Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow
Royal’s SP247 range has been a staple of their catalog for a long time. Originally inspired by Steve Peat himself (hence the “SP” part of the name), it is a no-frills racing outfit that can also be your go-to gear for any kind of ride, any day of the year. For 2014, the jersey and short both see the traditional yearly face-lift, and with good memories of previous iterations we were eager to see what this particular vintage would bring to the table. We got decked out and headed out to find out…
Royal Racing SP247 Highlights
- Extended stretch panels for unrestricted movement
- Increased air flow and improved fit
- Unique ‘pedal friendly’ tailored fit
- 300D Polyester body fabric
- Screen printed graphics
- 2 zipped vented hand pockets
- 4 way stretch flex zones front and rear
- Full moisture wicking quick dry mesh lining
- Lower back/coccyx embossed padded panel
- Ratchet adjustable closure waist band
- New low profile waist
- MSRP $69.95
- 100% polyester fabrics
- Weightless sublimated no fade graphics
- Low profile Leatt compatible sponge padded neck construction
- Rear neck expanding panel
- Flat no scratch rear neck label
- Micro Lycra taped stretch cuffs
- MSRP: $49.95
The SP247 range is aimed at riders looking for race performance with slightly more subdued styling than your average MX pajamas. That’s not to say boring though, as straight out of the nylon the 2014 jersey really pops, with vivid colors and a bright finish. Available in three different colorways, the graphics are contemporary, bold, but not garish and in your face. The finish is flawless, with no loose threads nor other apparent problems to report. The jersey may be billed as a “value” item, but that does not mean that corners were cut. It is made out of different types of polyester fabric, with nice details like a sponge-padded panel at the back of the neck which is very comfortable and also meant to function well with a neck brace. There are thin stretch cuffs to help keep the sleeves from sliding down onto the hands. The sublimated graphics (basically a sort of laser printing that fuses ink particles to the fabric) are very vivid and superb in terms of detailing – each border crisp, and each colored area uniform.
The SP247 short appears simple at first glance, but it is loaded with features. Made out of a mix of strong nylon panels and 4-way stretch panels, it features 2 zippered pockets and a ratchet buckle to adjust the waist. Available in black only, the white stretch panels and screen printed graphics add a nice touch and make sure the short is easy to match with pretty much any jersey.
Trying on the SP247 kit for the first time, the sizing was spot on. This kit falls under the “DH/Race fit” category from Royal, which translates to slightly baggier items with room for body armor, for those of the padded persuasion. However, gone are the days of the ultra-baggies (think 2007, Monster-Ts, and gigantic hucks to flat), and both the jersey and the short are more form-fitting for 2014, although definitely not figure-hugging. The jersey notably leaves room for pads in the shoulder area, but remains straight cut around the waist and hip, which makes you look all butch and also helps avoid snagging your jersey on ill-meaning branches or your own saddle as you zoom by with Steve Peat-like speed and grace.
The short is also cut fairly close to the body (slightly more so than Royal’s Race Short), although it leaves ample room for kneepads. For 2014 it features a more low profile waist, but rest assured, it remains tall in the back which together with the stretch panels should help ensure that you keep your hairy posterior out of the public eye even during more acrobatic maneuvers. The short does not come with a padded liner, instead it is doubled up with nylon mesh on the inside which helps wick away sweat to keep you comfy.
On The Trail
Royal has a lot of experience and it shows in the SP247 kit. Comfortable and functional, both the short and the jersey are easy to get along with. The jersey is made out of a particularly tight-knit fabric, which is soft to the touch but quite strong. Because of this it does also get warm fairly easily, testament to the fact that this is primarily a gravity-oriented item. We rode the kit throughout winter and spring, making sure to clock up a number of miles in anything from dry desert to muddy forests, and in all but the hottest of weather, the jersey was very comfortable. If it’s windy where you live, you’ll particularly appreciate its wind-breaking qualities too. It does wick sweat away effectively, but for really hot climates, something more ventilated is probably in order.
The SP247 kit is never restrictive. And because of the way the two items are cut, with a low back on the jersey and a high back on the short, you remain fully covered even in the heat of battle. The cut of the short is right up there with best we’ve ridden in. Although the fit of the SP247 has grown less baggy over the years, the short never feels tight nor does it ever get out of shape. We’ve worn it consistently on anything from XC epics to DH days, and it is easily one of our favorite items for all types of riding and all types of conditions (unless it gets properly wet and miserable, in which case the SP247 pant does a superb job of filling in for its little brother until the mercury rises again). Note that the SP247 kit is not weatherproofed, but it remains relatively comfortable when wet, and offers great mud shedding capabilities to boot. It also dries very quickly.
Both items are suitably rugged as one would expect from a gravity-oriented kit. Stitching is doubled or tripled, and the fabrics are of the run/rip-stop kind, so even if you do snag them on something sharp, you won’t have to write off the item because of an ever-growing hole or a running thread. We also particularly appreciated the choice of sturdy zippers for the fly and the two pockets on the short, as this is an area that can easily cause trouble down the line. The pockets themselves are of good size, bearing in mind once again that this short is primarily meant for gravity riding. They’ll easily hold a phone and keys, or a multitool and some energy bars, if that’s how you swing. They are placed towards the front and are snug when closed, which means that any cargo will be held on top of the thigh and won't dangle off the sides as you ride.
Things That Could Be Improved
There is almost nothing to complain about on the short. The screen printed white graphics tend to pick up a slight discoloration after a few wash cycles, but that’s about it. As for the jersey, we think it might benefit from a little more ventilation, especially given how dense the fabric is, but we do acknowledge that it is primarily intended for park/gravity riding where this is less of a requirement, and in normal temperatures, it works very well anywhere. The jersey doesn’t have a pocket of any kind, which may or may not be an issue for you personally – we wouldn’t expect to find one on a race/gravity-oriented jersey such as this one. It also lacks a goggle-wipe, but adding features such as this would only move the jersey into a different price category, defeating the original design goal.
Long Term Durability
The SP247 short scores highly in the durability department. After a good few months of intense use (several ride/wash cycles per week) in varying conditions, there is only the aforementioned slight discoloration of the printed graphics to show for it. No rips, no scuffs, no tears, no loose threads. The mesh liner has a bit of fuzziness going on in the area where the short meets the kneepad, because our kneepads expose a bit of hook and loop material to the short. Hardly the fault of the short, and it’s worth pointing out that the liner is far from destroyed, it is just a bit fuzzed up.
As for the jersey, what impressed us the most is how vivid the colors stay even after so many wash cycles, and the threads are holding up very well too. We have noticed that the jersey tends to develop little snag marks from branches and thorns quite easily, but these remain confined to the area of contact and do not develop further. Riding with a pack has also caused some localized scuffing (mainly under the buckle of the chest strap), but again, this is perhaps unfair treatment of a gravity jersey. Finally, while the graphics on the main panels of the jersey remain as white as the day we got it, the small sponge panel on the back of the neck has turned a bit grey after all that washing. Hardly a big issue, but worth mentioning.
What’s The Bottom Line?
Royal’s SP247 kit is billed as a no-frills, good-value, everyday item for racers and trail riders alike, and it lives up to its billing and more. Simple yet full-featured and stylish, it doesn’t cut corners to hit its very reasonable price point. The short is without a doubt a class leader, and the jersey delivers modern, balanced styling at a great price/performance ratio. Both items should last you quite a while and will have you feeling and looking good on your bike.
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.