- Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL (see chart)
Ground Effect Baked Alaska, Snake Bites & Lucifers — Bike Rumor, Feb 14
New Zealand’s Ground Effect clothing company has recently started a push for U.S. customers, and that’s a good thing. Saris reviewed a few of the women’s mountain bike pieces and liked them. I’ve been testing their men’s road stuff for the past few months and have come away mostly impressed.
The items include their Baked Alaska long sleeve partial wind block jersey, the Snake Bite bib knickers, Lucifer wind block socks and Baked Beanie. All have performed very well, providing plenty of warmth and comfort with well conceived features like New Zealand Merino wool, snug leg cuffs, their “exo-skeletal” chamois pad and cycling specific cuts.
The Baked Alaska jersey uses a Windfoil soft-shell panel over the neck, chest and abdomen with an overall merino interior face and polyester exterior. The Snake Bites use a four-way stretch, lighter weight merino fabric with textured Lycra cuffs at the leg openings that keep them solidly in place.
The jersey is form fitting without being overly tight, particularly around the neck. That’s good because it kept my neck warm without making me feel like it was going to choke me or inhibit head movement…so I was more likely to keep it zipped up and warm. Sizing is really the only issue we have with their stuff, which I’ll explain a bit further down.
Sleeves have thumb holes and are long enough to actually use them without pulling the jersey too taut across the backs of the shoulders. The fleecy interior is soft and warm, with or without a base layer. I found both pieces to work very well on their own down to the high 50º’s (F). From mid-50º’s and down, a thin short- or long-sleeve base layer was all that was necessary to make them work down to the mid-40º’s. For the bottoms, I simply slid a de-chamoised pair of cycling shorts over top below 50º.
There are only two pockets, both oversized, rather than the standard three. Not 100% in love with that, but don’t hate it either. Long zipper tabs on the pockets, jersey front and bibs are easy to grab even with thick winter gloves. The jerseys come with a standard tube/tire patch sewn inside it. The top of the zipper seam has reflective piping.
One downside to the slightly looser fit and huge pocket openings, is that once you get a gloved hand all the way in, it can be a bit of a wrestling match to get it out. About the fit. The tail is extended quite a bit, and the stretchy nature of wool means heavier items in the pocket can exaggerate the length a bit. At 6’2″, I originally ordered an XL, but it was simply gargantuan and the tail hung well below my butt.
It’s worth noting that there’s a Frosty Boy that uses the windproof material all the way across the sleeves for just $20 more. Both items are available in multiple colours. Women’s versions are also on tap.
The fit on the Snake Bite bibs was spot on with a size Large. Perhaps the most visually different feature on them is the non-hidden chamois panel. We’ve only seen this on one other brand, and the idea is to reduce the number of fabric layers between you and the saddle. That means less slipping and sliding and a more direct feel with the bike. There’s still padding, and very good padding at that, so they remain comfortable.
The front section covers a good portion of the abs for improved warmth, and a long zipper with garage panel at the top make nature breaks easier. Straps are wide but comfortable. The material throughout is thinner than the jersey, so when first heading out it was a bit chilly. After a few miles though they were perfect at the above mentioned temps.
The other visual standout is the textured Lycra cuffs. They look good, have reflective tabs on the back and are very comfortable. They come down over the calf – which means, as with the jersey, shorter folks should pay careful attention to the sizing.
The Baked Beanie is pretty straightforward: Merino fabric with wind block band to protect the forehead and ears. It doesn’t come down far enough to fully cover the ear lobes, but does the trick on non-freezing days.
The Lucifer socks are simply bad ass. I wore them during the Biltmore NCCX race with at-freezing temps with regular, well vented Shimano mountain bike shoes and it was just the right combo. Toes remained mobile and with feeling, and I saved the rotational weight of full winter boots. They’re slim enough to fit into virtually any cycling shoe, and the seams sit on top of the toes rather than the front. It, and all the other pieces shown here, have flat seams. Insides are fleecy and warm. Honestly, these things are amazing. Couple them with shoe covers on the super cold days and you’re golden.
Whether wool’s your thing or not (they have plenty of items without it too), Ground Effect clothing is worth a look. They’ve got a huge range of mens and womens cycling clothes for all seasons, plus a few casual items, and so far, everything we’ve tested has been very nice.
