Summer Apparel Roundup - 8 Women's Kits Reviewed

Jun 21, 2017
by Colin Meagher  


After a horrifically cold and prolonged winter, the snow finally melted and the trails opened up. We had one of the longest and wettest winters on the books here in the PNW. Hood River, Oregon where I live lies 160' above sea level and received something to the effect of 90" of snow this winter. I barely managed to survive the three-plus months of lycra clad intervals in the gym with nothing more than an uptick in whiskey consumption and a stockpile of energy to release once I was given the green flag to hit the dirt. Our inability to find nasty weather for the Fall/Winter clothing guide morphed into our inability to find open trails and warm enough temps to take the jackets off for testing this spring, hence the focus on a “Summer” clothing guide.

For the summer clothing guide, kits from Sombrio, Pearl Izumi, Ion, Flare clothing, DHaRCO, Shredly, IXS, and 100% are in the lineup. I requested the styles and colors I preferred given what was available from each company, although in some cases the company sent what they had in stock. It is difficult to do a full comparison review on kits nowadays because all the companies are coming out with solid products, and thus a lot of the review comes down to fit and personal preferences over actual design. However, this review will include a comparison of the products that looks at the price, pro’s and con’s, fit and comfort, pockets, and style.

For women, the biggest complaint I hear is that a short doesn't fit correctly. Unfortunately, even as a pro at sizing charts, picking the correct size short for our frames is the most complicated part of purchasing mountain bike apparel. Men don't typically have the same issue as they don't have boobs, hips, and butts that interfere with their waist and chest size. So I did my best to order the sizes that should fit me and review the products without too much bias. Some articles were a bit tight, some a bit loose, but that's part of this process. Companies should take note that fit is the biggest factor in a mountain bike short, price is probably next, then design and style.

One thing to note is that most the shorts in this guide fall into a price range of $80–$150 USD, and the jerseys $40–$70 USD. I am not here to argue about pricing, it is taken into consideration in the overall value of the product, but that does not mean there are not cheaper, competitive options out there. Also, note that most products can be purchased at a considerable discount at the end of a season or on certain discount websites.


About the tester: Nikki Hollatz stands 5’ 5” and weighs 130lbs with a 27.5-inch waist, 37-inch hips, 35-inch chest and wears a size small helmet, size large gloves and EU-41 shoes. She typically falls between a size small and medium depending on the brand.



DHaRCO

Action and static imagery of the DHaRCO Ladies Gravity and 3 4 sleeve jersey.
  DHaRCO testing in the heart of Cascadia

DHaRCO (Down Hill Aussie Riding Collective) is an Australian company that recently launched its first US branch, based in Bellingham, WA (US residents will have easier access to the gear with a US website, local shipping, returns, and exchanges). The company motto “no ordinary life” comes from the belief that 'mountain biking creates an amazing lifestyle. Whoever you are in the day to day world, when you get on the bike life is just awesome.' I was stoked to add DHaRCO to the line-up this year—I have slowly seen an influx of their products on the women whom I ride with and I was keen to see how the pieces stack up in today's competitive market… I was not disappointed.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Nikki Hollatz with the DHaRCO Ladies Gravity Shorts and 3/4 Jersey.

Ladies Gravity Shorts $95 USD
Sizes: XS–XL (tested Medium)
Colors: Poppy Red, Aqua Storm (tested), Chain Black

I tested the Ladies Gravity Shorts in size medium. While I technically fit a size small based on my interpretation of the size chart, the size small was too tight in the waist. I do prefer to wear my shorts lower on my hips, so the waist measurement needed to go up a notch to suit my taste. Since shipping from Australia to the US takes forever and we had a deadline, I got lucky and managed to swap sizes at Sea Otter. (Organizing samples for a large gear review is akin to herding cats with a blowhorn). The size medium replacement short fit my frame perfectly with what DHaRCO describes as a "slim" gravity cut. The 4-way durable stretch fabric offered full unrestricted movement and the shorts were light enough and breathed such that I didn’t overheat or have any chaffing issues during testing.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detailed shots of the DHaRCO Ladies Gravity Shorts (clockwise from top left): waist fastener, Velcro waist tab adjuster, rear pocket, and detail of fabric.

I had a solid month of testing these shorts—from flow trails to steep technical climbs and descents—they felt really good through it all. As far as features go, the shorts offer one front zip hand pocket and one small back zip pocket. The front zip pocket was a bit small, and it was slightly uncomfortable to ride with my phone in it; but it worked fine for a bar or keys. And I hope I am not alone here, but I have yet to find anyone who actually uses the small back zip pockets that multiple brands offer on their shorts—if there is anything negative to say about these shorts I would just state that I much prefer a second front zip hand pocket over a back zip, but maybe there are people out there who do use it?

DHaRCO labels this short multi-purpose—from trail to DH short. I tend to agree. With an inseam length of 14" and a wide hem at the knee, they fit easily over knee protection. These shorts were my top pick—they ticked off all the boxes. The price is competitive and comparable to the other brands. The design is top notch—three color options, one usable pocket, lightweight and stretchy, these shorts feel amazing and look ridiculously sharp.


