About the Review Process
How to gear up for those long days in the sun? First off, just because it’s warm out doesn’t mean ditching a base layer. A sleeveless option will function to wick the sweat off your body and help keep you cool. Secondly, as days grow longer, so do your rides. And, unless you have a taint of steel, a chamois liner short will become your best friend for long days in the saddle. Sure, you can ride without one, but it’s only a matter of time before a long, hot, sweaty ride will chafe your nether side into something resembling a baboon’s ass.
I might recommend turning that comfort level up to 11 by stepping up to a bib short - same awesome powers of sweat absorption and padding, and way more comfortable. The bane of bib shorts (trailside relief) has been mitigated, as some men’s shorts now have a fly - and for women, Giro now offers a halter top bib liner so you don’t have to perform a trail-side strip tease for a pit stop.
Most spring/summer gear is about common sense: lighter weight gloves, shoes that breathe well, and thinner socks. I will typically wear a lightweight set of knee guards, too. The latest “enduro” style knee guards are lightweight and breathe well – and they help me avoid a trip the ER for stitches and time off my bike.
Lastly, mountain weather can be iffy year ‘round, so I’ll typically a have lightweight jacket close at hand, particularly for the early season.
Colin Meagher stands at 5’9” and weighs 165 lbs. with a 32-33” waist, a 40” chest, and a 30.5” inseam. He shares the same measurements as his stunt double, Tyler Horton, who modeled all the men’s gear.
April was typical, with short bursts of warmish days, but mostly sub-60 degree (F) weather. May was rainy with a side of sunshine. Today, as I sit down to write reviews on the gear I have been riding, it is a sweltering 90 degrees and I am dreaming of an air-conditioned office.
As I pack and dress for each ride this time of year, I pay close attention to the forecasts and err on the side of caution with regards to the cold. I can’t really explain the scientific reason why ladies tend to run colder than the guys, so while my partner throws on a short sleeve jersey without much thought, I still contemplate how many layers will be necessary. Regardless of the forecast, I also always stash a lightweight “emergency” jacket in my pack. It’s important to be prepared.
Boxes started arriving in April. All six brands sent short-sleeve jerseys and it was still in the lower 60’s during the day. I cringed as I compared the Skittle colored spring clothing items against my blindingly pale Pacific Northwest skin. I wished I was back in California with my stable tan, but I was thinking crazy.
Spring means fantastic dirt and melting snow and, as if I needed more motivation, I was just handed a pile of new kits - a solid collection of styles and colors, with many shades of purple (a favorite flavor for me) - and any excuse to ride my bike is a good excuse, so long as I feed my kids at least two meals a day and keep my boss happy at the job that pays the bills.
Nikki Hollatz stands 5’5” tall and weighs 130 lbs. with a 28-inch waist, and 37-inch hips. She typically wears a size 6, or medium short and jersey. As with the winter gear review, Nikki does her own stunts.
Like PB’s winter gear review, all tests on the clothing were based on one or two solid rides to assess fit and function vs. doing a long-term test for durability. A “solid” ride was defined as a minimum one-hour ride. Testing consisted of laps on a nine-mile trail with 1500 vertical elevation gain - the bulk of that climb comes in a two mile kick in the cardio testicles at the end of that ride. There were also a number of shuttle runs in Hood River’s Post Canyon, a few multi-hour adventures in Sedona, Arizona, Leavenworth, and Tiger Mountain in Washington. Temps were typically mid-70 to 80 degrees F (24-29C) - Except on Tiger Mountain where Mother Nature showed her sweet side and rained cats and dogs on us until we left town.
We were primarily testing jerseys, shorts and base layer pieces for this review, but manufacturers often included additional items which we often used in the photos to illustrate how they might integrate into their spring/summer ranges. We included MSRP on those items, but no reviews.
Giro jumped into the apparel game recently with top-quality kits designed to appeal to road or gravel riders who weren’t into the Lycra look. Then came top shelf lycra. So, was it any surprise when dirt-specific items appeared on Giro’s menu this year? Not hardly. It’s been a methodical approach, and Giro is zigging while everyone else is zagging: almost everyone is churning out enduro-specific mountain bike clothing, but Giro’s initial foray into mtb specific clothing aims directly at the all-day XC trail rider, with kits suitable for multi hour rides, and just as ideal for a lunch ride or a spin to the bar to meet friends for happy hour.Men’s Truant Short $100
This is a trail riding short, straight up. And Giro unabashedly states that on their site, noting: “our men’s Truant Short is built for trail riding. It fits comfortably on the waist with the ability to adjust as your ride changes.” It’s a quality, no nonsense design that ticks many of the boxes riders desire in a mountain biking short: waist tab adjusters and belt loops, too; a zip fly and a single-button closure; four pockets – two standard fronts, with a zip pocket on the side of the right leg for valuables, and a Velcro pocket on the left thigh, suitable for a phone. The for-way stretch fabric is 88% nylon and 12% Spandex, allowing for easy movement, and it’s treated with a 175 g/m2 DWR to help repel spring showers. The short is only available in black, and comes in size 30, 32, 34, 36, and 38.
Fit wise, Giro’s sizing chart is bang on. The Truant Shorts fit me perfectly with zero need to use the waist adjusters or a belt. It’s definitely more of an XC cut, but I had no issues using lightweight knee pads (like G-form’s Pro X and Raceface’s Indy knee guards). The 14” inseam is just enough that there’s no gaper gap above the pads, although the fit is just snug enough at the knee that I’d hesitate to wear a bulkier pad, which is fine. After all, the Truant isn’t a DH short; it’s aimed squarely at the pedal up to pedal down type of people who measure a good ride in hours, not minutes. It breathed well, and moved well. It also repelled water decently when I was caught in a mid-afternoon rain shower, and I never hooked the saddle in any “oh crap, I should ‘a dropped the saddle” moments in Sedona (if you’ve ridden there, you know what I’m talking about). Overall, it’s a solid, daily driver short.Men’s Truant Jersey $80
The Men’s Truant Jersey is trail ready in its fit and fabrication, and has more style and sophistication than you typically see. Like the short, it’s aimed squarely at the all-day rider, with subtle styling that makes it perfect for a post work spin that ends with dinner out. It’s got a relaxed fit and a longer sleeve, ending just above the elbow, like the Royal Turbulence Jersey. The construction is 96% recycled polyester with 4% cotton, making for a soft feel next to skin. It has a tech T fit, with a stylish, three-button Henley closure at the neck, and its single zip pocket over the right kidney is a nod to tech apparel. It only comes in muted black, with a subtle blue graphic on the left. Sizes are: S, M, L, XL, and XXL.
