The riding year kinda looks like this for me in Hood River, OR: Fall is awesome because all the dusty, crusty trails turn back into Velcro dirt… for a little while, anyway. Then winter comes in and dirt time becomes limited to a few select trails that are below the snow line and road trips to the desert. Springtime rolls around again and I start remembering how to ride by about mid-April. Next thing I know, it’s summer and I’m constantly checking trail reports to see which trails have melted out. Rinse and repeat. But summertime rules. Mainly because all the trails are snow-free and ready to rock, even if they start getting dusty and loose by mid-summer.
This year the drear of winter finally gave way to golden sunshine sometime in mid-April. As the trails have melted out, care packages have arrived, allowing Nikki and I to start reviewing a fresh batch of clothing for Pinkbike. As Nikki mentioned in her woman’s clothing review, it will be a three part review this year: five different kits from each of us, a clip shoes review (neither of us have ever really been flat pedal riders despite numerous attempts), and then a summer gear essentials piece.
About the tester: Colin Meagher
Height: 5’9” (176 cm)
Inseam: 30.5” 9 (77.5 cm)
Weight: 165 lb (75 kg)
Waist: 33” (82 cm)
Chest: 40” (101 cm)
Colin Meagher typically wears an M or L glove (depending on the manufacturer), size M helmet, and wears a size 9.5-10 US size in shoes (again, depends on the manufacturer).
Full disclosure: Colin’s worked as a photographer in the industry since 1996, and while he has no industry affiliations (i.e. sponsorships) nearly every company making bikes, bike apparel, or gear has at some point been a client. This doesn’t mean he has any particular bias either for or against any of the clothing or gear reviewed here.
Men's Dirt Roamer Short and Nine Trails Bike JerseyPatagonia needs no introduction as a manufacturer of performance outdoor apparel. What’s new, though, is that they have stepped deeper into the mountain bike apparel pond than last year’s introductory offer. They now have two different shorts, and a number of jerseys. We opted to go for the more well-rounded Dirt Roamer Shorts and the three-quarter sleeve Nine Trails Bike Jersey for our review.
Men's Dirt Roamer Shorts
Patagonia's Dirt Roamer Short and Nine Trails three-quarter sleeve jersery.
Size 28-40 in whole sizes (tested size 32)
Colors: Coriander Brown (tested), Dolomite Blue, and Forge Grey
Patagonia's new Dirt Roamer Bike Short utilizes a 4-way stretch fabric (87% recycled polyester/13% spandex) in the body of the short with sonic welding on all seams. This reduces weight and allows the short to stretch and move as a single garment when riding, regardless of whether that’s out of the saddle, full tilt boogie pedaling or hours of grinding uphill. It has an articulated cut at the waist to accommodate the riding position, with a scalloped cut at the knee (it’s slightly longer in the front of the knee than behind) to eliminate fabric bunching. The fit is managed via Patagonia’s OppoSet waist adjuster. The inseam measures at just under 12 inches long, and while the cut of the short is more fitted, it is designed to work well with low profile protection. There is a single zip pocket on the left thigh. Integrated snaps on the inside of the waist are meant for Patagonia’s Endless Ride liner short ( sold separately for $79); these liners were designed in conjunction with the Dirt Roamers for seamless performance but any chamois short will work just fine (although they won't clip in).
Details of the Dirt Roamer Short: button fly and sonic welds.
I tested the Dirt Roamers in a size 32. I am currently measuring as a size 33, but there’s enough stretch that they fit me comfortably. The sonic welded seams made for surprisingly easy movement when riding; there were absolutely no seams to bind on either my skin, my liner shorts, or knee guards (G-form for this test), so I had full range of movement. Enough so that minutes into the ride I kinda forgot about the test and was just focused squarely on dirt surfing my way through Post Canyon. The light fabric composing the body dries fast and breathes exceptionally well. The OppoSet waist tab adjuster is easy to grab and adjust and stayed in place when I used it. I tend to prefer hip pockets, and I’m right handed, so getting used to a left hand only thigh pocket had me a bit grumpy at first, but I can't fault how functional it is: my phone slipped to a corner and remained unnoticed there for the duration of my testing.