Ladies 3/4 Sleeve Jersey $55 USD
Sizes: SM–XL
Colors: Not yet available

I tested a size small Ladies three-quarter sleeve jersey in what I will call Black/Aqua Storm. The jersey fit pretty spot on. I personally like the three-quarter length as it offers a bit more protection from the elements, but it is also good to note that DHaRCO offers their jerseys in a range of short sleeve and long sleeve options to go along with the three-quarter length.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detail shots of the DHaRCO Ladies 3/4 jersey (from left): mesh side panel, side zip pocket, and "no ordinary life".

The jersey had mesh side panels for ventilation, one small zip pocket on the side (for a key or snack), goggle wipe on the inside hem, and a performance quick dry fabric that wicks away sweat effectively. During testing, I didn’t notice any restriction in my shoulders or elbows where a tight fitting three-quarter length sleeve can sometimes restrict movement. Nor did I notice any excessive sweating. The jersey length was also spot on for me—a lot of women not only have a shorter torso and longer legs than men, but they also have hips, so with a lot of these slimmer cut jerseys, getting the jersey length right is important to prevent bunching at the hips, which can be uncomfortable (at least for me) .

I received multiple comments and compliments from individuals asking me about the DHaRCO kit when I was out riding. The jersey matches up perfectly with the shorts and has an attractive, streamlined look. With a competitive market and so many brands creating really well-designed products for women, I give props to DHaRCO for not only putting a lot of effort into the design but offering such a wide range of (not pink) colors and styles (short sleeve, long sleeve, three-quarter sleeve, tech tee). This particular jersey should be available later this year.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  DHaRCO testing in the heart of Cascadia

Nikki Hollatz with the Dharco alternative jersey.
  Nikki wearing the Ladies Mesh Raglan Jersey.

Don't like 3/4 length sleeves? There are two short sleeve options from DHaRCO, too: the Ladies Mesh Raglan Jersey ($55) shown here, or the Ladies Tech Tee ($45). The tech tee has a slimmer fit than the Mesh Raglan Jersey. For everyday trail riding or super-hot days on the bike, I recommend a short sleeve jersey.



Pearl Izumi

Action and static imagery of the Pearl Izumi Women s Launch Short and 3 4 sleeve Jersey.
  Nikki rallying with the Pearl Izumi Launch 3/4 Sleeve Jersey and Short.

Pearl Izumi has a reputation for making top-of-the-line cycling products that use quality materials to create high-performance apparel. I last reviewed Pearl Izumi products as part of the 2015 Winter Clothing Guide, so it was nice to come full circle and not only see their new products but also focus less on technical winter gear and more on fun everyday riding apparel from a company that knows what riders want.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Static shots of the Pearl Izumi Launch 3/4 Sleeve Jersey and Short.

Pearl Izumi Women’s Launch Short $135 USD
Sizes XS–XXL (tested Medium)
Colors Blue Steel Parquet, Poppy Red Parquet (tested)

I tested the Launch short in size medium. The short has a relaxed fit—the size medium was on the loose and baggy side for me. Out of all the shorts I tested this go around, these had the most room in the hips (which is always something curvier women are looking for). The shorts also had an adjustable Velcro internal waistband that was useful in cinching the shorts down for a more snug fit. No brand can make a short that fits every shape and size, so having adjustments in the waist is a key design feature. I will also note that the short is available in a size XXL (16–18 ) which shows that Pearl Izumi is working to target a broader market of riders as we all come in different shapes and sizes.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detail shot of the Pearl Izumi Women's Launch shorts (clockwise from top left): waist snaps and belt loop, left hip pocket, right thigh cargo pocket, and inner Velcro waist band adjuster.

The Launch Short come stock with a detachable liner with Pearl Izumi’s Women-specific 3D Tour Chamois. The price may seem a bit high compared to the other items but when you note that the liner short sells for $40 as a stand-alone product, the price point is on par with most other brands. And I can vouch that the Pearl Izumi liner chamois is really comfortable and gets the job done.

With a 12” inseam, these shorts reached just to the top of my knee in a standing position. There was a small gap while pedaling between the lower hem of the short and my knee guard—but the hem was wide enough so that the short played nicely where it did overlap. More and more, I find that the gap really doesn’t bug me so long as the shorts are not too tight on the lower quads and work well with knee protection. I tend to prefer a shorter inseam when I am riding more XC style trails, and 12" seems to be a pretty spot on length. Other notable features of the Launch short: my phone fit in both the zippered side pockets and in the cargo pocket, and the shorts come in two unique color options, a grey/blue or the red version I tested, both with a cool solid hatching pattern.

The Launch Short are perfect for everyday trail riding. They look good, they match well just about any jersey you pull out of your closet, and they are loose and comfortable enough to wear all day. The only negative thing I would say from a comparison standpoint is that the shorts were a little less stretchy and a tad bit heavier than some of the other shorts I tested but the extra cargo pocket made me happy.

Women’s Launch 3/4 Jersey $70 USD
Sizes: XS–XXL
Colors: Skylight/Blue Steel Fracture, Poppy Red/Mist Green Fracture (tested), Black/Smoked Pearl Fracture

The Launch three-quarter jersey is “a lightweight all-mountain jersey for big rides on long summer days. Wicking transfer fabric and an open mesh back work together to keep you comfortable when it gets hot.” The jersey is also available in a sleeveless version for $50, or short sleeve version for $60. I tried to remain consistent and review three-quarter sleeve length, as that is my preferred riding jersey style, but it is good to note that most the companies offer a wide array of styles.