Tyler Benedict bikerumor.com
Baked Alaska — Bicycles.net.au, May 12
Far too many times I've left home in near Artic conditions only to end up getting cooked when my efforts to stay warm have turned against me. Fortunately Ground Effect's Baked Alaska, a between-seasons long-sleeve technical jersey, successfully straddles the line between controlling the wind chill factor and letting your perspiration do its cooling thing.
The inevitable change-of-season head cold that seems to catch me in its grasp each autumn had finally gone when the Baked Alaska arrived in the mail. Perfect timing. The forced week off the bike had seen all sorts of temperature variations in the weather from low teens to mid-twenties. I was pretty keen to avoid freshening my head cold by either failing to stay warm or by overheating, and the Baked Alaska looked like it would fit the bill.
While Aussies may joke about New Zealanders' relationship to their sheep, the folks at Ground Effect have turned that close familiarity to their advantage in the materials selected for this jersey's construction. Their slick technical Heatwave fabric combines a merino wool layer next to your skin with a polyester outer layer for fast evaporation. It certainly seemed to work: good for keeping the core warm, but without overheating you when the sun comes out. I could feel the material wicking away the sweat on the long steady climbs while doing hill repeats past Taronga Zoo in the early morning, and there was none of the itch and scratch I normally associate with having wool next to my skin.
The front of the jacket is in a contrasting colour and uses their soft shell WindFoil fabric to stop the wind from biting through your flesh on long fast descents. It has a "crinkly" feel in the hands, like it has a plastic layer built into the middle, but on the inside facing your skin is a soft polyester fleece. On the climbs the WindFoil breathed well. I felt no need to for extra ventilation on the hill repeats, although they've thoughtfully put in a long front centre zip to give you the option. Given that I'd normally don a rain jacket to stay warm, and then be forced to peel it off at the start of the first ascent, it proved a welcome change.
When descending, the WindFoil fabric came into its own. This is especially noticeable on the first long descent of my commute, as the climb up to the main road is only 200m and doesn't really give me a chance to get properly warmed up before commencing a 7-8 minute 40-60km/hr descent. My arms were a little cool, but my torso was fine and the high collar added welcome extra insulation.
To test the companies claims about wool being low odour, I deliberately didn't wash it midweek, and while I wouldn't recommend that for hygiene reasons there was no smell when it finally went into the front-loader on Saturday morning.
The burnt orange and titanium grey colour scheme of the jersey I received would stand out reassuringly for cyclists mixing it with the notorious Sydney traffic without being obviously "hi-vis". The jersey is also available in azure blue and jet black. At the back of the jersey are a pair of zip pockets with reflective piping. There's plenty of room to fit your wallet, keys, phone, rain shell and building security cards. The back is nice and low to keep your lower back covered if you're wearing non-bib knicks or baggy shorts. The only downside of this was that it showed up the inadequacies of my rain jacket which - compared to Ground Effect's offerings - is on the short side. Riding during the flash-flood inducing deluges Sydney experienced in April left the bottom halves of the pockets saturated, but fortunately I had packed everything vulnerable in sealed sandwich bags. The rain jacket is showing its age, so I'm thinking this is a good excuse to take a look at Ground Effect's rain shells.
Fit-wise, it's not skin tight. It's close enough to wick moisture away effectively, and doesn't flap annoyingly in the slipstream. I'd describe it more as "fitted". For reference, I'm a 185cm 80kg adult male, and the medium was a great fit. I'm not sure how big they build 'em in NZ, but if you're smallish on the stature scale you may find it a challenge to find an appropriate size, although if you're female they do a similarly tasteful women's apparel range with sizing adjusted accordingly.
While it's not a full-on winter jersey, the Baked Alaska works very well indeed as a between-seasons top. It takes the bite out of the morning chill, while still dealing well with perspiration and cooling needs. You can layer above and below with jacket and thermals if required as the temperature drops, and the pockets are roomy enough to cope with stowing the extra layers when you need to peel them off.
WindFoil chest panel takes the bite out of the autumn chill (I've already decided I'll be investing in a pair of Ground Effects' WindFoil socks before winter starts in earnest).
Cosy high collar
Roomy pockets with accessible zippers
Merino and polyester works well to wick away perspiration
Long sleeves with thumb loops sewn in to help keep them in place
The emergency tyre patch sewn into one of the pockets is cute, but gets in the way.