I wasn’t particularly a fan of Patagonia‘s first mtb short offering, the Dirt Craft shorts. It was a good short, but too XC oriented for my taste. However, Patagonia's nailed it with this particular short. I do prefer a longer inseam—14” (give or take an inch) is my preference as it offers that extra bit of coverage from brush whips on some of the more remote trails I like exploring; but I had no complaints with the 11 ¾ inch inseam of the Dirt Roamer Shorts. This was by far the lightest weight pair of shorts that I tested. Given their weight, breathability, and purely functional design, I think these are perfect for spending hours in the saddle on extended back country missions. Think classic long hauls like "Comfortably Numb" or "Angel's Staircase", but they're just as good for lunch rides, too.
Men's Nine Trails Jersey
The Dirt Roamer's OppoSet waist tab adjuster and the zippered stash pocket.
XS-XXL (tested size M)
Colors: Black (tested), Dolomite Blue, and Coriander Brown
Patagonia’s Nine Trails three-quarter length sleeve jersey is designed to be a highly breathable performance mountain bike jersey. It utilizes a 100% polyester fabric with Patagonia’s “Polygiene” odor control. It’s Bluesign approved, meaning that it's created from the ground up with an environmentally friendly footprint. The jersey uses articulated seams and a slight drop seat to contour to a riding position. There’s a small zippered pocket at the right hip for keys or other valuables. Last, flatlock stitching on all seams minimizes (if not eliminates) chafing. The sleeves are roomy enough to allow for elbow guards if that's the way you roll.
Details of the Nine Trails Jersey: Drop seat and the small zip pocket on the back of the right side.
Three-quarter length sleeve jerseys rule in my humble opinion for the simple reason that they offer more coverage for sunny days without the heat of a full sleeve jersey, and the extra coverage tends to ward off “whip” marks from brush on high speed or overgrown sections of trail. That’s not to say that a short sleeve or long sleeve jersey doesn’t have its place. I just happen to like a jersey that’s right in between.
The fit of the Nine Trails was excellent. The fabric is soft on the skin— it felt more like cotton than polyester, but it wasn't clingy like cotton and breathed pretty damn well. Mobility on the bike was excellent, and while I can definitely sweat, the Polygiene odor control kept stink at bay. The flat lock seams ruled; they were pretty much unnoticeable when riding, both with and without a pack. The sleeves are a bit roomy at the cuff to allow for the use of protection but were still tapered enough that they didn't flap. I don't typically use pockets but this one was easy to access, and handled essentials like credit card, ID, and a bar easily enough.
This is a great choice as an understated go-to summertime jersey. It fits and breathes well, yet also wards off brush strikes without snagging. Nor is it so gaudy that it screams “bike nerd!” I do like a bit more taper at the end of the sleeve, but that's a personal nit pick; from a functional and aesthetic perspective, this jersey is a great choice for whatever riding you like to do.
Nine Trails Jersey collar and flat lock seams.
Indicator Pants and Attack Pro SS Jersey Fox Racing is all in when it comes to design; rather than a paint by numbers approach, the design studio is staffed by people who ride, and there's a pump track out back for lunch time or after work sessions, which also doubles as a quick fit/function test track for prototypes.
Fox Racing Indicator Pants
Fox Racing Indicator Pants and Attack Pro SS Jersey.
Size 28-40 in whole sizes (tested size 32)
Colors: black is the new black (tested)
Fox states that their Indicator Pants are designed for enduro racing and all day singletrack adventures “for all but the warmest days”. It utilizes their TruMotion 4-way stretch fabric for unimpeded movement with a generous amount of laser venting on the inner thighs for cooling air flow. The idea behind this pant was for a durable, abrasion resistant garment to protect the rider from trailside hazards: cuts, scrapes, poison oak, and whip marks from high speed brush encounters. It has a more fitted cut than classic DH pants so it’s not loose, but it’s not really a pair of pajama pants either; rather it sits smack dab between DH pants and Lycra. The cut is fitted for Fox's Rider Attack Position (RAP). It features a ratchet waist closure with a half fly for a dialed fit, and a highly elastic "Y-Fold" waist band to keep the pant in place. There are also elastic cuffs at the ankle to keep the pant legs from riding up. A zippered pocket on the left hip rounds out the details.
