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Added a product review for Club Ride Wheel Cute Jersey 4/7/2014 3:56 PM
C138_club_ride_wheel_cute_jersey_steel

Tested: Club Ride Wheel Cute Jersey

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:


Intro

Yeah Bikes! Yeah post-ride food and drinks! Now a third cheer, wait for it, clothes that go straight from the trail to the pub! Some obvious things I love about mountain biking include the fresh air, the adventure, the self-satisfaction of climbing to some great views, and the rush of shredding downhill. Another thing I love about this sport is the culture that seems to go in hand. When I started mountain biking, I made some great friends. We’ve raced together, been study buddies, drinking buddies (those two often concurrently), and have also reunited from far and wide for Thanksgiving-turkey powered mountain biking in in Moab, UT.

After riding, we often go out for some refueling food and refreshing beverage. Not wanting to romp around town in full Lycra, I’ve awkwardly changed in the car, done the towel wrap with some near losses, and even had a designated skirt for changing under. Everyone has some parking-lot method they’ve adapted to Houdini into or out of their riding and street clothes. We can say goodbye to those days with their moments of near indecent exposure. There are trail-riding clothes functionally and stylishly designed to go straight from the trail to wherever you’re headed next or vice versa. One of the front-runners of this clothing revolution is Club Ride Apparel. Born in Sun Valley, ID, these trail and commuter clothes were made to meet the needs of the cycling and the happy-hour enthusiast.

I’ve seen a growing selection of Club Ride clothing on bike shops racks over the past couple years. More recently, the women’s pieces draw my eye as I think to myself, “I like that. I’d wear that. I’d wear that too.” I was stoked to give them a try. After bouncing around their assortment of top and bottom styles, some unfortunately already sold out due to popular demand, I chose to give their Women’s Joy Ride Capri with Wheel Cute Jersey a go.

Spec Highlights

WOMEN’S Joy Ride Capri

•Lightweight PowerWeave stretch, wicking fabric

•Seamless crotch gusset

•Side and rear-zippered storage pockets

•Quick-dry for moisture control

•Reflective accents

•16" inseam

•Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

•Colors: Raven & Caravan

•MSRP: $89.99

WOMEN’S Wheel Cute Jersey

•Lightweight Sheer2Dry burnout, breathable, wicking fabric

•UV Protective stretch fabric - UPF 20

•Crew neck short sleeve tee

•Reflective accents

•Sport fit

•Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

•Colors: Ivory or Steel

•MSRP: $49.99

Initial Impressions

I hate pants shopping. Like a variation of Goldilocks And The Three Bears, things are too tight here, too loose there, too long, too short, etc. Putting on these Club Ride capris, I breathed a sigh of relief. They fit. With a 16” inseam, the two-way stretch Lightweight PowerWeave fabric just passes my knees. The bottom 6” is one-piece, overlapping behind the knee, and has a lit bit of flare. A bit of style meets functionality. Between the overlap and slight flare, there may be room for some lightweight kneepads. I don’t wear pads trail riding, but I know others who do. Five pockets total: two open hand pockets, two zippered back pockets, and one zippered side pocket; are constructed from mesh material to stay cool despite the extra fabric layers. An internal adjustment system built into the waistband works by moving elastic strips between two buttons on either side of the body. All seams are overlock stitched with non-elastic thread, and the hems are finished with a pink-purple hem tape on the inside. A splash of color not visible from the outside.

Shirts are easier to fit into and buy. I have five times more tops than bottoms in the closet fore this reason. The Wheel Cute Jersey fits like a t-shirt. I like that and the overlapping wheel pattern. It is lightweight, doesn’t fit too tightly, and is a good length. My lower back should stay covered when I hunker over on the bike. A touch of femininity, thin elastic strips sewn into the side seams create subtle ruching. It’s a little something extra keeping it from being just a plain-Jane t-shirt.

These two articles I will easily wear around town, to the coffee shop, to the store, or out for a casual meal. That’s all well and good. However, let’s get down to brass tacks. How will they make the transition from the streets to the trails?

On The Trail

When the clock chimed let’s-go-ride-o’clock-thirty, I was eager to see how the Joy Ride Capri and Wheel Cute Jersey went from sitting at a computer to sitting in a saddle. Can we have the best of both worlds, wearing one outfit all day, without compromise? While we were unloading bikes and tying shoes, I was asked if I wasn’t going to change to ride. “Why my good sir, these are my riding clothes.” Apparently a testament these clothes don’t look like standard trail clothes.

The jersey made the transition fine. The length and fit were as good for riding as they were for wearing around town. I appreciate it keeping my lower back covered. Some of our rides were on trails where sand and little rocks would fly up from my tire and down the back of my shorts. This was a bother while wearing other shorter jerseys. When I rode those trails in the Wheel Cute Jersey, I wasn’t a rolling gravel pit by the end of the ride. The lightweight fabric felt as cool as you could ask of a shirt without it being transparent. On a warmer spring day around Phoenix, AZ, I was plenty comfortable. These features are pretty much all I could hope for in a jersey. Next to weigh in: the Joy Ride Capris.

They might have been a big hit when I was in junior high school, but this is my first pair of capris. They pedal well. It didn’t feel like I was fighting the PowerWeave stretch fabric when pedaling. The thread used, in particular at the lateral connection just above the knee, could have been more elastic though. These stitches feel tight around the thighs while pedaling. The overlapping design at the bottoms of the legs is an effective design. There was no bunching behind or tightness over the knee. I didn’t feel restricted at all by the extra length of the capris. On a warmer, more humid California day however, they did feel like they were a bit much on an extended, uphill grind. I folded back the bottom 6” over my thigh and exposed a little more skin for temperature regulation. So far I’ve only done this once. But hey, it’s not always hot out. On cooler early morning and later afternoon rides, these capris were grand. I suspect I may prefer them to shorts on cooler days.

Some people wear packs, some people pocket. I pocket. Except for what I can strap to my frame (water bottle, tube, and CO2 cartridges), I pocket everything for my rides. My distribution in these capris was an OtterBoxed iPhone in one hand pocket, a tool and keys in the other, and my Chapstick and tire levers in the little pocket along the thigh. Once all loaded up, I became quite uncomfortable. The items in the hand pockets migrated toward my groin while pedaling or walking. This is not a good area for random bulges and not comfortable for pedaling. Awkward turtle – in ma’ pants.

So far on the scoreboard: these capris pedal well, the stitching is a bit tight around the thigh, and the hand pockets are kind of a disaster. My final discovery out on the trail, perhaps the most important to some ladies looking to buy a pair of bottoms, is waist fit. When it comes to the woman’s body, there are all these terms bouncing around: apple, pear, triangle, square, round, curvy, thin, petite, plus size, athletic…. Whatever. You know your body and what works for it. I tend to have issues with my big thighs, narrower hips, and thick middle. The internal adjustment system of these capris allows room to play with the waistband size. I have both sides down to the tightest setting. Yet, I struggle to keep Victoria’s Secret a secret out on the trail. The added weight of stuff in the pockets doesn’t help either. Frequent stops to pull up your pants are inconvenient, and trying to pull them up while riding is darn right hazardous. These babies need some help staying up.

Things That Could Be Improved

The Wheel Cute Jersey is a pretty straightforward item. I don’t have any suggestions for improvement. I do have some ideas to improve the number of problems I encountered with the Joy Ride Capri however.

Start with something small. As mentioned in the previous section, it would be nice, particularly at the lateral stitch above the knee, if there were a more elastic thread used on these capris. This would relieve the tightness around the thigh when pedaling. The fabric is a two-way stretch; it makes sense to pair an elastic thread with it, at least in the direction of stretching.