Detail on the Pearl Izumi jersey.
  Up close and personal shot of the Pearl Izumi Women's Launch 3/4 jersey fabric.

I tested the size medium Launch three-quarter jersey in Poppy Red/Mist Green Fracture (seriously who came up with the color names?). The jersey fit me perfectly with a relaxed fit and feel. The lower hem length and the sleeve length on the medium were ideal for my size and shape although the bottom of the sleeve on my lower arm was tighter than some of the other designs. The jersey handled the mild heat I tested the products in and wicked away any sweat on hard climbs. I never had that ‘ugh my jersey is sticking to me feeling’ but with the three-quarter length sleeves, but I would opt for a short sleeve alternative once the weather goes above 75-degrees.

The unique color blocking along with the V-neck design made for a really stylish jersey. Add in that the branding is limited to a small hot patch on the mid-torso (so you don’t look like a walking advertisement), and you have my pick as one of the best looking jerseys on the market. The price is a little steep—slightly above all the other three-quarter sleeve jerseys with similar features, but you can usually find their apparel on sale pretty easily. Whether you want short sleeve or black, this jersey will match up well with just about any short you have in your closet and handle any style of riding you want from park to dusty uphill both way epics.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Nikki testing the Pearl Izumi kit in California.



100%

Action and static imagery of the Ride 100 Women s Airmatic jersey and short.
  Testing the 100% Women's Airmatic kit in the California sunshine.

100% is an MX brand name that was unfamiliar to most mountain bikers until 2013 when their goggles were everywhere on the World Cup DH Circuit. As a follow up, in 2016 they debuted their speed craft eyewear and DH helmets. 2017 marks the launch of 100%'s gloves and apparel: they now offer DH, all-mountain, and road cycling clothing, too. And, most importantly from my perspective, a line of women's specific MTB clothing: the Women's Airmatic collection. With the Airmatic, 100% is aimed at female all-mountain riders, featuring a relaxed slim style fit for the jersey and shorts.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  100% Women's Airmatic shorts and jersey.

Women’s Airmatic All Mountain Shorts $129 USD
Sizes: SM–XL
Colors: Skylar Royal (tested), Skylar Black, Skylar Gray

I tested the size medium Airmatic All Mountain Short in Skylar Royal. Based on the slim design style of the short, I sized up and was happy with my choice of medium. The shorts had a relaxed yet slim style fit in the waist, hips, and legs; but were also stretchy enough to not restrict any of my pedaling motions. They came with a detachable chamois that was comfortable and made the price tag seem more reasonable.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detail shots of the Women's Airmatic All Mountain Shorts (clockwise from top left): waist snaps, Velcro waist tab adjuster, left hip pockets, mesh lumbar panel, TPR hanger hook, and right hip pocket.

One of the things that stood out to me most about these shorts was the lightweight feel. They were by far the lightest weight shorts I tested of the bunch, which in turn made them really easy to pick on hotter days (i.e. our testing in California). The shorts also offer three amazingly functional zippered pockets, and we all know how much I like pockets. Durability wise, given how thin and lightweight these shorts are, I am not sure how well they would hold up crashing, but I imagine I will have a chance to test that once our trails hit mid summer's 'ball bearings on concrete' status.

The inseam on these shorts was probably around 14 inches, long enough to match up well with most knee guard options and with no gap in a defensive riding position. The shorts also have a nice ventilation panel on the rear yoke that adds breathability and stretch. Although our testing is limited to around two months, I do put a lot of time into the products and I would say these shorts follow closely behind my favorite shorts of this test series. I like the color options, the overall design, the ridiculously lightweight feel, the three zippered pockets, and I really like that the shorts come with a loop in the back (TPR back tab) to hang dry after I wash them, because really it's the little things that matter.

Women’s Airmatic All Mountain Jersey $49 USD
Sizes: SM–XL
Colors Skyler Blue Heather (tested), Skylar Flo Heather, Gray Heather

I tested the size medium All Mountain Jersey in Skylar Blue Heather. The jersey is designed like the shorts to have a slim fit, and the size medium fit me not too tight and not too loose. I was sent a short sleeve version of this jersey—they currently don't offer a three-quarter length; it was a comfortable length and easily fit over my broad shoulders. The jersey comes with a googles wipe on the lower interior hem and a unique oval v-neck style cut that supposedly is engineered for "added style and comfort". I would just say that my preference for neck line designs is only that a jersey doesn't strangle my neck—so goal achieved. The jersey also has a slight drop tail to provide full coverage in the riding position.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detail shots of the Women's Airmatic All Mountain jersey (from left): neckline, goggle wipe, and mesh side panel.

The jersey, much like the shorts, had a really nice lightweight feel. By 100% standards, the branding is also pretty minimal with one hot patch on the upper chest (above the boobs). The jersey uses a polyester anti-microbial knit material for the main body with mesh panels to add a little ventilation. I give this jersey the Best Buy of the group—it is the most bang for your buck. The only negative I ran across was that it was difficult to remove the mud splatter stains from the light blue colored fabric. It could have been the fabric, but much more likely it could have been that despite having two kids, when it comes to laundry, I suck at anything related to removing stains. But for the price, you get a comfortable, lightweight, and attractive jersey that will look good on or off the trail.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Testing the 100% Women's Airmatic kit.