Details on the Indicator Pants: The Y-Fold waist band and ankle cuffs.
I’m not usually a mountain bike pant kind of guy, but these ones have me rethinking that concept. The fit was excellent. They are definitely cut for the riding position: in no way did they hamper my peddling, nor did they interfere with my body movements when piloting the bike on my favorite trails. I tested them with both 7idp’s Transition knee guards as well as Fox’s Launch Enduro knee guards, but even with the bulk of lighter weight knee protection, the pants offered easy movement on the bike. The Y-Band Waist Band (or as I referred to it: the “super band waist band”) elastic was somewhat disconcerting at first: it’s stretchy enough I was concerned that the pant would slip down during riding but they stayed securely in place the whole time and were super comfortable against my skin. Last, they breathed reasonably well, keeping me from overheating despite a few aggressive climbs in warm weather.
The Indicators are a solid offering: they fit well and performed flawlessly. I have no idea how well they would hold up in a crash, but they kept my skin in one piece despite a bit of high speed whipping on one particularly overgrown section of trail. However, I do have a couple nitpicks: despite the laser venting, they are warmer than a pair of shorts; you just can’t get around the fact that more fabric will impede breathability. The laser venting in the crotch is a big help; but with knee guards on, the knee and shin area tends to heat up noticeably on warmer days. The second is that the Y-Band waist is almost too elastic; I’m a solid 33” waist and the size 34” pant I first tried on was way too loose, even with the ratchet snugged as tight as it would go; I had to go down a size. So size accordingly when buying.
Attack Pro Jersey
The ratchet closure and half fly as well as the laser cut venting.
Size S-XL (tested size M)
Colors: Red/Black (tested), Black, and Yellow/Black.
The Attack Pro jersey utilizes two different fabrics for its construction. On the one hand you have Polartec’s Delta fabric throughout the body of the jersey. This is a cutting-edge fabric designed to mimic the body’s ability to cool itself. It's meant to be a next to skin item so that the Delta Fabric's wicking and breathability can function to actually lower your body temperature as you ride. It doesn’t cling, either, and it resists body funk, too. The sleeves utilize a laser-vented, light weight Cordura fabric to resist abrasion from brush and pack straps. There’s a slight drop tail to keep roost at bay. There are no pockets or goggle wipes. Last, seams are flat stitched to guard against chafing.
Details on the Attack Pro jersey: the drop seat and the laser vented Cordura sleeves.
I tested the size M of the Attack Pro. I’m a 40-inch chest, which is right at the upper edge of Fox’s size medium, and the lower end of their size large, but I prefer a more fitted cut, so Fox sent me the size M. The fit was bang on for my taste. More importantly, the breathability was off the charts—I can tolerate a poor fitting jersey but I tend to sweat a lot. As a result, I refuse to wear anything that breathes like a trash bag (unless it’s raining cats and dogs; then I’ll gladly don a trash bag). The Attack Pro offered the closest thing to riding without a shirt on that I’ve experienced. It breathed like a champ and even though I was putting in a hard effort on the climb up Post Canyon, I stayed cool and dry. I wasn't in a lab, but I make a pretty good lab rat, and I'd say the Delta fabric performed as it's supposed to.
This is another solid choice as a great summer mountain biking jersey. It doesn’t matter if you’re into just trail riding, all day epics, or enduro racing; the Attack Pro SS jersey flat out performs. When you take into account the fit, the breathability, and it’s overall performance, this is a tough jersey to beat. I can’t help but wish that it came in a three-quarter sleeve offering but despite that, it has a place on my “go to” jersey list.
The collar and a detail shot of the flat stitching of the Attack Pro Jersey.
The Glidepath Short and Desperado Merino Henley JerseyBy now 7Mesh needs no introduction. Their position as a top-tier mountain bike clothing manufacturer is well established. This year I revisited the Glidepath Short: 7Mesh’s flagship mountain bike shorts, and test drove their classic take on a Henley style of jersey, the Desperado Merino Henley Jersey.