Pockets, compartment sewn into clothing to hold small items – check. Hold said items on a good location of the body – that’s a negatory Ghostrider. The shape of these hand pockets is like a bell-curve in statistics, inverted. From the deepest part atop of the thigh, items can go freely as far as the outer seems or fly where the pockets are sewn in. The popular design for pockets is the equivalent of these chopped in half. It keeps things to the outsides of the legs where it is more comfortable though reduces cargo space. You win some and you lose some. I hand sewed a quick basting stitch down the middle of the pockets. It kept things to the outside of my leg where it is more comfortable, and despite the size reduction, I could still fit my encased phone dubbed “The Brick” just fine.

The waistband/internal adjustment system is the last area I suggest improvement on. Some women may have no issues with these capris staying up, but others may share my struggles. The waistband of the Joy Ride Capris is comfortable because it is stretchy. This also seems to be the problem. The circumference can be decreased by a couple inches using the internal adjustment, but there is so much stretch it doesn’t make much of a difference. The waistband needs a better balance of the comfortable stretch and a rigid structure so the elastic waistband adjustment can build enough tension. Another problem I experienced with the internal adjustment system was the buttons uncomfortably digging into my sides when sitting. The buttons should either face away from the skin or be replaced with something else. Maybe Velcro. Velcro could conceivably be used inside like the current adjustment system if it were low profile enough, maintaining the sleek exterior appearance.

Long Term Durability

I haven’t had these two Club Ride items for very long. Even after a few rides however, I’ve noticed pilling on the Wheel Cute Jersey near the under arms. I hope it doesn’t become too bad or spread across the entire jersey. Other than shaving them off – ugh, pain – not sure how to help it. The fabric of the capris is still looking pretty good, but I am noticing wear on the threads in the stitching. There is a thread along the leg seam that has already broken, and a couple stitches have come undone. Given this apparent wear after such a short time, I am concerned these capris will deteriorate prematurely.  Especially for the price tag, I would hope they would last longer.  Only time will tell if they will hold.

So far, I have not wiped out in this gear, some close calls but no body-to-ground contact. Given the longer inseam of the Joy Ride Capri, I hope to be well protected if I end up hitting the dirt or getting wacked by some bushes though.

What's The Bottom Line?

Both of these items are good for around town and on the trail. The comfortable Wheel Cute Jersey kept me covered and was lightweight enough to stay cool on my rides. It is a fun, cute jersey. I like it for everyday wear and for riding. It may become less cute depending how covered with pills it gets. Fingers crossed, I will get many days and many miles out of it before it looks too beaten up.

In addition to the Joy Ride Capri, I have a pair of Club Ride Freedom Shorts. They also fit pretty well and have belt loops I can use. Like finding your go-to store for jeans that fit, Club Ride might be that for my riding clothes. Though the Joy Ride Capris may be short lived in the stitching, need the internal adjustment system/waistband redesigned, and have hey-is-that-a-multi-tool-or-are-you-just-happy-to-see-me pockets, I won’t let them gather dust from disuse. They will still gather trail dust. They are a good cut, good fabric, good weight, good for pedaling, good looking, and will serve well on days not quite meant for shorts or for tights. I can wear them all day, for a ride, and if I don’t become repugnantly filthy or smelly, after the ride. In the mean time, I’ll do some modifications: remove the buttons from the adjustment system, stitch off half the hand pockets, and devise a way to keep them on. Like some houses are fixer-uppers, Club Ride has a good design and construction here. There are just some renovation needed.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Club Ride Joy Ride Capri 4/7/2014 3:55 PM
C138_club_ride_joy_ride_capri_raven

Tested: Club Ride Joy Ride Capri

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Intro

Yeah Bikes! Yeah post-ride food and drinks! Now a third cheer, wait for it, clothes that go straight from the trail to the pub! Some obvious things I love about mountain biking include the fresh air, the adventure, the self-satisfaction of climbing to some great views, and the rush of shredding downhill. Another thing I love about this sport is the culture that seems to go in hand. When I started mountain biking, I made some great friends. We’ve raced together, been study buddies, drinking buddies (those two often concurrently), and have also reunited from far and wide for Thanksgiving-turkey powered mountain biking in in Moab, UT.

After riding, we often go out for some refueling food and refreshing beverage. Not wanting to romp around town in full Lycra, I’ve awkwardly changed in the car, done the towel wrap with some near losses, and even had a designated skirt for changing under. Everyone has some parking-lot method they’ve adapted to Houdini into or out of their riding and street clothes. We can say goodbye to those days with their moments of near indecent exposure. There are trail-riding clothes functionally and stylishly designed to go straight from the trail to wherever you’re headed next or vice versa. One of the front-runners of this clothing revolution is Club Ride Apparel. Born in Sun Valley, ID, these trail and commuter clothes were made to meet the needs of the cycling and the happy-hour enthusiast.

I’ve seen a growing selection of Club Ride clothing on bike shops racks over the past couple years. More recently, the women’s pieces draw my eye as I think to myself, “I like that. I’d wear that. I’d wear that too.” I was stoked to give them a try. After bouncing around their assortment of top and bottom styles, some unfortunately already sold out due to popular demand, I chose to give their Women’s Joy Ride Capri with Wheel Cute Jersey a go.

Spec Highlights

WOMEN’S Joy Ride Capri

•Lightweight PowerWeave stretch, wicking fabric

•Seamless crotch gusset

•Side and rear-zippered storage pockets

•Quick-dry for moisture control

•Reflective accents

•16" inseam

•Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

•Colors: Raven & Caravan

•MSRP: $89.99

WOMEN’S Wheel Cute Jersey

•Lightweight Sheer2Dry burnout, breathable, wicking fabric

•UV Protective stretch fabric - UPF 20

•Crew neck short sleeve tee

•Reflective accents

•Sport fit

•Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

•Colors: Ivory or Steel

•MSRP: $49.99

Initial Impressions

I hate pants shopping. Like a variation of Goldilocks And The Three Bears, things are too tight here, too loose there, too long, too short, etc. Putting on these Club Ride capris, I breathed a sigh of relief. They fit. With a 16” inseam, the two-way stretch Lightweight PowerWeave fabric just passes my knees. The bottom 6” is one-piece, overlapping behind the knee, and has a lit bit of flare. A bit of style meets functionality. Between the overlap and slight flare, there may be room for some lightweight kneepads. I don’t wear pads trail riding, but I know others who do. Five pockets total: two open hand pockets, two zippered back pockets, and one zippered side pocket; are constructed from mesh material to stay cool despite the extra fabric layers. An internal adjustment system built into the waistband works by moving elastic strips between two buttons on either side of the body. All seams are overlock stitched with non-elastic thread, and the hems are finished with a pink-purple hem tape on the inside. A splash of color not visible from the outside.

Shirts are easier to fit into and buy. I have five times more tops than bottoms in the closet fore this reason. The Wheel Cute Jersey fits like a t-shirt. I like that and the overlapping wheel pattern. It is lightweight, doesn’t fit too tightly, and is a good length. My lower back should stay covered when I hunker over on the bike. A touch of femininity, thin elastic strips sewn into the side seams create subtle ruching. It’s a little something extra keeping it from being just a plain-Jane t-shirt.

These two articles I will easily wear around town, to the coffee shop, to the store, or out for a casual meal. That’s all well and good. However, let’s get down to brass tacks. How will they make the transition from the streets to the trails?

