Critical to this effort is Zoe, an elite cyclist, former racer, and wearer of the first-ever Velocio prototype and each prototype since. She tested the first pair of Signature fly bibs while pregnant with her and Brad’s second child. This was the first story Brad told when asked about the history of the bibs.
“Zoe has been the fit model, the tester, the product feedback front line for all women’s products. Every single piece she’s tried on and tested.”
Tried on, pinned, re-worked, and tried on again. The iterating happened by hand; samples pinned and mailed back to Italy each time.
That first year saw more than a dozen paper designs - a few with bra hook closures, one with snaps, and some too wacky to be remembered. The Y-back design of a typical bib lends to the idea of a fixture at the back - the simplest solution - which permits unhooking of the bib straps entirely and removal of the shorts. The problem is that, once unhooked, the straps will not stay secure on the shoulders - they snap forward like a poorly drawn window shade. A halter strap model solves the problem of the straps staying secure while the bib lower is removed but creates pressure on the neck and compromises chamois-security.
Hence, the fly bibs became an engineering problem. How could one make a short that’s flexible enough to pull down without having to undo a fixture on the straps? Ultimately, the inspiration came from an unlikely place: fashion.
The cross-strap back design is common in fashion - prominent on dresses, among other things. And so are zippers. Any woman who’s ever worn a dress is familiar with the experience of operating a zipper behind her back. So, they experimented with these design elements in a bib. Ultimately, the cross-strap design created stability and support in the lower-short, and also offered greater range of motion due to the longer strap (as compared to a straight suspender). It clicked.
“Did the factory look at you like you were nuts?”
“Yes! They do that a lot” - Brad
There are factories that specialize entirely in the production of elastic straps. Velocio tested a half-dozen elastics before settling on the production choice - a narrow-knit elastic designed to stretch to 2.2x initial length with no fabric fatigue. A cross-strap design that requires 75cm of strap length. 165cm of bib-strap-stretch to work with. Those numbers are important.
“It’s enough that you should be able to take the shorts totally off without removing the bib straps if you’re flexible.” - Brad
It took three full prototypes before the Signature fly bibs were production ready. The last prototypes went to team camp.