Spring has officially sprung in Oregon. The poison oak is blooming, the ticks are hunting, and the rattlesnakes are hatching.For this spring/summer gear guide, we have a three-part series coming at you – a review of five men’s and women’s kits, a review of men’s and women’s clipless shoes, and a fun list of our favorite spring/summer gear essentials. For the ladies, you will see new and updated kits from Giro, Troy Lee Designs, Maloja, Pearl Izumi and Raceface. These reviews are based on short-term testing with a focus on fit, comfort, style, and function.
It's not an easy task for companies to design women's specific riding kits that meet everyone's needs year after year. Women are demanding and typically know what they want. The industry is responding to the growing demand and raising the bar on women's specific riding apparel. The five kits below are no exception.
About the tester: Nikki Rohan stands 5’5” and weighs 135 lbs 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, US size 6, and US 8.5 shoe. She resides in Hood River, OR with her husband, Colin Meagher, her two kids, a dog, and a grumpy cat.
Women's Havoc Short and Roust 3/4 JerseyGiro needs no introduction - as a worldwide leader in helmets, accessories and apparel for cycling, it's easy to spot a surplus of Giro branded gear out on the trails on any given day. With a recent push to expand their mountain bike specific apparel to a more trail/enduro oriented crowd, the 2018 Havoc shorts and Roust jersey were the perfect fit for our review.
Women's Havoc Shorts
The Giro Women's Havoc shorts, Roust 3/4 jersey, DND gloves, Cartelle MIPS helmet, and Empire W VR90 shoes.
Colors: Black (tested), Midnight
Giro’s newly released Havoc shorts are the perfect lady shred short designed to handle all types of riding, from spins on your backyard trails to full-tilt boogie racing on technical terrain – I guarantee you will wreak havoc on anything that tries to get in your way in these shorts. The shorts feature a 4-way stretch fabric, adjustable waist tabs, two hand pockets, a zippered stash pocket on the right leg, and laser venting.
I tested the Havoc shorts in a size 6. The fit was spot on, with a tailored look and stretchy yet durable feel. I appreciate companies that offer incremental sizing options as it makes it easy for me to know what size to order – however, I do think companies need to offer sizes to women beyond a 12 (XL).
Details of the Women's Havoc shorts: Button fly and laser venting on leg panel.
I tested the shorts in Utah and at home in varying temperatures on varying terrain. The shorts were super comfortable and despite the tailored /slim-design fit, the stretchy material allowed for easy, unrestricted movement while the laser venting kept me cool. I found the tailored cut worked well on my legs, but it might be a little tight on any lady with strong AF godzilla thighs - so make sure to try before you buy. The Havocs easily fit over both my G-Form knee guards and my Ion K-Lite R pads. The inseam length was around 13” so minimal gaper gap was noticed, and I felt no chaffing or binding at my knees when pedaling without knee guards. While I personally don’t find hand pockets without zippers useful on riding shorts, I did utilize the side-zippered pocket while riding and I was easily able to fit my phone or keys in that pocket.
Overall, I was impressed with the design and feel of these shorts. Stylish, durable, and comfortable, these shorts can easily compete with any of my favorite brands so long as they don't come in pink.
Women's Roust 3/4 Jersey
Details of the Women's Havoc shorts: Zippered stash pocket and button fly.
Color: Tie Dye, Black Dazzle (tested), Bright Pink Crystal
The Women’s Roust ¾ jersey features a loose, relaxed fit, a breathable material with wicking properties to keep you cool and dry, and an interior lens wipe. The jersey is made of 100% polyester and comes in three unique color patterns that are bold and stylish. The three-quarter sleeve length offers good protection from the sun and appears to be loose enough to fit over low profile elbow guards.
Details of the Roust 3/4 jersey: Lens wipe and moisture-wicking fabric.
I tested the Roust 3/4 Jersey in size medium. The jersey was loose and comfortable and while I could easily have downsized to a size small, I also happily enjoyed the breathing room of the size medium after a long stressful winter. For me, if I have a choice, I will always pick a ¾ length jersey for a ride, so while the Roust is also available in short sleeve for $60 USD, I really like the extra protection from the sun and elements. And for only $10 extra, its a steal.
The Roust is a simple no-frills, get-the-job done jersey. It breathes and wicks moisture well and handled multiple cycles through my washing machine like a champ. Most importantly it's fairly stylish with bold, yet not too feminine colors, and has minimal branding. You can find Giro products at your local bike shop or by using their online dealer locator.