John Hawkins bicycles.net.au
Baked Alaska — What Mountain Bike, May 10
The Baked Alaska is one of those in-between garments that doesn't shine at first but rapidly becomes indispensable if you ride in a temperamental climate. The design of the Baked Alaska couldn't be simpler: the Heatwave fabric mixes a merino wool inner face for cosiness against the skin when wet or dry with a tough polyester outer face. This means our two-year-old jacket still looks and feels like it did when it was new.
The Windfoil laminated fleece front then takes care of keeping your core warm in single digit temperatures. It can feel wet against the skin if you're working hard and the long front zip isn't the most subtle venting system - but it certainly works. The tall collar, dropped tail and long sleeves with thumb-loops to stop them pulling up mean no nasty gaps to let the cold in, and there's enough stretch in the fabric to keep it mobile without looking too close. Two big rear pockets store plenty of stuff, and it works well as a base layer too, adding versatility and value.
"Not the most sophisticated top but a super-durable and versatile spring or autumn staple" 3.5/5 stars
Baked Alaska — NZ Mountain Biker, May 10
Winter - ugh, not my favourite season for riding. Partly because it's so difficult to be comfortable. It's cold, it's damp, I'm sweating, and wait for it ... there's a stiff southerly. Enter Ground Effect's Baked Alaska, a merino/polyester mix windproof long sleeve top ... (clapping and cheering to fade-out).
I got the Baked Alaska just as autumn was setting in - and already there have bee a few of those aforementioned, cold, damp nights, and of course I'm in Wellington, so it's always windy. Not that it matters if it's windy really, because as mountain bikers we create our own wind going downhill anyways.
So, how's it been? Basically, the Baked Alaska has been brilliant. First off, the windproof front does that it's supposed to do - blocks the wind from cutting me to the ribs. It does so with a reassuring firmness to the fabric and it fits snug, which means it doesn't flap around at all, like the windproof vests I usually use for this wind-blocking duty. And while I'd usually wear short sleeves until it gets really cold (I'm very tough) the long sleeves have been great - adding just a bit of warmth, but made from a material thin and breathable enough that it doesn't seem to make me sweat much more than not having them.
I was wary that with polyester in the mix (it's 62% merino, 38% polyester) it might start to stink after a ride ... or two. But no, so far so good - I have washed it though. I'm a fan or merino, so why add the polyester? Turns out it stays a bit dryer, by not soaking up so much sweat, and by letting it evaporate quicker. But the merino is still an important feature of this top for me - in comparison to fleece tops of a similar nature that I've worn, the inner layer of merino has a real benefit in that it doesn't get clammy and cold when worn as the first layer, and then touch you with cold drops of sweat - yuck.
My only complaint is that the thin material that makes up the arms and back is quite easily snagged on bracken and other trail nasties, which makes it look a bit tatty before its time. When winter arrives, I see myself with a merino t-shirt underneath it, until it rains, then I see myself adding a jacket (or just as likely, inside watching America's Next Top Model ... I don't really). Anyway, you deserve to be warm this winter, so go get one.
Baked Alaska — La Rueda Tropical, May 10
It was an unseasonably cold winter in Miami. My pre dawn rides regularly saw temperatures in the 40's. But no worries, my Ground Effect Baked Alaska jersey made cold and cool weather riding a pleasure. Good in temperatures up to 68F and when paired with the right weight base layer good right down to freezing.
The Baked Alaska is similar in concept to the Assos Intermediate Evo jersey but in natural blend fiber and at a fraction of the price. A wind stopper WindFoil&trade fleece front panel keeps the chill from penetrating your core while Ground Effect's soft breathable Heatwave Merino blend keeps you from overheating.
New Zealand based Ground Effect describes their Heatwave Merino as: A bi-component knit combining 62% merino wool and 38% polyester. The unrivalled properties of superfine 18.5 micron New Zealand merino wicks sweat away from your skin while the polyester provides a durable, non-pill outer. The polyester also repels moisture which avoids total saturation of the fabric - helping it to dry faster than 100% merino.
The combination works brilliantly in a wide range of temperatures. The jersey has two back pockets with zippers that have easy to grab tabs. The long sleeves are long enough to come over my gloves even with my long arms and have a loop that when pulled over your gloved thumb will keep the wind from blowing up your sleeves. Finally Ground Effect sews a tire patch into the back pocket for emergencies. A cute touch that didn't survive the first wash. The jersey however looks like new after a season of hard use. Fit is closer to US than Euro cycling apparel.
