My family and friends are so accustomed to me wearing and testing cycling clothes, I rarely get a comment when I show up for a ride wearing a new jersey or pair of shorts. So it spoke to how stinking cute the Samsara kits are that everyone told me so when I slipped on the Performance Raglan Jersey and Performance Short for a summer spin.
Like pretty much all of our favorite cycling clothing, Samsara is a women’s-specific company. Their cycling clothes are high-end and high quality, and will assure you look good on the bike as well.
Both my sister and I have been rolling around in several Samsara pieces for the last month. We’ve found them to be comfortable and flattering. Learn more in this review.
Review In A Nutshell
- Shorts come in two lengths
- Made in N. America (except for the socks)
- Good for sensitive skin
- High quality, durable construction
- Sizing didn’t seem to be consistent
Where To Buy: https://www.samsara-cycle.com/
Performance Raglan Jersey
The Performance Raglan Jersey is a high-quality women’s cycling jersey that pairs well with the Performance shorts. (More on that in a moment).
Overall, I was really happy with the fit of the Performance Raglan jesery. I ordered a size medium and I’m 5’5″, 125 pounds.
I don’t like my jerseys too super tight, and this one wasn’t. There wasn’t any clinging at the belly or across my shoulders.
The sleeves are longer which I liked. That said, I have really thin arms and I feel like if I had more muscular arms the sleeves may have been a little snug.
The back of the jersey is longer, and paired with the Performance shorts, there is plenty of overlap so you don’t have to worry about any plumbers crack or lower back showing even when leaned over in an aggressive position.
Three Rear Pockets
The jersey has three separated rear pockets. I was happy to find that they were both wide and deep enough to accommodate my oversize phone, and I didn’t have to worry about it falling out.
Really Soft Fabric And Kind To Sensitive Skin
The fabric was crazy soft, and didn’t irritate my sensitive skin at all. There weren’t any tags to cut out which was also nice.
Full Length Zipper
I always prefer a jersey with a full length zipper. It’s easier to put on over bibs, and easier to get off when you are sweaty and wet.
The zipper on the Raglan jersey was smooth and seemed high quality. I don’t foresee it breaking any time soon.
Good For Summer Days
It’s been crazy hot and sunny in the west this summer, so I’ve appreciated that the jersey has both UPF protection and is quick drying and breathable. There is also a significant amount of mesh built into the jersey in panels.
The mesh goes up both sides of the jersey and under the arms (hello pit ventilation!), and up the back of the jersey. This made it a great choice even for the hottest rides.
Samsara has one short, the Performance short, though it comes in two different length options–9″ or 7″. I actually really appreciate this, as we all have different preferences on how much coverage we want.
Again, I went with a size Medium in these shorts. (I usually wear a size 6 in bottoms, for reference, and have thicker thighs). They fit perfectly.
In addition to the 7″ and 9″ shorts, there is also an “original” short with different sizing. Like I’ll mention again later on, I did find this to be confusing. It would be nice if Samsara could be consistent with their sizes across pieces.
Let’s be real–what we’re all really looking for in a pair of bike shorts is a good chamois. The 11mm thick chamois in the Samsara Performance short was VERY comfortable, caused no weird rubbing for me, and was comfortable on training rides of several hours.
Almost as important as comfort, for me, is the quality and durability of a chamois. It doesn’t seem that difficult to create a comfy chamois, it does seem harder to find one that is well made and won’t fall apart.
I always try to put a pair of shorts thru as many wash cycles as possible to see if any threads start coming loose or if there is any sign that the chamois might not hold up long term. With the Samsara chamois, it was clear that I’ll be wearing and abusing these shorts for a long time to come.
Fabric & Construction
One thing that I thought was unique about the Performance short is that they have 2 layers. The outer fabric and a very thin inner layer that the chamois is sewn into. This means that you don’t see any stitching for the chamois on the outside of the short.
The outside fabric is sewn into multiple panels and all of the stitching is high quality. Unlike other shorts I’ve tested, I haven’t had any loose threads on these.
Waist and Leg Bands
Both the waist and leg bands were comfortable and stayed in place. The leg bands were nice and wide and gripped well without causing the dreaded sausage leg.
The waistband is wide and didn’t dig in at all. As I’ve already mentioned, I have really sensitive skin and didn’t have any irritation with these shorts.
