Royal 2015 Drift Short (discontinued)

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Tested: Royal Racing Drift Shorts and 3/4 Jersey – A Royal Line

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord

Royal Racing is going on 10 years in business now, and as we took delivery of some 2015 test kit, we had a rummage through the closet for a trip down memory lane. Looking through our pile of old riding clothes, Royal has always remained true to its roots – making functional and stylish kit for those who ask a lot of their gear. Racer heads or freeriders, outgoing color lovers or stealthy operators have always been able to find something to suit their tastes and needs in the catalogue. The quality has always been right up there, and the cuts and fabrics have continued to evolve over the years as well, which brings us to present day and the 2015 Drift Short and ¾ Jersey that we have been tooling around in recently. The latest in a Royal line, one might say…

Royal Racing 2015 Drift Short Highlights

  • DWR coated ripstop fabric
  • Waterproof internal rear panel
  • Waterproof audio pocket with cable routing
  • Screen printed graphics
  • Wicking internal mesh liner
  • 2 Hand Pockets
  • Clip and webbing waist adjusters for a secure fit and easy adjustment
  • 2 velcro closure cargo pockets
  • Full laser perforated front panel for full ventilation
  • Rear stretch yoke
  • Available in LIME/GRAPHITE, GRAPHITE/ORANGE or BLACK/BLUE
  • S, M, L, XL, XXL (Black/Blue Only)
  • MSRP: $89.95

Royal Racing 2015 Drift ¾ Jersey Highlights

  • Polyester antibacterial fabric
  • Sublimated Graphics
  • All Ride fit
  • 3/4 sleeve
  • Woven flag label
  • Available in ORANGE/GRAPHITE/BLACK, BLACK/BLUE/GRAPHITE or BLACK/LIME/GRAPHITE
  • S/M/L/XL/XXL(Black/Blue/Graphite Only)
  • MSRP: $49.95

Initial Impressions

The Drift kit had us at the green…at first glance of the new short and jersey we were pretty stoked on the design job. Vivid enough to be rad, but a far cry from the MX pajamas look, the Drift kit was made for people who enjoy a good day messing around out in the woods, the big mountains, and the bike park and it shows in the styling. Royal labels it as one for the gravity crowd.

Diving straight into the details, the Drift short packs an impressive list of features. 2 hand pockets, 2 velcro cargo pockets, a waterproof phone pocket, a waterproof panel in the rear, elastic fit panel, laser perforated air holes, snap buttons with an extra, burrito-proof hook closure, and buckled waist adjusters. This short was meant for big days out, and Royal made sure it would be up to that task. Gone are the days when feature-packed used to mean bulky however, as the Drift short is made from lightweight materials and feels quite minimalistic for such a sturdy item. And best of all, not only did Royal manage to shed some weight, they managed to significantly lower their prices for 2015 as well – at $89.95 MSRP (US) the Drift short looks like particularly good value in the current market.

The Drift jersey features the obligatory freeride ¾ sleeve cut, and is made from traditional polyester with a special antibacterial treatment. The graphics are mainly sublimated (a laser print technique that fuses ink particles with the fabric), with subtle screen-printed highlights on the upper chest area and at the back of the shoulder. There is an elastic panel sewn into the rear of the neck for extra comfort, but other than that, the jersey lacks any kind of extras such as pockets or a goggle wipe.

The attention to detail on both the short and jersey is exemplary, and we were impressed with the quality of the materials and the workmanship on display. Time to let our inner freerider out!

On The Trail

Royal’s cuts have really come a long way, and we’ve been very impressed with the last few year’s collections in regards to fit. The 2015 Drift short takes it up another notch, and we’ll go straight on record to state that this is pretty much the blueprint for how a mountain bike short should be cut. The ripstop, water-resistant nylon used for the outer shell is not at all elastic, which means that the cut has to be spot on – and it is. Long enough to properly cover the knee, never restrictive, never too baggy, the short stays out of the way of the saddle and stays snug around the waist – the only gaps you’ll see are those on the trail ahead of you.

Note that the lack of elasticity in the short means you need to get the sizing right – you can only cinch it down if you need to adjust it, not stretch it out. Fortunately, the short runs true to size, and the measurement charts provided online are accurate.

The jersey is fairly loose in the cut, but not in a flappy kind of way. It gives you room to run armor if that’s your jam, or just room to move around freely if not. The fabric is very comfortable on the skin, and while it does get a bit smelly after your exertions, it’s far from the worst offender out there in this regard. We’re long standing fans of the ¾ sleeve cut, it may take a little getting used at first but it is both comfortable and practical in use.