A proper base layer extends the temperature range of the Baked Alaska right down to freezing. Icebreaker (another NZ apparel company) makes merino wool base layers in 3 weights (150g/m2, 200g/m2, 260g/m2) that are a perfect complement to your Baked Alaska, allowing you to tune your kit to match the weather.
At about $94 USD the Baked Alaska gets my vote as cycling kit bargain of the year.
Baked Alaska — www.bikefix.net, Feb 10
I really like Ground Effect clothing. Unfortunately, they are based in New Zealand and have no distributor here in the USA. It's easy enough to get a hold of their stuff though- they ship anywhere in the world and it usually arrives in less than 10 days (for me in New Mexico). This requires a leap of faith of course, because you have no idea how the clothes are going to fit, and shipping them back to NZ would be expensive. Ground Effect has a pretty accurate sizing chart and descriptions on their website, which really help to minimize the chance of mistakes. Still, it means they aren't going to sell a huge amount of stuff in the States. I have personally tried to help them get a foot-hold here though- I buy their apparel as gifts and I let friends try it on and even use it. Since I'm surrounded by bike gear and people all the time, it's nice to have (and to give out) things that most people have never even heard of before. Not to mention that everything I have of theirs I really like. Hopefully this review will help people size themselves better, and peak their interest enough to order a garment or two.
The Baked Alaska is Ground Effect's cold weather riding jersey. It has a windproof front torso using their "WindFoil" material, with a very long, but not full-length, zipper. Like most of Ground Effect's winter clothing, it is made with their "Heatwave" Merino material, which is a blend of 62% Merino (18.5 micron, 190g weight) and 38% polyester. The idea is that the Merino supplies the warmth and odor resistance while the poly handles venting and vaporizes sweat better. They are not the only company to blend Merino and synthetics and I tend to like these types of clothes as they do give you the best of both worlds. I love pure wool, but I also see (and use) the benefits of added synthetics. The only thing I have noticed when using these blends is that they aren't usually as warm as the same weight in pure wool. This is neither here nor there of course- just an observation.
On the trail, this jersey can be used down to some very low temperatures with a slim base-layer underneath. Just open the zipper all the way on long hard climbs (or risk overheating) and then zip it up when you head down. The wind block front keeps you warm even if you were sweating like a pig on the way up. The New Mexico sun is strong even in winter though, so the long front zipper is key here, because even though the air is below freezing, you can heat up quickly an a long hard trail climb. On the road this guy is about perfect. The increase in wind speed that comes with road biking and the (usually) lower gradient hills really makes the WindFoil front shine. The Baked Alaska has some reflective piping over the twin rear pockets which make it nice for commuters too. The two pockets on the back have zippers, which is nice, but even better is that they zip so far to the side that you can't feel the zippers under a backpack- a good solution to a pet peeve of mine. Like most Ground Effect clothing, the Baked Alaska is made by the company in New Zealand and features a hidden tire patch sewn into the back. The patch is more of a gimmick though- after a few wash cycles it usually comes off- but I still like the idea. Yes, by the way, the Baked Alaska is a fully machine washable product- like most good Merino wool products these days. Another nice detail is that it has thumb loops to keep the sleeves from climbing up. I have never met anyone who uses thumb loops though, but it's a nice touch for those who do.
As far as the fit issue goes: I am 5'10" and 195 lbs and have a chest of about 43.5 inches. I am mostly muscle with a small layer of "personal insulation." I can fit into a Medium fine but it is on the tight side. I do tend to order mediums though, in things that I want tight- like the Baked Alaska. The large sizes fit very comfortably but drape a bit more compared to the mediums. The Alaska has a whale tail so even a tight fit still prevents any plumbers' crack. The tighter fit also keeps the fabric against the skin which improves the wicking properties of the jersey's material. Hopefully this, and the photos, help you figure out what size to order.
I have owned Ground Effect clothing for many years and everything they make holds up very well. I highly recommend their products, and am not getting paid by them- they don't even know who I am. The Baked Alaska comes in two color combinations this year which I call: red/orange and grey/charcoal (they have slightly different names, but I like to use simple color names). It lists for $94 (American dollars- make sure you check this when looking at the website) before shipping.
