that in the future, they would like to develop this feature in order to map the compression zones specifically to each individual rider’s muscle groups.
The Mechanism Pro Bib shorts feel impressively lightweight, they have a silky feel against the skin which at first felt like it could be a little flimsy, but Pas Normal Studios explained that this material also has abrasion resistance properties. Like the sleeves of the Pro jersey, the Pro bib shorts also feature a laser cut edge which sits close to the skin and impressively does not ride up the leg at all when in use. The bib straps are made from a material that Pas Normal Studios says has a low level of elastic degradation even after multiple washes. I found that these felt soft against the skin and I didn’t have any issues with them digging into my shoulder, but I did find that they are cut quite low into the shorts. This means that when standing up straight, the bottom of the bib shorts can show from underneath the jersey, thanks to the race cut of the kit. This is fine when riding along, but it’s something to bear in mind when stopping during rides.
When it comes to the chamois, the Mechanism Pro bib shorts use the same pad as that which can be found in the rest of the shorts in the brand’s range. I like the size of this pad, it doesn’t come up too far in the front of the shorts and has enough padding without feeling bulky. Despite Pas Normal Studios saying the Mechanism Pro range has a particularly compressive fit, I wear a size medium across the whole collection and don’t find the Pro range to be any more compressive than the original Mechanism kit. The shorts also feature a radio pocket, a clear sign that they are intended for use in racing.
The Mechanism Pro bib shorts are priced at £260, undoubtedly a premium price but still less than others on the market, such as Rapha’s Powerweave Pro Team bibs which cost £300. For a pair of bib shorts described as high-performance and made for racing, this price is in the expected range in today’s market.
Overall, Pas Normal Studios have done an impressive job in their first foray into truly aerodynamic, high-performance race kit. The brand has struck an impressive balance between comfort and compression, making the kit great for shorter, intense races but also ensuring it isn’t too tight to wear on long rides either. The entire Mechanism Pro outfit will set you back an eye-watering £455, but its aero properties mean that this could be worth it if you are looking for every gain. It’s also worth bearing in mind that this is a kit which, although compressive, can be worn outside of racing too, which goes some way to justify this price point.