A lot of gear comes across our desks here at Pinkbike. Check Out is a monthly round up of everything our tech editors have gotten their hands on. Sometimes it's products we're doing long-term tests on, other times it's stuff we're stoked on but don't have time to fully review. And, sometimes it's crazy shit someone sent us unsolicited and we're having a laugh.
Now that fall has officially arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, this edition of Check Out is focused on gear that can help make those cooler and wetter rides more enjoyable.
Gore C5 Gore-Tex Trail Hooded Jacket
A drop tail keeps the jacket from riding up when you're hunched over the handlebars.
• Gore-Tex Active and PacLite Plus fabrics • Adjustable hood and hem • Zippered chest and side pockets • gorewear.com
The C5 Trail jacket is a new entry from Gore, a lightweight waterproof layer that won't take up much room in a pack if the weather improves. There aren't any pit zips, but the high level of breathability helps make that less of a concern than I expected – I was able to keep the jacket on during some low speed, high exertion climbs without ever feeling like I was trapped in a sauna.
The drop tail and extended coverage cuffs are all handy features to keep water from sneaking in, and the hood is low profile enough that it can easily fit under a helmet on those extra-soggy rides. The only issue that I've run into so far is that the main zipper will occasionally get hung up on the fabric underneath it, which can make one handed operation a challenge.
Bear in mind that Gore's sizes tend to run on the smaller side. I typically wear a medium from most manufacturers, but the size large pictured here ended up being a good fit.
The Evoc Race Belt obviously isn't wet-weather specific, but it's a handy option to have for those quick laps when it's raining cats and dogs. I added it into this compilation due to how low-profile it is and how well it'll fit under a rain jacket. There's only room for the bare essentials – a multi-tool, flat fixing supplies, and maybe an energy bar, so it's not the way to go if you'll be shedding layers, or want to carry a trailside feast.
I do wish the side pocket was a little more phone friendly, but the wraparound waist belt and padding make this a very comfortable way to travel light.
Dakine Thrillium Pants
The zippered side pocket has a cord for holding a bike park pass or lift ticket.
Stretch panels in the knees help make room for pads.
• 4-way stretch Schoeller fabric • Built-in webbing belt with quick-release buckle • Articulating stretch panels around knees
Modern downhill pants have progressed a great deal from the overly heavy, moto-inspired apparel that used to be the norm. That progression means that many of the options on the market work well for non-lift served riding as well, and Dakine's Thrillium pants are a prime example. They're tough enough for DH riding, but light enough to wear on big days of pedaling in cooler weather. For me, the biggest advantage of riding in pants versus shorts is the ease of cleanup after a muddy ride, since there's no need to deal with dirty knee pads or to scrub the grit off of your shins and calves.
The size medium Thrillium pants fit perfectly (I'm 5'11", with a 33" inseam), except for one thing - the adjustable waist belt was too tight, even when it was in the loosest setting. I solved that by cutting it off (there's still a button closure underneath), which isn't exactly what you want to be doing with a brand new pair of $160 pants, but it did the trick. That little hiccup aside, the rest of the Thrillium's design details are well thought out. There are zippered pockets where there should be, enough room for wearing kneepads, and the Schoeller fabric has proven to be extremely durable and abrasion resistant.
Shimano's MW7 shoes recently received an update, and the latest version of this wet-weather standout now has a Boa lace closure system and a Michelin outsole for extra grip on slime covered roots and greasy rocks. The waterproof construction and light insulation makes them perfect for winters in the Pacific Northwest, where the temperature hovers between 32-45° F (0-7° C) and rain is almost guaranteed.
Along with the Gore-Tex lining, the neoprene cuff helps keep water from getting in – step into a puddle and the neoprene will get saturated, but it's less likely that your feet will be swimming in an inch of scummy water at the end of a ride. They're not cheap, but they should last multiple seasons, making them a worthy investment for anyone who spends more than a few rides a year out in the rain.
Giro Havoc H20 Waterproof Shorts
A velcro strap on each side can be used to cinch down the leg opening.
Waterproof zippers cover the leg vents.
• 14” inseam • 15,000mm waterproof / 6,000g/m2 breathability • Color: black, blue (previous color option shown)
The term “waterproof shorts” may seem like an oxymoron, and on really wet days pants are obviously going to be the better choice, but they do make sense for those rides when you're going to be splashing through puddles and don't want to deal with a soggy chamois. The Havoc H20 shorts don't feel all that different than a regular pair of shorts, with a long enough inseam to cover knee pads, and an adjustable waistband that can be used to make room for all those post-ride donuts. The leg openings can also be cinched down via a velcro tab in order to keep water from sneaking inside.
I found the zippered vents to be a useful feature, and the extra airflow helped make up for the fact that the waterproof fabric isn't as breathable as a typical pair of synthetic riding shorts. I did find it a little strange that the vents were placed on top of each leg, rather than in the crotch area given that these shorts are designed to be worn in the rain – that's kind of like putting a vent on the top of a raincoat's hood. However, according to Giro, during the shorts' development they found that this positioning offered the best ventilation without interfering with the seat or pedaling, and when it was really pouring most riders would have the vents closed anyways.
Overall, the shorts have held up very well, especially considering all the grime they've been exposed too. Red wouldn't have been my first color choice, but luckily the latest version comes in black or blue, which is much more appropriate for any apparel that's going to spend time being blasted by muddy water.
Squirt Cycling Products
• Squirt Bike Cleaner: $15 USD • Squirt Bike Cleaner concentrate: $20 • Squirt chain lube, 120ml: $14 • squirtcyclingproducts.com
• Bike Cleaner is water based and does not contain any organic solvents • Squirt Chain Lube is a bio-degradable wax based lubricant
No matter if you're a toothbrush-toting neat freak, or someone who can barely remember to lube their chain, wet weather riding does require a little extra bike clean up. I typically don't use too many cleaners or degreasers - a light rinse with the hose and some lube on the chain is the extent of my post-ride protocol, but they can come in handy when you're trying to keep your bike sparkly clean and looking good as new. Squirt has two versions of their water based cleaner - a pre-mixed and a concentrated formula - that are biodegradable and non-corrosive.
Wax lubes are typically associated with dry, dusty conditions, but they can work in wet weather - you'll just need to be more diligent about how often it's applied. In addition, Squirt offers a low-temp formula if you're planning on venturing out in below-freezing conditions.