Baked Alaska — Australian Mountain Bike, Jul 09
The Baked Alaska provides the next level of climatic protection from the Model Tee, with the addition of long sleeves, merino collar and a wind-proof chest plate. We paired the Baked Alaska up with the Model Tee, though you could wear it by itself on less chilly trails.
The Red Hot Baked Alaska we tested makes you stand out like a yellow rubber ducky in a muddy puddle, perfect for gloomy winter weather. The reflective Ground Effect patch and reflective strip on the back of the jersey will also help keep you safe if you're commuting. The inner merino layer and polyester outer layer will keep you warm while wicking the sweat away from your body. A common occurrence when trail riding in the colder months while wearing a hydration pack is for your back to overheat while the chest suffers exposed to the elements. The Baked Alaska addresses this issue by providing a 'windfoil' layer to the front of the jersey to repel those icy winds.
The ergonomic features of the jersey cannot be ignored; two rear zipped pockets are present, along with a 3/4 length zipper on the front for when things get steamy and thumb loops at the end of the sleeves to ensure that your wrists are not exposed to the elements. The comfort factor of the thumb-loops maybe debatable, but while testing in the cold Flinders Ranges their benefit could not be disputed. Ground Effect have also left a gift inside the jersey pocket in the form of an integrated (sewn-in) tube patch; they just need to figure out a way of integrating a tube of rubber cement! Great gear at a great price. Long live merino riding kit!
Performance: 4.5/5, Ease of Use: 3.5/5, Value: 5/5
Baked Alaska — What Mountain Bike (UK), Dec 08
We've grown to love New Zealand's Ground Effect gear over the years, and the Baked Alaska is a firm favourite. It's super-warm thanks to its Merino wool inner layer and polyester outer, which take care of wicking duties well.
On top, Ground Effect has used a laminated WindFoil fleece to keep off chilly winds. Add to this neat touches such as two large zip pockets, a long front zip, flatlock seams, a tall neck and reflective piping, and the Baked Alaska is something pretty special.
Its warmth-to-weight ratio is superb, and it performs brilliantly in all weathers, apart from in the wet, when you'll need an outer shell.
The Heatwave Merino mix stays warm even when soaking wet, dries pretty fast and doesn't stink after several days' wear. It's a bit itchy at first, but you'll be amazed how much weather it'll handle and stay comfy. You have to wait a week or so for postage but prices are excellent.
Classic all-rounder offering plenty of warmth for its weight. 9/10
Baked Alaska — What Mountain Bike (UK), Dec 07
Fleece laminated front and merino wool-blend body kills the wind chill but stays warm and cosy whatever the weather throws at you. You'll need a shell on top if conditions are really awful, but over the past few years we've been astonished at what this top can cope with and still stay comfy. A What Mountain Bike favourite.
Baked Alaska — Cycling Plus (UK), Nov 07
This is an old favourite that we keep coming back to. It's made from a merino wool inner/polyester outer material that's warm and durable with a soft WindFoil panel too block cold air. The close cut makes the most out of both fabrics' wicking abilities and the flat-stitched construction wins marks for comfort. You get a zip that reaches down to your navel and reflective trim, and you'll love the extra little features like elasticated thumb loops and the emergency puncture repair patch sewn into a rear pocket.
Verdict: Multi-talented technical top with loads of neat features. 9/10.
Baked Alaska — BikeMagic.com, Feb 07
Ground Effect's Baked Alaska is designed to bridge "the gap between summer and winter", which sounds like a pretty close description of the UK at any time of year. As befits a multipurpose garment, the Baked Alaska is made from two different materials. Most of it - the back, the sides and the sleeves - is made of Heatwave Merino, a blend of the famous New Zealand wonder wool and polyester. The idea is that the Merino sits against your skin feeling all soft and doing its magic wicking thing, while the polyester provides a durable outer layer.
The front of the panel is WindFoil fleece - polyester microfleece on the outside, wicking mesh on the inside and a windproof PU membrane between the two. It's all held together by the now de rigueur flatlock seams. There's a long zip at the front and two zipped pockets (plus some reflective piping) round the back.
There are of course a couple of Ground Effect trademarks. The elastic thumb loops keep the sleeves in place (although we didn't have a problem with them riding up without) and there's a puncture repair patch hidden in one of the pockets.
