Welcome to part 3 of the Mtbr mountain bike fashion show. This proverbial runway walk features clothing and gear from the likes of Kitsbow, Mavic, and Gore. Head here for part 1, which includes Pactimo, Pearl Izumi, and Qloom. And click here for the latest from Endura, Voler, and Garneau.
In each case, we logged at least a half dozen rides in the apparel, allowing fair evaluation of fashion, function, and fit. All photos are by Dave Kozlowski unless otherwise indicated.
For true connoisseurs of clothing craftsmanship (who don’t mind spending a little extra — or a lot in some cases), Kitsbow has few peers in the cycling apparel arena. The California-based company sources fine wools from as far away as Australia and New Zealand, uses high quality buttons and zippers, and then gets it all stitched together in North America, where they can assure quality control beginning to end. It’s truly beautiful stuff.
The highlight piece in this test was the Men’s Adjustable A/M Short ($285, more info at www.kitsbow.com). They’re not quite long enough (and way too expensive) for the kneepad crowd. But every other detail is immaculately attended to. An Italian-made slider snap at the fly means you never have to worry about an unscheduled opening, while four pockets (two rear, two front) provide a litany of storage options. The rear pockets have magnetic snap flaps (plus one with a zipper); the frontside hand pockets both have recessed zippers. And all four are mesh lined to enhance ventilation.
The waist belt is equally secure, with locking buckles that provide two inches of total adjustment and cleanly tuck away once you’re sorted. You can also forget about saddle snags thanks to a well-tailored gusset. Branding is minimal and the fabric is soft on the skin, very durable, and water resistance. And yes, when riding is done, you can definitely wear them at the coffee shop or brew pub and not feel like “that guy.”
The Kitsbow Ride Tee carves a similar dual purpose path, functional on the bike, fashionable off it, but not without a financial hit — $120 to be precise. Fabric is 88% merino wool blended with polyester. That means good temperature regulation — and no stink. I wasn’t super impressed with this piece’s wicking, though, as I managed to get it pretty soaked during an extended climbing session. But once over the top it dried quickly. Other notable details include nylon shoulder panels to counteract hydration pack strap abrasion, and a stylish two-button classic Henley look. It’s available in seven colors and five sizes. More info here.
Underneath it all, we tested (and loved) the Kitsbow Ventilated Base Short ($170, more info here). Normally we prefer full bibs, but these shorts are tailored so well slippage was never an issue. The 3D chamois pad uses high-density foam inserts to relieve pressure, and is specifically designed for the more upright riding position of mountain biking. We rocked these on numerous all-day, high alpine epics with no complaint from the nether region. Leg hems are wide and compressive for a chafe-free fit, and the stretch mesh panels help keep things cool.
And no matter how you feel about ultra-high-end MTB kit, entering the Kitsbow Slickrock Social contest is a no brainer. The winner and a pal get an all-expenses-paid trip to the Outerbike Moab demo event in October.