Fun Colors And Designs
Am I the only one that’s done with boring black shorts? In addition to being a comfortable and durable short, my favorite thing about the Performance short is that it comes in lots of colors. (Although there’s black too if that’s your thing).
The Getaway shirt is a looser, casual looking jersey that turns heads. Seriously, this thing is bright and beautiful, and looks good on the road or trail.
I ordered the Medium of the Getaway for myself. While I was expecting a looser fit, I wasn’t expecting it to be HUGE on me.
My loss was my sister’s gain. She’s bustier and has wider shoulders and the jersey looked amazing on her.
This top also comes in an XXXL, and given the generous cut, would make a great top for plus-sized ladies or those simply looking for more coverage.
Cute On Or Off The Bike
While this is definitely a performance-oriented top and works great on the bike, you won’t have to rush to take it off after your ride. My sister and I went to the local ski mountain bike park for some downhill laps, and then headed to a concert at the lodge.
While I felt less than fashionable watching the concert, she rocked the Getaway shirt. It wasn’t even obvious that it was a bike top.
This makes it a great option for bike touring or traveling–any time you want to get multiple uses out of a piece.
Soft, Lightweight Material
The material on the jersey is incredibly silky and soft. Thanks to the roomier fit it also has lots of airflow, and the fabric dries quickly. This is a great shirt for hot summer days where you don’t want to look (or feel) sweaty and gross.
You might not expect it on this top, but there is a small zippered side pocket. It’s not big enough for much, but can handle some cash or a few gels.
Sensation Long Sleeve Jersey
This is a warmer jersey designed for cool days. I’m not going to lie–I didn’t get a lot of riding in this jersey ’cause it’s just been too hot this summer.
I did take it for an early morning ride and it was cute and comfortable, but just too warm. I will definitely be pulling it out for cooler fall rides. The inside has a soft, almost fleece like feel.
The fit on the Sensation jersey is form fitting but not too tight–it works well for layering over a short sleeve jersey. Like the Raglan jersey, it’s cut longer in the back which I appreciated, and there is a silicone grip to help hold it in place.
There are three rear pockets–two open and one that has a top that folds over. Again, the pockets were deep and wide and I was able to fit my bigger cell phone no problem. I’d also feel comfortable putting a credit card or other valuable in the middle enclosed pocket.
Like the Performance short sleeve jersey, the Sensation has a full length zipper. I liked this as it makes it possible to quickly and easily take on or off if you’re layering on cooler rides.
Performance Crew Socks
Sizes: small/medium (women’s 5-9) &medium/large (women’s 10-13)
Socks are well…socks. I’m not usually too picky about my socks, but I have to admit these were both cute and comfortable.
The material is compressive and gave a nice little squeeze on my calfs. The socks are also really nice and thin and felt great inside my cycling shoes without any bunching. The seamless toe meant no irriation even on long rides, and there are even some tiny little holes built into the fabric near the toes and on top of the foot for some extra breathability.
The best part is that they match the Samsara kits so you get a complete look.
Overall Word On Sizing
The only real criticism I have of the Samsara clothing is the variation in sizing. The sizing for the Raglan jersey versus the Getaway Shirt was wildly different. (And yes, I’m still taking into account the fact that the Getaway jersey was supposed to have a looser fit).
Also, I didn’t try the regular Performance Jersey, but the Samsara website specifically says to order up a size compared to the Raglan jersey. While it’s okay to have differences in fit, I’m not a big fan when you have to change sizes to accommodate those differences.
Using generic sizes (XXS-XXL) rather than 2, 4, 6, etc is always feels like a little bit of a gamble. Still, I liked the clothing enough, that I’d say it’s worth the gamble. Order and exchange if you have to.
Made In N. America
One thing that really sets Samsara apart from its competition is that their clothes are made in N. America–Vancouver to be specific. After talking to other cycling apparel business owners (like Jennifer Kriske from Machines For Freedom and Cassie Able from Wild Rye), I’m painfully aware of just how hard it is to keep manufacturing local.
If you’re the kind of person that cares where there clothing is made, you should definitely take a look at Samsara. The only thing of note is that the socks did say that they were manufactured overseas (which was not immediately evident on the Samsara website).
It’s also obvious that the company is doing their best to be sustainable. The Raglan jersey, for instance, is made from recycled fabric.
More Great Options
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About The Reviewer
Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.
An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.
Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life. Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son. If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.
Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.