First Ride: 2018 Royal Racing Core, Impact, and Drift 2

Fresh gear for the new year.

Royal Racing is approaching 20 years in business, but they are not showing any signs of slowing down – in fact, they only just recently announced signing Josh Bryceland and Josh Lewis to their rider roster which means you’ll start seeing lots of RR action from the JJs pretty soon. On the topic of action, we’ve had some early samples of the 2018 collection in for testing, so we can already let you know how the stuff performs in real life. Read on to find out!

Royal Racing Impact Short Highlights

  • Four-way stretch fabric
  • Laser cut ventilation
  • Four zippered pockets, two of which are waterproof
  • Adjustable waist band
  • Double snap closure
  • Colors: Amber, Orange, Black
  • Inseam: 34cm (13.4 inches), verified, size L
  • Outseam: 64cm (25.2 inches), verified, size L
  • Heat transfer graphics
  • MSRP: $94.95 USD

Royal Racing Core Short Highlights

  • Two-way stretch panel in the rear
  • Four pockets, two zippered one of which weatherproof
  • Adjustable waist tabs
  • Double snap closure
  • Colors: Blue, Red, Black
  • Inseam: 31cm (12.2 inches), verified, size L
  • Outseam: 59cm (23.2 inches), verified, size L
  • Heat transfer graphics
  • MSRP: $59.95 USD

Royal Racing Core Jersey Highlights

  • Relaxed raglan cut
  • Available with long or short sleeves
  • Cooldry fabric
  • Screen printed graphics
  • Colors: Blue, White, Black
  • MSRP: $29.95 USD (SS), $34.95 USD (LS)

Royal Racing Heritage Jersey Highlights

  • Relaxed raglan cut
  • Available with short or long sleeves
  • GI+ antibacterial fabric
  • Screen printed graphics
  • Colors: Grey, Blue
  • MSRP: $34.95 USD (SS), $39.95 USD (LS)

Royal Racing Drift Jersey Highlights

  • Raglan cut, ¾ sleeves
  • Polygiene Odour Control fabric
  • Sublimated graphics
  • Colors: Orange/Black, Grey/Yellow/Blue, Grey/Black
  • MSRP: $49.95 USD

Initial Impressions

We’ve used a lot of Royal gear over the years, so we knew what to expect when pulling the 2018 samples out of the box. Fresh new colors and some design changes were among the highlights as we examined the Impact and Core short as well as the Core, Heritage, and Drift jerseys.

The Impact short has been a staple of the Royal catalog for a few good years already, but as the result of a consolidation of the short lineup it has evolved for 2018 by essentially inheriting the best features of several previous models. The result is a short that is good for anything from a quick jaunt in your local woods to epic all-day freeride adventures in the backcountry. The Impact is made from a four-way stretch material that has been laser cut to provide extra breathability, and features four pockets all of which are zippered, and two of which are waterproof. The waist is adjustable and the double snap fly closure should be adequately burger-proof. This high-end short retails for $94.95 USD, a very attractive price for such a full-featured item even if there is no chamois liner included.

The Core short was designed as a simpler, every day short for all kinds of riding. Simple does not mean lacking in features however, with a two-way stretch yoke panel, four pockets including a waterproof phone pocket, double snap closure and adjustable waist the Core short should be pretty much up for anything you can throw at it. That makes the very competitive $59.95 USD price tag even sweeter.

The Core jersey is the perfect complement to the short, with a simple yet functional design featuring a raglan cut and a relaxed fit. Flatlock stitching is used throughout, and there is soft padded area in the back of the neck to prevent chafing here. Available with either a short or a long sleeve, this jersey is perfect on its own for warmer days or as part of a layering system for the cooler seasons. 

The Heritage jersey, also available with either short or long sleeves, features throwback graphics and a “GI+” antibacterial fabric to help keep odor at bay as you exert yourself. Similar to the Core, the Heritage jersey uses flatlock stitching to maximize comfort.

The Drift jersey has been part of the Royal catalog for a good few years now, providing an answer to all the fans of the ¾ length sleeve. Sublimated graphics and a special “Polygiene Odour Control” fabric are meant to make this one of the most comfortable jerseys available for your all-day excursions and freeride antics. Pair it up with color coordinated gloves from Royal or 7iDP to complete your look.

On The Trail

Starting from the bottom, we have long been fans of the way Royal cuts their shorts. They seem to get the proportions just right, making them comfortable on the bike and the perfect shape for getting jiggy with it. The waist is the correct height, and the crotch area tight enough to keep out of the way of the saddle without applying any undue pressure where you wouldn’t want it. The Impact short is slightly longer than the Core, both provide more than enough hem to make sure the dreaded kneepad gap never materializes.

The Impact short is made from a sturdy yet flexible four-way stretch fabric that makes it extra comfortable when things get a bit rowdy. The laser cut ventilation works well to help you keep your cool too. For those wondering how these small holes hold up over time, we have only good things to report about the previous versions of this short we’ve tested – they’ve all held up very well, and the holes never get any bigger nor do they cause the fabric to run. Apparently, the laser cut technique seals the edge of the hole and that's that.

When it comes to the jerseys, they are all very comfortable and do their job well. We were slightly concerned about the screen print graphics used on the Core and the Heritage, as this type can sometimes get a bit “sticky” when you sweat, but that was not the case here. They are small enough and soft enough to not be felt when worn.

The Heritage and the Drift both feature odor control fabrics, in two different versions. How effective they are compared to regular jersey fabric is hard to tell, although our semi-scientific conclusion is that the one on the Heritage jersey might actually be the more effective, even though it has a less complicated name. In any case, the odor is quite bearable with all these jerseys, definitely not among the worst offenders we’ve tried, although you still won’t slide unnoticed into a small stuffy pub just after a two-hour ride – but then again, in real life it’s hard to beat changing into a fresh post-ride t-shirt for when you have to get social with it.

Things That Could Be Improved

We don’t have much in terms of gripes with any of these products, especially given their very reasonable price tags. Sure, we could insist on wanting a chamois liner with the Impact short, but in truth, we know of significantly more expensive brands that also don’t include them. The weatherproof pockets on the Core and Impact shorts should keep your phone safe in intermediate rain showers, but they might not hold up to a day of getting soaked (which is when you'd want to be reaching for the Royal Storm short anyway). To nitpick, maybe one of the jerseys could offer a pocket of some kind, but this is a very minor concern (Royal’s Impact jersey does feature one if this is a must-have for you).

Long Term Durability

We’ve put in about 2 months of mixed-season riding with these 2018 samples, and they have held up really well. The stitching is intact, the colors are fresh and the graphics are still going strong after quite a few wash cycles. This matches our hitherto excellent durability track record with Royal apparel.

What’s The Bottom Line?

With close to 20 years in the business of making mountain bike specific riding gear, Royal has had ample time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Their compact but feature-rich lineup includes everything you need to get rowdy on the trails, whether it’s racing or just shredding with your mates. The 2018 models we have tested here look set to carry on in the same vein, offering functional and fresh apparel that most riders would probably enjoy using and feel comfortable being seen in. 

More information at:

About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 44 // Years Riding MTB: 12 // Weight: 200-pounds (90.7kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan 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.

Photos by Nils Hjord


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