Review: Fox Ultimatum Shorts and Freeride Jersey
July 9th, 2012
By Olly Forster
Riding gear that transcends across the varying disciplines that make up modern day mountain biking is always going to be desirable if you ride more than just DH, but getting the balance right isn’t always that easy. Anything you wear on your body needs to fit properly while maintaining a good equilibrium between comfort and being where it should be while on the bike. So here we are, checking out Fox’s top of the line do it all shorts and jersey combo..
Words: Olly Forster | Photos: Nathan Carvell
I try and spend an equal amount of time riding both downhill and trail, so gear that performs well, regardless of what bike I’m on and how and where I’m riding it is pretty important. Straight out the packaging and on the trail the first thing you encounter is just how nice and well fitted these items are. I’m an odd build and find it tricky to get on with the cuts some brands favor, but these are spot on, thank in part to the materials used.
I’m not a fan of baggy kit flapping around, nor am I a fan of it being too close for comfort, but Fox seem to get the balance right across their MTB range as a whole and to the point where their MX kit doesn’t quite match against how their MTB gear feels. I’m in a medium jersey here (32″ shorts), but in the MX range I’m in a Large, which although great in the arms is a tad big in the body, but going for a medium is too restrictive and short in the arms…. Trying kit on will always be the way to go and getting to a dealer is always recommended.
The fit and feel of both the shorts and jersey is close to perfect. The shorts aren’t too long, coming up a bit higher than Fox’s popular Demo short, but lower than their more trail orientated Altitude shorts, re-asserting that these are a unique short capable of what ever riding you may choose come Sunday morning. The fit around the thighs is also spot on and aided by the fabric used and the internal adjusters offer a degree of adjustability without sacrificing aesthetics. Awesome!
The jersey is made from quick dry polyester fabric featuring integrated side mesh paneling for good airflow, a long sleeve design with a relaxed fit and added comfort, an interior optics wipe on the inside hem and a drop tail design for rear coverage while in the ride position. Action packed aye?
Personally I like my jerseys to be relatively simple in terms of the features employed and find too many pockets and odd extras here and there just pointless and taking more away from the garment than they offer. The only place I want to see a pocket is on my shorts and a small one at that. Back to the jersey. Have I mentioned this is comfy?
Bright kit days and all black kit days usually come and go for me, but there’s something rather special about using a flat grey with quite a vibrant orange and a little splattering of white. Whilst acknowledging there is place in our sport for MX style kit, there is something to be said for something uniquely MTB and design cue’s that help make our sport what it is and richer because of it.
This is where things get action packed or feature packed as these shorts deliver an array of everything the discerning rider could ever want and quite possibly more. Fox haven’t called these shorts Ultimatum for nothing and Fox have left no stone unturned with features like a 2-way stretch outer shell for maximum flexibility, abrasion resistant fabrics, a detachable inner chamois liner, mesh front & rear panels for maximum airflow, internal adjustable waistband, zippered hand & leg pockets, a transparent lift pass window pocket and an audio interface. Got all of that? Onwards…
The Ultimatum’s have four zippered pockets with two on the thigh and two on the hip giving you a good degree of flexibility as to where you want to stash your keys or what ever. I’m not a massive fan of excessive pockets it has to be said, but the Ultimatums’s do offer some flexibility as to where you’d rather stick your personal effects. The rubber detailing in orange looks amazing it has to be said adds to the shorts overall quality feel and attention to detail.
The clear lift pass pocket on the one thigh is a nice touch with a spot on location for those bike park sensors, although you might find it on the wrong side on some of the Swiss tracks we’ve been getting the miles in on – bums first!
This kit has proved to be everything I wanted it to be and more with a fit that surpasses everything I’ve used from Fox to date, while cramming in some great features that aren’t too over bearing for the rider who adheres to less is more. The material is tough as much as it is malleable around the body and with little to no excess material flapping around, makes these re-reassuringly a mountain bike specific product with technical superiority at their core.
Out on the trail, the jersey, while being a long sleeve, does an excellent job of keeping you both cool and fresh without making you look and feel like your lost on your way to Anaheim stadium. The styling and graphics used have a sort of ‘racer’ feel and indeed wouldn’t look out of place snapping out of a gate in 4X, smashing an Enduro or hunting seconds on the big bike, but what I especially like about these is that they wouldn’t look out of place anywhere.
Back to the jersey and at £45 there’s nothing untoward about pricing for a long sleeve technical jersey of this calibre, although being long sleeved, these will be ruled out of use on the hottest of days hiking and biking, but an essential for descending long alpine descents.
On to the shorts and these are just plain awesome! I’ve struggled to ride in anything else since they arrived and having put the miles in can quite safely say they tick all the F’s well and truly off: Fit, Feel & Function. But all this comes at a price and £100 is no drop in the ocean for many of us, so what are you getting past a rad pair of shorts? Looking at it, most decent gravity ready shorts are around the £60-80 price mark and don’t have anywhere near the features employed here, let alone a liner? The liner, while basic compared to others, is spot on for the average trail centre loop, but my ass needs a little more padding when pushing through the 2+ hour mark!
To sum these up, they’re great and if you haven’t considered them before you really need to get up close and try them on – you’ll see what I’ve been on about. If the charcoal and orange isn’t to your liking, there’s also a black and white set which looks sick. Quality manufacturing coupled with a design focused solely on the needs of the rider who knows what works and wants only the best. Top stuff!
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