The Truant Jersey was light, moved well, was smooth next to my skin, and breathed well. I never made use of the rear pocket, although it was an easy to reach had I needed it. I appreciated the Henley neck snaps on the neck, which allowed me to dive under the “I just went on a ride” radar when dropping into my local pub for a post ride cold one. I’m a size 40 chest, and Giro’s sizing chart put me right at the bottom of size large, which I found to be a bit more generous of a fit than I like, so I sized down to a medium. Overall, I liked the Truant jersey for its functionality mixed with its subtle styling.Men’s Bib Under Short 2.0 $130
Like a lot of bib shorts of late, Giro’s offering has three cargo pockets on the back for storing trail essentials when riding without a pack. It’s manufactured from an 80% nylon, 20% Spandex blend. And it features a flap fly for trailside relief. It’s available in size S, M, L, XL, and XXL. It comes in black, and only black.
Sizing on this is again spot on. The chamois pad offered zero hot spots or chaffing despite numerous hours in the saddle. The mesh of the bib liner short breathed well, and the leg bands kept the shorts in place without the gripper silicon that’s so common on a liner short these days (those tend to irritate my skin). The legs were just long enough to overlap my knee guards, eliminating gaper gap. And for trailside dehydration breaks the flap fly was awesome. If you are a chamois wearer, I’d consider breaking out the wallet for a set of these; they are perfect for all day epics. Women’s Truant Short $100
“Built for serious adventures in the Dirt,” the Truant short is Giro’s women-specific trail riding short that is designed with roomy leg openings and a longer inseam (11”). As Giro’s first dab into the world of mountain bike clothing, the Truant is designed a go-to, any day riding short, to please a variety of women: weekend warriors, casual cruisers, and shredders. Made with four-way-stretch 88% nylon and 12% Spandex. With well-placed zip pockets and a 175 g/m DWR coating for rainy weather, this short should please the most discerning consumers. Giro’s Women’s Truant short is only available in black, in sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12.
I tested the Truant short on a wide range of trails, including over 40 miles of local single-track in varying weather conditions. It felt true to size, matching the 27-28” waist description in the Giro sizing chart. I would categorize it as an XC short based on the cut and fit, but I really liked the style. I was impressed by the lightweight feel and the comfort of the stretch fabric design. The 11” inseam on the short put them a bit above my knee pads, but I have come to the conclusion that I don’t mind a little gap if the shorts are comfortable and doing their job. The waist adjusters and secure zip pockets are nice added features. Truant Short is functional, comfortable, and stylish for just about any riding conditions outside of a bike park. The best comment I heard while I was out testing the Giro kit was from my Canadian friend Tara who stated: “Your ass looks like a Lululemon.” To which I responded, “what’s a lu lu lemon?” I guess they look good.Women’s Venture Sport Jersey $80
“The Women’s Venture Sport Jersey is ready for any adventure. Long gravel ride? No problem. Cross bike single track today? Check. Taking out the hardtail for some hot laps? The Women’s Venture Sport Jersey will deliver.” The fit is relaxed for comfort and performance, so it easily rolls with changing road and trail conditions—think of it as a performance jersey with a laid back style. This short sleeve jersey is designed with recycled polyester and infused with a hint of cotton for a super-soft feel, and impeccable moisture wicking ability. It comes with three pockets across the back for snacks and other small essentials. The jersey is available in Black or Purple; and sizes XS, S, M, L, and XL.
I tested the size medium Venture Sport jersey which had a nice, not-too-loose fit on me. A size small would probably have fit my frame, but more like a fitted road cycling type of jersey (which might be the preferred fit for some of you). I tend to ride mountain bikes with a pack, so I didn’t utilize the three back pockets much during testing, but if I only needed the bare essentials, I might find them useful. The jersey handled the heat well and I stayed dry during some intense climbs - moisture-wicking at its finest. It is was also nice to have a jersey on hand without significant branding for after-work social hour rides when I didn’t want to be recognized. I would be happy adding this jersey to my collection. I am excited to see what Giro has planned for the future of their female mountain biking line. Women’s Chrono Expert Halter Bib Short $150
While this is technically not a review, it is worth noting that Giro’s Chrono Expert halter bib shorts are pure awesome for women who swear by bibs. After years of peeling off jackets and jerseys every time I had to go pee, finally, there is a bib that I can take off without exposing my upper body to the elements and surrounding crowds. I know some of you like to show off your sports bras and six-pack abs, but after two kids, I much prefer to keep my beautifully designed body to myself. These are my go-to bib short for all things racing or riding. The Chrono Expert sport halter bib is available in size XS, S, M, L, and XL.
Dakine is based in Hood River, Oregon, and the office is chock full of riders, so their gear is designed by people who need the products that they make. Consequently, there are a variety of subtle and very useful touches to all their creations. Men’s Pace Short $70
According to Dakine, “These unlined shorts will be the workhorse you're looking for: no frills, no gimmick—just a solid set of shorts that will move with you.” Pace shorts are made from 86% polyester and14% Elastene (otherwise known as Spandex), which makes for a lightweight, stretchy fabric that breathes well. Dakine has both belt loops and internal waist adjusters to tailer the fit. There are two front pockets and the short fastens with two snaps. The Pace comes in black (reviewed), red, a blue board-short type of graphic, and a gray/dark green camo pattern. Available sizes 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, and 40-inch waists.
