We reached out to a few vendors, those that had a complete line of clothing for pretty much all typical cycling conditions that would allow a near ‘one stop shopping’ experience, to see what they would put together to outfit an MTB rider under a certain set of Fall through Winter conditions (my winter conditions, to be exact). In So Cal we get very little rain and when we do, we just wait a day or so to avoid the clay soil and the skies clear up. But things happen out there on trail and having something in the pack that sheds a bit of water can be really helpful. Temps may get into the 30s, but typically we are riding from the 40s to the 60s, especially during the night riding season when we get the most bang for our riding buck by hitting the trails after work and after sunset. We do get a lot of wind. And we typically climb for long periods of time, then descend. So good layering, moderate temp ratings with no heavy focus on H20, but an ability to fend off wind is a big plus. Oh yeah. One more thing. I like bib-knickers. So those were on my wish list – GrannyGear.
I cannot think of anyone that has more clothing for cycling, especially items tipped towards bad weather riding, then Endura. I guess that is what you get when your company is based in Scotland and the weather is a bit on the cold and wet side. What we have from them is only a small sampling of what they offer, but this is what we have been riding in:
Base – Transmission II S/S Baselayer $44.99 RRP
Cycle Specific Wicking Performance
Polypropylene yarn provides superior moisture transfer and rapid drying
Body mapped mesh zones for optimal temperature control
Antibacterial finish to keep you fresh
All seams flatlocked for comfort
Bib Knickers – Thermolite® Bibknicker $114.99 RRP
Thermolite® with High Performance Repel TEFLON® fabric protector for ultimate weather comfort with durable water repellency
Endura 600 Series Pad, computer cut “Continuously Variable Profile” (CVP) stretch pad with gel inserts and antibacterial finish
Large thigh logos
Flatlock stitched for comfort
Sculpted rear knee panel
Silicone leg grippers
Long sleeve jersey with full length zip and lightweight windproof panels.
High stretch fine denier and lightweight windproof front, sides and arms
Rapid wick yet durable back panel for optimal breathability under hydration pack
Underarm mesh panels for ventilation
Full length zip with guard
Triple rear pocket system
Small concealed zip waterproof security pocket with media port
Y-form silicon hem gripper
Two of the three pieces of clothing come from two distinct clothing lines, the long sleeve jersey being a part of the MTR Collection. About MTR:
Ultimate Racing Performance
If rolling fast is your thing, MTR has been designed specifically for you. It’s a complete function driven line that makes the optimal outfit for serious, fast XC trail riders. Whether you roll on 29”, 650b or 26” wheels and whatever your endurance riding, racing or training, whether it’s for XC, 12/24 hour, 100’s, Trans-Alp or any other endurance events, MTR is your new favourite kit. MTR is light, fast and comfortable, whilst retaining our legendary Endura durability. To achieve this we worked closely with Oli Beckingsale, multiple British XC Champion and three-time Olympian with 14 years as a pro rider. Oli was both the inspiration and the lead tester for MTR, putting the prototypes, samples and final designs through their paces as we honed in and refined them, until they exceeded all our expectations.
The Bib Knickers are from the Thermolite Collection. About Thermolite:
Essential Winter Protection
Ideal for cold weather cycling, this range uses Thermolite® hollow-core fibre technology to create an insulating layer of warm air. The result is a lightweight, warm fabric with superior moisture vapour transport properties that doesn’t get heavy even when wet. The Thermolite quality developed by Endura has the added benefit of a High Performance Repel TEFLON® fabric protector finish (from DuPont™) and will keep you going, even if the temperatures drop. There are no excuses anymore to avoid the bike…
The items reflect a combo of my preferences and suggestions from Endura. You might note that I combined a warmer bib-knicker than one might typically match up with a slim jersey like the MTR long sleeve. So that is not a suggestion that they go together like peas and carrots, but it is more that I wanted to see what the Thermolite knickers were all about. Ok?
MTR Long Sleeve Windproof Jersey – Now you may or may not recall that we had reviewed a short sleeve version of the MTR Windproof jersey about a year ago. I found it unique and great within a bit of a narrow range of conditions. It was like having a vest built into your jersey but it was a vest you could not take off either. Over the spring/summer I did not really use it at all, but I took the short sleeve MTR jersey to Idaho with me in late September for a 93 mile gravel event and paired it up with a base tank and a set of arm warmers. With a back-up Endura Pak-a-jak in the frame bag, I was ready for a pretty wide range of conditions. We began in 40 degree weather and the wind front panel kept my core warm. All through the ride, I could regulate the temps by rolling the arm warmers up and down and by unzipping and zipping the MTR jersey. I was moving fast and not hanging around and it was an absolutely fabulous choice in race day garments.
So when I received the long sleeve version of this, I knew what I was getting into. Since then I have many hours in the MTR Windproof LS jersey under varying conditions from mid 40s to mid 60s temps, wind, no wind, long climbs, rapid descents, and in combo with other gear I have in the kit bag. Typically I wore it with a set of the Endura Baa Baa arm warmers underneath and with the Transmission II SS base layer as well.
I like it very much but you have to be using it under a bit of a focused use to get the best out of it. Now, note the racing/performance bent of the MTR collection: “It’s a complete function driven line that makes the optimal outfit for serious, fast XC trail riders” . I tend to ride without a great deal of stops and I am usually moving fast(ish) so the simplicity of the jersey really appeals to me. It is a close fit with little room for layers underneath and a light to moderate thickness base and/or arm warmers is about it. But that combo when buttressed by the front panels of wind blocking material, allows the MTR Windproof LS jersey to rise above what you might think it will do temps wise. As long as I was putting out a good effort and making steam, I was never cold in that set-up. The full zip allows for a good amount of temperature regulation too and the material in the rest of the jersey allows for heat and moisture to escape. There were times I was very warm in there and perspiring heavily, but I never had that ‘boiling in a bag’ feeling that can make you miserable. Sometimes I could feel cold creeping around the jersey, but I never had that deep chill that comes from wind driving into your sweat soaked core. It is not what you want to have on when you are just hanging around the trail on a cold day as you will realize it is really just a thin jersey with privileges…not any insulation going on…and body heat will get out pretty quickly.
