Ground Effect Frosty Boy
We only got it airmail this weekend but we’ve worn it three times already – which is always a good sign. It’s had dry and windy, windy and spitting and one damn hard shower that we failed to outrun before home. As for durability we’ve had other GE fleece gear for a couple of years now and it’s still going strong.
Ground Effect are a bunch of mountain bikers in New Zealand, who started making really well designed no nonsense gear that answered their own needs – very like Parrot clothing over here. Keeping away from big brand name fabrics and selling directly over the web also means their prices are really good and items typically arrive within a few days of ordering.
The Frosty boy is their windproof riding shirt/top. It’s a 100 weight microfleece with a ‘Windfoil’ windproof layer laminated onto the front of the body, the front / top of the arms and the shoulder yoke (basically the grey bits on the pictures) inside the fleece.
Even the medium size has long enough back and sleeves for a 6-footer, which means no draughts whatsoever. The elasticated rear pocket tops also snug the top in around your waist to stop flapping.
A very long front zip makes it easy to whip on/off and provide plenty of cooling potential, but the flap behind it means there’s no breeze sneaking through when it’s zipped shut,. The tall collar adds extra snugness. But the top feature has to be the ‘knuckleduster’ extended cuffs, which cover the back of your hand (complete with thumb hole to keep them in place) or fold up out of the way so you can see heart rate monitors etc. The fleece fabric itself is also stretchy enough to pull up your arms without getting too tight.
Three deep pockets at the rear with a zipped centre pocket containing the trademark GE spare puncture patch and eye-catching, not eyesore reflective piping finishes the spec.
Does it work?
In a word, yes. It’s been ‘throw you off your bike windy’ round here this week but not a whisper of it has got to our delicate bodies thanks to the Windfoil frontage. The fit is great (medium fits a scrawny 6-footer, but there’s spare tyre space) and the long body, high collar and cunning cuffs create an excellent cosy feel for a relatively lightweight top.
Breathability obviously isn’t as good as a light baselayer and you’ll get a damp back on long climbs, but the fabric sucks it through and out fast enough to stop chills on the downhills or when washing the bike after the ride. It also sheds a fair amount of water before it gets soggy too, with drizzle just beading on the surface. Only a real heavy shower actually got through, and it dried out fast enough afterwards to keep body temperature intact.
The deep pockets will swallow a water bottle or jacket with no problem, the elasticated top and jersey cut stop them bouncing around too much while the angled entry makes them easy to use. Zip tabs also make grabbing and opening easy.
Should I buy one?
Most Windstopper or similar garments cost at least £65 and they generally look very roadie with it too. The Frosty Boy combines casual style with first-rate performance and at a great price. If you’ve already got a fleece shirt and want windproofing then a separate gillet (Ground effect Vespa is £21) is probably the most economical way to go, but otherwise it’s a great spring / autumn do it all shirt.
It’s certainly entering the small and exclusive circle of ‘gear that never actually gets put away because it’s either on, or being washed / dried’ .
We’ve also got the Flash Gordon, Cadence, and Montezumas from Ground Effect on test at the moment, so keep watching this space.
Top trivia fact: Ground effect is the aeronautical phenomena where the efficiency of lift of a plane wing is much greater within a certain distance from the ground. However as this is typically about half the wingspan of the plane that means about the height of trees, power cables, hills etc. The Russians were very keen on developing it for crossing the sea or huge areas of flat steppe though.
Not much to do with kiwi bike clobber then!