The first thing I noticed was that the 14” inseam Pace shorts are exceptionally light weight (claimed weight of 135 grams). The second thing I noticed was that the fit at the waist is pretty exacting: I am on the 33” side of a 32”- 33” waist and while the body of the short was roomy enough for my hips and legs, the size 32” waist was pretty snug on me. Aside from the snug waist, the shorts delivered exactly what I wanted: light weight, breathability, and all day pedaling comfort. It’s a more tailored fit for sure, but one that played nicely with slim pads, like Dakine’s Slayer knee guards. Pace shorts were a go-to for hot, all-day rides, but if you are the type of rider who pushes to the edge, look for a more durable short.Men’s Charger Jersey $45
The Charger Jersey has a “…simple raglan V-neck that looks like just a nice t-shirt, but performs like Alberto Contador's top, minus the sponsor logos.” The Charger jersey is manufactured from two varieties of polyester: a quick-dry polyester shoulder and body panels and with polyester mesh on the sides and under the arms. Both polyester varieties feature Polygeine Odor Control Technology. I tried the size medium in Haze—the blue striped with yellow highlights flavor. It also comes in the gray/dark green camo print of the Pace shorts, and a slate gray with blue sleeves. The Charger Jersey is available in S, M, L, XL, and XXL.
For me, the size M Charger Jersey fit just the way a MTB jersey should, not too baggy and not too snug. It looks sharp, and seems to breathe well too. I didn’t notice any post ride stink after two hour-long rides, but I wasn’t really looking to measure my BO index, either. I’d hazard an assertion that the Polygeine Odor Control Technology works as advertised—both rides were in extremely warm conditions and I sweated my ass off. Overall, it fits great and performed well. Did it make me as fast as Alberto Contador? No. But, it performed as advertised and it made me look way more stylish than any Grand Tour racer ever.Women’s Siren Short $55
The Dakine Women’s Siren short is a lightweight all-purpose riding short with a 13” inseam. Constructed with polyester material in a geometric woven pattern – it’s lightweight, breathable and it doesn’t look like the typical dorky nylon bike short you see so often. The Siren also has a four-way stretch yoke panel, waist adjusters, and two hand pockets. It does not come with a liner. Dakine utilizes street inspired fabrics for their designs that include technical features, like wicking and odor control, so you look good both on and off your bike. Siren shorts are available in Black, Poppy, Gunmetal; and in 24, 26, 28, and 30-inch sizes.
I tested the size 26” Siren Short in Gunmetal. These shorts were a bit tight on me just in the waist, and in this instance, I would size up and be more comfortable in the size 28” short. Regardless, I squeezed into the 26 and, once I was riding, I didn’t really notice any tightness or restriction. The hips and leg openings were comfortable and the length of the short was adequate to fit over my knee guards. I prefer at least one secure zip pocket, but siren shorts only offer two open hand pockets, and while those pockets are deep and easily large enough to stash an energy bar, it’s probably not a good idea to put your wedding ring, phone or keys in there.
The Siren Short is one of the more stylish yet affordable enduro style riding shorts on the market. Dakine does a good job of offering up new colors each year to keep us looking fresh and I can vouch that these shorts are comfortable enough that you can wear them either on or off the trails.Women’s Juniper Jersey $45
“Instead of flashy logos and gimmicky graphics, the Dakine Women's Juniper Jersey impresses with its clean color scheme and comfort-driven design.” This short-sleeve jersey features moisture-wicking polyester material, with perforated mesh underarm panels for enhanced ventilation. Its women's-specific fit and raglan sleeves promote full range of motion on the trail without being overly loose. Other key features include an interior sunglasses wipe for cleaning smudged shades on the trail, as well as an extended back hem for extra coverage.” Check and check. The jersey utilizes 100% quick-dry diamond-knit polyester with Polygiene odor control technology. The jersey is available in Garnet, Beach Glass, and Carbon; and sizes are: S, M, L, and X.
I wore the size medium Juniper jersey in Garnet. Compared with the Giro Venture Sport jersey, the Dakine medium was a bit looser fit, but that is consistent with their targeted user description. Despite the jersey being a dark maroon color (“Garnet”), the material and enhanced ventilation kept me cool and comfortable under the scorching afternoon sun. I liked the sleeve and torso lengths and the minimal branding. This is a good jersey to stock up on and is suitable for all styles of riding, including hitting the bike park on a nice summer day.
On a side note, Dakine typically offers their women’s jerseys in a three-quarter sleeve option, which I prefer to ride with, as I feel it provides a bit more protection from the elements and a better fit for wearing elbow pads. I was disappointed that none of the jerseys sent for this review had three-quarter sleeves.
Back in 2011, I was fortunate enough to tour Alpinestars’ facility in Italy. At that point they were squarely focused on DH riding. But even then, they were bringing a sense of craftsmanship and exacting standards to their mountain bike apparel, mixed with a distinctive style that made me covet their gear. Now they are bringing the quality apparel and protection they were offering solely to the DH/bike park crowd to enduro and trail riders.Men’s Drop 2 Short $129.95
The Drop 2 Short is, “…constructed for superb comfort and optimized riding performance over long distances.” It features a snap-out chamois liner short, two zippered vents on the thighs, two standard waistband pockets, two zippered thigh pockets, and an, “elasticized crotch and rear yoke for maneuverability.” Two snaps keep the waist sealed shut while two D-ring braced Velcro straps handle fine-tuning the waistline fit. The Drop 2 comes in Teal Green/Acid Yellow (Tested), Bright Orange/Acid Yellow, Black/White, and Bright Blue/Acid Yellow. Sizing is Euro standard, and it’s available in 28, 30 (tested), 32, 34, 36, 38, and 40. Check out their online chart and convert your size to Euro before you buy.
