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GEAR UP FOR WINTER

WORDS & IMAGES: Colin Meagher

RACE FACE

Race Face is proud to call North Vancouver home, and with riders like Wade Simmons, Bernard Kerr, Remy Metallier, and Lorraine Blancher testing for them, and you know the gear is getting used and abused all over the globe, as well as tweaked and refined constantly.

The Race Face Team Chute Jacket, Winter Agent Shorts, and Sub Zero Charge leg guards.

Team Chute Jacket $189.99

The Race Face Team Chute Jacket is constructed of Storm Lite fabric, a 3 ply 10,000mm; 10,000g/m2 laminate fabric with a DWR coating and backed by a lightweight mesh. It’s fully seam-sealed and it has an attached hood with three points of adjustment. There are drawstring adjusters on the waist, hand warmer pockets, and a media player pocket on the chest. A touch of softer fabric around the collar prevents chaffing when the jacket is fully zipped up. Colors: blaze orange (featured) and black. Sizes: small, medium, large, X-large, and XX-large.

The fit was a bit tight in the shoulders on this piece, however, this wasn’t noticeable when riding. It had a perfect sleeve length and good torso length. The hood fit over my helmet without obstructing my peripheral vision at all. It wasn’t possible to use the hood with the main zipper all the way up, and the collar was too tight. The drop seat on the jacket kept the amount of water and mud spraying my shorts to a minimum.

Overall, the Race Face Team Chute Jacket is about as weatherproof as it gets. It shrugged off more than a few test laps in fairly horrific conditions (38F /3C out and spitting bullets). And, while it was a perfect ward against the elements, it still breathed reasonably well. The pit zips are just long enough to vent well without completely opening one up to the elements. It was reasonably easy to put on and remove the jacket, as well as operate the zipper pulls with gloves on. The only negative, other than not being able to fully zip up with the hood deployed, is that this was a relatively bulky jacket and it would be difficult to stuff into a pack when the rain goes away. The hood issue likely is related to the shoulder fit, and both issues would likely be resolved by going up a size, although according to Race Face’s fit guide, size medium is what I should be wearing.

Agent Winter Shorts $119.99

Like the Team Chute jacket, the Agent Winter shorts are a fully seam sealed, three layer waterproof short. The outer layer is a polyester fabric with just enough spandex in it to stretch a bit (10%) that is then laminated to a water proof/breathability membrane with a rating of 10,000mm/10,000g/m2. Again, there’s a bit of a mesh to allow the short to glide easily on under layers. The shorts also feature an internal gaiter system for the really miserable days, as well as a high back. Rear vents keep things temperate below and there are Velcro tabs to adjust the waist. There are waterproof zippers for the two pockets. Twin snaps backed up with a Velcro patch for waist closure rounds out the design. Colors black (featured) and flame. Sizes: small, medium, large, and X-large.

The fit was pretty bang on. And while the shorts sound like they have a LOT going on with the internal gaiter, I didn’t notice them when pedaling, nor did they hamper my use of knee guards. I’d have to say that these are the shorts I’ve been dreaming of ever since I first discovered that winter didn’t mean that mountain biking was over. They sneered at rain, sleet, and snow. Even when I banged out a couple test laps on what amounted to be a shallow creek, I stayed dry and comfortable despite my fear that the rear vents would let in water from my bike tire. Basically, these were a put ‘em on and forget about ‘em item that’s tough enough to be worn as a daily driver.

Tyler pushing it on a medium sloppy ""Dirt Surfer"" kind of day.

Charge Sub Zero Leg Guard $44.99

These are just like the standard Charge Leg Guards from Race Face - a knee warmer type item with a stretchy Kevlar abrasion resistant patch that covers your patella and your upper shin. It’s an abrasion resistant knee guard only as it’s not impact rated at all. The only difference between the two is that the Sub Zeros have brushed polyester inside to help keep you warm. There’s gripper silicon at either end to keep them in place on your leg. Color: black. Sizes: small, medium. large, and X-large.

The Race Face Sub Zero Charge Leg Guards; note the minor fleece lining for cold conditions warmth.