On The Trail

When the clock chimed let’s-go-ride-o’clock-thirty, I was eager to see how the Joy Ride Capri and Wheel Cute Jersey went from sitting at a computer to sitting in a saddle. Can we have the best of both worlds, wearing one outfit all day, without compromise? While we were unloading bikes and tying shoes, I was asked if I wasn’t going to change to ride. “Why my good sir, these are my riding clothes.” Apparently a testament these clothes don’t look like standard trail clothes.

The jersey made the transition fine. The length and fit were as good for riding as they were for wearing around town. I appreciate it keeping my lower back covered. Some of our rides were on trails where sand and little rocks would fly up from my tire and down the back of my shorts. This was a bother while wearing other shorter jerseys. When I rode those trails in the Wheel Cute Jersey, I wasn’t a rolling gravel pit by the end of the ride. The lightweight fabric felt as cool as you could ask of a shirt without it being transparent. On a warmer spring day around Phoenix, AZ, I was plenty comfortable. These features are pretty much all I could hope for in a jersey. Next to weigh in: the Joy Ride Capris.

They might have been a big hit when I was in junior high school, but this is my first pair of capris. They pedal well. It didn’t feel like I was fighting the PowerWeave stretch fabric when pedaling. The thread used, in particular at the lateral connection just above the knee, could have been more elastic though. These stitches feel tight around the thighs while pedaling. The overlapping design at the bottoms of the legs is an effective design. There was no bunching behind or tightness over the knee. I didn’t feel restricted at all by the extra length of the capris. On a warmer, more humid California day however, they did feel like they were a bit much on an extended, uphill grind. I folded back the bottom 6” over my thigh and exposed a little more skin for temperature regulation. So far I’ve only done this once. But hey, it’s not always hot out. On cooler early morning and later afternoon rides, these capris were grand. I suspect I may prefer them to shorts on cooler days.

Some people wear packs, some people pocket. I pocket. Except for what I can strap to my frame (water bottle, tube, and CO2 cartridges), I pocket everything for my rides. My distribution in these capris was an OtterBoxed iPhone in one hand pocket, a tool and keys in the other, and my Chapstick and tire levers in the little pocket along the thigh. Once all loaded up, I became quite uncomfortable. The items in the hand pockets migrated toward my groin while pedaling or walking. This is not a good area for random bulges and not comfortable for pedaling. Awkward turtle – in ma’ pants.

So far on the scoreboard: these capris pedal well, the stitching is a bit tight around the thigh, and the hand pockets are kind of a disaster. My final discovery out on the trail, perhaps the most important to some ladies looking to buy a pair of bottoms, is waist fit. When it comes to the woman’s body, there are all these terms bouncing around: apple, pear, triangle, square, round, curvy, thin, petite, plus size, athletic…. Whatever. You know your body and what works for it. I tend to have issues with my big thighs, narrower hips, and thick middle. The internal adjustment system of these capris allows room to play with the waistband size. I have both sides down to the tightest setting. Yet, I struggle to keep Victoria’s Secret a secret out on the trail. The added weight of stuff in the pockets doesn’t help either. Frequent stops to pull up your pants are inconvenient, and trying to pull them up while riding is darn right hazardous. These babies need some help staying up.

Things That Could Be Improved

The Wheel Cute Jersey is a pretty straightforward item. I don’t have any suggestions for improvement. I do have some ideas to improve the number of problems I encountered with the Joy Ride Capri however.

Start with something small. As mentioned in the previous section, it would be nice, particularly at the lateral stitch above the knee, if there were a more elastic thread used on these capris. This would relieve the tightness around the thigh when pedaling. The fabric is a two-way stretch; it makes sense to pair an elastic thread with it, at least in the direction of stretching.

Pockets, compartment sewn into clothing to hold small items – check. Hold said items on a good location of the body – that’s a negatory Ghostrider. The shape of these hand pockets is like a bell-curve in statistics, inverted. From the deepest part atop of the thigh, items can go freely as far as the outer seems or fly where the pockets are sewn in. The popular design for pockets is the equivalent of these chopped in half. It keeps things to the outsides of the legs where it is more comfortable though reduces cargo space. You win some and you lose some. I hand sewed a quick basting stitch down the middle of the pockets. It kept things to the outside of my leg where it is more comfortable, and despite the size reduction, I could still fit my encased phone dubbed “The Brick” just fine.

The waistband/internal adjustment system is the last area I suggest improvement on. Some women may have no issues with these capris staying up, but others may share my struggles. The waistband of the Joy Ride Capris is comfortable because it is stretchy. This also seems to be the problem. The circumference can be decreased by a couple inches using the internal adjustment, but there is so much stretch it doesn’t make much of a difference. The waistband needs a better balance of the comfortable stretch and a rigid structure so the elastic waistband adjustment can build enough tension. Another problem I experienced with the internal adjustment system was the buttons uncomfortably digging into my sides when sitting. The buttons should either face away from the skin or be replaced with something else. Maybe Velcro. Velcro could conceivably be used inside like the current adjustment system if it were low profile enough, maintaining the sleek exterior appearance.

Long Term Durability

I haven’t had these two Club Ride items for very long. Even after a few rides however, I’ve noticed pilling on the Wheel Cute Jersey near the under arms. I hope it doesn’t become too bad or spread across the entire jersey. Other than shaving them off – ugh, pain – not sure how to help it. The fabric of the capris is still looking pretty good, but I am noticing wear on the threads in the stitching. There is a thread along the leg seam that has already broken, and a couple stitches have come undone. Given this apparent wear after such a short time, I am concerned these capris will deteriorate prematurely.  Especially for the price tag, I would hope they would last longer.  Only time will tell if they will hold.

So far, I have not wiped out in this gear, some close calls but no body-to-ground contact. Given the longer inseam of the Joy Ride Capri, I hope to be well protected if I end up hitting the dirt or getting wacked by some bushes though.

What's The Bottom Line?

Both of these items are good for around town and on the trail. The comfortable Wheel Cute Jersey kept me covered and was lightweight enough to stay cool on my rides. It is a fun, cute jersey. I like it for everyday wear and for riding. It may become less cute depending how covered with pills it gets. Fingers crossed, I will get many days and many miles out of it before it looks too beaten up.

In addition to the Joy Ride Capri, I have a pair of Club Ride Freedom Shorts. They also fit pretty well and have belt loops I can use. Like finding your go-to store for jeans that fit, Club Ride might be that for my riding clothes. Though the Joy Ride Capris may be short lived in the stitching, need the internal adjustment system/waistband redesigned, and have hey-is-that-a-multi-tool-or-are-you-just-happy-to-see-me pockets, I won’t let them gather dust from disuse. They will still gather trail dust. They are a good cut, good fabric, good weight, good for pedaling, good looking, and will serve well on days not quite meant for shorts or for tights. I can wear them all day, for a ride, and if I don’t become repugnantly filthy or smelly, after the ride. In the mean time, I’ll do some modifications: remove the buttons from the adjustment system, stitch off half the hand pockets, and devise a way to keep them on. Like some houses are fixer-uppers, Club Ride has a good design and construction here. There are just some renovation needed.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Race Face Women's DIY Glove 11/25/2013 8:38 PM
C138_race_face_piper_womens_diy_glove

Tested: Race Face Women’s DIY Glove

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Courtney Steen // Photos by Brandon Turman

You know the point when your riding gloves are either so worn and so dirty no washing can get them clean, some of the fingers are torn, or the palms are full of hard little pills rubbing your hands raw on long rides? Well, all my gloves have reached some combination of these stages. My “this pair isn't so bad yet, I’ll keep it as a back up” gloves don’t even work as back ups anymore. Who’s got two thumbs, eight fingers, and is ready for a new pair of gloves – me.

