Review: Morvelo Covert Series Apparel

by
October 24, 2017

morvelo apparel covert vest wil

With hidden storage abound, the Morvelo Covert apparel series is all about ditching the backpack for your regular mountain bike rides.

Brand: Morvelo
Product: Covert Stormshield Bib Shorts, Ambush MTB Base Layer & MTB Gilet
From: Morvelo, morvelo.com
Price: £105 (bib shorts), £45 (base layer), £85 (gilet)
Tested: by Wil Barrett for 6 months

Launching back in 2009 selling cycling-oriented T-shirts, Morvelo has certainly come a long way in the eight years since. The UK brand is still relatively small, with a team of just four people running the show out of Brighton.

We’ve been big fans of the Morvelo apparel range for a good while now, for gear to use both on the road bike and on the mountain bike. And it’s likely this shared attention to detail throughout the entire range that has led to Morvelo’s success. Rather than pigeonholing itself into road or mountain biking, Morvelo simply refers to itself as “a cycling brand”. Indeed the company tag line is #rideeverything, and from what we’ve seen, the company lives by that statement.

As such, Morvelo’s apparel range is broad, and typically works on a six month rotation for each of its new collections. However, the Covert Series is a standalone range. Designed with the sole purpose in mind of reducing your reliance on the backpack (good news given the growing number of full suspension bikes that won’t take a bottle cage), the Covert line is all about stealthy storage.

morvelo covert bib shorts wil
Morvelo recommends wearing the Covert Bib Shorts with other garments over the top.

Morvelo Covert Stormshield Bib Shorts

Made in Europe, the Covert Bib Shorts are available in sizes from Extra Small through to XX-Large. They offer a fairly standard cut, though it’s worth noting that they are on the smaller side. I’d normally wear a size Small in bib shorts, though based on Morvelo’s advice, I’ve upsized to a Medium for these. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been bulking, but sadly it is not. So take care if you’re ordering online, and follow Morvelo’s comprehensive sizing guide.

The Covert Bib Shorts come in two versions; regular and Stormshield. I’ve been testing the Stormshield ones, which are designed for cold weather riding. If you’re after a summer-weight bib short, the standard Covert Bib Shorts are thinner, lighter and £5 cheaper.

morvelo covert bib shorts wil
These are available in standard and Stormshield versions.

Overall the Covert Stormshield Bib Shorts provide a lovely cosy fit, and once on, they stay put too. Made from a thick Italian fleece backed lycra fabric with a multi-panel design, the contoured cut no doubt helps the garment’s ability to remain steady. Wide and thin mesh shoulder braces are just-right for tightness, and they come together on the back in a large brace that helps to spread the load comfortably. The soft silicone leg bands also achieve the Goldilocks balance of being sticky enough to stay put, whilst being flexible enough to avoid pulling and rubbing on this mountain biker’s hairy legs.

The padding itself is a dual-layered number that’s also made in Italy and perforated for ventilation. This is the same chamois used in Morvelo’s road bib shorts, and is one of the standout features of the Covert Bib Shorts.

As for the Covert part, that refers to the three mesh pockets on the rear of the bib shorts that sit just above your bum. They’re made from a stretchy mesh fabric, so you can pack quite a lot into them – gels, keys, a wallet, phone, spare tube – whatever you need to port along with you on a ride.

morvelo covert bib shorts wil
The large stretchy mesh pockets are ideal for carrying a bottle of water, some gels, and your phone.

If you’re wearing baggy shorts, Morvelo has considered that too. The flappy pockets are only stitched along the top, so you can tuck the waistband of your baggy shorts underneath the pockets, giving you access to your bib short cargo whilst riding.

As for comfort? Well, the Covert Stormshield Bib Shorts are quite possibly the most comfortable bib shorts I have ever worn. Seriously. The combination of a multi-panel design and the luxuriously soft Italian Lycra makes these an absolute pleasure to put against one’s skin. If I know I’m going to be in the saddle for multiple hours, these are the shorts that I’m reaching for every time.

Because the lycra is on the thicker side with a fleece-lining, they are lovely and warm for use in the colder months. There’s good insulation around the abdomen, which makes a dramatic difference to riding on particularly foul days. Pair them up with knee or leg warmers for proper cold riding, or leave those legs bare if you’re off for a coolish ride during the shoulder seasons.

morvelo covert bib shorts wil
The open-mesh fabric for the Covert base layer allows it to breath extremely well.

Morvelo Ambush MTB Covert Baselayer

Based on Morvelo’s short sleeve road baselayers, the MTB Covert version uses a similar construction that draws on a lightweight fabric that’s made with elastane. Also available in sizes from X-Small through to XX-Large, the Ambush MTB Covert Baselayer offers a highly stretchy fit that hugs the body for a close-to-skin fit.

