When the bag of clothes I was testing during four days of riding around the Victorian Alps MTB tracks was placed in front of me, I felt like a five year old kid on Christmas day. It’s not everyday you get a bag of fresh gear from one of the industry’s big players handed to you for some real-life testing.
The 2015 line-up is full of everything we’ve grown to expect from Fox’s apparel department. My assortment of clothing included socks, shorts, jerseys, gloves and a jacket.
The first piece I trained my eyes on was the fluorescent yellow ‘Downpour’ jacket. Not something I’d usually be drawn to, but this jacket just screams good times. It took three days of riding before conditions were bad (or good) enough for the jacket to be an option. It’s not very often I am keen for rain whilst riding, but the jacket seemed to have altered my regular fair-weathered psyche. When paired up with my 10” ‘Ranger’ shorts I thought I had the mountain biking image absolutely dialled. People would be lying if they said looks don’t matter when choosing their kits; I’m no different in this respect.
I’ve only recently started wearing baggy shorts, but I’m still very cautious about how far I’ll head down this new path. The ‘Ranger’ 10” short has been something I’ve admired from afar for some time now, so spending some quality time in them was ideal. I don’t enjoy having riding shorts hang over my knee roll, so this length was right up my alley. The next problem I believe exists with baggy shorts is the built-in liner or chamois. Fox seem to have got this pretty close to right with these shorts. I managed to spend 2-3 hours a day in these shorts with minimal discomfort. I admit they’ll never completely take the place of proper bib shorts in my kit bag, but they are a great option for a shorter ride or when the weather doesn’t favour Lycra. It’s fair to say my admiration has only increased after multiple days around Bright and Mt Beauty. What other piece of cycling kit looks equally as comfortable on the trails as it does in Bright’s famous brewery?
The ‘Livewire Race’ jersey seemed to match up with the rest of my kit effortlessly, even if Fox say it’s their most race inspired cut. I found the jersey to be reasonably relaxed for a race cut, but that’s in comparison to road jerseys that spare little when it comes to aerodynamics. I didn’t have any problems with the jersey cutting into my armpits, nor did it ride up my stomach; problems that are often experienced with cycling jerseys. My only minor concern came from the sleeve length, which I found was a tad too short when compared to a T-shirt style jersey. The styling wasn’t something I really enjoyed, but it wasn’t offensive either. Breathability was good and the storage from the three rear pockets should keep everyone happy.
One area I refuse to compromise on comfort is riding socks. The DH 6” I was supplied with looked to be a winner before I even slipped them on. Simple black styling, six inch cuff and plenty of structured construction to support the arches and keep the feet dry at all times. The ride didn’t alter my opinion one bit, they are a great pair of socks and I was very happy with the performance they offered. If you’re one of those people that doesn’t believe in cycling specific socks, this is a great set to point out how very wrong you are. With bone dry feet and no scrunching or sock movement to speak of, these socks are a winner!
Last but not least is that fluorescent yellow Downpour jacket. With a cool change sweeping into the region, there was no choice but to slip the jacket on and head out under gloomy skies. Cycling jackets can be extremely hit-and-miss when it comes to combining fit, looks and function. This jacket has the looks department covered and the fit was great. Fox uses a 4 way stretch fabric that feels almost rubbery to touch. There’s no doubting the quality of this jacket! My only gripe with this jacket is the breathability is not quite where I’d love it to be. No doubt this aids in keeping the moisture on the outside of the shell, but for conditions that aren’t quite filthy, you may find this jacket quite hot under the collar. This was certainly the case throughout my testing, but I’d be more than happy to get back out in it once the winter properly sets in. There are two zippered vents on either side, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit of strategically placed mesh could have been of great assistance.
No matter what style of riding you are looking at doing, I think the 2015 Fox line-up is worthy of your money.
Styling is always personal, but they have honed their fabrics and cuts over many years to create the best for everyone. I’m sure I’ll be going out to buy myself some Ranger shorts and I know I’ll find it very hard to resist the Downpour jacket to bring some joy to the hastily approaching winter.