I sometimes wear Performance brand stuff. [gasps]
There. I've said it. What can I say. It's cheap, the clothing is pretty decent quality, and I don't feel right wearing team jerseys and maillots jaune, things like that, which I have not earned. I would look good in Team CSC kit... I have it on good authority that Ivan Basso actually weighs 244 pounds, but the black of is so slimming he actually looks underfed. I'd groove on that. But I've never won a race, much less nationals, much less racing on the ProTour for Bjarne Riis. No, it wouldn't feel right. Consequently, I've been riding in Performance gear, and recently branched out into some other brand names while waiting damn near 8 months for my Squadra Coppi kit, which I feel I've earned by virtue of racing for the Squadra, and of course by writing a dues check. And as we all know, Performance gear is gauche, right?
One of my fellow club members recently sold me a couple pairs of Squadra bib shorts he hadn't worn before, made by our sponsor and supplier, Voler. Imagine my shock and horror, when I discovered the chamois in the nice Voler shorts is identical to the chamois in my Performance Ultra Bib Shorts.
Yes, I know. It's horrifying that Performance might be offering premium kit at a low rent price.
But relax, oh sponsor. It wasn't cheap or low rent from Performance. The Ultra Bib Shorts run between $70 and $85 or so. They aren't cheap and actually probably cost more than the equivalent Voler product, the bottom tier shorts, and the Performance shorts definitely cost way more after you take Voler's sponsor discount into account.
Still, it was a pretty weird find, kind of like discovering the engine in your vintage Jaguar was actually made by Chevy. Maybe it was a top quality engine, but still, it's a bit jarring.
Then you realize: if it's good, it doesn't matter who made it. What matters is, it's good.
Both the Performance Ultras and the Volers are pretty damn good shorts. Not as nice as my Castellis, but both are much cheaper, and frankly, the performance differential isn't noticeable except on extreme rides, where the Castellis shine.
So what I'm saying is, if it's cheap and it works, wear it. Screw your friends in their Assos gear... if they think paying way more for equivalent functionality is cool because that's what the cool kids do, then it is probably best to let them keep thinking that way. Stupidity and high school-type thinking about what's cool and what isn't, is it's own punishment.
As for me... I'll stick with Voler now that I'm with a club that's sponsored by them. Equal shorts, and Voler sells them about $10 cheaper, and Voler sponsors the sport pretty heavily... no contest.