Shredly

Action and static imagery of the Shredly MTB Long short and Honeycomb Tank top.
  Shredly testing on the Syncline outside of Hood River, Oregon.

Shredly is the creation of founder Ashley Rankin and is a brand that features a multi-sport line of women's only mountain bike inspired apparel. The products are made in the USA and were created to bring a burst of fresh style into the world of women’s adventuring while maintaining technical product performance and comfort. Fresh style is the key phrase here.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Shredly MTB Long shorts and the Honeycomb tank.

The MTB Long short $100 USD
Sizes: 00–16
Colors: 28 different options

I tested the size 6 MTB Long Short in ‘the Ashley' (or as I call them: Peacock). The size 6 fit me just a little bit loose in the waist (I’m an in-between size so expected), but with the internal button waist adjusters, I was able to tighten them up for a solid fit. (Note that the buttons sometimes pop out of the waist adjuster band.) Shredly is the first brand I have come across that offers sizing on par with standard shorts and pants sizing in the US. They have a 00 all the way to a size 16. They also cater to the market of amazing color and design patterns, from flowers to stripes, to fish… yes, I just said fish print. These shorts are targeting an untouched market of women who want to look unique and stylish and not super enduro.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Details on the Shredly MTB Long Shorts in Ashley: the hip pocket and the button inner waist band adjuster.


The shorts are made of a slightly heavier material than some of the others I tested, but nothing out of the ordinary. The shorts have good stretch and feel light and comfortable when pedaling. The zippered ventilation located on the lower leg panel functions effectively and is a nice addition for hot days, although I would say it is not the most attractive design when zippered open. The cargo pockets are a nice bonus feature and offer the security of a snap closure vs. the hand pockets which lack a zipper or closure mechanism.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detailed shots of the Shredly MTB Long Shorts (clockwise from top left): Waist snap closure, right thigh cargo pocket, the fun faux gem snaps used on the MTB Long shorts, and the zip vents on the thighs .

Overall I was really happy with how the shorts felt when riding. The more I wore them the more the unique design grew on me. I know a handful of women who rock the Shredly’s and love not only the designs but supporting a women-owned business. This short has a 13.75" inseam. For those who prefer a more XC cut, Shredly offers this same short design with a three inch shorter inseam. The long length fit well over my knee protection and was comparable to the other shorts I tested. I also want to give major props to Shredly for supporting our domestic economy and creating a product made in the USA!

The Honeycomb Tank $50 USD
Sizes: XS–XL
Colors: multiple options (tested Mint?)

I tested the size medium Honeycomb tank in Mint. The top fit me to a "T"—not too snug around my shoulders and upper arms and with a good torso length. While I prefer not to wear a tank top while riding my bike, it was refreshing to test something a little more casual and less enduro looking than what I typically wear. I also know there are many places that are hot enough that tank tops are ideal and/or some women just prefer them.

Nikki Hollatz with the Shredly Honeycomb tank.
  Detailed shots of the Shredly Honeycomb tank: mesh back panel fabric, main body fabric, and where they meet on the lumbar portion of the tank top.

The moisture wicking, quick-dry fabric was true to design and kept me as dry as possible while climbing in the blazing sun. The fabric has a really nice soft feel and the honeycomb design on the back panel offers additional breathability.

To compliment the Honeycomb tank, Shredly also offers a traditional tank top ($35) and a short sleeve jersey in two styles ($55). Given how comfortable and stylish the tops are, I could see myself wearing these tops to work or around town after a ride on a warm summer day. With solid colors, minimal branding, and multiple styles offered, Shredly has done an excellent job of creating a product that is on my short list of favorite riding jerseys.

Nikki Hollatz with the Shredly clothing kit.
  Shredly testing on the Syncline outside of Hood River, Oregon.



Flare Clothing Co

Action and static imagery of the Flare Women s Roost Downhill short and Solar Tech Tee.
  Testing the Flare kit on the Syncline trails.

Flare, a UK company, is relatively new to the MTB apparel market but has been steadily growing since 2012. Their technical garments are all manufactured in Portugal, where they can take advantage of new innovations in textile manufacturing and utilize a skilled workforce. That being said, they want to be known for more than just clothing—and have a company focus on promoting cycling no matter what the discipline.

Nikki Hollatz with the Flare kit.
  Flare Clothing Co. kit.

2017 Roost Downhill Shorts £80 GBP
Sizes: XS–XL
Colors: 2017 not available on website yet

I tested the Roost DH short in size 10 (small). According to the size chart, the size small was the correct size for me but I would probably size up to a medium if I were to order another pair. The shorts had a slim cut and minimal stretch, so were a bit tighter than I like in the hips and waist. The website does make a note to size up, so despite my size chart expertise, I’m the one who failed to order the correct size. The shorts feature adjustable velcro waist tabs, and two stealthily designed zippered hand pockets on the sides that are deep enough to stash a phone. True to discipline, the length of the shorts was long and hit me right below the knee with a small sidecut in the hem to help accommodate larger models of knee protectors.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detail shots of the Roost Downhill Shorts (clockwise from top left): burly zipper and waist snap, hip pockets, Cordura 500D fabric, and close up of the Velcro waist tab adjuster and MX style of waist snap.


