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First Ride: Fox Winter Gear 2020/2021

With colder and wetter days upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve been getting our winter gear ready for action again. We’ve been fans of Fox’s Attack Pro Water jacket for a couple of seasons already, but for this year it’s been replaced by the new Flexair Neoshell jacket, so we thought we should check that one out too. $399 USD may seem like an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a rain jacket, but if you are serious about riding in inclement weather, high-performance gear can make your rides a lot more comfortable. Pair it up with the latest Defend riding gear to keep you both looking and feeling fresh.

Fox Flexair Neoshell Jacket Highlights

Fox Defend Short Highlights

  • Polartec Neoshell releases heat and perspiration without high-pressure build up, enhancing natural thermoregulation while providing the needed resistance from all outside elements
  • Large underarm vents with waterproof zippers
  • Hook and loop closure at cuff to keep out the elements
  • 2-way adjustable helmet compatible hood
  • Two waterproof hand pockets and one waterproof chest pocket for storage
  • Draw cord on lower hem for a close fit
  • Body: 100% polyester Polartec Neoshell
  • MSRP: $399.95 USD
  • Ratchet closure provides a secure fit and quick on-the-fly adjustments
  • Secure zip hand pockets
  • TruMotion all-way stretch fabric for increased mobility
  • Body-mapping laser perforated areas on front and back keep you cool
  • Durable Water Resistant finish sheds moisture, dirt, and debris
  • 94% polyester / 6% elastane
  • MSRP: $119.95 USD

Fox Defend LS Jersey Highlights

FOX Defend Fire Glove

  • Mesh panels for targeted cooling
  • TruDri fabrics move sweat away from the body to keep you dry
  • Strategically placed abrasion-resistant zones
  • 100% polyester 
  • MSRP: $64.95
  • Protected by D3O
  • Fleece lined for warmth in cold conditions
  • Compression molded cuff with hook and loop closure for secure fit
  • Absorbent micro-suede thumb
  • Ax Suede slim fleece palm keeps hands warm and dry
  • Brushed Cordura back of hand material offers abrasion resistance and warmth
  • TPU lined finger gussets seal out the elements
  • Durable Water Repellent ("DWR") finish sheds moisture, dirt, and debris
  • MSRP: $59.95 USD

Initial Impressions

The Flexair Neoshell is constructed from a 3-layer, waterproof and breathable fabric that provides protection from the elements while allowing hot air and sweat to escape more easily than before. All the seams are taped from the inside, and there are 3 waterproof pockets for storing essentials. A large hood will fit over any helmet and can be adjusted in 2 different directions to ensure a snug fit. There are further adjustments available at the bottom hem and the cuffs can be cinched down with Velcro. A flap in the back provides extra ventilation, and you can also open a massive vent under each arm if things should get extra steamy on the climbs.

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The Defend Short is a particularly sturdy item, built for long and tough days in the saddle where the occasional dirt nap may also be part of the program. You can opt for the Kevlar version if you want even more abrasion resistance, but the “regular” version tested here will certainly be up for most of anything already. There are two zippered pockets that are big enough to hold a few essentials, and a ratchet buckle to provide adjustability around the waist. The stretchy fabric features laser-cut ventilation holes to improve breathability, and the soft inside finish ensure good comfort when worn directly on the skin. 

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The Defend jersey has been a favorite of ours for a couple of seasons already. It features a very light yet strong fabric, with abrasion-resistant panels in strategic areas. The large and bold graphics are of the screen print variety on this model.

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The Defend Fire D3O glove was designed to keep your hands both warm and safe when temperatures drop. There is an extra fleece layer for warmth, and D3O protection over the knuckles. A generous amount of silicone grippers on the fingers will ensure that your fingers don’t slip when it gets a bit wet outside, while a DWR treatment will keep water and mud at bay, at least for some time.

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On The Trail

On the trail, the performance of the Flexair Neoshell jacket measures up to the price tag. The inside of the Neoshell fabric is super soft to the touch and can be worn with just a short sleeve jersey without feeling clingy or sticky. The cut is semi-loose, generous enough to allow for extra layers to be worn underneath, but tight enough to not flap around in the wind like an old tarp. The hood stays put, thanks to the multiple adjustments. The Neoshell will keep you dry for hours, even in severe downpours.

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The real party trick here is the breathability, making this jacket incredibly versatile. You can use it on windy days with variable weather without having to worry about constantly taking it on or off. Open the extra vents if the sun pops out for a bit, or zip it all up again when the rain hits. Even if you are working hard, the Neoshell breathes really well and you won’t find much, if any build-up of sweat on the inside. Combine it with some of the latest Fox riding gear for a color-coordinated, season-specific look – shown here in the Pine colorway, but also available in classic black.

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The Defend short is cut along the same lines as most of the Fox shorts and pants over the past couple of years – that is to say very bike-friendly with great freedom of movement. The tough shell is softer on the inside which makes it easy to wear for long days out, and it will take a beating and keep on going which is great for longevity. Two zippered pocket sit in the right place to keep any cargo from moving around while riding, while the cut is fairly loose without being flappy.

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The Defend jersey is incredibly light, both in terms of the actual weight and in terms of how it feels on the body. Breathability is excellent, and it remains non-clingy even when wet. We’ve had great results testing this jersey in previous years, and we’re happy to report that those items are still going strong, many washes later. Even the screen printed graphics are still hanging on which is usually a weak point in any piece of apparel that gets washed a lot.

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The Defend Fire D3O gloves are new for this year, and they have benefitted from what is apparently a bit of a re-design – they have slightly longer fingers than other Fox gloves we’ve tested recently, which makes them feel less cramped. The pre-curved shape falls naturally on the bars, and the palm material offers good grip. The gloves work well to keep your finger toasty down to about 50 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius), colder than that and they will perhaps start to be on the thin side. We also find that this type of tighter riding gloves will constrict the blood flow to the outer part of the fingers, which will leave them cold no matter what extra insulation is added to the fabric itself. The D3O padding is minimal, enough to deal with thorns or branches out to get to your knuckles, but no so much as to be bulky or in the way like some armored gloves of the past. We literally forgot all about the extra padding within 2 minutes of the first ride.

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What’s The Bottom Line?

Fox continues to develop and expand their line of MTB riding gear, with great results. We’ve had really good experiences with a lot of the gear tested over the past couple of years, and that continues with these items from the Fall/Winter 2020/2021 catalog. The high-end, Flexair Neoshell rain jacket is ultra-comfortable, highly breathable yet waterproof enough to deal with hours of continuous rain, while providing all the adjustability you need to make sure it stays put during intense activity on and off the bike. The Defend line of shorts, pants and jerseys is ideal for anybody looking for tough yet comfortable gear to shred in – top it all off with a pair of gloves that offer a little extra protection both from the weather and unexpected impacts with solid objects and you’re good to go. Season’s greetings!

More information at: www.foxracing.com.


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 Johan Hjord

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