One of the popular names out on the trails these days for components as well as clothing is Race Face. Designing and testing their products on Vancouver’s infamous Shore, touting durability under some of the most abusive riding conditions, I figured a pair of their gloves may be a good replacement for my other, retiring gloves. Designed for women riders, the DIY Women’s Gloves certainly looked like they would fit the bill, or at the very least the hands. The real test however would be seeing how they hold up under my often abusive riding conditions.

Women's DIY Glove Highlights

  • Back of hand and wrist extension feature ultra-lightweight stretch mesh
  • Durable spandex through fingers
  • Reinforced finger caps
  • Finger expansion gussets
  • Highly absorbent micro-fiber wiping surface
  • Lightly padded palm offers optimal hand-to-bar contact
  • Low-profile grab tab and Velcro wrist closure
  • Sizes: XS – XL
  • Colors: Black
  • MSRP: $35.99

Initial Impressions

The first time I put these gloves on, I liked their snug fit. Designed for a woman’s hand, pardon the turn of phrase, they did really ‘fit like a glove.’ The fingers are plenty narrow for a nice tight fit, and all of my fingers reach the ends of the glove's fingers – probably a first for me. And though they are snug, they are very flexible: stretch spandex runs down the sides of the four fingers, and the pointer and middle fingers each have an expansion gusset over the main joint for further flexibility. The pointer and middle fingers also have reinforced tips of polyester faux suede and, for extra grip, a printed rubberized ‘R’ and ‘F’ respectively on the finger pads. The back of hand is covered with breathable mesh and the palm is made of polyester faux suede. And for wiping hard earned sweat or nose dribbles on a chilly day, the thumb is covered with a nice and soft micro-fiber surface. Lastly, so your hands have no chance of escaping, these gloves are finished off with a wide, neoprene wristband with a Velcro closure.

Turning the gloves inside out, all the stitching looked neat with no unraveling or loose strings. The amount of fabric left by seam allowances that can make gloves feel crowded, particularly in the fingers, was minimal. The palm area features a thin layer of foam padding with a soft surface layer facing the skin, which I was a little apprehensive of. In the past, I've experienced arm-pump and nerve twinges when riding in padded gloves although they were maybe five-times thicker than these DIY gloves. Well, any shortcomings would be quickly revealed once I hit the trails...

On The Trail

I first started using these gloves for trail riding in the heat of Southern California's summer, and the first thing I noticed was that they can get a bit toasty. The stretch spandex on the fingers and the stretch mesh on the back provide some ventilation, but the palms felt a bit muggy in the heat. The black color also contributed to absorbing heat when hit by the sun for any extended period of time. Come July, when Southern California was just about to get even more unbearably hot, I took these gloves to Oregon. Ahhhh… relief. The gloves were much more comfortable when the daytime temperatures weren’t in the 90’s and were perfect for riding during the cooler evenings. After Oregon, I migrated further North to Whistler, Canada, where these gloves were thrown in the ring with a big bike for a few rounds of downhill.

As previously noted, the padding in the palm area was initially a concern for me since in the past, I had experienced issues with other, albeit more heavily padded gloves. I am happy to report that with the thin layer of padding in these DIY gloves, I had no issues at all. On the smoother trails I was riding in California and Oregon, I didn’t quite appreciate the padding as much as when I started downhilling in Whistler. Oh boy. The little bit of padding absorbed some of the trail vibrations in the bike park, and the snug, tailored fit reduced additional friction from my hands moving around inside the gloves themselves. For comparison, I did a couple runs in my old gloves with no padding and a less snug fit and then switched to the DIY gloves. It was a world of difference. My hands felt less beat, and my grip on the bars felt so much better in the DIY gloves for the following runs.

The snug fit in the fingers is also great for dexterity needed off the bars – i.e. buckling helmets, adjusting shoes, getting into your pack, putting on or taking off valve caps, etc. I went all summer with an untarnished record for flats until this fall in Utah when I ungracefully hit some square rocks and got a pinch flat. Maybe I was feeling lazy, but I left my gloves on for the tube-swapping procedure and had no issues getting the job done. Though a snug fit, the gloves are plenty flexible with the spandex, finger expansion gussets, and the stretch mesh on the back of the hand. Those expansion gussets also reduce the resistance of the fabric to bend your braking finger, whichever one of the two is your favorite for the job.

A final item worth noting for you Instagramers or Strava enthusiasts is that I am able to navigate my iPhone while wearing these gloves. It is a bit hit or miss and seems to get better the more I wear the gloves, not sure how that works, but it does.

Things That Could Be Improved

My biggest beef with these gloves is the thick wristband with Velcro closure - it is too thick and feels uncomfortable. It comes up just over the pointy bone (head of the ulna) in my wrist. Of course you get used to it, but it feels pretty good taking them off. You realize how hot your wrists get. The gloves fit well enough that a narrower wristband and narrower Velcro closure would be an improvement. Also, the Velcro hook-side faces out on these gloves, so unless I cinch it down tight enough to cover all of it, which usually is too tight for me, the hooks catch on my clothing. The two sides should be mounted the other way around. There is the argument that in this orientation, the hooks could scratch the skin on the wrist. If, though, the Velcro were just at the end of the closure strap, the section that would be in danger of touching the wrist could be blank – no Velcro, no scratching. Also note that unless you want to find them embedded in jerseys, panties, or bras, be sure to close the Velcro straps before throwing these gloves in the washing machine.

The only other negative aspect of my experience with these gloves was how muggy they felt on a hot day. Some other gloves have ventilation holes punched in the palm fabric. Perhaps if this were also applied to these gloves, hot summer riding would be more bearable.

Long Term Durability

For the duration of the product testing, these gloves have not stretched nor gotten otherwise out of shape from wear and washing. A couple of threads have come loose and need to be snipped off. These all seem to appear where the sewing machine doubles back over its path to finish of the stitch as per standard procedure. After snipping them off, I hope the gloves will not come unstitched further.

I haven’t taken any of those headlong crashes where your gloves get shredded catching your skidding body on rocks and dirt in this pair – thank goodness for me, though maybe not for testing. In the little crashes I've had so far, mostly washing out of corners or some variety of slow motion fail in a tech section of trail, these gloves have held up fine. No tearing. No ripping seams. The back of the gloves have held up through many a bush whack, too. Since being fitted in August, the grips on my bike have worn down to the plastic and these gloves are still going strong. The palm material has not started to "pill up" yet from wear, (i.e. making hard little balls on the surface of the fabric like many gloves do), and the micro-fiber wiping surface on the thumb has remained soft through several wash cycles. They are sturdy and well constructed gloves, and given what I've seen, I think they can withstand my daily use for quite some time to come.

What's The Bottom Line?

On a scorching summer day under a relentless sun, the DIY gloves will probably not be my first choice. I’ll probably wear a pair of my old, lighter weight gloves on those days. The DIY gloves are plenty comfortable any other day, though, and will definitely be my go to gloves for downhill riding. These gloves aren't just handy (haha, get it?) for traction on the grips rain or shine, the little bit of padding also absorbs some of the trail vibrations and keeps me going longer than my non-padded gloves. Last year I would wake up the morning after riding the park and be unable to move my fingers. Even a month after leaving Whistler, I had bad, arthritic pain in my finger joints in the mornings and when riding. This year was a completely different story, and I think some credit can be given to these gloves. They are snug, yet flexible, and fit my little lady hands well. The DIY gloves will set the standard for how I want my gloves to fit in the future. And even though I’m not a big fan of the thick wristband or how hot they can feel, I won’t be looking to replace these gloves before their life is up.