Men's Glidepath Short
7Mesh Glidepath Short and Merino Henley SS Jersey.
XS-XXL (tested size M)
Colors: Rust (tested), Two Ball Blue, and Bad Ash Grey
The Glidepath short is designed to be a lightweight, exceptionally rugged, top-shelf trail riding short. Soma 2-way stretch fabric makes up the body of the short, offering a combination of durability and abrasion resistance despite the lighter weight of the fabric. It utilizes two hand pockets, two securely zippered side pockets with integrated phone/wallet sleeves, reflective bits for after dark visibility, and the user’s choice of either belt loops or a low profile locking waist strap to secure the fit. There is a single snap closure and a DWR coating to help repel showers and mud. The short has a 4-way gusset at the crotch for ease of movement and to eliminate seams that could chafe. The inseam measures 15”.
7Mesh Glidepath short details: zippered back pockets for valuables and belt loops or a locking waist strap to dial in the fit at the waist.
This is – as are all 7mesh garments— a phenomenal article of riding apparel. The size M fit me with a bit of room to spare. It moved well against the body and light protection. It’s not as fitted as some other garments in this test, yet isn’t so roomie as to flap annoyingly when ripping down the trail at warp factor ten. The pockets are well placed, making it easy for me to reach anything I stored in them, and the zippered rear pockets offered secure storage for my phone. Breathability was ok--I never overheated, but it wasn't a particularly hot day, either.
This is a fairly expensive short especially since it doesn't come with a liner short. However, given 7mesh’s reputation and my personal experience with a previous version of this short (tested spring of 2016, and still going strong), shelling out $140 for this short is money well spent: It’s light (although not as light as the Patagonia), it’s comfortable, performs well, yet it’s also incredibly durable and based on my last experience, it should last for years.
Men's Desperado Merino Henley
Glidepath Shorts fasten securely closed with a single snap; the zipper pulls on the rear pockets are easy to grasp with gloves on.
XS-XXL (tested size M)
Colors: Stone (tested), Blue Steel, Black, and Pine (blue steel and pine are currently 40 % off).
The Desperado is designed to be as good looking and as practical off the bike as on the bike. The fabric is a merino/polyester blend (47% merino, 53% polyester) designed for next to skin comfort, and to breathe and wick, yet able to resist the body funk of an all day ride. It’s cut and fit are optimized for the riding position, with a slight drop seat to keep the backside covered. The three snap Henley style neck works somewhat for ventilation, and offers loads of style. It doesn’t look like a cycling jersey. Just a nice, yet understated short sleeved Henley shirt.
The "Henley" in the Desperado Merino Henley Jersey
I tested a size medium, and the fit was, well, fitted. But that was fine for me – I don't like Lycra for riding in the dirt, but I don't like wearing a tent, either. But for more of a street casual look, you may opt to go for a size larger. Like most 7Mesh apparel, at first glance it appears pretty basic: there’s no pockets, there’s no goggle wipe… it’s just a short sleeve jersey with a few snaps on the neck. But that’s the point: the quality is hidden in subtle details: the fabric feels silky smooth, the seams are flat lock stitched so as to be unnoticeable, even when wearing a pack. And the merino wool blend did what merino wool does only better: it wicked sweat and breathed like a champ, but after a two-hour sweat fest of a ride, I didn’t smell like an escapee from a commercial pig farm.
All in all, a great performing item. If you're intent on flying under the radar at a BBQ or in the pub immediately after a summer ride, then this is the jersey for you. Its understated look doesn’t scream bike geek, and even if you’ve been out for a three or four hour ride, as long as you haven’t been bathing yourself in mud, no one will be the wiser when you stroll in.
Desperado Merino Henley Jersey details: Henley snaps and flatlock stitched seams.
Men's Indy Shorts and Ambush Three-Quarter Sleeve Jersey.Race Face is about as OG as it gets. They've been making rider inspired apparel seemingly since the first roadies left the pavement to dip their toes into the primordial muck of mountain biking and discover how much fun sideways on dirt can be. And they keep making better stuff every year.
