by Lee Trumpore
Seemingly left for dead a few years ago, Race Face has bounced back in force with a full complement of components and riding gear. The new Ambush shorts and jersey are part of their latest offering for everyone from casual trail riders to racers looking for something a little more subtle than traditional moto-inspired gear.
Ambush Jersey Highlights
- Repreve moisture wicking technology
- 3/4 length sleeve
- Flatlock stitching throughout
- Slight drop back patterning
- Hidden zip stash pocket located in side panel
- Faux suede pocket bag doubles as goggle wipe
- US MSRP: $59.99
Ambush Shorts Highlights
- Zippered front fly with dual snap closure
- Branded grab tab
- Zippered side cargo pockets
- Inner waistband adjustment system
- Soft brushed inner waistband
- Raised back panel for additional coverage while in riding position
- Stretch mesh side panels
- Zippered thigh vents
- Double reinforced seams throughout
- US MSRP: $113.99
Clearly designed by people who ride bikes, both the jersey and shorts just felt ‘right’ as soon as I put them on. Not too tight, not too baggy, just long enough at the knees, and with enough built in features to be different from just another piece of mountain bike clothing. My only real concerns were with the position of the pockets on the shorts and the loose fit cuff on the 3/4 length sleeves. It’s not that there was anything immediately wrong with either of them walking around my house, but it’s on the trail where flapping sleeves and awkward pocket design can be a real deal breaker.
On The Trail
Fit and cut of both the jersey and shorts are spot on both while riding and casually hanging out before and after a ride. My initial concern with the baggy sleeves flapping around on my arms was all for nothing as I never noticed the lack of an elastic cuff when riding. In fact it probably helped keep my arms a bit cooler on days when a short sleeved jersey might have been a better choice. If you ride with elbow pads you should have no problem fitting them as there is more than enough room in the cut of the sleeves. A feature I overlooked at first but really came to appreciate while covering the Enduro World Series is the built in goggle wipe along the lower seam. I never actually used it on goggles or sunglasses, but it did an exceptionally fine job cleaning off my camera lenses even after heavy and repeated use. This small feature alone has made the Ambush jersey my go-to choice for photo missions.
The Ambush shorts are packed with small features that are often overlooked. Belt loops in addition to Velcro waist band adjustment tabs were an appreciated addition, as were thigh vents that actually worked. But it’s the design of the pockets that really stood out. Like most people these days I ride with a phone in my pocket, and there are few things more annoying than having it flap around and smack my leg with every pedal stroke. I was initially skeptical because the rearward placement of the main zippered pockets meant anything stored in them would be hanging under my leg when riding. In real life I never had any issues because the cut of the pockets is quite slim. I’ve filled them with phones, tools, tubes, keys, lens caps, and stale media room sandwiches and never once was I bothered by the contents of my pockets while riding. Full length zippers assured that nothing fell out either.
The cut and comfort of the Ambush shorts had me reaching for them almost every ride. And their dirt-shedding and fast-drying characteristics had me reaching for them on hot days shooting World Cup DH racing as well. In 2 months on the road in Europe these have easily been the single most worn piece of clothing in my bag.
Things That Could Be Improved
On the jersey I go back and forth with the loose fitting 3/4 length sleeves. While I never found them annoying I’m not entirely sure I understand the reasoning behind them either. Not really something that needs improving per se, but it’s a design characteristic worth noting. Race Face points out that the 3/4 sleeve garments are part of their DH style, with ample room for body armor as one of the factors considered in the design, although they concede that the same result might be actually already have been achieved when they chose the fabric - which is quite stretchy.
The internal waist adjustment on the shorts, though a good idea in theory, lasted only a few rides and a couple washes before being totally useless as the hook-and-loop patches quickly lost all their grip. This is where I really appreciated the addition of belt loops so I could keep wearing what has otherwise become my favorite pair of riding shorts.
Long Term Durability
Other than the waist adjustment I have had no durability issues whatsoever. Just recently the Race Face logo on the side of the shorts has peeled off but that is likely my own fault for wearing them while shooting photos rolling around on the ground. Truthfully, I’ve probably given these shorts more abuse than any I’ve ever owned and they’ve stood up to everything.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Technical details combined with subtle colors and graphics make the Ambush jersey and shorts a smart choice for anyone looking for gear they can wear both on and off the trail without calling too much attention themselves. Well fitting, sturdy, and highly functional the shorts make a great choice for racers and trail riders alike. Velcro issues aside, these are among the best shorts I’ve ever owned.
For more details, hop over to www.raceface.com.
About The Reviewer
Lee Trumpore has been riding bikes for more than 20 years on just about every material and technology the bike industry has come up with. In more than a decade of professional DH racing, Lee won a Collegiate National Championship and was a mainstay at major North American races as well as occasionally snagging a last page result in the World Cup series. Testing prototype components and suspension setups was common during his racing days. He has a smooth, light style on the bike even while holding it wide open. An East Coast native, his favorite trails are fast and flowing technical descents with as many corners as possible and just enough moisture to keep things interesting. Nowadays, instead of racing the clock, he'd rather enjoy a rad descent after a hard pedal to the top. A closet nerd with a Master's degree in education policy Lee currently lives in Taipei, Taiwan where he splits his time teaching mathematics to the next generation of computer geniuses and behind the lens as a photo mercenary for VitalMTB and other industry clients.