For more details, visit www.raceface.com.


About The Reviewer

Courtney Steen has been hitting the dirt on two wheels since 2007 when she started riding mountain bikes in college. She raced alongside her collegiate cycling team in every event from XC and short track to downhill and mountain cross, scoring several podiums, fist pumps and shiny medals along the way. A dream trail for this girl would have lots of down, some fast and flowy, and like the sprinkles on a cupcake, some fun technical sections to keep her on her toes – we’re talking mountain biking after all, not cruising a sidewalk. Courtney currently lives on the road with her boyfriend in a 5th wheel toy hauler loaded with bikes, traveling from one mountain bike mecca to the next in search of the best trails North America has to offer. Anytime she's on a bike and in the dirt, she has two thumbs up and a big smile.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Sombrio Women's Artemyde Jacket 11/19/2013 12:53 PM
C138_artemyde_jacket_ac_slate_fromme_print

Tested: Sombrio Women’s Artemyde Jacket

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Courtney Steen // Photos by Brandon Turman

"That's it!" I had enough of trying to get by in the rain with a hand-me-down rain jacket that just wasn’t cutting it. On more than one occasion I missed rides because it was more than sprinkling out and I knew my jacket wouldn't suffice - it didn't breath well, the hood was useless with a helmet on, and the cut just wasn't right for riding. And so began my search for a legit rain jacket for mountain biking.

Designed for women, Sombrio's Artemyde jacket looked like it would fit the bill. With a focus on freeride mountain biking, Sombrio made it their mission to develop leading designs, manufacture high performance apparel, and inspire the world to ride bikes. With hopes that it would inspire me to not let a little rain keep me from the trails, let’s take a look at how the Artemyde performed in the real world.

Women's Artemyde Jacket Highlights

  • Four-way stretch, waterproof, breathable fabric with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish (W/P 10,000mm)
  • S Tek II fabric
  • Completely seam sealed
  • YKK Aquaguard VISLON zipper on center front and pockets
  • Pockets have external storm flaps
  • Inner pocket, adjustable cord lock waistband
  • Inner storm flap and chin guard
  • Underarm laser etched ventilation
  • Fully adjustable peaked hood with hidden cord lock system
  • Headphone cord port from pocket to inside of jacket
  • Sombrio silicone gel grip pull tabs on cuffs
  • Laser cut, low profile Velcro
  • Sublimated print
  • Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
  • Colors: Blacktastic or A.C. Slate Fromme Print
  • MSRP: $229.00

Initial Impressions

Excitedly putting on my new mid-weight riding jacket, I was pleased to see it had a nice cut and was tapered at the bottom to be longer in back. It passed the can-you-fix-your-ponytail/can-you-tighten-your-helmet test, and I found the fabric to be nice and stretchy. The jacket has no liner on the inside, and small holes laser etched in the armpits provide ventilation. Elastic hood adjustments tighten down the front around the face and pull back the sides, opening up peripheral lines of sight – like a ninja! The tabs for these and for the elastic in the bottom hem are all tucked away so they won’t flap around in the wind or snag on the bike. Every single seam is sealed, the front zipper is waterproof, and pocket zippers are waterproof with storm flaps. At first glance it didn’t look like any water was going to be sneaking into this jacket, but the real test would be on the trail in the wet.

On The Trail

This summer I traveled to between California, Oregon, and Whistler to ride, fully expecting some heavy rain along the way. Surprisingly the Pacific Northwest was full of sunshine and devoid of rainbows – you have to have rain to have rainbows – and I had more opportunities to wear the Artemyde jacket as a layer of warmth at night and on chilly rides than as a rain jacket. It worked fine for that, but that’s not what I really wanted it for. The jacket, the trails, and myself were hungry for some rain! Thankfully, before having to resort to rain dances, it finally rained in Whistler. Thank you Canada. I knew you wouldn’t let me down. The trails drank it up, but this jacket did not.

The Artemyde jacket fits great for riding. It's nicely fitted for women: there’s space to comfortably zip up the jacket around the hips, and it keeps a slim fit up through the shoulders that doesn’t flap around in the wind. The hood will cover a trail helmet easily, and with a little bit of stretching (probably only to be done on the lift) will cover about half a downhill helmet. It will at least keep the rain off your neck for the lift ride to the top of the mountain. Though I initially thought the sleeves might be too long before riding in the jacket, they are in fact the perfect length to keep my arms covered when my hands are on the bars. The extra length down my back was also perfect. It kept my lower back covered when hunkered over riding.

Since the jacket didn’t have a liner, it was much more comfortable to wear with a long sleeve jersey than a short sleeve. The material felt cold before I got warmed up, then it felt a bit clammy when I did get warm. On the days that the rain showers were light and intermittent, the jacket worked like a charm and the water beaded up and rolled off the DWR finish. When it was raining more heavily, it was awesome to be out playing in the bike park, but this jacket wasn’t always a fortress of dryness. The jacket is rated as W/P 10,000mm after all. In theory this is the amount of water a material can resist over a 24-hour period without letting it through. In practice, though, it resists water under light to moderate rain. I did get a little bit damp wearing it in the heavier rain with added splatter from the tires, but far from as sopping wet as the rest of me was. Some of that dampness was likely me sweating. I could wring water out my shorts, but not my jersey. The rides were worth it and were epic. I’d do them again in this jacket.

This Fall in Utah, really wanting to squeeze in an afternoon ride despite the heavy rain out on the horizon, I threw the jacket in my pack for a trail ride. Seven miles out the rain caught up with me. I had just enough time to get the jacket on, zip it up, and transfer my phone from my shorts to the jacket pocket where it would stay dry before the rain hit with full force. The rest of the ride was a sprint to the finish to escape the lightning, gusting winds, and clay-like mud that would quickly form. The jacket kept me warm and dry, minus my sweating bullets over the nearness of the lightning strikes and busting my ass to get to safety. In the cold, this jacket was fine for trail riding. If it was a more temperate day with rain, though, I might be uncomfortably sweaty in this mid-weight and less breathable jacket. It's clearly designed for freeriding or park laps.

Things That Could Be Improved

My first wish for this jacket would be some sort of light liner fabric. Unless I wore a long sleeve jersey, the jacket material felt cold and clammy on my skin. Kind of a gross feeling, much like wearing a plastic bag. An added thin liner would make the jacket much more comfortable, feel warmer when it’s cold out, and feel less muggy when you are warmed up from riding.

Another feature that could be nice, though would open the jacket up to the elements more, would be zippered pit vents. The laser-cut vents surely let air pass into the jacket and probably keep out a fair share of water, but there were times I found myself wishing I could opt for more air. Riding up the lift after a run, I would have loved to cool down a bit but the air movement from the lift moving and drizzling rain made opening up the front zip a bit too chilly of an option. A jacket with laser-cut vents is too hot; a jacket opened up down the middle is too cold; a jacket with pit-zipped vents is usually just right.

Long Term Durability

So far this jacket has held together just fine under its periodic use. All the seam tape is securely in place and nothing is coming apart. The lifetime of the DWR coating hasn’t reached its end yet, though its exposure to much rain or muck has been pretty minimal so far. After a sloppy ride, I’ve also just been brushing off the mud rather than washing the jacket. DWR coatings are at their best when new, but their performance can diminish with use. I’m unsure how many washes and muddy rides this DWR coating could handle before wearing off, but I would like to keep this jacket up and running for a while before having to try re-waterproofing it. Luckily spray-on and wash-in reapplication products are available to accomplish this.