Why wear something like this? Simple: there’s very little to insulate the tendons and ligaments in the knees when it’s cold. Adding a knee warmer or leg warmer when it’s cold out is common sense. If that’s not your style, one can wear actual knee guards to keep your knees warm; but when you’re headed out for a wet two-hour pedal, something that burly can chafe you raw in a hurry. And when it’s really cold, even something lightweight like the G-form or Race Face’s own Indy knee guards can be uncomfortably stiff.

Keep in mind that these are really only for technical XC rides as they have absolutely zero impact resistance. But they are perfect for helping to prevent shredded knees if you have a tendency to kiss the dirt every now and again when it’s sloppy out.

Nikki with the Team Chute Jacket, the Women's Khyber Shorts, and the Sub Zero Charge Leg Guards

Men’s Team Chute Jacket $189.99

I tested the Race Face Men’s Team Chute jacket in a Blaze Orange size small as Race Face doesn’t offer a women’s riding jacket. I would say the jacket fit me decently, but it was noticeably loose in the shoulders and chest and tight around my hips when pulled down. If you look at the Race Face fit chart online, you can see that the men’s size small, while close to the women’s size medium, is larger in the chest and smaller in the hip measurement as compared to women’s medium. With a hydration pack on this became a non-issue, so overall, I think it was the correct size for me, given that Race Face doesn’t currently make a women’s jacket, but I believe that adding a women’s specific jacket to their clothing line would likely be well received.

During testing, right away I was impressed with how warm this jacket kept me, even when the temperature dipped below 30F (-1C). The extra weight of the jacket along with the well-designed hood effectively blocked the frigid Columbia River Gorge winds (during the winters here in the Gorge, wind chill is a constant presence and directly impacts our winter riding). The down side to the heavy weight of the jacket was I did warm up quickly on climbs. However, it was easy to vent and I never had to remove it. Overall, the burly design of the Chute appeared to be impenetrable to winter forces and the Blaze Orange adds a nice, blinding touch for those who tend to get lost in the woods.

Women’s Khyber Short $89.99

The Race Face Women’s Khyber short is a heavy-duty short, with a 14” inseam, zippered front fly with dual snap closure and Velcro reinforcement, double reinforced seams, hand pockets, zippered thigh vents, DWR-coated fabric and a waterproof membrane. Race Face states: “Certainly the burliest women’s short in the Race Face collection, the Khyber Short is recommended for aggressive riding when extra abrasion resistance and durability is preferred.” Colors: orange, black, lime, and blue (featured). Sizes: X-small, small, medium, large, and X-large

Nikki testing on ""Funner"" outside of Bend, Oregon.

Like the Dakine shorts, I have spent a good deal of time riding and racing in the Khyber shorts in a wide range of weather conditions. The shorts are comfortable and stylish and Race Face has a nice selection of colours available. The size medium runs a bit large, but is designed to be a relaxed, loose fit. Given the robust material, the short has very little stretch, so choose sizing carefully. The longer inseam and wide hem allowed for the short to fit easily over my knee guards. Ventilation provided by the zippered thigh vents worked effectively and I have personally never noticed a breathability issue on these shorts, even during an eight-hour day of pedalling under the summer sun.

I do recommend wearing knee guards of some type with these, as the inner lining tends to irritate the top of my knee when I am on long rides without knee protection. The DWR-coating ensured that the water beaded on the surface of the short and maintained its waterproof capacity during testing. Personally, I found these to be a comfortable and stylish short as well as extremely functional for winter riding conditions.


For more great mountain bike products and reviews check out http://www.pinkbike.com/news/winter-25-cold-weather-essentials-reviewed-2015.html

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Silverfish UK Ltd. (Registration No. 4075057).

Technical specifications are for guidance only and cannot be guaranteed accurate. All offers are subject to availability and while stocks last. Errors and omissions excepted. Silverfish UK Limited acts as a credit intermediary and only offers credit products for Close Brothers Retail Finance. Its registered office is: Close Brothers Group plc, 10 Crown Place, London EC2A 4FT. Credit is subject to application and status.

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