So here’s the thing, these were the only shorts categorized for downhill riding that I tested. This made it difficult to compare to the other all-mountain shorts. Flare does make a Stage Enduro short, but the 2017 product was not available at the time we requested samples. So knowing that, here’s my take. These shorts were by far the heaviest of the bunch which is expected of a DH short with Cordura fabric. They also had an internal mesh liner throughout, which allows more breathability as it keeps fabric off skin/chamois, and allows the short to slide on the under layers. While I am not a fan of the internal mesh liner, I understand it serves a purpose and the 500D Cordura fabric adds durability and tear resistance for technical riding. These were by far the hardiest shorts I tested and would be a good option for lift served/shuttle riders.

Materials aside, the shorts were not the most attractive thing, they rock the moto-inspired look with the triangular crotch panel and fly, but then they fail slightly with the neon yellow side panel on a two-tone black short (note that the neon yellow didn’t play well with the two yellow and black jerseys I was sent). Had the shorts been solid black, I would have less to complain about, but in this case, the neon panel reminded me of the Flo Yellow Fox shorts from this past winter that blinded the photographer. Overall, I think Flare is on the right path to creating a solid product and I look forward to checking out their all-mountain shorts first chance I get.

Solar Technical T-shirt £40 GBP
Sizes: 8–20 (UK sizing)
Colors: many options

I tested the size 10 (small) Solar Technical T-shirt. I opted to test this verse the Stage enduro jersey as the colors looked slightly better against the neon yellow infused shorts and the two tops were similar enough in material and design the review could be for either. The size 10 tee had a good slim short sleeve fit on my frame. The lightweight 100% polyester fabric offered good moisture wicking and ventilation on the hotter days and had a smooth feel against the skin. Both the three-quarter sleeve and the short sleeve jerseys had a drop tail in the back and decent stretch such that my upper body had full unrestricted movement.

Nikki Hollatz with the Flare kit.
  Detail shot of the Flare Solar Tech tee fabric.


The jersey felt more current than the shorts in the style and design categories. I liked the fit and feel of the jersey and was impressed with how lit handled the heat. Flare also offers a multitude of tops in multiple cuts, colors, and styles (short sleeve, long sleeve or three-quarter sleeve) and at a competitive price. An added bonus to this top is that the tree print found on the jerseys was unique enough it got a lot of compliments on and off the trails. I recommend going online and taking a look at the Flare products which are available to order domestically or internationally directly from their website.

Nikki Hollatz with the Flare kit.
  Testing the Flare kit on the Syncline trails.



IXS

Action and static imagery of the IXS Sever 6.1 short and Vibe 6.1 jersey.
  Nikki with the iXS Sever 6.1 short and Vibe 6.1 Women's Jersey.

IXS is a Swiss based company with deep roots in the moto industry. They were founded in 1979 with a focus on clothing and protective gear with a typical Swiss eye on precision and performance. Just over a decade ago, IXS opted to take that same focus to mountain bike clothing and equipment, and their gear can be seen in use on riders many PB readers know well: The Athertons/Trek racing, Geoff Gulevich, the Gherig Twins, Richie Schley, Tommy G, and many more.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Static imagery of the iXS Sever 6.1 short and Vibe 6.1 Women's Jersey.

Sever 6.1 Women Short $135 USD
Sizes: XS–XXL
Colors: Black, Purple, Cloud Blue, Graphite

I tested the US size small (EU 3Cool Sever 6.1 shorts in graphite. The shorts fit my frame but were fairly tight in the hips and quads—they had a very straight cut (not a lot of room for hips or curves) despite the fact that the product description on the website stated "loose wide cut". Aside from the tightness, the shorts were fairly comfy to pedal in as they use a four-way stretch fabric and have a soft, lightweight feel. While sizing up is an option for some women, anyone with a curvy figure may have a hard time fitting in this style short. So triple-check the sizing chart and try before you buy.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detailed shots of the IXS Sever 6.1 Women Shorts (clockwise from top left): Velcro reinforced waist snaps, only one snap shows when closed, laser cut ventilation on the legs, belt loops for fine tuning the fit as well as external Velcro waist tab adjusters .

The shorts handled the heat well with laser cut venting on the inside leg panels and a quick drying fabric. Even though the shorts fit tight on my quads, they had a long inseam, falling to the bottom of my knee, and easily fit over a variety of knee guards. The four zippered pockets were deep and functional; they also added a nice look to the shorts that was different than the standard front hand pocket look. These were definitely one of the more stylish shorts I tested. If you like to shred the park or hit technical trails with long descents, and/or pretend to be Rachel Atherton for a day, these are a fantastic choice. A lot of thought and effort has gone into a quality design and this is just one of three women specific shorts that IXS is currently offering. New to the USA crowd, you can now purchase these products online from the Gravity Cartel.


Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Waist adjuster and zipper close up on the Sever 6.1 Women Shorts.

