At Ride Expeditions we’re big fans of base layers. Whether we’re road riding or venturing onto the rough stuff, they are the first bit of kit we reach for. Having used Alpinestar base layers for the past few years, we wanted to try the latest generation of technical clothing, so we headed for the Forcefield Tech 2 Base layer.
The images and the specification looked great, but was it as good as the manufacturers claimed?
The science behind using base layers on bikes is sound. The tight fit of a garment straight onto your muscles offers a compression function that serves to both contain and stimulate them during the ride. The second function is that of temperature regulation, keeping in the heat in colder conditions and allowing the body to cool properly in hot conditions. Sounds a tall order but they genuinely manage those seemingly disparate functions incredibly well.
If you’ve not worn anything like this before, it’s initially an odd and unfamilar feeling unless you are a card carrying member of a Gimp Club. Whether you’ve chosen the Forcefield kit or another manufacturer’s products, the fit needs to be tight in order to do the intended job. We’re not talking just snug here – more like a second skin over which the rest of your kit is then added.
The images suggested the kit would make you look like Usain Bolt, although the reality is likely to be some distance away from this, but don’t worry – nobody is going to see!
Taking our own advice, we opted for the medium top and the same size in the leggings, choosing a size or often two down from our usual kit size to get the required compression fit. You feel a bit squashed in, but that is the point!
Once on, the Forcefield kit is really comfortable – it’s made on a seamless loom which means exactly that – there are no seams to chafe or rub in delicate areas. The bottom of the shirt is long enough to come down below the waist and not ride up even when enthusiastically riding. Similarly the legggings are long enough in the crotch to pull up high and stay there and the legs long enough to go beyond the ankle. All good then.
When riding, the base layers are largely unnoticeable – exactly as they should be. The combination of the patented breathable BeCool and Dryarn fibres do a great job of wicking away any moisture from sweat, and the soft internal surface means the layers are super comfortable for riding from sunset and beyond. And that’s also thanks to the compression effect of the tight fit – this is intelligent clothing that is helping you to ride better and longer – can’t argue with that really.
Colourwise there’s no choice, just the modest navy blue with yellow detail and that’s a good thing – you certainly don’t want flesh colour – when you already feel like a sausage there’s no need to look like one too ….
If you are wearing the Forcefield Tech 2 Base layers on multiple day rides, the light construction and quick drying properties mean that they will dry out swiftly once off, and if you want to quickly wash it out then they should be dry and ready to go by the morning in most conditions.
Anything else? Well the fabric has anti-bacterial bacterial which should stop it going smelly and mouldy in your kit bag, it’s UV resistant and in terms of washing it’s happy with a machine wash at 40 degrees.
An easy five out of five – once you get used to the tight fit, then the Forcefield base layer is just great to wear. The compression effect genuinely helps your muscles and the soft material is all-day comfortable.
OK so this is an odd category for a layer than will usually not be seen, but all the same the Forcefield kit looks cool in a vaguely Superhero kind of way, but clearly looks better if you are more ‘Gym bunny’ six pack than rather than Stella four pack.
So this is where the Forcefield kit might fall down in many buyer’s minds, and that’s because at £70 for the top and £50 for the leggings, it’s a big price tag for what appear to be such small items. But if you just view them as a base layer alone, you’ve missed the point. The science in the compression fit and the fabric’s ability to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter is genuinely worth it, but it’s still a punchy price!
RIDE EXPEDITIONS STAR RATING - FORCEFIELD TECH 2 BASE LAYER
Despite the high price, we really rate the Forcefield Tech 2 Base Layers – it’s well made, comfortable, can be worn all day for everything from one day to multiple day trips, the compression helps you feel better and tire less during a ride, and the wicking technology keeps you dry and happy on the road or on the trails. Recommended