The cut is deliberately close - there's not much point going to great lengths to make a super-efficient wicking garment and then having it sitting two inches from your skin. In use it's just lovely. It's soft to the touch and really does manage to be warm and cool at the same time. The two fabrics work well together, and the polyester mix on the sleeves seems to be reasonably resistant to snagging.
It's described, as being for "cool, not cold" conditions - if the Baked Alaska isn't warm enough for you, there are two options. Either take a look at Ground Effect's Frosty Boy - a very similar top, but with WindFoil on the sleeves and sides too, and thicker microfleece everywhere else. Or just stick a thin base layer under it - we've been plenty warm enough in biting icy winds with a base layer, Baked Alaska and a jacket. There's also a women's version of the Alaska called the Popsicle - same fabrics, different cut.
Ups: Soft to the touch, well-made, snug fit, well-pitched level of warmth, good price
Downs: Bit of a nuisance to send back to New Zealand if you get the wrong size
We can't think of a thing that we don't like about this top. And at NZ$149 (about £47 according to Ground Effect) it's something of a bargain too. The only real downside is that you have to mail order it from the other side of the planet, so there's little scope for trying one on first. There's plenty of sizing advice on Ground Effect's site, though.
Baked Alaska — UnderGround, Aug 06
Until the turn of last century, accepted wisdom preached layers of clothing to keep you warm when biking. Combining a thermal layer with a windproof vest and maybe a waterproof-breathable shell provided versatility and excellent protection from crappy weather. For us, the purity of this wisdom was modified in Y2K with the unexpected arrival of Frosty Boy. The first in a series of combination garments with windproof fleece fronts and thermal backs, Frosty proved the exception to the rule. For short trips in relatively stable weather conditions, it let you travel light and fast with just a single layer. The windproof panel taking the edge off cold winds and the long front zip allowing ventilation to manage your body temperature in a wide range of conditions. The design has been tweaked over the years with a second generation of WindFoil fleece, refined rear pockets, the addition of the women's Ice Queen... and both now cost $30 less than the original.
In the tradition of the great pastry chefs we proceeded to experiment with different combinations and ingredients. In 2005 we took the proven next-to-skin comfort of Heatwave Merino and mixed in some WindFoil fleece. The Baked Alaska immediately found its own position in our range, along with its sibling the women's Popsicle. Not too hot, not too cold - just right for spring and autumn riding. The Frosty Boy remained king in winter.
Technical differences? The back and sleeves of the Baked Alaska are Heatwave Merino - light and very effective against your skin. Only the front is WindFoil fleece. Frosty Boy is warmer with heaps more windproofing - down the front of the sleeves and over the shoulder yoke. The balance is micro-fleece 100 - more loft than Heatwave merino for more warmth but not quite so dry against your skin. The Frosty Boy works well as a single garment but really flies with a Ristretto or Submerino base layer underneath. In the end you choose based on how cold the conditions are when you ride. For all year round riding your wardrobe will ultimately have space for both.
Ground Effect Product Designer.
Baked Alaska — Cycling Plus (UK), Mar 06
I subjected the Baked Alaska to three months in the Indian Himalayas and it stood up very well indeed. In use, Ground Effect's WindFoil fabric across the chest buffets wind to the side, while the merino wool wicks sweat away. I wore it pretty much every day and to be brutally honest probably didn't wash it more than a few times - and it didn't reek like a polypro top would have. The low pack size and understated colour are well suited to touring too. The cut is close fitting but not too clingy, and great for off the bike too. Back home, use it as a post ride warming top or even a mid-layer in the bleakest heart of winter. Details include twin rear pockets and well-positioned waist reflectors, while a high collar and thumb loops stop the drafts sneaking in. And despite winging it's way all the way from New Zealand, it's excellent value for money too.
A superbly versatile, technical merino top that won't break the bank. 9/10
Baked Alaska — UnderGround, Aug 05
A couple of years ago I discovered the magic of merino, and promptly consigned my reeking polypro to the trash. On my bike, in the mountains, even clubbing... my trusty merino keeps me at the right temperature, shreds sweat and its odour doesn't contravene the Geneva Convention. Yet, there's a chink in merino's performance - it offers as much wind protection as a butterfly net. So I was consumed with wanton lust when I spied the Baked Alaska. A long sleeved merino, supercharged with a windproof front just made sense. Instantly it has become a central part of my winter wardrobe. On chilly night rides I generally sandwich it between a Ristretto merino singlet and my trusty Flash Gordon shell. But it is also great 'solo' on a mild Wellington winter day (we get lots of them - really) - and when stopping for post-ride sushi it doesn't scream 'serious cyclist'.
