Review: Sombrio N’Fluence Shorts & Disciple Jersey
October 11th, 2012
By Olly Forster
Sombrio is a brand etched into our minds as quintessentially Canadian, but to be more precise, Vancouver and an area of steep wooded mountainside surrounding the city known as the North Shore. It was here that mountain biking took a totally new direction and although its perpetrators may play down their roles as innovators, the riding style developed here changed the face of the sport for ever. No, we all don’t huck ourselves off ladder drops or ride ‘skinnies’, but as it happens, neither do they any more, but what I’m getting to, is that this kind of riding gave us more than a new creative viewpoint in which to observe the terrain and what we could do with it, but also how the sport looked…
Fashion might be something you don’t think is important, but we all wear clothes and what we choose to wear will to some, reflect who we are and gives others an idea of who or what you are about. Sombrio was born from a frustration of not wanting to look like mountain bikers of the late 90′s and early 00′s – the spandex phase was on its way out thanks to the DH race scene and Palmer, but there were other riders pushing their riding away from racing and who were still without their ‘look’. Enter Dave Watson, Vancouver local, Tour de France leaper and one of the main guys on the shore. Dave realised that MTB needed another branch of apparel styling for mountain biking and Sombrio was born…
Toted as a freeride short, the N’Fluence short screams versatility and after a stint riding DH in the Alps and countless days on the trails in them, they are exactly that. Made from a 4 way stretch material, with a slim fit and amazing cut, these are literally some of the best shorts I’ve ever used!
Pockets galore! The N’Fluence shorts have two side pockets and one rear pocket, all utilising quality YKK zippers.
The main thigh pockets features a 2 way zipper that exposes a side vent at the bottom, which I thought was a great touch and certainly one that was useful on hot days.
The detailing and quality of the N’Fluence shorts is second to none, but then you get what you pay for…
The right hand pocket features this rather neat elastic key lanyard thing, which is attached to the inside of the pocket liner and a handy bit of kit when nipping back to the van to grab a mid ride snack!
Unlike most shorts on the market now, Sombrio have chosen not to use waist adjusters and instead, have gone down a more traditional route; belt not included. Although initially a downside, it actually makes a lot of sense and it certainly adds to what these shorts and indeed Sombrio, are all about and where their influences come from.
The attention to detail on these shorts is everywhere – rubber embossed this and stamped metal that. These exude quality and it is only backed up when actually wearing these out in the hills and ripping the trail.
Waist closure involves two popper buttons and a large velcro section for added bite. These shots were taken after three months of abuse, so to say they’re standing up well, is about right.
The N’Fluence shorts are a funny one when compared to other shorts of similar quality and price. They have no liner of any sort, mesh or removable padded inner short and they don’t have adjustable waist tabs either. So what do they have? What they have, and in droves, is something that’s hard to write down as you just need to try these on and it will all make sense. These are amazing shorts, expensive shorts, but amazing!
The Disciple jersey is the perfect partner to the N’Fluence shorts with a matching ‘slim’ fit cut and stretchy fabric that is also really nice to touch. Featuring a 3/4 sleeve design, the jersey, like the shorts is equally at home shredding descents on the big bike as it is letting the miles slip by on the trail bike. As well as the spot-on cut and luxurious feel, the Disciple jersey’s material has also been treated with an anti-bacterial solution as well as having a ‘dri-fit’ style composition that allows it to wick sweat from your body and out through the jersey.
The first thing I really liked about both this jersey and the N’Fluence shorts, was the stealthy grey on black colour-way. As far as apparel colours go, it’s a bit like bikes for me, matte and understated or all-out and in your face. The grey logo’s used on both items of kit really give it that aesthetic edge that Sombrio are famous for and the black, well, it’s just practical if you ride somewhere that is wet quite a lot.
Post Freeride Gloves.
How rad’s that? Knuckle prints are rad when done right and these are done right! The Post Freeride gloves are from Sombrio’s ‘race’ line, but don’t let that put your off if your not a racer, as these are light, comfy and anything but race specific. Manufactured from abrasion resistant materials and put together to resist the worst of what you and the trail can dish out, these gloves are become a firm favourite.
Featuring a minimalistic approach to the palm, the Post Freeride gloves utilise a material called ‘axusuede’ that is both robust and stretchy. The one thing I hate about crappy gloves is when the palm bunches up after a few hours of death gripping the bars and you loose that connection through them. Not here thankfully. At first, I was hesitant towards these gloves as they felt quite rigid, but after a short amount of time in the saddle, all I can say is these are as tough as they are comfy and I mean really comfy.