One can tell how good clothing is when it works so well that you cease to notice it. Such was the case with the Drop 2 short. It's not that I felt naked, rather the fit was simply phenomenal. It felt loose, moving easily on my body, but it was just fitted enough that I never worried about hooking the saddle or. The fabric was both lightweight and extremely durable, and the construction was bombproof: a high-speed body surf through a steep berm after a burped tire on a 40-foot table didn't even scathe them. The Drop 2 shorts breathed and moved so well that one could easily forget how tough the garment is. It has a good inseam length (14") and while the fit around the knee was roomy enough for bulkier protection than Paragon Knee Guards that I wore, they never flapped in the breeze. The included chamois liner short fits and performs well. Men’s Drop 2 Short Sleeve Jersey $54.95
“With mesh inserts on the chest and back for enhanced ventilation, Alpinestars’ Drop 2 Short Sleeve Jersey is guaranteed to keep you cool on long Enduro trails.” The Drop Short Sleeve Jersey came to me in teal green with acid yellow accents and black mesh panels on the body, which matched the Drop 2 shorts. It has a pocket on either side of the torso that’s accessible via a Velcro-sealed flap. There’s also an internal headphone conduit with a collar clip, and a terry cloth goggle-wipe is included on the inside of the hem. The Drop 2 is available in the Teal Green/Acid Yellow that I tested, orange/yellow with black panels, blue/yellow with black and white panels, and Black/White. Sizing is S, M, L (tested), XL, and XXL.
The Drop 2 SS Jersey also had a fantastic fit with a nice open collar that allowed for easy breathing, and a longer drop seat to the back of the jersey, which is great for pack wearers. It also breathed exceptionally well, even with a pack on, and remained unscathed in that body surf episode mentioned earlier. The pockets were easily accessed and didn’t interfere with pack waist straps when empty. I didn’t use the headphone cord conduit or clips, but they seemed like a nice feature for people who want to be plugged in.Men’s/Women’s MTB Tech Tank $49.95
There were a couple of Tech Tank Tops in the box of samples from Alpinestars, and they seemed to be almost an afterthought to the ride kits, but after trying one out (Nikki got the other one) it may be a new go-to for me as a base layer item: I have no idea what the fabric is but the tank is constructed with three different weaves, it was soft on the skin, and it wicked exceptionally well. Additionally, there were no seams to chafe with a pack on. It remained stink free, as well. (Must be made of pixie hair blended with ground unicorn horn.) It’s expensive for a base-layer piece, but was pretty damn awesome. Available in sizes S/M and L/XL only.Women’s Stella Pathfinder Short $114.95
“Light and durable, the Stella Pathfinder Short features a technical, multi-panel construction and stretch rip-stop inserts for a superb performance fit. Comfort details such as the seamless seat panel and the mesh waist lining are designed to enable you to stay out on the trails for longer.” Key features include elasticized rear yoke, adjustable waist, side pockets with zippers, and a removable chamois liner (not reviewed). The shorts are currently available in Black/Raspberry Rose. Available in US Sizes 26, 28, 30, 32, and 34.
I was pretty happy when I heard that Alpinestars had re-entered the women’s trail riding market. I tested the size medium, US size 28 shorts, which were not too tight around my waist or hips, The waist adjusters allowed me to tighten (or loosen), as needed – which is nice for women who prefer to wear their shorts higher on their hips than I do. The side zip pockets are deep and provide ample storage for a phone or bar. Out of the six kits I tested, these shorts have one of the longer inseams (13”?) and wider leg openings, which made for an easy fit over my knee guards.
I wore these shorts in cold and hot weather, including racing the Sea Otter Classic Enduro (mid 70s F/24C). Lightweight, durable, and most importantly, comfortable - these shorts can easily be worn in just about any riding condition outside of monsoon season. Final takeaway – this is the perfect trail riding short. It has a nice, curve-friendly fit, a wide range of size options available, minimal branding, and a wee bit of Italian flair.Women’s Stella Mesa SS Jersey 59.95
“Developed specifically for women’s performance and fit and constructed from an advanced poly-fabric that draws moisture away from the body and extended mesh inserts that give high levels of breathability…” Alpinestars’ Stella Mesa short sleeve jersey is currently available in Black/Raspberry Rose, Raspberry Rose/Nepal Blue, and White/Ceramic. It comes in sizes XS, S, M, L, and XL.
I tested the size small jersey in Black/Raspberry Rose. At first I thought they might have sent me the wrong size, but the jersey fit perfectly. I have broader shoulders and this is typically where I might feel restricted with a size small. However, while the Mesa SS was snug in the shoulders, it wasn’t all constricting. Rather, it was just right. The open mesh inserts on the under arm holes gives the jersey enhanced breathability for hot days and the small terry cloth patch on the bottom inner portion of the jersey is handy for cleaning eyewear.
Alpinestars has done an excellent job with the design of their Stella line of women’s MTB clothing. The jersey is attractive, and I appreciated the subtle branding across the shoulder. The colors match up nicely with the shorts and I am ridiculously delighted with how cool my kids think I am when I wear this kit.
7Mesh is based in Squamish, BC. It's the brainchild of some former employees of a little Vancouver, BC, based company called Arc’teryx, located within spitting-distance of the infamous "North Shore". As 7Mesh’s site puts it: “We were passionate cyclists who spent pretty much all of our free time on two wheels. And we just weren’t satisfied with the apparel available for our sport…We found ourselves dreaming about solving gear problems, about making things right. We’d start a company right here in Squamish, and use hands-on design. We’d focus strictly on cycling apparel. We’d use only the best materials and most modern manufacturing techniques. And after enough dreaming, we believed. So we all took a deep breath, quit our jobs and got to work.”Men’s Glidepath Short $140
The Glidepath model short from 7mesh is constructed from Soma two-way stretch fabric. Rather than relying upon stretchy fabric to conform to the rider, however, the Glidepath is carefully patterned to the riding position. The short features both external waist tab adjusters as well as belt loops, two reasonably deep front pockets, and two side-zip rear pockets. The waist is closed via a single snap. The size medium is measured for a 34-inch waist, and has a long, 16” inseam. The shorts come in Bad Ash Gray only, and are available in sizes XS, S, M, L, and XL.
