by Monica McCosh
The 2014 women’s Khyber jersey and shorts from Race Face hits bike park and trail runways with a vengeance and a fresh color scheme this season. Touted as “the little black dress” of mountain bike apparel, the Khyber shorts may not be as slinky and lightweight as one, but this burly piece of shred equipment is designed to make a rough-and-tumble girl look and feel good on the trails or at the bike park.
Khyber Short Highlights
- Tweedster Fabric
- 70% Polyester, 26% Rayon, 4% Spandex
- Yarn-dyed textured outer fabric bonded to 100% Polyester durable mesh interior
- DWR (durable water resistance) treated; 8,000mm; 3,000g/m2 (waterproof/breathability)
- Double reinforced seams throughout
- Zippered front fly with dual snap closure and Velcro reinforcement
- Branded grab tab
- Asymmetrical zippered hand pockets
- Zippered cargo and back pockets
- Soft brushed inner waistband & adjustment system
- Mesh lined, zippered thigh vents
- Branded zipper pullers throughout for ease of use with gloves
- MSRP: $89.99
Khyber Jersey Highlights
- Repreve moisture wicking technology
- 51% Repreve® recycled Polyester (Recycled fibre by Unifi USA), 38% CoolDry Polyester, 11% Spandex
- Soft-hand, UPF rating 50, quick-dry, wash & wear
- Flatlock stitching throughout
- 3/4 length sleeve crew neck
- Hidden zip stash pocket located in side panel
- Faux suede pocket bag doubles as goggle wipe
- MSRP: $59.99
My first thought when eyeing up the heavy-duty fabric of the Khyber shorts came down to one word: SWASS. As you might have guessed, that’s short for sweaty ___ - especially the unnerving sweat a girl might get after a hot day ripping laps at Whistler Bike Park. Relieved by the two inner thigh zippered vents and mesh internal liner, my next impression upon sliding them on: NO MUM BUM. Khyber shorts are tailored to hug a girl’s assets, with an adjustable Velcro inner-waistband.
I did notice, however, a bit of a gap between the small of the back and the straight cut of the shorts, thanks to a generous helping of curves on my part. 2015 will see improved tailoring with a raised back of the short and added “dart to get the back [of the shorts] to articulate into the spine for more coverage,” says Race Face.
Finally, the detail on these shorts is impressive: a zippered cargo pocket with button closure on flap, Race Face branded zipper pullers and button snaps, belt loops, and a super soft fleece-like waistband for chafe prevention.
The Khyber jersey is the opposite to the shorts in fabric, feel, and technology. Words to describe the first fitting: breezy, lightweight, moisture wicking, and form fitting, thanks to the 11% Spandex composition. Not to mention it is adorned with an appropriately race-inspired armband and go-faster stripes in the back – or in my daydreams, a badge of honor for heroism on the hill. The jersey’s zippered side pocket is small enough to house a set of keys, bike park pass, and/or lip balm, and the underside smartly doubles as an eyewear wipe. I found storing something heavy as a set of keys in the pocket really weights the jersey down awkwardly.
On The Trail
The 2014 Khyber jersey and shorts act like opposites while riding. The breezy, moisture-wicking Repreve fabric of the jersey keeps me cool and dry while I earn my turns, while simultaneously my lower half heats up in the thicker fabric of the shorts, despite the awesome, uh, vulvar ventilation of the zippered mesh thigh vents.
Temperatures aside, the heavy duty fabric of the Khyber shorts gives me a welcomed sense of extra protection while ripping through trees or passing over gnarly rock gardens. Speaking of extra protection, the shorts have enough room at the knees to drape over the top of the Race Face Khyber kneepads (review to come).
Lastly, the zippered cargo pocket hangs just below the rounder part of the hip so I never noticed my iPhone being tossed around in there on the ride, nor did I need to worry about it falling out.
The lightweight Khyber jersey is adept at cooling the body core by wicking sweat away from the skin. On a sunny day, the black color of the jersey absorbed sunlight to keep me warm in between pedal or shuttle sessions. This is the jersey I grab when a skin-bearing tank top is too risky (or risque!) for the ride. If you wear elbow pads, size up in this jersey to ensure they will fit over your protection.
Things That Could Be Improved
While I personally do not mind the cool vs. hot, lightweight vs. hardy juxtapositions of the Khyber jersey and shorts duo, I foresee some outfit forecasting dilemmas. Do I wear the burly, cool weather approved shorts with a jacket over top of the jersey? While playing Enduro Athlete, do I reach for the moisture-wicking breathe-easy jersey and power through the accompanying SWASS in the shorts? Of course, you will have to pick your moments and combinations, much like the trending DH goggle + XC lid of the Enduro pack. At the end of the day, Ilove the breathability and fit of the jersey, but as for the kit combination, maybe Race Face will consider beefing up the fabric to durability standards similar to those of the Khyber shorts.
Long Term Durability
The Khyber jersey has faltered in superficial durability when paired with the rugged riding for which the shorts are meant. After just a few days of testing I noticed the front began to snag in several spots. Aside from that, after a few washes there is no fading, no heat-transfer logos peeling, and no seams unraveling.
The Khyber shorts have held up beautifully. Having taken a few tumbles on exposed shale ridge lines and through loamy tuffs of trail, the only evidence of such carnage is a small dirt stain from my apparently inadequate laundry skills. No rips or tears.
What’s The Bottom Line?
The 2014 Race Face Khyber kit’s fit is incredibly flattering, complemented with fine details at an astonishingly affordable price. Most importantly, the two pieces surpass their design expectations, respectively. Just understand the shorts are built to be burly, while the jersey is engineered for breathability. Yin and yang, baby.
Visit www.raceface.com for more details.
About The Reviewer
Monica McCosh has been riding bikes in British Columbia for over five years through the dusty desert interior, the gnarly roots of the North Shore, and the flow and jump lines of Whistler Bike Park. Not quite a competitive racer, but most definitely a freeride enthusiast, Monica attends various bike events and organizes her own guided women’s excursions throughout BC. As a marketing professional in the mountain bike industry who has worked for Ryders Eyewear and Easton Cycling, Monica lives, works, and breathes mountain biking. She is a grassroots rider for Banshee Bikes, Royal Racing, Kali Protectives, and DirtyJane.com.