Australian outfitters DHaRCO (short for Downhill Australian Racing Company), first appeared on our radar a couple of years ago, when the brand started sponsoring the Commencal/Muc-Off DH team (home of Amaury Pierron and Myriam Nicole, among others…). We tested a few items back then and we came away suitably impressed. Fast forward to today’s date; the company has just opened up a warehouse and offices in Europe to establish a real presence on the old continent, a sure sign that the business is growing and that big plans are afoot. To keep up with the progress, we’ve been putting in some miles in the 2023 collection – keep reading to find out how we’ve been getting along!
DHaRCO 2023 Range Highlights (as tested)
- Men’s Short Sleeve Jersey - $66 USD
- Men’s Drirelease Tech Tee - $58 USD
- Men’s Gravity Short - $107 USD
- Men’s Glove - $30 USD
- Women’s Short Sleeve Jersey - $66 USD
- Women’s Drirelease Tech Tee - $58 USD
- Women’s Gravity Short - $107 USD
- Women’s Glove - $30 USD
DHaRCO’s designs are inspired by Australian surf culture, so it should come as no surprise that colors are plentiful and that tie-dye is a word (or is that two words?) that you’ll often come across as you peruse the range (whether online in DHaRCO’s own webstore or in a shop that carries the gear).
DHaRCO is committed to providing a full range of gear for both men and women, and we were sent a couple of their latest items from both sides of the catalog. Starting from the top, the Short Sleeve Jersey is a classic polyester jersey, made from a quick drying fabric derived from recycled material. It features mesh side panels for increased airflow and a small zippered pocket for carrying essentials like a credit card or a liftpass. We went with the “Wipeout” colorway for our male tester (Johan, the main author of this article), and “Aqua Tiger” for Darina, our female tester.
On the slightly more casual side, the Tech Tees are made from Drirelease, a softer cotton/polyester mix that mimics the feel of cotton while retaining the sweat-wicking properties of polyester. The faded pink colorway shown here was just too nice to pass up, so both our testers ended up twinning (and winning!) with versions of this one!
As you might have guessed from the name, the Gravity Short was made to take some punishment. Built from a fairly sturdy polyester fabric, once again derived from recycled materials, the short features a fairly straight cut with a fitted waist. There are two pockets, one on the right side and one behind the back, while a pair of Velcro tabs provide adjustability around the midriff. Two fly buttons aided by a Velcro tab and a zipper make sure that the short can handle a little extra cake at the post-ride café without coming unstuck at an inopportune moment. A flexible yoke around the back should also insure against any unforeseen onset of builder’s bum.
To round off our kit, we received a couple of pairs of gloves – one pair in the “Fort Bill” colorway and the other in the “Vallnord” option, for a little extra racing inspiration. The gloves are fairly light and feature a thin mesh around the back for max breathability. The palm area is made from synthetic leather, and adorned with DHaRCO’s ethos reminding you that this is No Ordinary Life.
On The Trail
Both our testers found that the kit runs true to size. DHaRCO’s website features a handy sizing guide that gives you the opportunity to measure some of your current riding gear to compare with – it turned out to be spot on. The short’s waist is not flexible, which means that it’s particularly important to get this one right. When we tested the 2021 range we found that the short and pant ran a bit tight around the front of the crotch, this seems to have been remedied now as there is a little bit more room in the same size.
The short is comfortable on the bike, with a cut that works well for pedaling. It’s also comfortable enough to wear all day, and the fabric is well equipped to deal with anything the trail might dish out – including the odd visit to the ground should you fail to keep the rubber side down on occasion. The pocket placement has also been improved compared to the 2021 line, and the side pocket now does a better job of holding your phone. We just wish DHaRCO would have gone with TWO front pockets, as we are not huge fans of storing things in the small of our back and we could do with the extra cargo space sometimes.
The jerseys have both been great on the trail. The short sleeve polyester jersey performs as you would expect with this type of fabric, it wicks sweat away and it dries up very quickly. It is soft to the touch without any “plasticky” feel to it. We did not find it too smelly either, which is always a concern with this kind of material.
The Tech Tee was quickly promoted to the shelf of our all-time favorite tees – if you don’t own any Drirelease stuff yet, it’s time to get with the program. Super soft to the touch and quick to dry even when you sweat a lot, this is our go-to for pretty much any kind of day on the bike. We love being able to ride in something that feels just like your favorite casual t-shirt, and these look so cool that they’ve also BECOME some of our favorite casual t-shirts. Good thing they are easy to clean and fast to dry, as we keep wanting to wear them!
The gloves are of the lightweight kind, easy to slip on and off thanks to the very elastic back panel. They also breathe very well, and they are super comfortable on the grip where their slightly pre-curved shape helps your hand find a natural position. We did note a certain lack of support towards the very end of the fingertips, we generally prefer a glove where more of the palm material would wrap around the finger tip as this provides a better fit and increased longevity. The touchscreen threading found on the index and the thumb is a nice touch, although we did not find it particularly effective until the glove got a bit dirty and worn.
What’s The Bottom Line?
There is no lack of options for technical riding gear these days, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something that works well and that suits your taste among the many brands vying for your attention and your hard-earned cash. If you’re looking for a range of riding apparel that performs well both on and off the bike, with a distinctive style that should definitely stand out among your riding buddies, we have no qualms about recommending DHaRCO. Fun, functional, and in the case of Amaury and Myriam, fast! We can’t promise it’ll help you get up to World Cup speed any time soon, but we’re pretty sure this gear won’t let you down as you work on your game.
More information at: www.dharco.com.
About The Reviewer
Johan Hjord - Age: 50 // Years Riding MTB: 18 // 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 and Renen Dizdar