The Glidepath Short was a pleasant surprise to me; the short is roomy yet fitted. As in the cut is more XC Trail than the looser, "free ride" fit I'd expected from a company based in Squamish, BC. Yet at the same time, the short offers ample room for knee guards. The fabric, the Soma two-way stretch, moves and breathes well, while being plenty tough enough to withstand the occasional “oh shit” moment. The pockets were well placed for easy access. Interestingly enough, there is no stretchy panel in the back. 7Mesh feels that they don’t need to “cheat”, so to speak, with a flexi panel to accommodate for manufacturing discrepancies. Consequently, it was no surprise that the fit was good (although the size 34” medium was almost too roomy for me). All in all, it is an exceptional mountain biking short for anything short of DH riding. As such it fits squarely within 7Mesh’s design ethos to “Streamline design and deliver simplicity without compromise. Remove, rather than add, to achieve our goals.”Men’s Eldorado Jersey $60
The Eldorado Jersey was another surprise. As 7Mesh states: “You don't need a top with all the bells and whistles, you just need a lightweight tech tee that wicks well, fits for riding and living, and looks good in the process. Simple, really.” The Eldorado is a 100% polyester garment. It comes in size XS-XXL, and two colors: Ember (tested) and Blue Sapphire.
The size medium Eldorado was a perfect fit for me - no surprise there. What was surprising was how silky smooth the fabric was against the skin, even when soaked in sweat. Typically, silky feeling fabrics tend to be clingy when damp, and even more so, as they get soaked. But the Eldorado remained smooth to the skin even on long, sweaty rides. Evidently, the trick is that the 100% polyester fabric used in the El Dorado has a bit of tooth to the underside of the weave that mechanically wicks sweat away from the body. Additionally, it has no elastene (Lycra) in it, as that fabric tends to hold water. As a result, the Jersey feels silky smooth, moves well with the wearer, and stays dry next to the skin. Breathability was also good. The only dis I can offer is that orange, (according to the female tester) is not a good color for me.Men’s S2S Short Sleeve Shirt $130
“The all-terrain shirt, reinvented: protective, comfortable, and light.” This technical piece can be worn as a stand-alone shirt or a layered outer shirt. It’s constructed from two fabrics: a wind-resistant front panel and a stretchy (but not Lycra) back panel. There are no pockets on the back to conflict with a hydration pack. Rather, two well-placed side pockets carry essentials like credit card, keys, and electronics. Colors are Goldstone, Ember, Black, and 2 Ball Blue (tested). Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL.
Typically, I bring either a wind vest or a lightweight breathable shell for big rides, particularly in the spring and in the high country in the summer where Mother Nature can throw a curve ball at you. My recent trip to Sedona, Arizona, saw me dodging lightning bolts and hunting for shelter from a rather aggressive hail storm one afternoon, and sweating my ass off in mid 80s temps the next day (28-29C). Either a wind shell or a vest would have sufficed, but the S2S shirt would also have been spot on. I just needed a bit more coverage than what a regular jersey offers, less than a vest, definitely not a long-sleeve; but I also needed something that would breathe well for the warmer day.
I like this piece. The size medium fit and functioned beautifully. I don’t think I’d wear this as a stand-alone piece (although that’s the way it’s marketed) It’s an item I would have in my pack as an extra layer for those just-in-case days, or I’d wear it over a base layer.Women’s Glidepath Short $140
The women’s Glidepath short features a lightweight, durable and quick-drying nylon fabric, two front hand-pockets to hold quick-access items, and two zipped, side utility pockets, one with a secure cell phone sleeve, angled to not interfere with pedaling motion. Like the shorts from Aplinestars and Dakine, the Glidepath has a longer inseam (13”), and is compatible with most knee guards. Along with locking, low-profile waist adjusters, the short also has loops for riders who prefer a belt. It is currently available only in Bad Ash Grey, in sizes XS, S, M, L, XL.
The women’s Glidepath fit loose and seems true to the sizing chart. They are lightweight and breathable, as the company describes, and the cuffs didn’t irritate my knees or legs when I went without knee guards. I also managed to find a bit of light rain during my testing and the water repellant coating (DWR) seemed to shed water appropriately, leaving me with dry shorts by the time I had finished my ride.
This short is designed for trail riding in just about any conditions and in any location. I spent a couple of really long days on my bike wearing it and I feel like I could recommend them to any of my friends as a super comfortable, women-specific trail riding short. I also tested them at the grocery store, the local pub, my son’s lacrosse practice… you get the point. An added bonus: the purple colored zipped side pockets also add a nice splash of color to the otherwise solid grey short.Women’s Britannia Jersey SS $140
“The perfect mid-weight women’s riding jersey: carefully fitted, comfortable, and light.” The jersey has a full zip front, three rear pockets and two zippered side pockets. The jersey matches perfectly with the Glidepath shorts and has a lot of unique features that the other kits don’t offer, such as reflective details, and an elastic hem and sleeve. It has good breathability and is designed to fit properly in the riding position. It’s currently available in Emerald, or Royal Purple; and Sizes XS, S, M, L, XL.
I tested the size medium Britannia SS jersey in royal purple. The fit was a bit snug in the shoulders and the full zip tends to make me look poochy in the belly region unless I stand ramrod straight. I would probably opt for a size large in this jersey to suit my “loose is the new snug” style but the jersey is meant to be more fitted with the idea that it could be used for anything short of Park and DH riding (it’s too snug to fit over body armor). But, the Britannia jersey is not for me.