What's The Bottom Line?

The women’s Artemyde Jacket works great for light to moderate rain. If it’s a day you should be wearing a plastic jump suit or scuba gear to keep bone dry, you probably should. Don't expect miracles from a jacket rated to 10,000mm. It did a pretty darn good job though. I’ll probably continue to use it for any level of rain I choose to go out in. It could be one of the best jackets in the world if it had a liner in it, but I’m still happy to use it. Bring it on – rain or shine – I’m ready to ride.

Cruise over to bike.sombriocartel.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Courtney Steen has been hitting the dirt on two wheels since 2007. She raced alongside her collegiate cycling team in every event from XC and short track to downhill and mountain cross, scoring several podiums, fist pumps and shiny medals along the way. A dream trail for this girl has lots of down, some fast and flowy bits, and like the sprinkles on a cupcake, some fun technical sections to keep her on her toes – we’re talking mountain biking after all, not cruising a sidewalk. Courtney currently lives on the road with her boyfriend in a 5th wheel toy hauler loaded with bikes, traveling from one mountain bike mecca to the next in search of the best trails North America has to offer. Anytime she's on a bike and in the dirt, she has two thumbs up and a big smile.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Race Face Piper Women's Riding Jersey 11/19/2013 12:08 PM
C138_race_face_piper_womens_jersey

Tested: Race Face Piper Women's Jersey and Shorts

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Courtney Steen // Photos by Brandon Turman

There’s hole worn in this pair of shorts, this other pair is coming apart, this one jersey doesn’t fit well, this other one is stained and has a tear in it… Going through my drawer of riding clothes, this is the common theme. It appears to be time for some new gear. Despite their frequent usage, I have yet to find a pair of shorts or a jersey that really fit the way I want or prove durable enough over time. Enter Race Face, a brand with a deep heritage in MTB and a wide product range including riding gear specifically made for us women – fist pump for the ladies! Among the girly goods on offer are the Piper shorts and jersey. These two items look smart, but the true test would come once I put them to work...

Women's Piper Short Highlights

  • Flo Fabric
  • 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex Quick Dry
  • Rip-Stop, lightweight, stretch
  • Zippered front fly with custom snap closure
  • Deep hand pockets
  • Re-tract waistband auto-adjustment system
  • Soft brushed inner waistband
  • Zippered cargo pockets
  • Belt loops have herringbone fabric detail
  • 26cm (10¼") inseam
  • Gravel or black color options
  • Available in sizes XS through XL
  • MSRP $90.49

Women's Piper Jersey Highlights

  • Repreve Fabric: 51% Repreve recycled Polyester, 38% CoolDry Polyester, 11% Spandex, quick dry, wash & wear
  • Repreve moisture wicking technology
  • Stretch mesh paneling
  • Flatlock contrast stitch detail throughout
  • Hidden zip stash pocket located in side panel
  • Faux suede pocket bag doubles as goggle wipe
  • Available in sizes XS through XL
  • Red or gravel color options
  • MSRP $77.49

Initial Impressions

Fresh out of the packaging, the first thing I noted about the Piper shorts and jersey were how nicely lightweight they are. This ensemble should be quite comfortable for the summer season. Being a bit of a nerd about sewing, occasionally even busting out the machine to fix clothing including more than one pair of riding shorts, I inspected these two items inside and out to see how they were put together. Both pieces appear pretty securely stitched and the craftsmanship is neat with no loose threads hang out anywhere.

Given my past few patch jobs, I paid extra attention to the stitching, especially around the pockets and the seat of the shorts. Blowing out your seams may be when the fat jokes start, but I swear my fixit jobs aren’t entirely the fault of my badonkadonk. They are more the result of constant abuse from time in the saddle, and wearing my shorts for more than just riding doesn't provide them any relief either. The Piper shorts are held together by elastic thread with a short stitch length. The elastic thread stretches just as far as the fabric and doesn't feel like it will snap when the fabric is put under stress. The thin thread and short stitch length also leaves less thread exposed, thus subject to less wear from the saddle, I think. As long as I don’t throw these shorts in a dryer set on high, the elastic thread may well increase their lifespan and help them withstand more saddle time than the non-elastic threaded counterparts I've replaced.

When it comes to the pockets, my most common patch job has been putting the bottoms of my riding shorts' pockets back together after getting fed up with stuff falling out of them. The Piper shorts’ hand pockets are both straight stitched a ¼” from the edge and overlock stitching around the edge as well. The cargo pockets are also straight and overlock stitched, and the bottoms are sewn into the leg seams. I wouldn't expect the bottom of either these pockets to fall out. And given the width of the stitches from the edges of the fabric, I wouldn't expect the fabric to unravel and fall apart around the stitching as I’ve seen before either.

Also worth noting is the waistband of the Piper shorts. It is lined with a very soft material, and a feature I haven’t seen before is the ‘re-tract auto-adjustment system.’ It is a nifty design giving another 2-3 inches to the total waistband circumference. Go ahead and go out for pizza or BBQ after a ride with your buddies, there’s room in these shorts to indulge after a long ride.

My career as a seamstress has thus far not extended to fixing jerseys, and as far as I can tell, the Piper jersey is is not about to change that. The design is nice and clean with mesh fabric of two different weights employed. The side panels and the back keyhole are made from the lighter of the two. These are areas where extra ventilation is very useful. Contrasting flatlock stitching holds all the pieces together, which helps prevent chafing and which I also like the stylized look of.

The bottom hem of the jersey is extra wide and drops lower in the back, which is great compared to my other jerseys that often tend to be shorter and square across the bottom. Along one of the sides is a hidden side pocket with a lens cloth backing to it. I like when my jerseys have these lens cloths and use them on most of my rides. The pocket is big enough for an iPod and has a little outlet hole for a headphone cord. There is also an elastic loop on the inside of the neck of the jersey that, I’m guessing, may also be for headphone routing or for hanging the jersey on a hook.

And so, after thoroughly examining these pieces inside and out, it was time to get them sweaty and dirty – oh boy.

On The Trail

Once the tires hit the trail, the Piper shorts were made for riding. Their light weight and stretchy fabric makes for zero pedaling resistance on those ups, and the slim fit never gets hung up on the seat during tricky maneuvering on the downs. The stretch is also great when moving from standing up to sitting down. There is no extra adjusting needed once back in the saddle to fix shorts being tight where they shouldn’t be. And even in the heat of summer, on those ups and downs, in and out of the saddle, these shorts feel comfortable.

They also have never really felt sweaty, which must be due to that ‘Quick Dry’ feature. On one ride in the Utah desert, I got caught in a torrential rainstorm. Even though these shorts were thoroughly soaked, they didn't feel weighted down and pedaling was just as easy as when they were dry. I didn't give them the chance to dry on me to see how long that would take though. I was hammering the whole way home to outrun the lightning and get out of the gusty winds. It was freezing!

I never put anything in the hand pockets of the shorts because I didn’t find it very comfortable. I only use hand pockets on riding shorts when I have no other option. Riding with a tool and my phone in hand pockets feels like I have saddlebags hanging off my thighs. The cargo pockets were my favorite for stashing things. My phone lives in the right one and a multi-tool and tire levers in the left. I don’t notice my phone at all and occasionally feel the multi-tool moving around while riding. I soon forget they are there.

