Kitsbow exists to make clothing to the very best of their abilities. No compromise is made on the design, materials and construction of this gear. We got the opportunity to try their A/M Ventilated shorts and jersey for a few months and we’re here to share our impressions.
Merino Base Short
Starting with the base short, we’ll come out and say that this is the best chamois we’ve ever used for mountain biking. It’s purpose-built to be used with an external shell, so it’s thin and ventilated and is not so smooth that an outer shell just slips down.
The magic of this base layer starts with the pad or chamois. It looks like it’s 3D cut with a printer, as it has many shapes and anatomical contours. It’s well supported too by the Merino material to keep it firmly in place. The lower leg compression band is seamlessly integrated at each leg to avoid any irritation. The compression on each leg seems to support the big quad muscles during hard efforts. This base layer also features silicone gripper bands at key places to keep the outer shell in place without overtightening.
We normally prefer bib shorts since they stay in place better, but we’re happy to report that this short works as well as some of the best bibs around.
Men’s A/M Ventilated Short
Moving on to the shorts, calling these ‘baggies’ is a misnomer and a misrepresentation. This short is fitted and shaped to the rider’s shape and riding position, and is anything but baggy. Typical of Kitsbow, it fits like a tailor shaped it for the task at hand. It’s roomy where it needs to be and fitted in other places, like the lower quads to prevent flapping and interference during pedaling.
Waist management is handled properly with a slider main button snap to ensure that the shorts stay closed. Single buttons simply aren’t strong enough to stay closed at all times, through all kinds of trail maneuvers with the added pressure of expanding and aging waistlines. We’ve tried many systems that address this problem from ‘double buttons’ and ‘buttons with velcro reinforcement’ and we think the Kitsbow solution is the best one.
Waist adjustability is addressed too by a hook-clasp system that has three positions on each side. This allows about 20mm of adjustability. It’s not the easiest to adjust but it is secure, reliable and it avoids more velcro that can irritate the skin.
Ventilation across the short works well with many ventilation panels and even holes on the rear stretch fabric. These vent panels seem to match up well too with the vents on the base short.
The pockets are an interesting affair as they they’re on the side but they go backward instead of forward. This puts the contents in a good place while sitting on the saddle and pedaling. One can actually have a phone (even one of them new monster ones) and pedal quite well with them in the pockets.
The downside of the pockets is while they feel at home on the saddle, they feel strange everywhere else like on a chair, couch, driver’s seat. So if you like using your bike shorts everywhere else, these pockets are not ideal when sitting down with contents.
After three months of use, these shorts look as good as new. The contact point of the shorts with the saddle show no marks at all. All the stitching and vent materials are unmarked after many cycles in the washer/dryer.
On the downside, these shorts do have a fitted look, so it may not be for everyone. They stop above the knee, so interfacing with knee pads is not ideal as the knee pads work their way in an out of the shorts during pedaling.
Men’s A/M Ventilated Jersey
The jersey is fitted but loosely and with very long sleeves that stop right above the elbow. The zipper is extra long for ventilation and mesh paneling is integrated on the sides and on the center of the back. There’s four pockets on the back with nothing on the center and one on each side of the jersey for easy access.
Jersey seems to look and work very well, but since it’s very soft like second skin, it can get hot on humid days. The back vent panel is completely covered by a hydration pack so it doesn’t do much in those situations.
In summary, we are very impressed with the base chamois short and the A/M shell. They are some of the best we’ve used for XC and Trail riding. The Jersey is good too with its comfort and well thought-out features.
4.5 out of 5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
Price not considered, we’ll give it a healthy rating because it is a great kit for XC and Trail riding.
Now price considered is another story. Kitsbow exists at the very high-end of the spectrum to deliver the best that they can. We are glad that they exist in the marketplace since they push the industry to evolve, but it is for the well-heeled and not the value buyers.
Men’s A/M Ventilated Jersey: $170.00 USD
Men’s A/M Ventilated Short: $240.00 USD
Merino Base Short: $215.00 USD
For more information visit shop.kitsbow.com