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First Ride: Fox Racing 2020 Apparel and Protection

It’s no secret that we are fans of what Fox Racing has been doing with their apparel and protection catalog over the past few years. The company produces a wide range of styles for pretty much any kind of riding you can think of, and they also tend to churn out new colors and variations for every season. 2020 has been no different so far, so we thought it was high time to freshen up our looks and put a few new items to the test.

Defend Fast Short Sleeve Jersey Highlights Flexair Delta Short Sleeve Jersey Highlights
  • Mesh panels for targeted cooling
  • TruDri fabrics move sweat away from the body to keep you dry
  • 100% polyester
  • MSRP: $59.95
  • Polartec Delta cooling technology
  • Densely knit sleeve is close fitting and provides added abrasion resistance
  • Bonded cuffs and collar for complete comfort
  • Heat transfer logos
  • 51% polyester / 45% rayon / 4% elastane
  • MSRP: $69.95
 Ranger Pant Highlights  Flexair Short Highlights
  • Slim silhouette and tapered lower leg reduces snag and drag
  • Technical stretch fabric is lightweight and moves with you
  • Snap closure for casual style and performance
  • Two hand pockets and secured zip pocket to stash everything you need for a ride
  • Fox Head screen print
  • 85% polyamide nylon / 9% polyester / 6% elastane
  • MSRP: $99.95
  • Lightweight 4-way stretch fabric
  • Engineered airflow zones for all-day riding comfort
  • Removable liner with dual density chamois for improved saddle comfort
  • Proven race ratchet closure provides secure fit and quick on-the-fly adjustments
  • Secure zip hand pockets
  • Bonded hem with over-taping detail is low-profile and reduces chaffing
  • TruDri fabrics move sweat away from body to keep you dry
  • Durable Water Repellent finish sheds moisture, dirt, and debris
  • Screen print logos
  • Shell: 76% polyamide nylon / 13% polyester / 11% elastane
  • Lining: 87% polyester / 13% elastane
  • MSRP: $129.95
Enduro D3O Knee Guard Highlights Launch D3O Knee Guard Highlights
  • EN1621-1 Level 1 Knee including high and low temperature conditions
  • CE certified D3O insert for world leading impact protection
  • Moisture wicking, open stretch mesh at back of knee for breathability
  • Cordura fabric offers higher abrasion resistance in key impact areas
  • Reinforced skid plate reduces friction with the ground in a sliding fall
  • Removable D3O Insert for easy washing
  • 70% PU / 20% polyester / 10% nylon
  • MSRP: $84.95
  • CE certified D3O insert for world leading impact protection
  • EN1621-1 Level 1 CE Certification
  • Pre-curved ergonomic fit
  • Slip-on fit with hook and loop adjuster
  • Perforated neoprene offers comfort & breathability
  • 20% nylon / 40% SBR / 30% PU / 5% polyester / 5% spandex
  • MSRP: $79.95

Initial Impressions

Initially planned to be released for the start of the World Cup racing season, some of the items in our box were from the latest limited edition run. 2020 colors are mostly subdued and tending towards blue and purple hues. We received the limited edition Defend Fast jersey, the Flexair Delta jersey, Flexair Short and new Ranger pant, as well as two knee guards, the all-new Enduro D3O and the updated Launch D3O.

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All of these items are very light weight and made from advanced fabrics and materials. For example, the Flexair Delta jersey is made from Polartec’s Delta fabric, which is said to help produce a cooling effect when it’s hot outside. The Defend Fast jersey takes a different path to the same goal, by using slightly more robust TruDri fabric panels. Neither jersey features any pockets.

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The Flexair short is very light yet very robust. It’s made from a 4-way stretch fabric using advanced bonding techniques as well as traditional flatlock and straight seams. Laser-cut holes provide extra ventilation, and there are two zippered pockets for storage. A ratcheting buckle provides for adjustment around the waist, and the short has been DWR treated for water repellency. There is also a chamois liner included with the short, made from ultra-soft materials.

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The Ranger pant sits at the lower end of the price scale within the Fox range of pants, but that doesn’t mean that it skimps on the features. 3 generous pockets - one of which is zippered - provide plenty of storage space, and the adjustable waist ensures a good fit. The pant has been tailored and pre-shaped for pedaling, and the flexible fabric ensures that it can follow your movements on the bike.