Men's Indy Shorts
The Race Face Indy Short and Ambush 3/4 Sleeve Jersey.
Sizes S-XXL (tested size M)
Colors: Black, Grey (tested), and Moss
Race Face revised their popular Indy Short during the dark months and made a good short into a great short. Improvements include a 4-way stretch fabric in the body for better movement when deep in mtb karate sessions, laser venting on the inner thighs to keep you cool on hot days, a raised back to keep trail debris out of the dark star, and a slip surface to help the short glide over knee guards. There are Velcro external waist adjusters and a dual snap waist fastener. It features three pockets for stashing gear: two zip pockets on the thighs, and an ID/credit card pocket on the raised back panel. Bonus: all seams are double-stitched throughout the body for added durability.
Details of the Race Face Indy Shorts: Velcro waist tabs to dial in the fit and zippered pockets for secure storage.
These were tested on a semi-technical trail with a lot of flowy berms. The Indy Short moves well, and never bound up on either the bike or my liner short. The high back was welcome as I did some loam mining while testing, but no dirt infiltrated my back side. The pockets were easy to reach and the zipper pulls made opening or closing them easy, even when wearing gloves. The best thing, though was not hearing the "zzzzzt, zzzzzt" of my knee pads rubbing the inside of the short. That slip surface both quieted things down to a whisper and kept my short from binding on my protection. They also breathed quite well; I tested these on an unseasonably warm spring day (82F/28C) and wasn’t stewing in my chamois, even on the exposed climb back out.
This is a great fitting, great performing short. The 15-inch inseam was a perfect length for me, too, offering maximum protection from abrasion by eliminating gaper gap between knee guards and the hem of the short while pedaling without going so long as to even come close to being called knickers. The Raceface shorts tend to have an exacting fit—M is meant to max out with a 31.5” waist. Thanks to the 4-way stretch fabric, I was able to squeeze my 33” waist into them without a worry (although it was a tight fit!). Realistically I should have sized up to an L, but I sized with the intent of working off the winter weight. Unless you want to muffin top, keep that in mind when purchasing.
Ambush ¾ Sleeve Jersey
Details of the Race Face Indy Shorts: Dual snap waist retention and laser cut venting.
Sizes S-XXL (tested size M)
Color: Black (tested), Slate
The relaxed fit Ambush has been a standard Race Face jersey since forever. And since I’m a sucker for a three-quarter sleeve jersey, I was stoked to see the latest version retains the simplicity and performance I’ve grown to love.
Details of the Race Face Ambush 3/4 Sleeve Jersey: crew neck design and detail of the mesh back fabric.
The Ambush is made from 100% polyester fabric. It has a crew collar and utilizes flatlock stitching throughout the construction to minimize chaffing. It has a mesh back for breathability. The graphics are sublimated, so they’ll never fade.
For me, the Ambush ticks all the boxes. I tested the size M, and it was just the right fit for me: not so loose as to flap around but definitely not skin tight either. It moved great with or without a pack or hip pack on. Add in the great breathability of the mesh back panel and it’s a "put it on and forget about it" kind of garment. Sure, it could have a stash pocket or a goggle wipe to bling it up, but those aren’t really necessary. It’s great the way it is.
Traze_Amp Shorts and SS Tee Traze_Amp Jersey Ion may be best known for surf type apparel but they continue to make superior quality mountain bike riding apparel, too. But I suspect that Mike Hopkins' Dreamride III video will put a lot more eyes on how stylish their stuff is.
Ion's Traze_Amp Short and Tee SS Traze_Amp Jersey.
Sizes S-XXL (tested size S)
Colors: Sleet, Black, Blue Night (tested), Vinaceous
Ion’s Traze _Amp Shorts are designed as a go-to trail riding short. It’s a regular-fit short constructed from a rugged 4-way stretch fabric for on the bike freedom of movement. The beauty is in the details, though: triple stitched seams add durability, laser-cut ventilation holes on the inseam (“Jet Stream” ventilation they call it) for breathability, and Velcro waist tab adjusters for a dialed fit. Ion also has a privacy flap in the fly, which fastens securely with a single, Velcro reinforced snap. There are two zippered front hand pockets; the right-hand pocket includes an integrated neoprene phone pouch to help protect the contents against light rain and mild impacts. There are reflective details for visibility on evening rides. It has an integrated hanger hook in the back of the waistband.