MalojaMeraM women's shorts and StinaM jerseyDas Germans make rad stuff is basically how I translate Maloja (pronounced Mah-loy-ah). Maloja was originally born out of a desire to ride mountain bikes in something other than Lycra or the heavy duty freeride gear available back in 2005. Their offerings tick all the boxes for excellence in both design and style.
MeraM Women's Shorts
The Maloja MeraM shorts, StinaM jersey, Smith Session helmet and Attack glasses, and Specialized 2FO Cliplite shoes.
Colors: Pinetree, Choco, Seasame, Mountain (tested), Moonless
The Maloja MeraM women’s shorts are a stylish, multi-sport short utilizing a 4-way stretch fabric fabric to support all levels of shredding. They have a relaxed fit, and feature two front pockets, a waistband with 2 press buttons, zipper, and belt loops. The MeraM also rocks a 14” inseam, has a pre-shaped knee design, a 2-layer Cordura insert in the crotch/seat area, hidden thigh ventilation zippers, internal adjustable waist tabs, and a DWR coating to ward off sprinkles.
Details on the MeraM shorts: internal waist adjusters and front zipper pocket.
I tested the MeraM shorts in a size small. The shorts had a snug fit, yet were comfortable in the hips and butt; overall I was happy with the size/fit (Maloja's size charts are pretty spot on so I recommend using a fabric measuring tape before ordering). The short fabric is a poly/lycra blend material that is very elastic and allows for easy, unrestricted movement of the legs and hips. The preshaped knee design is compatible with knee guards and the zippered vents on the thighs work well to add breathability on hot days.
I tested these shorts extensively in a range of temperatures on a variety of trails. I used the venting on hot days during climbs and it seemed to help me stay cool, and although it didn’t rain I always appreciate a DWR coating on my shorts for unexpected monsoons. The cut of these shorts was a plus for me – they are lightweight and comfortable and have an almost boy cut low profile waist (which is guaranteed to make almost all butts look good).
Maloja clothing never disappoints me. I love the unique colors and designs, the on and off the bike wear-ability, and the streamlined features. I would highly recommend the MeraM shorts (and Maloja clothing) to any of my lady friends.
StinaM Women's Jersey
Details on the MeraM shorts: Button fly and rear stretch panel.
Colors: Bamboo (tested), Choco, Maple, Blueberry
The Maloja StinaM women’s jersey is a freeride specific top that offers a unique design and unrestricted movement. The jersey features a crew neckline, three-quarter length sleeve, "Freeride mesh", quick-drying fabric and an overall relaxed fit. The “Freeride mesh” is a highly functional open porous polyester fabric that guarantees both high breathability and good elasticity.
Details on the StinaM Women's jersey: "Freeride mesh" material.
I tested this jersey in a size small. The fit was perfect for me – it was loose and relaxed as described, but not so loose that I felt like I needed to size down. The three-quarter sleeve length came to right below my elbow, and the sleeves were loose enough to fit low profile elbow guards under them. I was a little nervous that naked skin would show through the freeride mesh material, but surprisingly, you really don’t see anything unless you get up close, and the mesh allows for both excellent ventilation on hot days and dries quickly.
I tested this jersey in a full range of spring weather. It handled the heat phenomenally and fit comfortably under a jacket when I got cold. I really love the design and look of this jersey as it looks like a cool t-shirt, but then offers impressive riding features. It is one of my favorite jerseys of the review as it is stylish, comfortable and unique.
Pearl IzumiLaunch Thermal Jersey and Summit ShortPearl Izumi has been a leading manufacturer of quality cycling apparel since forever, and was one of the first to embrace the movement away from lycra for mountain biking. Based in Boulder, CO their design team is made up of users who ride hard and design clothing to match how they ride.
Women's Summit Shorts
Pearl Izumi Women's Summit shorts, Performance T, Pearl Izumi Women's X-Alp Elevate shoes, Smith Session helmet and Attack glasses.
Sizes: 2 - 14
Colors: Arctic/Sea Moss (tested), Port/Cayenne, Black
The Women’s Summit shorts are Pearl Izumi’s top line trail short. It's designed for riders to dial in the perfect fit for everyday riding. The Summit features a 12” inseam, two zippered hand pockets, a durable, lightweight 2-way stretch fabric in the body of the short, internal waist adjustment, a snap front closure with a zip fly, and a DWR coating to repel light rain.