Tama Easton. El presidente www.vorb.org.nz, 'Drop in Crew' chaperone and singletrack addict.
Baked Alaska and Popsicle — Australian Cyclist, Jul 06
In the cold days of July when the hottest thing in cycling sits in your lounge room and keeps you up until the early hours and the end of the stage, you want to keep warm on your bike. While the Tour de France riders sweat through a French summer, our Australian winters require a range of clothing to match the highs and lows of the thermometer. Unless you're a fair weather cyclist you'll need to prepare for the cold and wet. Layers make this much easier. You can ride off on a cool morning and peel away the clothing like the skins of an onion.
The Popsicle and Baked Alaska from Ground Effect are hers and his versions of the same top. Both are useful base layers that will keep you warm and dry. These tops have a Merino inner layer to suck sweat away from your skin and the outer is a hard-wearing polyester. At the front, a WindFoil panel reduces the chill of the wind.
The Popsicle is the women's version of the top and I've been riding with it as a base layer on cold days and solo on warmer ones. I've used other Merino-based tops before and find the fabric warm and comfortable to wear. The WindFoil panel does its job well and keeps the wind chill off on those days when the wind seems to be coming straight from the Antarctic. Teamed with a fleece top like the Ground Effect Toasty Pie, the Popsicle is a great base layer on colder days. As the weather or the rider warms up the top makes a useful lightweight spring or autumn jersey.
The Popsicle and Baked Alaska come with the usual Ground Effect attention to detail: elastic thumb loops, twin zipped rear pockets with reflective piping, a sew-in tube repair patch, and a longer back to keep your lower back warm.
A bi-component thermal fabric combining 51% merino wool and 49% polyester. Superfine 18.5 micron New Zealand merino wicks sweat away from your skin while the polyester provides a durable, non-pill outer. Lightweight at just 160gm/m2 and machine washable. Developed by Ground Effect and knitted for us in New Zealand.
- Composition: 51% merino; 49% polyester
Man vs Wild
Merino is unrivalled for comfort as a body layer. It absorbs more moisture than synthetic fibres, mopping up excess sweat rather than letting it settle and cool on your skin. However high-aerobic activities like cycling will often overload ordinary merino. Heatwave's polyester component repels moisture to avoid total saturation of the fabric - so it dries faster to keep you toasty.
Heatwave™ Merino tops are intended to hug your body, ensuring the fabric sits against your skin to wick sweat away - keeping you dry and not chilling out.
Hot 'n' Cold
As a single garment Heatwave™ Merino regulates your temperature through a wide range of conditions. Delivering comfort in all but the hottest climes. Yet it is versatile enough to layer under a WindFoil™, Vortex™ or HydroFoil™ shell in winter.
WindFoil™ combines the insulative benefits of a polyester micro-fleece liner with a smooth, highly water resistant, softshell exterior. A totally windproof, yet highly breathable membrane is sandwiched between the inner and outer fabrics providing effective protection in cold, dry conditions.
- Composition: 100% polyester with PU membrane.
- Windproofness: 100%.
- Durable water-repellent finish on face fabric.
- Breathability: 4000gm per sq.m per 24hr.
This chart is a guide only – if you fall in-between sizes, the right size for you will depend on your body shape and how loose or tight you like to wear your clothes. It's no hassle to swap it, if your first choice is not the best fit.
169 - 178 cm
175 - 185 cm
183 - 191 cm
185 - 193 cm
84 - 90 cm
98 - 104 cm
105 - 111 cm
|112 - 118 cm
44 - 46”
118 - 122 cm
66 - 72 cm
73 - 79 cm
80 - 86 cm
87 - 93 cm
|94 - 100 cm
37 - 39”
101 - 115 cm
78 - 86 cm
87 - 95 cm
96 - 103 cm
104 - 111 cm
|112 - 120 cm
44 - 47”
114 - 122 cm
Unisex vs Women's Sizes
Most Ground Effect designs are unisex. The jackets, tights and baggy tops generally fit both men and women equally well. Fitted garments like cycle shorts and some tops are more gender specific so there is generally a women's version in the Outskirts range.