The jersey is also plenty comfortable and cool. When reaching cruising speed, the keyhole back vent does feel refreshing. Of all my jerseys to date, I like the length and style of this one the most. The extra wide bottom seam provides a pleasant surprise. That bit of extra girth on the jersey around the hips keeps it from riding or rolling up towards the waist. Even with a pack on, this jersey stayed cool and stayed in place. Woot woot for zero shirt adjustments on trail.

The jersey’s hidden pocket remained that, hidden. I never used it. If I still had the mini MP3 player I lost in college, that would have fit in there nicely, and I would have jammed out on more rides. I thought of fitting my iPod or phone in there but it was just too bulky. At least the lens wipe wasn’t bulky. Serving as the backside to the hidden pocket, it was stitched down on all four sides to the jersey. This is a major plus, as lens wipes that are only tacked down on one side like a flag just wander and fold up wherever they want too.

Things That Could Be Improved

A major improvement I would suggest for the jersey concerns the hidden pocket. It doesn't make sense being one and the same as the lens wipe. If there is something in the pocket, you can’t wipe your lenses without emptying the pocket. The two features should be on different sections of the jersey. The pocket itself could also probably be more comfortable if it were placed in a different area, either more to the front or more to the back rather than right smack dab on the side.

If I am to really nitpick, Holy Shirt Tag Batman! A four-inch long tag for indicating size, fabric composition, and washing instructions seems excessive. After confirming the washing instructions and documentation for this review, that baby got the ol’ snip-snip – problem solved.

I really don’t have any complaints about the shorts. Given the size I ordered, I am comfortable in them but need to wear a belt. I’m not sure if the ‘re-tract auto-adjustment system’ would keep the shorts on someone else with more hips without needing a belt. The waistband is a bit big around my slightly narrow hips but the fit around my thighs is perfect. Full disclosure: my figure from hips, chest, and waist measures across M, L, and XL (darn it, I’m not built like a bikini model), so I choose my shorts based on the largest value – XL. They fit the ol’ thunder thighs comfortably but over my narrower hips, they fit a bit too loosely. Thus, the belt to keep them on. I prefer that to a muffin top or the button coming unsnapped when I bend over. They may fit just fine on someone with thinner thighs and wider hips than I have. If they don’t though, perhaps a stronger elastic material for the ‘re-tract auto-adjustment system’ would improve the system.

Long Term Durability

No heavy carnage occurred in the testing period of the Piper Shorts or Piper Jersey, so their ability to hold up to a crash cannot be commented on. I can say that the other day when I failed at an uphill tech maneuver in Arizona and tipped over off the trail into the suburbs of Cactus Town, the shorts proved themselves to be not very cactus proof, but then again, what is?

The cactus spines came out of the thin fabric quite easily though, certainly way easier than my leg. Yowch! Both the shorts and jersey are well constructed, however, and I have confidence in their ability to take a day-to-day beating and to keep coming back for more. They have held up so far, and I have worn them all over for more than just mountain biking.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Women’s Piper Jersey is a good, lightweight jersey, comfortable for summer riding. I appreciate the cut and construction of the jersey, especially the length and thick bottom hem that keep it from wandering around. The color blocking on the red jersey with the black panels up the sides is a flattering design every lady will love. Also, the contrasting flatlock stitching pattern on the jersey gives nice contouring so the wearer doesn't look so square or broad through the shoulders. Girls who shred can still rock their curves!

The Women’s Piper Shorts are very comfortable and great for riding, as well as wearing every day on the street. In fact they are so comfortable and stretchy that they are also my uniform for yoga when I take a break from the bike. With the re-tract auto-adjustment system in the waistband, they can fit a variety of figures. Even though my personal measurements force me to use them with a belt, these are my new favorite shorts and the Piper jersey is my new favorite jersey. I wouldn't mind having several pairs of them – one for every ride between laundry days.

For more information, check out www.raceface.com.


About The Reviewer

Courtney Steen has been hitting the dirt on two wheels since 2007 when she started riding mountain bikes in college. She raced alongside her collegiate cycling team in every event from XC and short track to downhill and mountain cross, scoring several podiums, fist pumps and shiny medals along the way. A dream trail for this girl would have lots of down, some fast and flowy, and like the sprinkles on a cupcake, some fun technical sections to keep her on her toes – we’re talking mountain biking after all, not cruising a sidewalk. Courtney currently lives on the road with her boyfriend in a 5th wheel toy hauler loaded with bikes, traveling from one mountain bike mecca to the next in search of the best trails North America has to offer. Anytime she's on a bike and in the dirt, she has two thumbs up and a big smile.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Race Face Piper Women's Shorts 11/19/2013 12:04 PM
C138_race_face_piper_womens_shorts

Tested: Race Face Piper Women's Jersey and Shorts

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Courtney Steen // Photos by Brandon Turman

There’s hole worn in this pair of shorts, this other pair is coming apart, this one jersey doesn’t fit well, this other one is stained and has a tear in it… Going through my drawer of riding clothes, this is the common theme. It appears to be time for some new gear. Despite their frequent usage, I have yet to find a pair of shorts or a jersey that really fit the way I want or prove durable enough over time. Enter Race Face, a brand with a deep heritage in MTB and a wide product range including riding gear specifically made for us women – fist pump for the ladies! Among the girly goods on offer are the Piper shorts and jersey. These two items look smart, but the true test would come once I put them to work...

Women's Piper Short Highlights

  • Flo Fabric
  • 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex Quick Dry
  • Rip-Stop, lightweight, stretch
  • Zippered front fly with custom snap closure
  • Deep hand pockets
  • Re-tract waistband auto-adjustment system
  • Soft brushed inner waistband
  • Zippered cargo pockets
  • Belt loops have herringbone fabric detail
  • 26cm (10¼") inseam
  • Gravel or black color options
  • Available in sizes XS through XL
  • MSRP $90.49

Women's Piper Jersey Highlights

  • Repreve Fabric: 51% Repreve recycled Polyester, 38% CoolDry Polyester, 11% Spandex, quick dry, wash & wear
  • Repreve moisture wicking technology
  • Stretch mesh paneling
  • Flatlock contrast stitch detail throughout
  • Hidden zip stash pocket located in side panel
  • Faux suede pocket bag doubles as goggle wipe
  • Available in sizes XS through XL
  • Red or gravel color options
  • MSRP $77.49

Initial Impressions

Fresh out of the packaging, the first thing I noted about the Piper shorts and jersey were how nicely lightweight they are. This ensemble should be quite comfortable for the summer season. Being a bit of a nerd about sewing, occasionally even busting out the machine to fix clothing including more than one pair of riding shorts, I inspected these two items inside and out to see how they were put together. Both pieces appear pretty securely stitched and the craftsmanship is neat with no loose threads hang out anywhere.

Given my past few patch jobs, I paid extra attention to the stitching, especially around the pockets and the seat of the shorts. Blowing out your seams may be when the fat jokes start, but I swear my fixit jobs aren’t entirely the fault of my badonkadonk. They are more the result of constant abuse from time in the saddle, and wearing my shorts for more than just riding doesn't provide them any relief either. The Piper shorts are held together by elastic thread with a short stitch length. The elastic thread stretches just as far as the fabric and doesn't feel like it will snap when the fabric is put under stress. The thin thread and short stitch length also leaves less thread exposed, thus subject to less wear from the saddle, I think. As long as I don’t throw these shorts in a dryer set on high, the elastic thread may well increase their lifespan and help them withstand more saddle time than the non-elastic threaded counterparts I've replaced.