Vibe 6.1 Women Jersey $65 USD
Sizes: XS–XXL
Colors: Night Red, Brisk Blue, Menthol, Graphite

I tested the size medium Vibe 6.1 women Jersey. The jersey has a three-quarter cut sleeve length and fit me well with a more slim cut on my frame. (Because women's chests have a huge variation in size, it is really key to check chest measurements on size charts when looking for your correct size.) The torso length of this jersey was longer than all the other jerseys I tested which can be a good thing, but for me, that meant I found myself pulling it down after it would bunch up at my hips. Length aside, the mesh side panels and moisture wicking material worked great in the heat even when I found myself chasing that one local ridiculously fit lady up a long climb. Motivation at its finest.

Nikki Hollatz with Ion clothing kit.
  Detail shots of the Vibe 6.1 Women Jersey (from left): front panel fabric, mesh side panel, and goggle wipe.

The jersey fabric was a bit thicker than some of the other tops I tested, but not so thick it was uncomfortable. The thickness gives it a better long-term durability, much like the shorts. Both are categorized as a "freeride" option, and that style of riding tends to have a bit more wear and tear on the apparel. Taking a close look at the IXS products, they really do utilize top notch materials and solid well thought out designs for a pretty penny.

IXS does offer a variety of jerseys (short sleeve, long sleeve, tank top) with multiple color choices including nothing in obnoxious pink, and some of the options are a bit more affordable than this particular kit. Fit and cost aside, you see a lot of IXS apparel on some of the top enduro and DH sponsored athletes, so you know that they are getting a lot of feedback on what the athletes want in a product and you can definitely see that in this kit.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  IXS testing in a foggy Post Canyon outside Hood River, Oregon.



Sombrio

Action and static imagery of the Sombrio Cartel Womens V al short and Noble Jersey.
  Climbing on the Syncline with the Sombrio V'al short and Noble Jersey.

Sombrio is a North Vancouver based MTB and lifestyle clothing company that got their start the same way that the early riders who pioneered the trails on the North Shore of Vancouver did: by bucking convention and making clothing that was uniquely suited for the kind of riding that the shore offered. As a result, they have clothing for everything from straight up (or as the case is, down) gnar as well as gear for all day rides. Darren Barrecloth and Jill Kintner (among others) are just two of the riders that Sombrio relies on for design feedback.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Nikki Hollatz with Sombrio's Women's specific V'al Short and Noble Jersey

V’AL Short $80 USD
Sizes: XS–XL (tested size small)
Colors: Grape (tested) Black, or Surf Blue

I tested the V'al shorts in size small. The shorts fit me as if tailored (so consider sizing down if you are on the smaller side of a medium). In fact, they were the best fit of any of the shorts I tested. They were lightweight and ridiculously comfortable. I could wear them all day, every day. The V'al have a nice mid-weight two-way stretch fabric with a DWR finish and velcro adjustable waistband. The relaxed fit seems to work well for average to curvy figures. They also have two front zippered pockets that my IPhone fit comfortably in.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detailed shots of the Sombrio V'al shorts (clockwise from top left): Velcro reinforced waist snap, key keeper, reinforced pocket stitching, Velcro external waist adjuster to fine tune fit.

The V'al had a mid-knee length inseam and wide lower hem ensuring that they fit easily over most knee guards. They breathed well (as did all the shorts I tested) and were comfortable to pedal in. These shorts are my pick for best buy. The three solid color options available are attractive and will match up nicely with just about any jersey. I could easily have this as my one quiver pair of shorts—Sombrio offers this at a really competitive price, it has an attractive style and offers a bit more durability than some of the other brands. And of course, Sombrio wants you to know that the V’al Shorts are ready for whatever your ride brings.


Noble Jersey $65 USD
Sizes: XS–XL (tested size small)
Colors: Green Ombre (tested), Surf Marble, or Grey Melange

“Our spin on the classic baseball top, updated with Chill Mesh Technology and a female-specific fit, the Noble Jersey will rise to any occasion."

I tested the size small Noble jersey in Green Ombre. The fit on my frame was perfect much like the shorts. The torso length was good for coverage and the three-quarter sleeve profile was loose and comfortable over the shoulders and elbows. The jersey has mesh shoulder panels that add extra ventilation and Sombrio utilizes a 'cool wik' fabric that helps wick moisture away, i.e. no dripping sweat inside the jersey. The jersey breathed well in all the conditions I tested it in and had a nice light feel.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detailed shots of the Sombrio Noble Jersey (clockwise from top left): the different weave fabrics of the main body of the Noble Jersey, elbow mesh vent, laser cut perforations of the main fabric, and the decorative flat stitched neck.

I really like the baseball style look of the Noble Jersey. It is current and stylish and the colors were mellow and attractive—no one likes a bright flashy jersey that is hard on the eyes. Plus, if Jill Kitner can ride fast in this jersey, we can only assume that we can too. The material had a soft feel and slid over the skin easily. It was also thick enough that it had the appearance that it could handle a minor crash or three without ripping- but I was hesitant to do any crash testing. I did struggle to get mud splatter stains out of the lighter blue color, much like the Ride 100% jersey, but again I attribute that to me and my lack of Martha Stewart prowess. Colin, on the other hand, managed to clean both mud splattered light blue jerseys successfully.

While it was a tough competition, this was my top pick jersey of the group—mostly because it fit me the best, was reasonably priced, and had a unique and good looking design! Sombrio also has a large range of three-quarter sleeve, short sleeve, and tank-top style jerseys to go along with the Noble. Over all, I was impressed with the product: it has a competitive price, is well-designed, and has a bit of style.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Testing the Sombrio V'al Short and Noble Jersey on the Syncline.