I have learned important lessons in reviewing cycling clothing over the past six months. Some apparel and certain colors just don’t look good on me. While purple is one of my favorite colors, 7Mesh’s hue couldn’t mask the fact that the tailored, front-zip Britannia jersey didn’t look or feel right on my build. That aside, 7Mesh packed a lot of features into this; it's worth a trip to the fitting room to see if it’s the trail jersey you
have always wanted.
The design team at Royal Racing (like Dakine and 7Mesh) are hard-core users, so they are continually tweaking fit and function of their apparel to make it just that much better – and having an animal like the legendary Steve Peat as a lab rat is definitely a bonus.Men’s Stage Short $109.95
The Stage Short is made for those needing a, “pro level short in a trail riding fit.” It has a nice bit of stretch to the body, a detachable chamois liner with a pro-level pad, a waterproof media pocket, Velcro waist adjusters, front and rear slash venting, bar tacking at stress points, and two snaps to secure the fly. There are laser cut perforations to aid in breathability, and the stretch fabric is aligned to move lengthwise in the back, and horizontally in the legs to make it more pedal friendly. The cut is optimized for the riding position and the fabric features a DWR coating to help keep you dry in the event of rain. Three colors are offered: Lime with Navy Blue (tested), Navy Blue/Electric Blue, and Graphite/Flo Red. Sizes are XS, S, M (tested), L, XL, and XXL.
The trail riding fit of the Stage Short moved well, in and out of the saddle. There was no sag in the crotch to hook a saddle, and the cuffs offered plenty of room for knee guards without flapping in the wind. Polyester/spandex blend (96%/4%) fabric is used throughout the body and it is reasonably lightweight and just stretchy enough to be appreciated. What really appealed to me was the functionality of the item as a whole: The venting was ample, the zippers were strategically placed, the waist tabs are in the right spots, and the length is just right. I’m no Goldilocks, but when it comes to clothing, I want it not too hot, not too cold, not too hard, and not too soft. I want it just right. And the function on this item was exactly that.Men’s Turbulence Short Sleeve Jersey $59.95
The Turbulence SS Jersey is my style of jersey. Royal touts it as, “designed to be versatile across all disciplines….Trail, All Mountain, DH, XC, and dare we say it? Enduro racing. It covers them all.” The body is composed of anti-bacterial polyester fabric (think no stink) with mesh panels for venting. The panels are biased to the front to function while wearing a pack. There are no zips and no pockets; rather this is a tech T style with gobs of venting. It comes in Lime with Navy accents (tested), Navy/Lime, and Flo Red/Graphite. Sizes are XS, S, M (tested), L, and XL.
I appreciated this piece a lot. The fit was great. It is a bit looser on the torso, but still relatively flap free at high speed. It vented exceptionally well, and moved well against both my skin and my base layer (when I opted to wear one). I particularly liked the sleeve length – somewhere between a three-quarter and a short sleeve – that reached to the crook of my elbow. My only complaint is that I’m simply not fast enough on the trails to deserve the “look at me!” lime color I tested.
Sugoi translates into “awesome” or “incredible” in Japanese. Or at least that’s what the founder told me in the late 90s when I was shooting some of their gear. A little search on the Google webs turns up the same definition as well. Sugoi started as a small company over 20 years ago, and has since grown into a reasonably large gorilla in the cycling clothing world. And while their focus appears to be more road and Lycra-esque XC than AM and DH riding, they make a few pieces aimed squarely at the aggressive, all day trail riding masses.Men’s RSX Suspension Short $210
This is Sugoi’s premiere MTB short. It is a “Fully height adjustable mountain biking short with integrated bib that includes storage features. Designed for the high performance XC or Enduro rider looking to travel light and fast through the forest.” Gotcha. First off, this is more than a simple short with a chamois liner. Rather, it’s an integrated system that features both a detachable bib chamois short and an outer short. Similar to the SWAT bib by Specialized, the liner bib has a back pocket for stashing whatever gear you want, as well as a stash pocket on the thigh. It also features a fly for nature calls. The pad used in the liner is one of Sugoi's best offerings: the Formula FX chamois pad (this is the same pad that is offered in Sugoi’s $160 RS Pro bibs). This bib liner chamois snaps into the RSX outer short via a ladder system of straps on the back of the bibs to allow height adjustment for the baggy short. Okay… that’s a lot going on. And that’s just the liner short.
Moving onto the outer short… At first glance, the outer short is your standard affair: a black baggy with a 13-inch inseam and mesh panels for breathability. But closer inspection reveals that right thigh has a pass through zip on it for quick access to the thigh stash pocket of the liner chamois short. And rather than Velcro tabs or belt loops, the waist fit is dialed in via a boa system, with adjusters on either side of the waist. The RSX Short comes in black and is available in sizes S, M (tested), L, XL, and XXL.
Given the design time and price, I was not particularly shocked that the system fit and worked exceptionally well. The bib liner was supportive without being restricting, and the chamois itself generated zero hot spots or chaffing on the two test rides I gave it. The RSX outer short was exceptionally lightweight, moved well, and was highly breathable. The fit on the size medium was a bit generous, but that was easily snugged down via the boa system. The stash pocket was easily accessed via the zipper pocket on the thigh, and the fly worked the way a fly should: functional but forgettable until needed. The short has almost an XC fit but there’s room for knee guards and there’s no gaper gap when pedaling. I didn’t crash test this short but the fabric feels reasonably burly despite the light, breathable material of the body. I initially ridiculed the stash thigh pocket on the liner short and the zipper access for it on the outer short as overly complicated, but quickly came to appreciate how that snug stash pocket keeps whatever’s stashed inside it from bouncing around on my thigh and distracting me. And without the access zipper, I would have had to wrestle to get to my keys or my multi tool.
