Review by Joel Harwood // Photos by Chris Christie
Troy Lee Designs’ Ace kit caters to riders looking for a high performing, lightweight, more pedal-friendly option without having to rock a skin suit. Advertised as premium, high performance gear for gritty XC riders, the updated Ace series features lightweight, wicking materials and all of the technical features we’ve come to expect from TLD. Can the kit handle daily abuse and frequent mistreatment, or is it meant purely for dainty XC rides? We spent a few months doing our best to find out.
Troy Lee Designs Ace Short Highlights
- 4-way stretch, highly durable 90% polyester / 10% spandex mix material
- Close to body performance fit
- Full waist and hip height adjustment with bonded rubber adjusters
- Permanent inner thigh ventilation via welded intake and exit vents
- Welded, vented rear pocket with air mesh padding
- Welded seams enable close to body fit without chafing
- Includes premium removable chamois liner short
- Laser cut side stash pocket perfect for easy access
- Pedal friendly side pockets with welded side pocket and mesh pocket bag
- Premium single snap fly closure
- YKK brand zippers
- Colors: Solid black, elite cyan (tested), elite red
- Sizes: 28-38 (even sizes only)
- MSRP: $165 USD
Troy Lee Designs Ace Jersey Highlights
- Performance fit cycling jersey with 10" front zipper
- Breathable, moisture wicking 50+ UPF material
- 3 rear open pockets and 1 zip stash pocket
- Reflective detailing on drop tail
- Colors: Alpine ice blue (tested), alpine fire orange, elite red, elite concrete
- Sizes: S-2XL
- MSRP: $68 USD
Much of Troy Lee Designs’ 2015 lineup features striking color options. The elite cyan short and alpine ice blue jersey are bold enough to get noticed, but not so much so that they’re an eyesore. Closer inspection reveals that TLD didn’t take any shortcuts with quality either – attention to detail, finish, and materials are all top shelf. The checkered design on the short is subtle at first glance, as the TLD logo on each thigh panel attracts most of the attention. The Ace short features an adjustable waist, a padded rear pocket, a Velcro and buttoned fly and permanent ventilation on the inner thighs.
The welded seams are of the highest quality – no inconsistencies, wrinkles or weaknesses. The short feels extremely light and includes a removable chamois. The jersey is equally as stylish with horizontal stripes and relatively subtle branding. Jersey cut is meant to be close to the body, has a built in zipper in the front, and a drop tail. Three rear pockets on the jersey can stash all of your gear, in addition to a central zippered pocket. The material is thin, without feeling fragile. Sizing is accurate and consistent with other TLD products. One should note however that the Ace series features a performance fit and sits much closer to the body than the enduro oriented Ruckus and Skyline products.
On The Trail
TLD did their homework with the Ace short. The streamlined fit is spot on, and the materials are extremely lightweight and flexible. The short is perfect for trail riding – it doesn't move, flop or pinch anywhere while seated or standing and there are zero instances where the short tried to snag the saddle. The short length is appropriate; it sits mid-knee while standing, and slightly above while seated. Long enough to avoid a gap between kneepads and short enough that it never becomes an obstruction.
On long rides the thin material and permanent ventilation were much appreciated as was the high quality chamois, a major feature that companies overlook far too often. The streamlined nature of the Ace short might have one believe that storage options would be limited, however we found that there were more than enough options for carrying a phone, multi-tool and CO2 without worry. The tighter fit also meant that anything you might store in the short is held in place and doesn't shift while riding.
The Ace jersey doesn’t pack as many features as the short; however the performance is just as solid. The material is thin and breathes very well – without a doubt the coolest jersey in the TLD lineup. The open pockets and single zippered pocket on the jersey meant that we could stash all of our necessities without needing a pack. Also of note is that we never found the rear pockets irritating when we did run a pack for longer missions.
We found the collar to be as comfortable as anything we’ve ever tried, with or without the use of the front zipper. As mentioned, the cut of the Ace lineup is tighter, which we found very comfortable. The jersey moves with the body, rather than around it and never felt constricting due to the highly flexible fabric and well-designed cut. No room for armor here though.
Things That Could Be Improved
Similar to the Ruckus short, the elastic band holding the velcro waist-adjuster tabs was exposed if the Ace short was tightened down significantly. In reality, this was only an issue in theory, as the short fit us well and because we only had to make micro adjustments the elastic bands were never exposed.
The right hip pocket access is a little bit tricky due to the minimalist opening. Some riders might find this a hassle, but we still found this storage option was great for CO2 or a snack.
We would have liked to see the addition of a rubber or silicone gripper strip on the rear seam in order to keep the jersey from riding up. This was never an issue unless we were carrying a spare bottle, however in that scenario a full bottle would bounce around more than it might have with additional traction that rubber could provide.
Long Term Durability
After a solid beating the Ace kit remains unscathed. All of the seams and welds have held together perfectly. Although we didn’t cheese grater ourselves across any rock slabs, we were pleased that the jersey and short were resistant to snags and abrasions, in spite of the thin materials used. Blatant disregard for washing instructions hasn’t bothered them either – numerous wash cycles later and they’re going strong. We have no reason to believe that the Ace series will fail prematurely.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Striking a balance between all-out performance and style is tricky. The outstanding cut, material selection and features of Troy Lee's Ace series are bang on, meeting the performance needs of a racer but without having you look like a goon at the après. Whether you consider yourself XC, all-mountain or enduro, this kit has you covered.
More information at www.troyleedesigns.com.
About The Reviewer
Joel Harwood has been playing in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia for the last 8 years. He spends his summer months coaching DH race groms in the Whistler Bike Park, and guiding XC riders all over BC. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest while blasting his trail bike down trails that include rock slabs, natural doubles, and west coast tech. On the big bike he tends to look for little transitions and manuals that allow him to keep things pointed downhill, rather than swapping from line to line. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products. Joel's ramblings can also be found at Straightshot.