ION
Action and static imagery of the Ion Traze Amp Womens s shorts and Tee.
  Testing... testing, one, two three. Charging hard in the Ion kit somewhere in Cascadia.

We are back with another review of Ion’s products after having a first look at their bike offerings this past winter. This time around we have a different pair of shorts, as well as a jersey, and gloves. You should be able to buy their products from an online US store sometime in the near future.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Ion static shots in California sunshine.

Traze_Amp Wmns Bike Short $100 USD
Sizes: XS (34)–XL(42)
Colors: Black, Powder Blue (tested), Sunset Pink

I tested the size small/36 Traze_Amp short in Powder Blue. Sizing is true to fit and was perfect for me. The external velcro waist adjusters are one of the more hardy versions out there and better designed than some others, allowing for a nice, secure fit. The shorts have a longer (fourteen-ish) inch inseam and a wide hem on the lower knee, easily fitting over a variety of knee guards. Taking things a step further than some of the other brands, the Traze_Amp shorts have a two-way stretch fabric with four-way stretch inserts for a super comfortable, stretchy feel. Looking at the shorts you can visually see the different panels and the laser cut ventilation holes on the inside of the legs. They are super comfortable to pedal in and offer good breathability in hotter temps.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detailed shots of the Ion Traze_Amp short (clockwise from top left): Velcro reinforced waist snap and lycra half fly, external Velcro waist adjuster, laser-cut ventilation holes, hip pocket.

Ion has done a great job working with its athletes and creating a product that has all the bells and whistles for an all-mountain riding short. The two zippered front pockets are well designed and the one right-hand side pocket has a built in neoprene style phone pouch. These shorts are also fairly durable: they are slightly thicker than a standard polyester short, and with triple-stitched seams, they promise to hold up well during a crash. Overall these are a fantastic short: the color options are unique and the price tag is comparable to other top brands. The Traze_Amp is just one of five women's specific shorts in their line-up; each one has a slightly different style and cut for various types of riding. I am not positive that the products are available in the USA, other than one store in Crested Butte, CO, but I imagine a USA online store will be in the near future if not already in the works.

Traze_Amp Wmns SS Tee $65 USD
Sizes: XS–XL
Colors: Powder Blue (tested), Combat Red, Black
Features: Quick dry finished fabric on the main body, integrated goggle wipe, and reflective details for night riding


I tested the size Small Traze_Amp SS tee. The tee was a looser style of "slim fit" and very comfortable. Ion categorizes the jersey as a slim fit, so consider sizing down if you run on the lower end of a size chart. The jersey had a longer torso length than most the other jerseys but not quite as long as the IXS. The length makes it such that you get good coverage over the lower back when in a riding position, and it keeps dirt and mud from getting into the back of the shorts.

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Detailed shots of the Ion Traze_Amp Women's short sleeve tee (from left): detail of the Raze_Amp fabric, logo, and glasses/goggle wipe.

It was one of the lighter weight short sleeve jerseys that I tested and although it had a quick dry finish fabric on the main body, and fast wicking mesh side panels, it still got a bit clingy when riding hard in hotter temperatures. I think that is fairly normal and I saw the same thing with some of the other lightweight jerseys; those with silkier materials seem to have more of a tendency to get clingy in hot humid weather than some other fabrics. But it dried quickly—I even tested the quick-drying by pouring some water over my head and it met my standard that it was dry by the time I finished my post ride beer. In the Traze line-up, this jersey is available in three color options, as well as a tank top, half zip short sleeve, and full zip long sleeve version. Ion also has a wide selection of jerseys in other categories—I love to see so many of the companies starting to offer more than just one kit a season for women!

Nikki Hollatz with the clothing
  Testing... testing, one, two three. Charging hard in the Ion kit somewhere in Cascadia.

Women s 2017 Summer Clothing Guide

Women s 2017 Summer Clothing Guide
Please note that the DHaRCO 3/4 sleeve jersey is $55 USD, $65 AUD


MENTIONS: @DHaRCO / @ride100percent / @IONbike / @SombrioCartel / @iXSsports




30 Comments

  • 10 1
 So nice to see a detailed, comprehensive review of women's clothing! Thanks PB!
I've had great luck with fit and durability on anything Sombrio. For me, Pearl Izumi stuff just disintegrates. Especially their shoes Frown Stoked to check out some more from IXS.
  • 1 0
 Nice review Nikki, though both tables are titled "2017 Women's Mountain Bike Shorts".Petty I know, but I just can't help myself.
  • 9 0
 Great to see a Women specific review. Very refreshing
  • 2 0
 27.5" waist. Really? You can't mention the number 27.5 without getting bombarded with comments.

There's the "27.5 inch waists are way more playful" comments.
And the "I used to mock them. Now I won't give up my 29 inch waist for anything" comments.
And of course, the tried and true complaint of "I just can't seem to find a 26 inch waist anywhere anymore"

You don't know what you've done. At least you didn't put your measurements on a bad day as being 27.5+. That would've been disastrous.
  • 5 0
 Just because the reviewed kits happen to be in blue, doesn't mean the full range doesn't. We're spoiled for choice these days with clothing (although they don't come cheap)
Love my dharco kit and one of the few brands with free international shipping. Also they get the balance right on the longer sleeved jerseys, light enough for the heat but enough coverage for scrapes and falls.I put cash or my phone in the little pocket in the back, but agree I do miss the front/side pocket.

