Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Daniel Roos, Tal Rozow, and Johan Hjord
If you want to claim that something is enduro-specific, you better have thick skin – you’ll no doubt be inundated with feedback to the tune of “it’s all just mountain biking stop giving it other names to sell us stuff.” Well, if enduro racing is just mountain biking, then enduro-specific gear should be pretty interesting to mountain bikers in general, right? Lightweight, breathable, with a functional cut and plenty of features sounds pretty good to us, so when given a chance to test Royal Racing’s new Impact short and Stage jersey, we jumped on it.
Royal Racing Impact Short Highlights
- All ride fit
- 93% Polyester 7% Spandex
- Light, durable and quick drying
- 4 way stretch material
- 2 pockets with locking custom zip pulls
- Laser perforated ventilation
- Screen printed graphics
- Adjustable waist
- Cam lock, No Rattle zippers
- Custom zip pull
- Sizes: S-XL
- Colors: Navy/Lime - Charcoal/Flo Red - Electric Blue/Midori Citric Acid
- MSRP: $104.95 USD
Royal Racing Stage Jersey Highlights
- Enduro race cut
- 100% Polyester
- Active moisture management T-Dot fabric
- Large micro mesh vents
- Lycra edged push up cuffs
- Sizes: S-XL, XXL Black/White Only
- Colors: Lime Green/Navy - Flo Red/Graphite - Navy/Electric Blue
- MSRP: $59.95 USD
We’ve gotten used to good looking, high quality gear from Royal and the 2016 harvest does not disappoint. The Impact short is brand new (sort of replacing both the Turbulence and Drift shorts from the 2015 collection), while the Stage jersey carries over with new colors. Both items fall under the Trail and Enduro categories in the catalogue.
As ever, Royal are always on the hunt for new materials and fabrics to employ for their apparel, and the all-new Impact short delivers with a polyester/spandex combo that is lightweight, durable, yet soft to the touch – almost terry-like on the inside. Designed to be able to take the abuse of all-day, everyday riding and racing, the short features a saddle-friendly cut and the perfect length to make sure you are safe from the dreaded kneepad gap (there is a less PC term that is more amusing but less suitable for all audiences).
Exploring the features of the Impact short reveals impressive attention to detail. There’s the rattle-free zippered pockets with an audio cable routing port, the laser-perforated main panels, the combo hook and snap closure, and an adjustable waistline. The short is not water-proofed, but the fabric is meant to dry quickly. All in all, a very impressive piece of apparel, at a very competitive price point (even without a short liner).
When it comes to the jersey, the simple appearance is deceiving. There are no pockets or goggle-wipes, but the overall construction has plenty of extras to show off: push-up lycra cuffs, a tight-fitting elastic collar to keep debris out, underarm vents and sublimated graphics that are rich and detailed. The cut is “flap free” to earn you those precious tenths when taking part in the stage races that gave this jersey its name, and the color scheme will work well with the Impact short tested here, or of course the corresponding Stage short should that rock your boat.
On The Trail
We gave the 2015 Drift short a big thumbs up when it came to the cut, and the 2016 Impact continues down the same road. A very saddle-friendly shape that is tight enough to not flap around but that still provides a lot of freedom of movement on the bike, coupled with a slightly softer fabric creates a short that makes itself forgotten within the first pedal strokes. Sizing is spot on, which saved us from having to resort to excessive use of the waist adapters to have the short stay put.
The pockets are the right size and are placed in a pedal-friendly spot. The pockets are not waterproof, but they will resist moisture build up from sweating – good for your phone. The laser-perforated main panels provide excellent breathability, and for those who worry about durability, we can ease your concerns: Royal has been doing laser perforated shorts for a couple of years already, and we have never had any problems.
When it comes to the jersey, Royal wanted long sleeves to help protect from rogue foliage and also to give some protection from the sun for long days out. However, they were designed to be pushed up to help you cool down, a neat touch. Overall, the jersey is very comfortable on the skin, and it provides a good combo of wind and weather protection with excellent breathability. We used it with a base layer in cold and windy conditions, or by itself in the heat of the desert, and it quickly proved to be versatile enough to be useful in both situations. We’re big fans of the just-right cut, too (but look elsewhere or size up if you intend to run big bulky armor).
The elastic cuffs and collar help keep dirt and debris out of the jersey. It was an appreciated feature for this tester, although some may find the collar a little on the tight side. Pretty much everybody should appreciate the quality and colors of the sublimated graphics on the other hand, and the price point looks pretty good too!
Things That Could Be Improved
We would have loved to see a properly water-proofed pocket on the Impact short, just to keep our phone safe from sudden downpours or excessive sweating. The Stage short does have this feature, so that’s your ticket if this is important to you. Could we ask for a padded chamois liner to be included as well? Perhaps, but that feels a bit greedy in light of all the other features Royal managed to pack in for $100. At this price point, some shorts do, while others don’t.
As for the jersey, perhaps the collar could be made slightly less tight, since it is elastic anyway. A minor gripe, but some people may take a while to get used to the feeling.
Long Term Durability
We’ve have enjoyed 2 months of fairly intense riding with the Impact short and the Stage jersey, and they are none the worse for wear. Colors are still bright after wet rides and many washcycles, and all the stitches and features are holding up fine. Royal says not to tumble dry these items, which we tested to failure (actually it was the fault of a somewhat overzealous hotel staff member who took it upon herself to wash and dry our muddy riding gear one day – she threw both items in the dryer on the hottest setting and managed to get some of the screen printed graphics on the short to melt/peel off). Provided you DON’T resort to such extreme tactics, you’ll be fine (there is no need for any tumbling anyway, both the short and the jersey dry very quickly at room temperature).
What’s The Bottom Line?
Clothes can make or break a ride, and both the Impact short and Stage jersey fall directly into the former category. With a perfect cut, the breathable and comfortable Impact delivers an impressive feature set in a short that feels great and performs accordingly both on and off the bike. The Stage jersey is a very versatile piece of gear, equally at home on the race track or just out on the trail with your buddies. Ultimately, these two items were conceived with enduro racing in mind, but that also happens to make them very well suited to mountain biking in general. After all, what’s in a name?
More information at www.royalracing.com.
About The Reviewer
Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.