Review: Fox 180/ HC Race Kit

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Going down the MX route with your riding kit offers more to the rider than just winning points in the fashion stakes. Fox were there at the beginning when Shaun Palmer broke onto the scene sporting their kit back in ’96 and in doing so, gave the establishment the middle finger and changed the way downhill looks forever. Fifteen years later and thanks to riders like Danny Hart and Josh Bryceland, Fox are once again the tailor of choice for riders using pedal power over petrol power to get their two wheeled fix and the cross over of style and technology between MX and MTB has never been so strong…

Words: Olly Forster

Photos: Olly Forster, Matt Keane and Jim Newby

Downhill Mountain Biking has changed a lot in the last few years with tracks and the level of riding going through the roof and in doing so pushed the requirements needed of riding gear. Fox know all too well the requirements today’s riders have, but also the expense of racing and riding, which is another plus to this gear; price. It also looks pretty good…

MX kit marketed as MTB kit can often be referred to as ‘cookie cutter’ products and it has to be said that most MX kit isn’t that practical in terms of their build and weight for bicycle use, but some kit does transfer over and transfer over very well. Enter the 180 pants and HC jersey from Fox. Both are what you could consider as being Fox’s most minimalistic MX kit, but what they lack in features compared to their more expensive, ‘feature rich’ MX relations makes them ideal for downhill.

HC Race Jersey Features:

>Polyester Mesh Main Body Construction for Enhanced Venting

>Bold Sublimated Graphics

>Micro-Cuffs

>V-Neck Low Profile Mesh Neckband

>Drop Tail on the rear Hem helps keeps the Jersey Tucked into the Pants

The pre-curved knee area offers adequate room for pads or braces and is a great feature when out on the bike, but walking around feels a little odd – but this is riding kit and nothing else, right? The 180 pants have a slimmer cut than other race pants on the market, and although this design equates fantastically to time in the saddle, downhill quite often involves walking and hiking back up a hillside to hit that section your practicing again and again till you get it dialled. The 180 pants only issue is this, they aren’t that practical for traditional downhill riding. For uplifts, shuttle runs and actually riding and racing, well, you’ll struggle to find anything close to the fit.

180 Pant Features:

>Stretch Panels at the Rear, Knees, Crotch & Lower back of the Legs that Work with Body

>Ergonomic Pre-Curved RAP construction for Perfect fit in the Ride Position

>Heat & Abrasion Resistant Leather inner Knee Panels

>Adjustable Front Fly-Cam Closure for a Custom Fit at the Waist

>3/4 Length Tricot Mesh Lining

As far as ‘race kit’ goes, this set up doesn’t look too out of place on a mountain bike track does it? Downhill isn’t supercross, and although I’m partial to loud kit, this set up is refreshingly understated. Looks aside, this kit fits and fits really well. With no saggy crotch, half mast legs and no ill fitting, flappy jersey, the 180/HC kit is all about ergonomics!

The pants’ construction is pretty MX with the pre-curved knee and ratchet closure which I love, but one small issue I have and one that isn’t unique to these, is the lack of pockets on MX kit. MXers, like DHers drive to the track and seemingly both face the same issue of where to put the keys to my ride home? Sticking them on the ratchet works, but having a small zipped pocket wouldn’t hurt would it?

Conclusion.

So, what are we looking at here? This is MX kit first and foremost and although bicycle specific brands go on about how their race pants are ‘bicycle specific’, but in reality the only difference is the lack of ‘exhaust leather’ on the inside of the knee and the leather on these is so soft it’s hardly even noticeable. On the bike the cut and fit of the jersey and pants is both comfortable and confidence inspiring.

The construction is of course impressive making this kit an ideal choice for those who race every week end and need their kit to last. The graphics and colours available make these very friendly for the more refined rider looking for solid colours over wacky designs and will certainly not look too out of place on the side of a mountain.

Although I’m sold on the cut and feel of this kit, I do feel that it isn’t ideal for riding away from a lift back to the top of the track. The fit is that little bit tighter and the cut is all about sitting on a bike and attacking the track, which at the end of the day is what we all want to do. These are perfect for racing and riding downhill where getting back to the top isn’t an issue, they look pretty mint and the designs will out last what some of the other manufacturers are putting out there making them perfect for racing. With a pedigree many can only dream of, Fox have a great product here for the week end warrior and the best thing is the price, which is something I’ve left to the end as it’s pretty damn good if you ask me: £80 for the pants and £30 for the jersey. Now that’s £110 for the set! A good price by any ones account and what’s even better is knowing some of the best riders in the world are wearing it too. Proper factory!

There you have it, some great race kit at an amazing price with looks and pedigree that supersede a great deal of what’s out there for a lot more money. Tap the logo below and check the rest of the range out. Also, a big thanks to the team at Fox Europe who have been amazing with both their outstanding product and help this year. Top kit, top athletes and a top company. Roll on 2o12!

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