Pearl Izumi Summit short details: Velcro waist adjusters and zippered pockets.
I tested the shorts in size 6. The fit was perfect. Much like the Giro shorts, companies offering a wider range of sizes allows for a better overall fit vs. the typical S, M, L, sizing. The Summit Shorts have a shorter inseam than some of the other brands I tested this year, but they were still long enough work well with lower profile knee guards while offering minimal knee gap in technical terrain. The two zippered hand pockets were big enough to fit my phone (and I really liked the look of the low profile zippers).
These shorts were one of the first samples I received for testing this year, and I tested them a LOT. I was able to ride them through the latter part of winter and into spring. The DWR coating was a nice addition for spring mud puddles and the fabric seemed to wash easily when sprayed liberally with wet "brown pow" (with a light color like teal, the last thing you want are mud splatter stains to not come out, and as someone who lacks domesticated skills, I always cringe when I wear light colors in the wet season). The DWR coating held up nicely through multiple washings, too.
These shorts are a definite step up from the Pearl Izumi shorts I have tested in the past. They are a really great option for everyday trail riding as they are lightweight, durable, and comfortable, and the multi-colored panel design gives them a nice look.
Women's Performance T
Pearl Izumi Summit short details: Button fly.
Colors: Arctic/Midnight Navy (tested), Port, Smoked Pearl/Black
The Women's Performance T is a basic "t-shirt" that performs on the bike and at the office. With a semi-form fit design, this lightweight technical tee offers a quick-dry fabric, reflective elements for low-light visibility, and a simple stylish look.
I tested the Performance T in size medium. The shirt has a semi-form fit as described and the size medium I tested was a good fit. The shirt breathed well climbing under the sun and I didn't notice any sweat stains or wet spots on any of my test rides.
For those of you that like simple products that offer minimal features but good breathability - for the price, a tech tee is always a good way to go. Pearl Izumi has done an excellent job on this simple yet functional riding tee.
Pearl Izumi Performance T details: Material close up and reflective strip on arm band.
Race FaceWomen's Indiana Shorts and Charlie SS Jersey Race Face has been killing it with leading edge, rider-inspired gear since back in the day - and they’ve never let up. Given their location at the bottom of the North Shore of Vancouver, BC, it’s safe to say that they know a thing or two about designing gear for both challenging weather and terrain.
Women's Indiana Shorts
The Race Face Women's Indiana Shorts and Charlie SS Jersey, Women's Khyber gloves, Smith Summit helmet and Attack glasses, and Northwave Outcross Plus women's shoes.
Colors: Black (tested)
The Indiana shorts are Race Face’s newest women's specific, ultra-lightweight stretch fabric short designed to offer a “truly invisible feel while riding”. The Indiana Shorts feature a zippered front fly with dual snap closure, a silicone gripper print on the interior waistband, exterior waist adjusters, a back lumbar storage pocket, a hidden outer thigh pocket, two zippered hand pockets and a DWR coating.
Details of the Raceface Women's Indiana Shorts: Zippered hand pockets and small thigh stash pocket.
I tested the Indiana shorts in size medium. I was able to fit in the size small, but they were snug in the waist so I opted to test the mediums. They were a tiny bit loose and on the almost-too-big for me side, but I was able to use the waist adjusters and the interior silicone gripper print to keep them on. The shorts are incredibly light and the material is super thin, so optimal for warm days. Durability-wise, I had concerns with the minimal seams and thin material – I had read some reviews from the 2017 line that discussed the shorts coming apart at the zipper seams – and while I noticed some normal wear and tear over the course of our short-term testing, it was nothing unusual. This included washing the shorts 4-5 times and hang drying.
For the price, these shorts offer a good, super lightweight option for everyday trail riding. They are one of the few shorts I have tested in the last couple years that actually has a baggy fit and feel, along with a nice long inseam and wide knee guard compatible leg opening. The zippered pockets offer a good amount of storage for riding necessities. As for the back lumbar storage pocket, I feel the same way I felt about Fox’s version of this pocket –it may work for some people but not for me.
These shorts are perfect for someone looking for a super comfortable, loose and baggy ultra-lightweight short. You can jump in the river after a ride in these shorts and they are bound to dry quicker than your bikini top.