This is a pretty complex system, to be honest. And, most riders won’t want anything with this much bling, despite its stealthy, well-thought-out design. But, discerning riders with the money to throw down will genuinely appreciate the fit and function of the RSX short. Men’s RSX Jersey $100
This jersey is another top-shelf offering from Sugoi meant to compliment the RSX short as a hard-core trail riding jersey. Like the outer RSX short, at first glance it’s just a jersey. A nice jersey with mesh panels in addition to two zip pockets placed over your kidneys. However, just like the RSX short, there is more going on than meets the eye: IceFil fabric panels are strategically placed on the jersey to wick away moisture while actively reducing your temperature by both blocking thermal radiation and by utilizing Xylotil yarn, a fabric that actively absorbs heat. I did some digging and the Xylotil yarn is purported to help reduce temperatures by two degrees F. Pretty trick in my book. It comes in size S, M, L, XL, and XXL.
The fit is great - loose, but not too loose, and I have no idea if it was the Icefil fabric panels or not, but I remained cool and comfortable pedaling in full sun in temperatures in the mid-80’s F (28-30C). Would I have been just as comfortable without the Xylotil yarn in the IceFil panels? No idea. Design wise, the pockets were easy to reach and the collar was a good fit. From a fashion perspective, the “Directoire Blue” jersey I tested is a bit more “notice me” than I’d normally go for, but if you’re looking for fit and function in an all-day trail jersey, and like me, the retro colorway isn’t doing it for you, the RSX jersey is also available in a black body with red highlight panels. Overall, it’s a well-designed piece with some pretty cool tech features.Women’s RPM Lined Short $80
“An entry level baggy short with a sewn in liner for anyone looking for a price point baggy to start MTB riding, cruising the seawall, or commuting to work.” RPM shorts feature two front hand pockets, durable, four-way stretch fabric on the outer shell and an integrated RC100 chamois. The shorts have an 11” inseam and integrate Sugoi’s Micro Shield technology into the fabric for a lightweight, water repellent breathable design. The short is available in black; and sizes XS, S, M, L, and XL.
I tested the size medium RPM short. It was a bit big in the waist on me and in looking closer at the size chart after-the-fact, I should have gone with a small. Of course, I prefer to blame Colin, who was ultimately responsible for requesting all the samples for this review. Regardless, the short stayed in place, and I was able to venture into the woods and get lots of pedaling in with this kit.
The first thing I noticed about the RPM short was the weight. It is significantly heavier the other shorts in this review, but also one of the more affordable options that has an integrated chamois. Weight isn’t a huge factor in shorts; I have spent long days in the heavy duty Race Face Khyber short, and it has never bothered me. Two things I really liked about the RPM are the breathability and stretch that is designed into the short. Each hip panel has a stretchy material that runs the length of the short. Given that, I would say this short might be ideal for someone who has some added curve in the hips and needs a bit of extra stretch around the hip and bum. The chamois pad was thick but comfortable. Ultimately, Sugoi has done a fantastic job of creating an entry-level baggy short that integrates usable design features into an affordable and attractive short.Women’s RPM Jersey $60
“A relaxed fit and soft melange fabric make this cleanly styled jersey perfect for more casual rides.” The RPM comes with a quarter-length zip front, active melange fabric (fabric that has been made with more than one color), and three back pockets with a secure zippered pouch. The jersey is a nylon polyester blend with a dash of spandex for a bit of stretch, and uses the Sugoi Fino tech material, which is a breathable, odor-resistant, moisture-wicking fabric with UV ray protection. The company noted that there is also an XO Dry panel across the lower back that adds extra cooling and ventilation to this particular piece. The jersey is available in Raspberry Sorbet, Light Jade, Coal Blue, and Black; and sizes XS, S, M, L, XL.
I tested the size medium RPM jersey in Raspberry Sorbet. The jersey is designed as a “semi fit” piece. Like many companies, Sugoi has a fit philosophy that breaks their clothing into three sizing fit categories: Pro-Fit, anatomically form fitted to the body for optimal performance and low wind drag; Semi-Fit, designed to fit close to the body but not so tight that you’ll feel self-conscious at the coffee shop when you’re picking up a post ride or run drink; and Relaxed-Fit, designed to fit looser on your body – similar to how a T-shirt or board shorts would fit.
This particular jersey, had a nice comfortable, not-to-tight, not-to-loose feel, and I liked the extra ventilation the quarter-zip offered on hot days. The RPM also comes in four different color patterns and the Raspberry Sorbet was a very feminine, yet not an obnoxious color. While this jersey is not one of Sugoi’s high-end pieces, it is a good entry-level jersey for women interested in investing in a quality piece of apparel from a company that is known for making well-designed cycling products.
Fox has been consistently nailing it with their MTB line of clothing since back when they first brought on Chris Gagan as a product manager over a decade and a half ago. Gagan has long since moved on, and Mike Redding, previously of Troy Lee Designs, has been driving the brand for the past few years. Redding's influence shows, as does the feedback the design group has received from the likes of Kirt Voreis, Cam McCaul, Claire Buchar, and Chris Kovarik, and the Giant Off Road Team. Men’s Fox Attack Pro Short $189.95
“Sometimes you can’t take a lift to get to the best trails, that’s when you need gear that moves and breathes as you pedal your way up, and keeps you protected as you shred your way down,” is the Fox mantra. The Attack Pro Short comes with a detachable chamois liner short that features Fox’s “Pro” chamois. The shorts are constructed from Trumotion, a four way stretch fabric (90% polyester, 10% spandex) that is lightweight, breathable, and highly abrasion resistant. There are also strategically placed laser cut holes for ventilation. It features two side zip pockets for storage of keys, phone, etc. The fly is interesting; it’s more of a half fly with no zipper or Velcro, rather with the waist snaps undone the short has just enough give to allow for trail side-relief. Waist adjustment is managed via utilizing two of three snap positions on the fly. There are no belt loops or other internal waist adjustments, just the snaps on the fly, which allow about a half inch or so of adjustability Try before you buy. It comes in size 30, 32, 34, 36, and 38.