So it is really good when the dial is set to ‘fast forward’, but what about beyond that? Well on one ride, the day began on a long climb with temps in the 40s but it got warmer than I thought it would over the next 5 hours. After climbing for 8 miles, there is this loooong fast, paved descent that always has me pulling on a light jacket or vest unless it is summertime. I just zipped up the MTR and dropped in. Niiiice. No fuss, no muss. The next long climb was out of the wind and in the sun, so I was wondering if I had made a mistake with committing to the MTR Windproof LS jersey. I removed the arm warmers I had underneath and climbed up with just the Transmission II base and MTR jersey on. Yes, I was warmer than I wanted to be and the wind blocking panels felt a bit sticky against my arms, but I was OK still due to the full zip and well vented back and side sections.
So here is the caveat….you cannot ‘unzip’ the sleeves so if the day is too warm, you are committed. Of course, you could always toss a second light jersey in the pack and swap out if the day was a long one and you were really trying to be ready for whatever. I would not want to add another layer over the MTR W/P L/S jersey unless it was really a breathable top (like the Specialized jersey we just reviewed) or I was suddenly getting into bad weather as the MTR would be like a vapor barrier under the top layer and would likely get pretty swampy. You also cannot add too many layers under it as it is too athletic a fit. So this is something I would look forward to using, but only if the temps or conditions were on target for the duration of the ride. However, those conditions are a lot of what I ride in from Fall through Spring and the MTR Windproof LS jersey will likely be a on tap for quite a few rides.
Transmission II Base Short Sleeve Shirt – Riding without a good base layer on is silly, especially in cool to cold weather and if you plan on perspiring at all (and no, a cotton T-shrt is not a good base layer). If it is doing its job, it will keep some warmth next to your skin while moving…’wicking’ is the term you hear…moisture away from you to where it will be dispersed/evaporated. I even wear a base tank shirt in the summer, unless it is really, really hot out there. Looking at the Transmission II, it has panels of different fabrics in sections of the shirt. Since you do not typically perspire evenly on the entire upper body, this make some sense. The side panels for instance are gossamer thin over the ribs. Slipping into it is pretty impressive, for the fit and feel of it makes it seem like if was organically grown on you. It just disappears and moves well with your body in any typical cycling position. I used it a lot in combo with the MTR jersey mentioned above and typically paired it with the Baa Baa arm warmers. One thing about synthetics like this as compared to wool, is that they most often are thinner, lighter, and quicker to dry. However, it is my impression that they do not keep you quite as warm as wool does when it is loaded up with sweat. It does wick well though, and after one long ride I took the Transmission II base off and, as I was hanging it up, noticed that the outer chest section was very damp and the inner wall of that section was dry to the touch. Excellent. I also did not seem to notice it picking up body odor easily, although wool is hard to beat for that.
Well worth having this in the closet.
Thermolite Bib Knickers – I was warned by Nadine McCrindle of Endura that “it better be pretty cold before you wear these” and I agree. These are the warmest of the two knickers I have here, the other being the Specialized. In fact, I would say they are warmer than the standard bearer in my household for warm knickers, the El Fito 3/4 bibs by Ibex and they have a much better chamois too. They also do a pretty good job of keeping wind out, although they are not equipped with full-on wind blocking panels, etc. In fact, if I was riding with some level of energy, I was very aware of how warm my legs were. Weird. So you better be well down into the 50s or below before you saddle up in them, but that is fine as long as you know ahead of time. That said, I would think you could wear these well through the 40s and with a top layer, like a 3/4 baggy short, maybe even lower still, up until the point where you want a full-on winter tight. The cut is a bit more generous than the Specialized ones, they being very tight in a Medium from the waist down with relaxed upper sections and the Enduras being looser below the waist and snugger up top. In either case I was a Medium but they wore differently. I did notice a fair bit of looseness around the chamois when walking, like the crotch was saggy a bit, but that feeling went away when riding.
The chamois seems to be quite good, although my ride times on this have been a bit constrained simply because I have not had extended lower temps during the daytime and I did not want to roast in these. They do have a front zipper, right where you would have one on a set of jeans, but not as long. Interesting. It does make getting into them slightly easier and maybe it has the potential for simpler potty breaks…dunno. In any case, the zipper pull tongue, IF it is in the down position, will lock and not move on its own. However, it only takes the pull of a jersey or jacket across the zipper and it releases and can un-zip as you ride. This happened to me twice. Drafty, and potentially exciting for anyone you are riding with…or not exciting…as the case may be. A ‘porch’ for the zipper or a snap at the top would eliminate this and would be simple to add to the bibs.
The feel of the fabric overall is fleecy and inviting and the warmth is a notch up on anything I have even without a windproof rating. These are supposed to have some water shedding ability but that never came up on any rides. Our night rides just get colder as the year moves along and I expect I will spend a good amount of time in the Thermolite Bib Knickers. But I will be keeping an eye on that zipper.
If I had to pick a fav out of the three, it would be the MTR Windproof L/S Jersey as I have nothing else that does what it does. It lets me move fast while staying minimally dressed, yet beat back the front-facing wind/cold AND vent everywhere else. Not for every ride, but absolutely worth having. It even works well for selfie posing.
Note: Endura sent over the clothing items at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches for test and review. We are not being bribed nor paid for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.