The palm is an excellent blend of feel and dexterity towards the job at hand – if you like padding in your gloves, then these might not be for you, but if it’s all about contact, look no further. The silicone screen printed fingers are all still there are after enough miles and trips through the washer that would render many down the waste pipe, which is good as they do help in the wet.
Construction quality meets functionality here and head on – check the mesh material for venting and the double stitching around where the palm meets the gloves main body. The Post Freeride’s are also fully adjustable with a velcro closure and feature a ‘terry’ nose wipe on the thumb for those snotty days…
Arcadia Merino Wool Socks.
Everyone should have a nice pair of socks for riding in and one thing I can’t abide are those ‘sock-ett’ style things, you know the ones that end below the ankle? They look crap and shouldn’t be entertained for MTB! These on the other hand tick several box’s. Made from Merino wool and designed around what Sombrio refer to as a 70′s style, feature a 9″ high cut that’s spot on, although after a few washes, I have noticed a small amount of shrinkage, but a good tug on their sturdy construction and they are on and do a good job pf staying up, unlike regular sports socks.
Merino wool is a wonder material for outdoor sports, so treat your sweaty feet to a good pair of socks like these. Coolmax’d up and designed not to bunch up, the Arcadia’s are a great socks for your days out in the wild.
The first thing I noticed with this kit was just how nice the jersey and shorts felt to touch and with their 4 way stretch material, they just fit really well and without any issue – almost too nice to get dirty. The gloves were a little rigid from the off, but after their first ride, became incredibly comfortable and a pleasure to wear. Socks are socks, but Merino wool socks are anything but socks! Out on the trails and in the mountains, this is kit you’ll forget your wearing – understated and cut with riding in mind. Although designed for a freeride application, you need to really define freeriding, because I can’t…
DH, Enduro and all the way to everyday trail centre smashing, this kit will have you covered, comfy and looking cool without shouting “look at me!”
So how did this all fare out on the trails? Pretty damn good in all honesty, but what’s the catch, surely they have a weakness? While the jersey has an RRP of £43, the gloves at £20 and the socks at £15, your looking at some great prices for some great products and all in the same ball park of comparative products out there. But then there’s the shorts, which I have to say are expensive against comparative shorts. Coming in at £100 for an unlined and un-padded short is a lot of money, but are they worth it? Only you can decide this, but if you ride a lot and want or need some shorts that feel amazing, are nonrestrictive, look amazing and generally are built to last, then I sincerely think you’d struggle to find a better alternative.
While on the money side of things, if you compare these against other £100 shorts, the main difference from the outset is a lack of detachable padded liner, but these are ‘freeride’ shorts and similar freeride shorts, which are not far off this price anyway and which also don’t come with a liner. The kind of shorts that do have padded liners are more often than not great shorts and are around the £100 price mark, but from my experience, the provided padded inner shorts you get are quite often not up to much and I regularly discarded them in favour of a more advanced alternative with more panels and a bib anyway.
The jersey came with a random “keep away from Velcro” sticker on it, which initially gave me concern over durability with such a velvety feel to the material, but after months of use and countless trip through the washer with knee pads and gloves, there is not one pull in the fabric or mark on this jersey. And the shorts too – literally crashed in them the day before writing this and quite hard and there’s not a mark. If they can handle the North Shore, they can handle most places including your local trails!
Overall, this kit is awesome! Equally at home on any bike or terrain, the high level of comfort and aesthetically appealing demure of this kit makes it a popular choice when the trails are calling and certainly something I would wholeheartedly recommend to someone looking for some new riding gear that your mates probably don’t have. Sombrio is a brand unto it’s own and stands alongside similar brands like POC and Dakine, who have also steered away from what the more ‘moto’ brands are doing. Personally I really like the moto stuff, but sometimes I like something different and different in a good way and that’s exactly what this gear represents and I love it.
Well priced against the competition, with great features and an overall high quality approach to all four items tested here that’s hard to fault. Even though the shorts are slightly more expensive than their nearest counterparts, they do represent one of the toughest, comfiest and most durable shorts I’ve tested. Recommended riding gear from the North Shore – check it out and happy trails!
Sombrio is exclusively distributed in the UK by the fine folk at Hotlines and for everything Sombrio and a whole lot more, hit the logo below and check the range out!