The short is water-resistant (and actually waterproof in the rear), but remains well-ventilated thanks to the myriad of laser cut holes on the front panels. Of course, you’ll get a bit wet in a full-on downpour, but your posterior will remain dry, and the rest of the short dries out very quickly. Additionally, the nylon fabric doesn’t retain moisture, so it never feels heavy nor does it cling to the skin. The mesh liner is also particularly comfortable. On the flip side, we’ve tested the Drift kit in very warm conditions as well, and we were surprised by how breathable it is for such a heavy-duty piece of equipment.

In regards to storage, if the Drift short doesn’t have enough pockets for you, you need to revise your packing strategy. The cargo pockets are very roomy, as are the hand pockets. The phone/media player pocket is a great addition, not only is it waterproof (which also means sweat proof) but it sits in a spot where your phone doesn’t get in the way of pedaling. All in all, pack mules should be very happy with the Drift short.

Things That Could Be Improved

We have no complaints on the Drift short. It’s light yet sturdy, the cut is perfect, and has all the features you could want in a short for big days out. You could argue that a slightly elastic waist would make it easier to fit everybody, but that really only means you need to make extra sure you buy the right size. You could also wish for a padded chamois liner to be included, but most shorts in this category don’t, and frankly, at $89.95, we don’t feel particularly justified in requesting it.

The Drift jersey could be cut ever so slightly closer to the body. It’s perfect around the shoulders and arms, but the waist could be taken in just a tad. And to nitpick, a goggle wipe would be nice, although that is far from an indispensable feature.

Long Term Durability

We’ve had about a month and a half to test the 2015 Drift kit, and so far, it’s full marks in the durability department. There are no signs of early wear and tear, the colors have survived many wash cycles and still look bright. The short sheds mud particularly well. All the stitching is holding up, and despite initial concerns about snagging the ventilation holes cut out of the front of the short, we have no issues to report in that area either. These holes are laser cut, which seals the edges, and additionally, the ripstop material used will resist should you manage to snag a hole on something. The holes are very small, so it would take a bit of bad luck to manage to get them hung up on something, and Royal has been producing shorts with this feature since 2012 without any issues.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The Drift Short and Jersey are made for the big days out and aggressive riding, but advances in materials and construction techniques mean that such items no longer need to be heavy or bulky. The Drift kit is sturdy, looks great, and functions perfectly on the bike. With a significant price drop for 2015 as well, the Drift Short and Jersey slot right in at the very top of their class.

More information at www.royalracing.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord 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.

Great Gear!

Rating:
The Good:

I actually won these shorts, jersey, and a pair of Royal socks on a Vital photo comp. a few weeks ago. I've ridden them about twice so far, and have no complaints! The jersey is very breathable, but still durable and tough. The shorts are very nice, they have a great fit. The phone pocket and audio-access thing are really nice features. The design of both these products are pretty sweet as well. They aren't very complicated, but still look fresh.

The Bad:

To be honest, I can't think of one bad thing about this kit. Except for the fact that people who don't have this gear might want to mug you and take it.

Overall Review:

Overall, this is some great gear to have. It's a perfect mix of durability, breathability, and stylishness. Thanks again Vital!

Specifications

Product Royal 2015 Drift Short
Riding Type Cross Country, Trail, Freeride / Bike Park, Downhill, Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Other
Rider
Shorts Type
Material See below
Pockets Yes
Vents Yes
Size S - XXL
Colors LIME/BLACK, GRAPHITE/ORANGE, BLACK/BLUE
Miscellaneous The Drift short is aimed at DH, Freeride / Bike Park or Bike park abuse! Built to last and packed with features and fabrics to keep you dry on the wet days and cool on the hot ones. The ideal choice if you’re gravity orientated.

Features:
- DWR coated ripstop fabric
- Waterproof internal rear panel
- Waterproof audio pocket with cable routing
- Wicking antibacterial internal mesh liner
- 2 Hand Pockets
- Clip and Webbing waist adjusters for a secure fit and easy adjustment
- Double snap waist closures
- 2 hook and loop closure cargo pockets
- Full lazer perked front panel for full ventilation
- Rear stretch yolk
- Screen printed graphics

Fabric:
Gridflow 400D gives great waterproofing and durability with its ripstop construction and when combined with the Gridflow 400D Sonic Perforated panels the result is a short which is both durable and breathable.
Price $89.95
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