The fabric itself is made with an open mesh construction, which aims to absorb sweat from your skin and spread it over a bigger surface area to help increase cooling when riding in warmer conditions. As the name, suggests, it is designed to be worn under another layer, but it can also just about pass as a jersey on really warm days. Grit.cx Tech Editor Tom took the Ambush out to the Alps last summer for the Torino-Nice Rally and appreciated the airy nature of the top while riding in 30ºC+ heat every day. However, for the UK it is more likely that the Ambush will be worn underneath other layers for colder riding conditions, where it serves as nice thin and lightweight undergarment. It also means that you can choose to wear a non-pocketed jersey or top like a merino t-shirt over the top for street styles, but maintain the ability to carry a spare tube underneath.

morvelo covert bib shorts wil
If you prefer wearing baggy jerseys or tech-tees, the Covert base layer is ideal for storing those things that your pocket-less jersey can’t.
morvelo covert bib shorts wil
Wil isn’t convinced by the front pockets though.

There’s a full length zipper down the front of the base layer, which makes it quick and easy to fit or remove as the temperature fluctuates throughout a ride. On the front of the base layer you’ll find two small stretch pockets that are secured with velcro tabs. Combined with the Covert Bib Shorts, this increases the amount of supplies you can carry on your body, particularly food and sports nutrition that you may want quick access to. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of stowing that many goods on the front of my tummy. Once you’re leant over in a riding position, you won’t want to be putting multi-tools or tyre levers in there, but lightweight things like a bank card or cash were a-ok.

On the back are three conventional jersey pockets, with a nice and wide opening for jamming my hand in to fish around for car keys or a mobile phone. There’s a load of room inside these pockets, so you can really jam ’em full of crap if you feel the need to carry an extra spare tube, a spare water bottle, or another piece of cake.

morvelo covert bib shorts wil
The Covert MTB Gilet is a standout.

Morvelo Stealth Covert MTB Gilet

A good quality gilet (I prefer the English word ‘vest’ personally, but then hey, I’m not making apparel am I?) is the keystone piece to riding comfort in a wide variety of conditions. Keeping your core warm and protected from the elements can go a long way when things turn south.

Designed to be compact enough to fit inside the back of a jersey pocket, or your hydration pack, the Stealth Covert MTB Gilet is a highly versatile protective layer for your torso.

Like most of Morvelo’s apparel line, the Stealth Covert MTB Gilet is made in Europe, and it’s constructed from a rather fancy feeling windproof fabric that also happens to be water resistant. The back of the gilet is made from breathable mesh, allowing heat to exhaust off your back as the riding temp begins to increase. If things warm up significantly, a full-length zip can be opened up to increase airflow as needed.

morvelo covert bib shorts wil
Luxurious windproof fabric and a slim, tailored cut gives the MTB Gilet a cosy fit.

With its high collar and dropped tail, the Stealth Covert MTB Gilet offers loads of coverage to keep you shielded from the elements. It remains relatively close-fitting and flap-free, though thanks to the panelled construction and a slight amount of stretch to the fabric, it never feels restrictive. As with the Covert Bib Shorts I’m also using a medium size in the gilet, so don’t forget that sizing is on the small side with Morvelo’s gear. In terms of length it is slightly longer than Morvelo’s road version. This means it plays a little nicer with baggy shorts, though it doesn’t look out of place with lycra.

On the back of the gilet are three generous pockets, and they’re topped with an elastic hem to keep the pocket contents stable on your back. A fourth concealed pocket uses a small zipper to keep particularly jumpy contents secure.

morvelo covert bib shorts wil
The rear pockets are plenty deep for swallowing stuff.
morvelo covert bib shorts wil
There’s a small hidden zippered pocket for securing smaller essentials.

As with the bib shorts and base layer, the Stealth Covert MTB Gilet fits wonderfully. It’s a well-tailored garment that is not only functional, it also looks quality too. It’s supremely versatile – I wear it for commuting, road riding, mountain biking, ‘cross racing, and anything else on two wheels really. For cooler autumn days, it works nicely on its own with either a short of long-sleeve base layer underneath. For days where the wind lashes with more ferocity, wear it as a core-warming mid-layer with a long sleeve jacket over the top. And if you heat up enough to warrant stripping it off, it’s plenty compact to stash in a backpack or inside a handlebar bag.

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Morvelo has both form and function covered with the Covert apparel line. This kit is lovely to wear on and off the bike.

Overall

Morvelo’s Covert Series combines clever hidden storage features with the kind of quality fabrics and tailoring that the brand is known for with its regular apparel line. As such, the Covert line makes for some of the most versatile riding kit going – the bib shorts and gilet in particular have been regular staples in my cycling wardrobe. And with the ability to swallow up all the supplies you need for an afternoon of two-wheeled exploring, I’m more than happy to kiss my riding pack goodbye whenever possible.

Review Info

Brand: Morvelo
Product: Covert Stormshield Bib Shorts, Ambush MTB Base Layer & MTB Gilet
From: Morvelo, morvelo.com
Price: £105 (bib shorts), £45 (base layer), £85 (gilet)
Tested: by Wil Barrett for 6 months

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Clothing review