This is an A grade offering. On the trail, Pro Attack shorts are pretty damn good. The fabric moves well and breathes well. The fitted nature of the short means no hooking the saddle or any other binding issues. The leg openings easily accommodated knee guards without being binding or flapping in the wind. The half fly is just enough for trail side pit stops, so I wasn’t crying over the loss of a full zip fly. The "detachable" chamois detaches with a knife or scissors, not snaps, so there’s no going back if you opt to detach it. But the short doesn’t creep with the liner detached - which is good, because I detached the chamois in order to test-drive Fox’s Evolution Attack Pro Bib Liner (more on that below).
I tried two rides on the stock chamois: one with it still attached to the short and one with it cut free and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the chamois pad: it’s definitely A grade. No hot spots, chaffing, etc. Nor did the short creep with the chamois detached. I never crash tested this short, so I can’t attest to the abrasion resistance touted by Fox, but the fabric feels pretty damn bullet proof despite how easily if moves with the body. My only dis on the shorts is the sizing: It's generous enough with the size 32 short that even with the adjustable snaps at the smallest setting, I needed to size down to a size 30 short. That size was was spot on for my 32"-33" waist. As stated above, try before you buy to make certain you are getting the correct size.Men’s Evolution Attack Pro Bib Liner $149.95
I prefer bib chamois shorts when riding, and this offering by Fox ticks all the boxes: breathable mesh, variable density chamois pad for moisture management and vibration damping, stash pockets on the back of the bib for rides without a pack, and silicon grippers on the cuffs to keep the shorts in place. Oh, and a tighty-whitey-style fly, nicely outlined in lime green for the pit stops. It’s available in size S, M (tested), L, and XL.
The fit of Evolution Attack bibs is perfect, and the variable density chamois in these bib liner shorts is top notch, too; Italian design and function at its best. The cargo pockets are placed just right: not too low on the back to interfere with the fit of the outer short and not so high as to make accessing your essentials difficult. The mesh liner breathes well, and it’s supportive at the same time. The fly for pit stops is awesome. All in all, a solid home run from Fox. If you are considering stepping up to a bib short, this should be on your list. Yes, it’s expensive, but you get what you pay for. And, unlike the Sugoi RSX system, Fox’s Attack Pro bib can be used with any riding short in your closet. Men’s Attack Pro Jersey $89.95
This three-quarter-sleeve jersey is extolled by Fox as striking “the ideal balance of moisture wicking, breathability, and stretch,” It’s constructed of Fox’s Trudri fabric, a wicking material designed to keep you dry and comfortable. The fabric features four-way stretch material, and the jersey itself has strategically placed mesh as well as laser cut holes to increase breathability. There are two easily accessed side zip pockets placed just over half way around the torso. It comes in size S, M, and L.
This is another home run for Fox; the Attack Pro jersey again ticks all the boxes for a quality jersey: The fit was spot on, it moved well, it breathed well, and it features excellent design execution. The pockets were thoughtfully placed and didn’t interfere with the back pockets of my bib liner or my hydration pack. Yeah, it’s spendier than some other jerseys out there and no, there’s no powdered unicorn horn woven into the fabric as there is with the Sugoi RSX Jersey. Rather, it’s just a straight up polyester weave, but it performs flawlessly just the same. Women’s Ripley Short $79.95
“The Ripley Short is arguably the best combination of performance and value in a women’s specific MTB short today. Built with all day comfort in mind from the inside out.” The Ripley short comes with a detachable liner with women’s specific EVO chamois (not tested), an interior adjustable waist, one zipper pocket at back waist, and a two-way polyester mechanical stretch main body. The short is available in Flo Yellow, Plum or Black; and sizes S, M, L, XL.
I tested the size medium Black Ripley short. The sizing chart is a bit buried on their website, but it’s there. I fell between a size small and medium on the Fox chart, but given my preference of a slightly loose fit in my waist and hips, size medium was a good choice for the Ripley, but if you are on the upper end of medium, you may want to size up to a Large.
I rode in the Ripley short throughout the spring, in hot and cold weather, on long and short rides, and with or without knee guards. I literally put them through the wringer and they held up. The short has a light comfortable feel and a nice form fitting design. I felt that the design and fit of the short was similar to the Giro Truant short but with a little less stretch. Both have a shorter, 11” inseam, and both fit more snugly around my lower leg than the 7Mesh or Alpinestars shorts. I did have a small gap between the bottom of the short and certain knee pads, but the Fox Launch Enduro knee pads came up high enough on my thigh to overlap with the bottom hem of the short and keep a seamless look without the dreaded “gaper gap.”
The one drawback of this short is the lack of pockets. Although the website states that the short has hand pockets, the Ripley did not. There is one small zipper pocket along the back waistband that will fit keys or a bar, but it was too small to fit my phone. Despite that drawback, most of my lady shredder friends would like the look and feel of the Ripley short. Combine it with the jersey and the multiple color options available, and you get a very functional and attractive kit that comes with a comfortable chamois, for a reasonable price. I would say the Ripley is an excellent everyday short for trail riding.Women’s Ripley Jersey $59.95
The Ripley Jersey is an incredible value for the level of quality it offers. The jersey features a moisture wicking polyester Fox Aircool main body, a rear pocket with a zipper stash pocket, an optics wipe inside the hem, a zipper stash pocket on the side, and a tailored women’s specific fit. The jersey is available blue, neon red, Miami green, light gray, and sizes S. M, L, and XL.
I tested the size medium Ripley jersey in Miami Green. It has a nice tailored women’s-specific fit, exactly as described on their site. It was a bit snugger than the Giro or Dakine Jersey, but still the correct sizing for my build.
The jersey is light and breathable and perfect for riding in warmer temperatures. The small zipper stash pocket on the side is a nice place to put a gel or your ID, if you are riding and want easy access without getting into a pack. While it's hard not to notice the Fox branding right across the chest on this jersey – “look at me, look at me” – the color scheme, tailored fit, and lightweight feel place the Ripley a notch above its competitors, at a competitive price.