Details of the Ion Traze_Amp Shorts: The phone sleeve and the Velcro waist adjusters.
I tested this short in size S (30”-33” by Ion’s fit chart) on a trail loaded with flowy berms mixed with some semi-technical rock and root choked sections of loamy goodness. The price for that is a steep-ish 3km 750 vertical foot uphill grind through an old clear cut without a scrap of shade (a tough go on my test ride: it was 82F/28C out there in the heat). The short moved well while throwing shapes and limbo dancing down the slightly overgrown trail, never binding on my body, knee guards, or hooking the saddle. I can’t say as to whether it was the laser vent holes or not, but on the climb out I didn’t have any crotch pot cooking going on despite the unseasonably warm weather.
Overall the fit and function of the short were outstanding. I would definitely consider this a solid choice for an all-day trail riding short. The length was just about perfect in my mind (I measured a 13.5” inseam—when standing the lower hem came to just below my kneecap) and it moved well no matter what my position on the bike was. I have only two nitpicks: first, the sizing is a bit on the snug side. I am currently rocking a 33-inch waist (I blame the winter beer), so right on the upper edge of a size S by their fit charts, but I definitely had to suck it in a bit to snap them closed. Second, the smart phone sleeve is decidedly small; good luck getting anything larger than an iPhone 5S in that thing! But otherwise a well thought out and solid performing short.
Tee SS Traze_Amp Jersey
Details of the Traze_Amp Shorts: Velcro reinforced button snap with privacy patch fly and laser cut "Jet Stream" venting.
Sizes S -XXL (L tested)
Colors: Black, Blaze (red), Blue Night (tested), Sleet, Torrent Blue
Last year’s Scrub Amp jersey impressed me with fit and function, and this year’s Traze Amp jersey does exactly the same, but in a regular fitting but more breathable short sleeve garment. The Traze Amp is constructed from two fabrics: a “quick-dry” fabric on the front and back, and side panels constructed of a fast wicking fabric. The fabrics are woven with a Velcro resistant pique structure. The cool tech is in the fabric of the main panels: the “Channel Flow Lite” fabric. It’s woven from a polyester fiber that has a mixture of burnt bamboo nano particles mixed with the polymers during the fiber’s production; this works to enhance the cooling performance of the fabric, kind of like Sugoi’s IceFil fabric and Polartec's Delta fabric. It also has an integrated microfiber glasses /goggles wipe as well as small pocket on the back left side of the tee that fastens closes with a small zipper. Perfect for credit cards and/or ID.
Details of the Tee SS Traze_Amp Jersey : the drop seat and zippered pocket on the left, the goggle/glasses wipe on the right.
As mentioned, I tested the Ion clothing on an unusually warm spring day. The Tee SS Traze Amp jersey fit well in the shoulders but the regular cut of the jersey was a bit roomy in the torso compared to the more fitted jerseys I tested; I guess I've grown used to the more fitted trend the past few years of most mtb apparel. Regardless, it moved nicely against my body. I'm typically a three-quarter length sleeve kind of guy, but on the day I tested this item, I appreciated the extra breathability of the short sleeves. I’m not sure if it was the fabric or not, but despite the blazing heat on the completely exposed 3 km climb back to the trailhead I didn’t sweat like a pig, although I definitely suffered on the steeper bits.
Overall I was impressed—this is a pretty sweet jersey. There’s a slight drop seat on the back to help protect from roost and/or trail spackle. And all the other details seem to be well thought out: flat seams help keep chafing to a minimum if you’re wearing a pack, there's a nice shoulder yoke, and it has excellent breathability. It fits well despite that roomy torso, and plays nicely with a hip or a hydration pack. I don’t know if it was the charcoal bamboo nano particles or not but I stayed nice and cool despite the pedaling efforts of the climb out.
Special thanks to my stunt double Jameson Florence
Details of the Tee SS Traze_Amp: Flat lock stitching to reduce chafing and a nice crew neck.