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Looking at the line of protection, the new Enduro guards caught our attention – not least because they actually exist in a color that isn’t black, a refreshing change in the sea of knee guard clones out there. The Enduro guard is super light and made from very flexible fabrics, designed to be worn for long days out in the saddle. The knee pad itself is made from now-ubiquitous D3O, a soft and malleable material that is able to harden up under impact to help dissipate crash forces. There is no additional lateral protection present aside from the main pad.

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There are a couple of variants of the Launch in the Fox catalog. For this test, we’re looking at the 2020 Launch D3O, which gets a refresh with softer chassis fabrics and materials as the main change. It features a D3O main protective pad, with auxiliary pads on either side of the knee and two Velcro straps for an adjustable fit (not to be confused with the previous Launch Pro which featured an additional hard plastic cap under the fabric of the knee area, or the Launch Pro D3O which has an external, removable hard cap).

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On The Trail

By the time we took delivery of the new goods, it was plenty warm and humid outside. The good news is, all this stuff works really well under those conditions. The Flexair Delta is the tighter fitting of the two jerseys, but thanks to the very light and highly breathable fabric, it doesn’t get clingy even on very humid days. The bonded seams further enhance the close, comfortable fit. Pair it up with pants or shorts for any kind of riding, just note that this is a race-oriented line and as such, it’s not the most rugged and resistant to wear and tear. It’s made to save weight and go fast, other considerations are secondary with this one.

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The Flexair short is also part of the racing range, but it is a lot sturdier than the Flexair jersey. The stretchy material and bike-friendly cut make for a super comfy short to wear all day long, and it breathes really well too. The lined included with the short is sufficiently well padded for longer rides, while the fabric used here is among the softer we’ve seen in this product category. The only negative point we can find with the Flexair short is that it is a bit noisy where it rubs against the kneepads.

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Fox has a pretty wide selection of riding pants, and we think they are among the better options out there if fit, breathability and comfort and important to you. The Ranger pant sits at the lower end of the price scale, but there’s nothing budget about the performance on the trail. The fit is spot on, the pockets are well-placed and the fabric presents a good mix of breathability and durability. There is plenty of room to run any kind of knee pad you wish.

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The Defend jersey is more heavy duty than the aforementioned Flexair Delta, but that does not translate into a heavier item to wear. The breathability and comfort are still excellent, and the slightly more relaxed cut will provide more room for body armor if that is your thing. We’ve had this one out in some of the hottest and most humid conditions imaginable, and it still performs well even when soaking wet. Another good option for those warm summer months. The limited edition colors are pretty sweet too, in our humble opinion.

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Moving onto protection, starting out with a look at the new Enduro pads. We actually think the name might be a little misleading, as for us at least “enduro” implies pretty heavy duty. The Enduro D3O pad is properly CE certified but it is definitely among the more minimalist options out there in this product category. The chassis is made from very thin and breathable materials, which is great for comfort but not so great for durability – we’ve already snagged the rear mesh on a pedal and it promptly tore a small hole. The good news is that the thread doesn’t run on after that, so the hole stays the same size, but you should still take note if you tend to subject your guards to regular abuse of that kind. These guards also lack any dedicated lateral pads, so once again they will protect a bit less than some other guards in this category. On the flip side, the Enduro guards are supremely comfortable, and the tall body ensures they stay in place no matter what. Definitely ones to consider if comfort and breathability are at the very top of your list of criteria.

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The Launch D3O steps things up considerably, with a thicker chassis and 4 auxiliary pads around the sides of the guard. The main fabric is softer than its immediate predecessor, but it is still up for plenty of abuse. We found the fit and comfort top-notch, with no hotspots or chafing noticed even after a very long day out with lots of pedaling. We also like that it features two Velcro straps per guard, which helps ensure a secure fit even as you tumble along the ground.

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What’s The Bottom Line?

We’ve found ourselves using plenty of Fox apparel over the past couple of seasons, and we’ve been very happy with the performance in general. The latest range looks set to continue this fine tradition, with innovative materials and plenty of new colors providing a fresh new look for the season. If you need something sturdier, look at the Ranger and Defend lines, while Flexair favors light weight and performance over other considerations.

More information at: www.foxracing.com.


View key specs, rate, and compare these items and more the Vital MTB Product Guide.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 47 // Years Riding MTB: 15 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // 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 and Johan Hjord

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