by Amanda Richter
Let’s start this off by being honest with one another. It is important to look good while on your bike, right? Try to deny it if you want, but I certainly appreciate looking put together when I ride. So when I was given the chance to test out a matching kit from Royal Racing I was beyond psyched. I couldn’t wait to get it. Conveniently I had a trip planned to Sedona so I thought that would be a great way to start off the test. As the days ticked by leading up to the trip I checked my tracking information and planned out locations for photos. However, UPS had a different plan. I went to Sedona and the Cruiser shorts and jersey sat on my porch in the snow. I returned to find them soaked…great start.
Cruiser Short Highlights
- Twill 2-way stretch polyester
- Wicking internal mesh liner
- Detachable custom Royal padded pant liner and chamois
- 2 zipped hand pockets featuring reverse taped zippers for that clean look
- Internal waist adjusters
- Heat transfer and screen printed graphics
- Rear stretch yolk
- MSRP: $89.95 USD
Cruiser Jersey Highlights
- General Issue Plus fabric
- Heat transfers and screen printed graphics
- Direct inject Royal crown TPR on neck
- Woven flag label
- MSRP: $39.95 USD
As fate would have it my Royal Racing gear showed up while I was out of town. As a result the box sat in the snow and got thoroughly soaked. I pulled out the pieces sopping wet but was pleasantly surprised to find that they dried out way faster than expected. Great first impression! The fabric was clearly quick drying yet I would be surprised with how durable it also was. Also, had I not seen it dry so fast I would certainly be questioning how breathable it could possibly be. Trying the kit out for the first time I was happy with the fit on the shorts. The waist was snug and true to size and they were long enough to cover the tops of knee pads. The shirt seemed a bit boxy at first but I loved the way the ¾ sleeves fit and the slight V-neck added some style. Not many bells and whistles, just clean lines and simple detailing. I was pretty sure this would be my new favorite gear. Lucky for me this winter has been mild in Tahoe so I had plenty of opportunity to get them dirty!
On The Trail
I noticed right away that the waist is snug and the shorts are long and baggy enough for pads. What I didn’t realize right away was how well the shorts are cut. They allow you to move around on the bike but without much of a chance of them getting caught up on the seat. They just happened to fit me almost perfectly and that led me to believe that a lot of thought went into the fit.
They are loose in the knees but they taper well to the hips and waist. I felt this gives them a more feminine fit. The fabric is light and provides great airflow even though the shorts don’t have vents. I didn’t get a chance to test them at super warm temperatures but I am willing to bet that they breathe well even on the hottest of days. They come with two pockets that are low profile and stay in place when riding. The zippers are locking which is a nice touch.
The pockets are just enough to hold a phone or an iPod but not much else. With the fit of the shorts through the hips, there isn't much room for bigger pockets anyway - they would simply get in the way. Finally, I am sure that most people will want to stick with their favorite chamois but all I have to say is give the one that comes with these shorts a chance. It took a few rides but it became more and more comfortable as time went on.
I am generally partial to ¾ length sleeves. I like the way they look, they offer some sun protection and can cover pads. However they do tend to be a bit warmer overall. After the porch incident I knew that the jersey would dry fast but the fabric is still a little heavier than some of the tops I have liked in the past, and I thought maybe it might feel a bit oppressive. Luckily, these fears were put to rest quickly, and I was impressed by how breathable the jersey actually is. It is 100% technical fabric after all.
The jersey is not at all restrictive and the sleeves look like they will fit some low profile elbow pads under them. The fit through the waist is a bit relaxed so if downhill is your thing, torso padding would fit as well. At first I wasn’t super psyched on the loose fit through the waist but it did offer some decent venting. To finish it off, I liked the understated logos that let the splash of color do the talking.
Things That Could Be Improved
Shorts - For me, the shorts were just right but if you are someone who doesn’t like to bring a hydration pack you might find the pockets a bit on the small side. You would be hard pressed to fit more than a phone and a small snack. Additionally, if you are looking for more of a lightweight cross country short, the length might be a bit excessive.
Jersey - While I thought the proportions of the shorts were dead on, the jersey seemed slightly off. Before I continue I want to acknowledge that the jersey is supposed to have a more relaxed fit. Royal's website says the Cruiser jersey is styled after a t-shirt with a more relaxed and casual fit. My only complaint is that the sleeves are more fitted and the rest of the shirt is baggy. I felt it gave a slightly boxy feel to the jersey overall. This is completely personal preference though. From a technical standpoint I felt the boxes were all checked.
Long Term Durability
I wore this gear a lot… like four times a week a lot. Sure, I am supposed to put the gear through its paces but I also found that I truly wanted to wear it that much. This means that not only did I wear it often, I washed it a lot too. So far the shirt and shorts show no wear. The logos are intact and the colors are still bright and since I don’t actually know how to sort laundry, I know that has everything to do with the quality of the fabric. I found both pieces shed dirt well which must contribute to them still looking good after so much use and abuse. It is always possible that over time the locking zippers could fail but I foresee them holding up for a long time.
What’s The Bottom Line?
If you are looking for a kit that you can wear for everything from downhill to cross country, The Cruiser shorts and jersey from Royal Racing are a great option. The technical fabric is durable and comfortable and if you like your gear relaxed, then the fit will make you happy as well. It can also be worn off the trail without screaming bike clothes. I for one will certainly continue wearing this kit as long as I can!
Visit www.royalracing.com for more details.
About The Reviewer
Amanda Richter fell in love with mountain bikes in 2005 after moving to Colorado and wanting to explore her new home. This love of riding, pushing her limits and exploring has taken her all over the US and even a few places internationally. It has motivated her to become a PMBI certified coach and personal trainer so that she can help people both on and off the bike. She has dabbled in racing downhill and XC and looks forward to more events and racing this coming season. While any day out on the bike is a good one, she is the most happy on anything that it challenging both uphill and down. Amanda recently moved out to Truckee where there is no snow this year but thankfully lots of new riding to explore!