When it comes to the pockets, my most common patch job has been putting the bottoms of my riding shorts' pockets back together after getting fed up with stuff falling out of them. The Piper shorts’ hand pockets are both straight stitched a ¼” from the edge and overlock stitching around the edge as well. The cargo pockets are also straight and overlock stitched, and the bottoms are sewn into the leg seams. I wouldn't expect the bottom of either these pockets to fall out. And given the width of the stitches from the edges of the fabric, I wouldn't expect the fabric to unravel and fall apart around the stitching as I’ve seen before either.

Also worth noting is the waistband of the Piper shorts. It is lined with a very soft material, and a feature I haven’t seen before is the ‘re-tract auto-adjustment system.’ It is a nifty design giving another 2-3 inches to the total waistband circumference. Go ahead and go out for pizza or BBQ after a ride with your buddies, there’s room in these shorts to indulge after a long ride.

My career as a seamstress has thus far not extended to fixing jerseys, and as far as I can tell, the Piper jersey is is not about to change that. The design is nice and clean with mesh fabric of two different weights employed. The side panels and the back keyhole are made from the lighter of the two. These are areas where extra ventilation is very useful. Contrasting flatlock stitching holds all the pieces together, which helps prevent chafing and which I also like the stylized look of.

The bottom hem of the jersey is extra wide and drops lower in the back, which is great compared to my other jerseys that often tend to be shorter and square across the bottom. Along one of the sides is a hidden side pocket with a lens cloth backing to it. I like when my jerseys have these lens cloths and use them on most of my rides. The pocket is big enough for an iPod and has a little outlet hole for a headphone cord. There is also an elastic loop on the inside of the neck of the jersey that, I’m guessing, may also be for headphone routing or for hanging the jersey on a hook.

And so, after thoroughly examining these pieces inside and out, it was time to get them sweaty and dirty – oh boy.

On The Trail

Once the tires hit the trail, the Piper shorts were made for riding. Their light weight and stretchy fabric makes for zero pedaling resistance on those ups, and the slim fit never gets hung up on the seat during tricky maneuvering on the downs. The stretch is also great when moving from standing up to sitting down. There is no extra adjusting needed once back in the saddle to fix shorts being tight where they shouldn’t be. And even in the heat of summer, on those ups and downs, in and out of the saddle, these shorts feel comfortable.

They also have never really felt sweaty, which must be due to that ‘Quick Dry’ feature. On one ride in the Utah desert, I got caught in a torrential rainstorm. Even though these shorts were thoroughly soaked, they didn't feel weighted down and pedaling was just as easy as when they were dry. I didn't give them the chance to dry on me to see how long that would take though. I was hammering the whole way home to outrun the lightning and get out of the gusty winds. It was freezing!

I never put anything in the hand pockets of the shorts because I didn’t find it very comfortable. I only use hand pockets on riding shorts when I have no other option. Riding with a tool and my phone in hand pockets feels like I have saddlebags hanging off my thighs. The cargo pockets were my favorite for stashing things. My phone lives in the right one and a multi-tool and tire levers in the left. I don’t notice my phone at all and occasionally feel the multi-tool moving around while riding. I soon forget they are there.

The jersey is also plenty comfortable and cool. When reaching cruising speed, the keyhole back vent does feel refreshing. Of all my jerseys to date, I like the length and style of this one the most. The extra wide bottom seam provides a pleasant surprise. That bit of extra girth on the jersey around the hips keeps it from riding or rolling up towards the waist. Even with a pack on, this jersey stayed cool and stayed in place. Woot woot for zero shirt adjustments on trail.

The jersey’s hidden pocket remained that, hidden. I never used it. If I still had the mini MP3 player I lost in college, that would have fit in there nicely, and I would have jammed out on more rides. I thought of fitting my iPod or phone in there but it was just too bulky. At least the lens wipe wasn’t bulky. Serving as the backside to the hidden pocket, it was stitched down on all four sides to the jersey. This is a major plus, as lens wipes that are only tacked down on one side like a flag just wander and fold up wherever they want too.

Things That Could Be Improved

A major improvement I would suggest for the jersey concerns the hidden pocket. It doesn't make sense being one and the same as the lens wipe. If there is something in the pocket, you can’t wipe your lenses without emptying the pocket. The two features should be on different sections of the jersey. The pocket itself could also probably be more comfortable if it were placed in a different area, either more to the front or more to the back rather than right smack dab on the side.

If I am to really nitpick, Holy Shirt Tag Batman! A four-inch long tag for indicating size, fabric composition, and washing instructions seems excessive. After confirming the washing instructions and documentation for this review, that baby got the ol’ snip-snip – problem solved.

I really don’t have any complaints about the shorts. Given the size I ordered, I am comfortable in them but need to wear a belt. I’m not sure if the ‘re-tract auto-adjustment system’ would keep the shorts on someone else with more hips without needing a belt. The waistband is a bit big around my slightly narrow hips but the fit around my thighs is perfect. Full disclosure: my figure from hips, chest, and waist measures across M, L, and XL (darn it, I’m not built like a bikini model), so I choose my shorts based on the largest value – XL. They fit the ol’ thunder thighs comfortably but over my narrower hips, they fit a bit too loosely. Thus, the belt to keep them on. I prefer that to a muffin top or the button coming unsnapped when I bend over. They may fit just fine on someone with thinner thighs and wider hips than I have. If they don’t though, perhaps a stronger elastic material for the ‘re-tract auto-adjustment system’ would improve the system.

Long Term Durability

No heavy carnage occurred in the testing period of the Piper Shorts or Piper Jersey, so their ability to hold up to a crash cannot be commented on. I can say that the other day when I failed at an uphill tech maneuver in Arizona and tipped over off the trail into the suburbs of Cactus Town, the shorts proved themselves to be not very cactus proof, but then again, what is?

The cactus spines came out of the thin fabric quite easily though, certainly way easier than my leg. Yowch! Both the shorts and jersey are well constructed, however, and I have confidence in their ability to take a day-to-day beating and to keep coming back for more. They have held up so far, and I have worn them all over for more than just mountain biking.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Women’s Piper Jersey is a good, lightweight jersey, comfortable for summer riding. I appreciate the cut and construction of the jersey, especially the length and thick bottom hem that keep it from wandering around. The color blocking on the red jersey with the black panels up the sides is a flattering design every lady will love. Also, the contrasting flatlock stitching pattern on the jersey gives nice contouring so the wearer doesn't look so square or broad through the shoulders. Girls who shred can still rock their curves!

The Women’s Piper Shorts are very comfortable and great for riding, as well as wearing every day on the street. In fact they are so comfortable and stretchy that they are also my uniform for yoga when I take a break from the bike. With the re-tract auto-adjustment system in the waistband, they can fit a variety of figures. Even though my personal measurements force me to use them with a belt, these are my new favorite shorts and the Piper jersey is my new favorite jersey. I wouldn't mind having several pairs of them – one for every ride between laundry days.

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About The Reviewer

Courtney Steen has been hitting the dirt on two wheels since 2007 when she started riding mountain bikes in college. She raced alongside her collegiate cycling team in every event from XC and short track to downhill and mountain cross, scoring several podiums, fist pumps and shiny medals along the way. A dream trail for this girl would have lots of down, some fast and flowy, and like the sprinkles on a cupcake, some fun technical sections to keep her on her toes – we’re talking mountain biking after all, not cruising a sidewalk. Courtney currently lives on the road with her boyfriend in a 5th wheel toy hauler loaded with bikes, traveling from one mountain bike mecca to the next in search of the best trails North America has to offer. Anytime she's on a bike and in the dirt, she has two thumbs up and a big smile.

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