Women's Charlie SS Jersey
Details of the Raceface Women's Indiana Shorts: Button fly.
Color: Charcoal, Slate, Moss
The women’s Charlie SS jersey is a lightweight, relaxed fit short sleeve jersey that is designed with a quick-drying moisture wicking fabric. The jersey features a v-neck and comes in three different colors.
Details of the Race Face Charlie SS jersey: V-neck design and up close seam/fabric details.
I tested the Charlie jersey in size medium. The fit was spot on – a small would have been too tight in the shoulders/torso for me. It's a fairly lightweight jersey, and while it is a "short sleeve" jersey, the sleeves are long enough that they come to right above my elbows offering a little extra protection from the sun.
I had the luxury of the testing the jersey on one of our hottest and muggiest days of early spring. It breathed exceptionally well on the climbs and in general was loose and comfortable. Much like a performance tee, the Charlie SS jersey is a good, very affordable short sleeve jersey option that makes up for the lack of "bling" features with its streamlined simplicity.
Troy Lee DesignsWomen's Ruckus Shorts and Ruckus JerseyMotocross brands bring years of design and technology into play for their mountain bike clothing, and that’s a good thing. Troy Lee Designs has been making clothing for demanding riders for several years now, and their Ruckus gear has expanded into the women's realm and continues that reputation.
Women's Ruckus Shorts
The TLD Women's Ruckus Shorts, Ruckus Jersey, Ruckus gloves, TLD A1 Mips helmet and Shimano ME3 women's shoes.
Colors: Blue, Gray (tested), Red
TLD’s all-new Women’s Ruckus shorts are an all-mountain, rugged performance, women's specific mountain bike short. They feature a moisture-wicking quick-dry fabric, bi-stretch rear panel, silicone gripper on the inner waistband, mesh panels on the legs, a laser perforated rear waistband, and zippered hip pockets.
Details of the TLD Ruckus shorts: Thigh ventilation and zippered thigh pocket.
I tested the Ruckus shorts in size M. TLD has finally updated their sizing to a more normal standard and the M was a nice loose fit on me, which I was easily able fine tune with the Velcro waist adjusters. The shorts are incredibly comfortable and offer excellent ventilation with the mesh panels and laser perforated waistband. My phone easily fit into the two hip pockets and to my chagrin there were no useless pockets leaving me absolutely nothing to complain about.
These shorts are the Lamborghini version of every short I have ever tested. A lot of thought went into the design, and the final product is my ideal "every day" riding short. The tailored fit is stylish and comfortable. The shorts are stretchy and knee guard compatible – and they get extra points for removing the old solid color crotch panel that made me feel like I was wearing a diaper short. Offering three really nice color options for a competitive price, these shorts have my ‘winner winner chicken dinner’ award.
Women's Ruckus Jersey
Details of the TLD Ruckus shorts: Velcro waist adjusters and button fly.
Colors: Orange, Blue, Blue/Blue (tested)
Much like the Ruckus shorts, the Ruckus jersey is TLD’s newest form-fitted three-quarter sleeve jersey that is purpose-built for female MTB riders. The jersey features a lightweight 100% polyester knit fabric with moisture wicking and quick-dry features, mesh panels in front and on the entire back of jersey for excellent ventilation, zippered pockets on the lower back, and bonus: three, not completely obnoxious colors (nothing screams "bike nerd" better than the look-at-me colors of some mtb riding kit).
I tested the jersey in size medium. The fit was excellent – not too tight but not too loose. The three-quarter sleeve length was extra-long for added sun and abrasion protection, yet still loose enough to be compatible with low profile elbow guards. The mesh panels offered phenomenal ventilation. I tested the kit in a mix of mildly hot and spring morning cold temps and the jersey seemed to breathe well and wick any sweat away.
I didn't ever use the pockets on the jersey, but a little extra storage for keys or snacks when I'm headed out on a quick ride isn't a bad thing.
This jersey offers a solid design that appears to have included a fair bit of input from women on exactly what features they need and want. It looks really good, it fits really good, and it breathes amazingly well... overall it was one of my favorite jerseys of the review. And more importantly, TLD gets a little extra recognition for using sustainable textile production for their products (Bluesign)!
Details of the TLD Ruckus jersey: Fabric and rear zippered pockets.