Would.like to get sombrio or other kits here but access to the range and shipping to Malaysia is a nightmare.
  • 10 2
 Feelin those Shredly shorts. Why can't men have faux gem snaps? It's 2017.
  • 4 0
 Thanks Nikki! It's great to have a comprehensive review of women's products, especially their fit, since most shops don't carry a large selection of women's clothing inventory. It's hard to pull the trigger on a pair of $120 shorts when you can't try them on.
  • 4 0
 Thanks for the review! Personally with jerseys I'm a fan of coverage for protection from sun and unplanned dismounts! Love the 3/4 sleeve options from Dharco. Their shorts are also my pick as they fit so well that you barely know you're wearing them.

The 100% kit is good, I have the top but didn't buy the shorts as I couldn't get over the fact that the combo looked like pyjamas! More options needed :-)
  • 3 1
 Love seeing some women's specific content and thanks for the systematic reviews Nikki!
Just curious that Collin Meager was given credit for the article (he has beautiful pics, for sure), shouldn't Nikki's name be on top? I was a little confused why a dude was reviewing women's clothes at first.
  • 2 0
 It is very refreshing to see Women's specific mountain biking gear. I love my DHaRCO kit, super comfortable, the best gear I have ridden while riding - Downhill Riding and Trail riding. I enjoy the designs of the shorts and tops. Can't wait to buy more when the new ones come out.
  • 10 9
 I really don't get it. The people behind this brands have to be designers and be aware that women are not color blind. And I don't know Google their competitors to realize pretty much every mtb woman outfit is teal colored. Are girls really buying so much teal stuff to keep the trend going strong for so many years or are the brands just retarded?
  • 2 0
 Not sure why this comment is getting so downvoted - literally 62% of these kits have teal on either the jersey or short! Any other colors out there? Though not sure why I'm getting so passionate about this, my wife would ever wear MTB kits... or go mountain biking... or ride a bike....

...i made myself sad
  • 1 0
 @colemanb: if you actually counted and did the math I love you.
  • 3 0
 @fercho25: I did and I did. For science.
  • 1 0
 @colemanb: The only thing sadder than a wife that doesn't ride, is a wife that bought a bike and doesn't ride.

. . . we need to start a support group.
  • 3 0
 @rrolly: Haha - I'd join that! Bought my misses the flamingo top from dharco and now she just wants to go ride cause she loves her top...she's still not convinced if she likes riding tho..
  • 1 0
 Awesome review!! Would be good to mention that the iXS gear is environmentally friendly made from recycled bottles, its the main reason why myself and my friends choose iXS, plus the shorts are the best I've found. For some reason, everyone else is too tight. Opposite problem to you... But I saw u tested small iXS but medium Dharco. I wear medium in both and the fit is a perfect for both. So I think thats why it may have been too tight.
Also need to give a HUGE shout out to Dharco too. My favourite jerseys, 3/4 and long sleeve are Dharco. The designs are epic and they are heaps comfortable.
Dharco and iXS are my top for riding enduro by far... Wouldn't chose anyone else!!
  • 1 0
 Love love this article about women's riding gear! How spoilt for choice are we?! Gear has come a long way in the past 5 years. I love my Dharco gear - huge range , great fit and designs. I do love my IXS shorts and Shredly shorts.
  • 1 0
 Great to see an article on Women's MTB clothing. I love my Dharco clothing, before wearing their shorts and jerseys, I struggled to find any shorts that fitted and constantly fought with oversized waists and shorts getting caught on my seat post. The colours are great and the designs are great. The shirts and short fabric is lightweight and comfortable and keep you cool in the hotter months.
  • 2 0
 Thank you for the great review! We took on board comments raised after sampling, and the production shorts are solid black, so they'll go with your entire wardrobe.
  • 2 0
 Soo Cool with the Gloves Mirroring eyeball's in her glasses!!!! Perfect Shot! Photo~(DHaRCO testing in the heart of Cascadia)
  • 2 1
 Shredly is awesome! Super durable and great fitting. So nice that it comes in 00-16 too, 7 or 8 sizes vs 4 or 5 makes fitting easy. It's like crack.
  • 2 0
 Totally love my DHARCO shorts! Best fabric for pedalling in. And the light short sleeve jersey is perfect for keeping cool.
  • 4 3
 yes yes the clothes look great, but please tell me more about your F#%&king Bike! thats my dream bike!
  • 2 0
 Love, love, love Sombrio kit!
  • 6 9
 Well... after years of biking, I don't know, my way of looking at women has changed a bit. Nice urban girl with Prada outfit? Not worth a second look. Nice girl with Five Tens, well cut shorts and maybe a smudge of mud here and there? My ideal woman. Go figure...
With that in mind, Shredly gets my vote. Hope it's not perceived as a sexist comment, it's just my humble opinion.
  • 1 0
 Wicked Gear! I wish shorts were a little bit more affordable.
  • 1 0
 those Shredly shorts made me trippin'
  • 1 0
 If you're a woman you better love turquoise...
  • 2 1
 Does it come in blue?

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