Some Ground Effect designs have an additional 'fit' description to help guide your sizing choice.
Closer fitting tops and jackets with less flap. Typically favoured by disciples of the tarmac, intent on travelling hard and fast. Size up if you need more room.
Also describes the Snug-as-a-Bug fit of Heatwave™ Merino bodywear. These tops are intended to hug your body, ensuring the fabric sits against your skin to wick sweat away — keeping you dry and not chilling out.
Middle-of-the-road comfort for all-purpose riding. Not too tight or too loose — just right for most cyclists in most conditions.
Big and breezy to match your attitude. Lets the breeze blow up your kilt and helps ease the transition from singletrack to café. The default choice when matching with baggy shorts.
A hot 'n' cold top that propels you at the speed limit across the gap between summer and winter. Its WindFoil™ softshell front takes the edge off a chilly headwind while the Heatwave™ Merino sucks sweat off your body. Wrap your meringue around that.
> Heatwave™ hi-performance thermal bodywear combines a merino inner layer with a fast-drying polyester outer.
> WindFoil™ softshell front deflects chilly winds.
> Long front zip for temperature control.
> Flat seams for enhanced comfort.
> 'Snug-as-a-bug' fit keeps the fabric against your skin to wick sweat away.
> Integrated thumb loops keep your wrists under wraps.
> Twin rear pockets with zips and Hazard!™ reflective piping.
> Secret tube repair patch.
> WhaleTail™ longer back for greater cycling warmth.
> Weight: 270 gm.
> XXL size option.
> Made by us in New Zealand.
Why use two different types of fabric on this top?
> For short trips in stable weather conditions, a Ground Effect composite top lets you travel light and fast with just a single thermal layer. These designs combine a WindFoil™ front with a breathable Heatwave™ Merino back. A long front zip for ventilation allows you to manage your body temperature through a wide range of conditions. Apparently you can have your cake and eat it too.
What's the difference between the Baked Alaska and the Frosty Boy?
> Both have WindFoil softshell fronts to block chilling winds and keep your torso warm. The Frosty Boy is a much warmer top with the entire front and yoke constructed from WindFoil, plus the front of its sleeves. Only the front panel on the Baked Alaska is WindFoil. The balance of the Frosty Boy is made from micro-fleece, while the Baked Alaska uses the thinner Heatwave Merino.
> The Frosty Boy is ideal for winter riding while the Baked Alaska is more suited for spring and autumn.
Why is Heatwave Merino so comfortable next-to-skin?
> Heatwave combines the comfort, warmth and low-odour properties of merino wool with the durability of polyester. Merino wool absorbs more moisture than synthetic fibres like polyester or polypropylene. This makes it very effective in dealing with excess sweat - it is absorbed into the fabric rather than settling (and cooling) on your skin. The polyester component repels moisture which avoids total saturation of the fabric - helping it to dry faster. The strength of the polyester also maintains the shape of the garment and minimises wear 'n' tear and pilling.
> The Baked Alaska and Popsicle are intended to be used as a stand alone cycle top in cool, as opposed to cold, conditions.
> The Ristretto, Model T, Robin Hood, Submerino and Hot Toddy are all base layers - best worn directly against your skin.
> The Median Strip, Berglar and Flying Nun are riding jerseys, with additional features including three rear pockets and long front zips. For use in both hot and cold climes and versatile enough to wear as an insulation layer in winter.
> WindFoil and Heatwave merino garments enjoy a warm machine wash. Try to avoid cold-water detergents and those with bleach. The cold-water varieties have little enzymes that are super-charged to brave the cold but can damage technical fabrics and cause skin irritation.
> Bleach rots natural fibres, strips the dye and may also cause irritation. Along with fabric softeners it may also damage the WindFoil laminate.
> Even wool detergents can contain potential nasties. Where possible look for a product with a neutral pH level (pH 7) to avoid damaging the wool. As a rule of thumb, product that is easy on the planet is also easy on your body. Select a mild plant-based soap like Ecover, Ecostore, Earthwise or Aware.
> Be sure not to wash with socks, fluffy towels or flannelette sheets. Lint clings to the fleece and your top will suddenly look very old.
> Wash inside-out to resist pilling.
> Line dry if possible - a warm (not hot) cycle in the dryer if you must.