Tom Boonen became a brand ambassador for La Passione at the beginning of this year. His career achievements include winning some 150 races, including six stage victories and a Green jersey at the Tour de France, two stages at the Vuelta a España, a World Championship, five E3 Harelbeke, four Paris-Roubaix, three Gent-Wevelgem, and three editions of the Tour of Flanders.
So it’s only fitting that La Passione recently released their RVV Collection (in partnership with Flanders Classics) inspired by Ronde Von Vlaanderen (RVV) … De Ronde … Flanders. According to Boonen:
“The Ronde is one of the most spectacular shows on the Earth and is also the perfect mix of adrenaline and effort. The routes, the fans, and the riders are unique and racing there will give you a whole new set unforgettable feelings.”
La Passione RVV Jersey – $120
The RVV Collection is inspired by the Tour of Flanders and this is apparent throughout the jersey graphics.
The RVV Collection is an official collaboration between La Passione and Flanders Classics who organize De Ronde as well as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Scheldeprijs, and Brabantse Pijl
The graphic on the right sleeve evokes the cobbled climbs aka hellingen that are the trademark of the Tour of Flanders
The front of the jersey depicts the sawtooth race profile of the course
The back of the jersey lists all of the climbs with their distance and gradient
The RVV jersey is the same design and construction as the La Passione Duo jersey I previously reviewed. And that’s a good thing IMHO because I said: “All in all, the Duo jersey is a stylish and functional jersey.”
Construction-wise, the body of the RVV jersey is five panels: two front panels (joined by a full-length zipper, two side panels, and a back panel — with all the panel seams serge stitched. The sleeves are set-in with raw cut ends (meaning no seams or gripper). And the collar is race ready, low cut.
Raw cut sleeves
Low cut collar
La Passione uses three different types of stretch fabric for the jersey. The front panels, sleeves, collar, and pockets are a lightweight “solid” fabric (but not the exact same fabric). The side panels are “open mesh.” And the back panel is “micro mesh.” The result is a very breathable jersey that can wick away moisture.
The differences in fabric are more apparent when help up to light
The relatively porous fabrics used in the RVV jersey create a natural air conditioning effect. As a result, it’s definitely well suited for warm/hot weather. In cooler temps, a base layer is probably warranted.
The RVV jersey is very lightweight … another indicator that it’s meant for warm/hot weather
The design of the RVV jersey is what you would expect: full-zip in front, gripper on the inside back to help keep it in place, three rear pockets. If anything is missing, it’s a secure zipper pocket that more and more jerseys have.
Full zip front with gripper on the back hem
The back flap at the bottom (L) makes it a little easier to insert the zipper pin into the box and the back flap at the top (R) keeps the zipper from rubbing against your skin on the front of your neck
Cam-lock zipper means (L) up to zip up or down and (R) down to keep the zipper in place
Three rear pockets plus a reflective strip to aid with visibility in low light/at night
Fit-wise (on my 5′ 8″, 130 pound ectomorph build), the RVV jersey is body hugging with moderate compression race fit. Not so tight that I felt like I was being squeezed in. But tight enough that I felt like I was being snugly wrapped around. I certainly didn’t have to worry about any material flapping around in the wind. But I was still able to move around freely and comfortably.
Of course, it’s a full zip jersey
Laser cut sleeves grip my skinny-ish arms
La Passione RVV Bib Shorts – $170
Like the RVV jersey, the RVV bib shorts’ graphics are about De Ronde.
The partnership between La Passione and Flanders Classics
The race route profile on the left leg
In case you weren’t sure which race the RVV collection is all about
Like pretty much all other bib shorts, the RVV bib shorts are a tried-and-true don’t-fix-what-isn’t-broken design:
- Relatively high cut front
- Wide straps
- Wide leg gripper panels
To the naked eye, the RVV bib shorts look a lot like both the La Passione Prestige and Prestige Lightweight bib shorts. But a look at some of the specs of all three reveals differences.
- The Prestige bib shorts use a 57% Polyamide/43% Elastane fabric in the main body and 84% Polyamide/16% Elastane for the bib straps with a spec’ed weight of 200 grams
- The Prestige Lightweight bib shorts use a 59% Polyamide/41% Elastane in the main body and 85% Polyester/15% Elastane for the bib straps with a spec’ed weight of 175 grams
The RVV bib shorts’ specs are actually the same as the La Passione Club bib shorts:
- 78% Polyamide/22% Elastane in the main body and 94% Polyester/6% Elastane with a spec’ed weight of 190 grams
My RVV bib shorts weighed in lighter than spec
The Y-back of the RVV bib shorts is also different. It’s just a little bit wider. How it joins with the shorts part at the back is different: a shallow downward curve rather than a more pronounced upward curve. And per La Passione, the material that joins the mesh to the Y-back is different to reduce the extension and balance the elasticity to provide a better, more comfortable fit.
You can visually see the differences between the RVV Y-back (top) and the Prestige and Prestige Lightweight bib shorts (bottom)
One thing that’s the same (design-wise) for the RVV, Prestige, and Prestige Lightweight shorts is that the bib straps are seamed on the Y-back portion but are laser cut, lay flat on the front (joined by flat stitching).
Hybrid bib straps: seamed in the back but laser cut, lay flat in the front
In terms of construction, the legs of the RVV bib shorts consist of 2 panels each (so 4 total) plus the leg gripper panels (that are textured with silicone dots on the inside for grip). And there’s a single panel at the back that connects to the mesh of the Y-back. Flat stitch seams join all the panels except for a short section of serge stitching from the front of the chamois.
La Passione spec 7.5 cm for the leg gripper width, but I measured 7 cm
Speaking of the chamois, La Passione uses the same chamois aka pad (made by Elastic Interface) as in their Club bib shorts — the Joker. Unlike a lot of other chamois, the Joker has a very curved shape. According to La Passione, the preformed construction of the chamois/pad better suits the Lycra used in the RVV bib shorts (which is the same spec as the Club bib shorts).
The chamois itself has a very lightly ribbed surface, different density/thickness padded sections, and a full length center channel for perineal relief and better blood flow. An interesting aspect of the chamois is that it’s two pieces (left and right) connected with a seam down the center. But instead of stitching, the pieces are joined together by ultrasonic technology so they lay flat — as a result, I couldn’t feel the seam and it didn’t cause any discomfort.
The seam that connects the two halves of the chamois
La Passione doesn’t spec how long a ride the chamois is good for, but my experience riding in their Club bib shorts (same chamois) is 6 hours and change without any butt or other down under bits issues (and feeling like I could keep riding as long as my legs felt like it).
Because of its curved shape, it wasn’t that easy to get the chamois to lay flat(ish) for this pic
As far as fit goes, the RVV bib shorts have firm compression (which means they don’t just slip on; they require a little tugging and pulling) and were comfortably tight. I could feel them holding me in but not so tight as to feel constricting. (It’s worth noting that even though La Passione uses fewer panels than you might find in other bib shorts — based on the theory that more panels provide better fit — but they still conform to your shape and hug firmly.) The wide leg gripper sections gripped without squeezing too much and creating the dreaded sausage effect. And I’ve now ridden in enough different bib shorts that I can feel (and appreciate) the difference in comfort between laser cut, lay flat bib straps and seamed bib straps — you almost can’t feel the former. Call me spoiled.
High-ish cut front and wide bib straps
Wide leg gripper section but no sausage effect
My first ride in the RVV kit was a 65 mile “rouleur” ride with almost 2,500 feet of accumulated elevation gain. Definitely “Classics” terrain. Oh … and in 90F heat (we’re having some early summer weather here in Babylon on the Potomac). I wouldn’t ordinarily wear predominantly black (or dark) kit on such a hot day, but the RVV jersey was about as good as it gets in terms of ventilation and moisture wicking in that kind of heat. There was no avoiding it being hot, but I never felt like I was overheated. I never felt the need to completely un-zip my jersey and I really appreciated how comfortable the low cut collar was. And the RVV bibs were more than comfortable — both in the saddle and (more importantly) at our beer and food truck stop along the way. I could barely feel the bib straps to the point where I pretty much forgot I was wearing bib shorts and the chamois/pad provided enough padding for comfort but also enough firmness/density so as not to be squishy/soft. Suffice to say that I was suitably impressed.
Cycling with good friends is what makes cycling fun … oh, and the beer
Channel your inner Tommeke
I love when a brand does special edition kit celebrating a particular race or rider. In the case of the La Passione RVV Collection, it’s a way to stand out in the crowd on a group ride without resorting to loud colors or busy graphics. The black and gray kit is a classic look. But the splashes of yellow give it some color to catch the eye. If it’s possible, the kit is bold and understated at the same time — which isn’t a bad way to characterize the Tour of Flanders. Yes, iconic and decisive cobbled climbs such as the Kwaremont and Paterberg stand out. But there are also endless miles of winding narrow roads that are more sublime but just as characteristic of the race.
Although the La Passione RVV kit is all about De Ronde, it’s also hard to not think about it as “Tornado” Tom Boonen kit too. He is, after all, a brand ambassador for La Passione. With three wins, he is tied for the most wins at the Tour of Flanders — along with Achiel Buysse, Eric Leman, Johan Museeuw, (all Belgians); Fiorenzo Magni (Italy); and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland). Boonen also has a second place at De Ronde to his name to put him third on the list of most podium finishes. And then there are some epic clashes with Fabian Cancellara aka Spartacus on the cobbled climbs at Flanders.
Even though Classics season has segued into stage racing season, you can still celebrate De Ronde and the exploits of La Passione brand ambassador Tom Boonen with their new RVV jersey and bib shorts. Channel your inner Tommeke!
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