Review: Royal Racing Drift Shorts and Jersey
July 18th, 2012
Steve Peat and Nick Bayliss founded Royal Racing over 10 years ago as a core brand producing MTB specific kit and nothing else. Roll on to today and Royal’s kit can be found on some of the, if not the fastest riders in the world, so you know you are safe hands. For 2013 Royal have a lot in store for the discerning mountain biker, from full-on race kit to technical trail apparel. To get things rolling, we’ve had their 2012 Drift kit on test and here’s how we got on…
Words and Photos: Nathan Carvell
Developing technical riding gear is exactly that; technical. Not only does it have to be tough as old boots, but lightweight and comfortable. It’s not just about going downhill these days too, as the world wants to ride back up again and brands have had to adapt and develop riding kit that can meet the demands of today’s multi discipline rider with one foot in the DH/FR world and the other looking firmly at what some of us may call, enduro. The Royal Racing Drift kit is very much of the here and now and offers riders bags of versatility, covering all the necessities needed for ripping DH tracks to all day trail riding – just what the doctor ordered I think?
The first thing that strikes you about the Drift shorts, is just how lightweight they are. These things are so light you could be fooled into thinking they are for sleeping in and ones that you can forget to take off after a day in the saddle. A combination of 600D Cordura fabric with a 100% Polyester 600D PU coating is responsible for the super tough and lightweight construction. Add to that the supersonically cut holes all over and you have the perfect all-round short. Don’t let the holes put you off if things get wet as Royal have covered this with a waterproof internal panel on the ‘arse-end’ and omitted the perforations in the crotch area – how many of us are sick of a wet arse? All of the above is lined with a fast-wicking mesh liner to keep you cool and comfortable.
The shorts are cut in such a way that they almost fit like a good pair of jeans (not your skinny ones either) and they actually fit to your legs rather than hang about off your crotch. This reinforces their multi-purpose nature allowing you to pedal freely whilst being able to hang off the back of the bike when things point down. Two Velcro adjustment straps further increase the perfect fit of the Drift’s allowing you to dial in waist to suit. The rear of the shorts also features a cleverly shaped stretchy panel allowing the shorts to conform to your varying shape as you ride really helping keep the shorts where you want them with no hiking up over your knee pads while pedaling or hanging it out and getting wild!
The Drift’s are technically well equipped with two regular open pockets; one zipped reverse direction pocket and one zipped thigh pocket. The zipped pockets are also reverse taped to keep the muck out and your valuables safe. Ventilation is mainly taken care of with the supersonic perforations but additional ventilation comes in the form of two (one on each leg) rubber reinforced mesh-covered holes.
The pockets offer ample room for any trail necessities you may want in there and access with gloves on is pretty good too. The gloves used in this review are the Blast gloves, which we reviewed last year and have been carried over into the 2012 line.
For that extra added value on top of all the technical features, Royal have incorporated lots of lovely little details. Small things like the metal fly poppers, molded logos on the waist straps and vent holes, and subtle difference in materials with Royal logos on and all add up to an amazing looking pair of shorts. It’s all about the attention to detail these days…
Royal’s Drift jersey is an MX inspired cut and designed for gravity based riding, but equally at home on the trail where a short sleeve jersey just isn’t enough. It’s asymmetric styling is a subtle one to compliment with the rest of the Drift range, but also provides a blank canvas for those who are fortunate enough to have a plethora of sponsors to keep happy without ruining the style of the jersey.
Again the cut, much like the shorts, is one that is well thought out. It is fitting enough so it doesn’t flap about but also loose enough to move about freely and the cuffs are not elasticated to accommodate different gloves and rider preferences. Royal hit the mark with subtle branding across the jersey which wouldn’t look out of place on a t-shirt down the pub, with screen-printed logos on the chest, the top of the back and a direct inject logo on the collar – all of which are very hard wearing and have not started to peel in the wash enforcing the quality of Royal’s apparel.
Available in colours to compliment the shorts (Grey/Grey, Grey/Red and Grey/Yellow) the Drift jersey is a winner for all day shredding and competition alike. You can be sure that it can be ridden all day, caked in mud and washed again and again without fear of degradation. One small word of warning though, be careful what you wash it with as we have developed some small pulls on the jersey… This may be in part to what I washed them wish (open velcro enclosures) and that the material is very soft.
I think Royal have got the branding and styling spot on with this kit – it’s bright without being over bearing and the graphics have a resonance to the early days of the brand when it’s direction was anything but conventional.
I didn’t get to spend any where near as much time in this kit as Nathan as we decided it was pretty much made to measure for him and not me. Royal jersey’s are crazy comfy, they always have been, but the shorts came up pretty tight around the top of my thighs and found that after an hour in the saddle, became quite constrictive. Overly baggy shorts suck, but getting the balance right with shorts that aren’t made from a stretch material, especially for those who have cyclist’s legs, is never easy and I quite often go up a size in jeans to compensate. I’m not alone in the big legs, small waist brigade…
Aside from the tight shorts, Royal have certainly impressed me again with the build quality and feel of the Drift kit and I can really see this being popular with the enduro set looking for some DH ready gear, but without any of the flashy designs and over bearing features associated with DH specific kit, but then again how many DH pro’s do we see rocking the light weight kit from their sponsors these days? All in all, top product from Royal, but if you can, try before you buy.
After riding in this kit over the last few months, it has had it’s far share of abuse on uplift days and slogging around forest loops and having held up without a hitch. The styling and design of the Royal Drift kit is bang on the money, giving you a purposeful, yet not ‘over-factory’ look, which I think will suit most folk.
Technically equipped, lightweight and durable are the three words which sum up the Drift kit. The aesthetics are as always a personal thing, but the Red and Black colour-way looked the business – plus you can co-ordinate it with other kit from Royal’s apparel line to get a short and jersey combo that meets your aesthetic requirements. We suggest you put this kit at the top of your list if you ride lots of different bikes on lots of differing terrain, hard and want to limit your riding wardrobe to what works. With the shorts coming in at £70 and £27 for the jersey, the whole kit is bang on for the money. With plenty of sizes (S-XXL) and colour options, you can be sure to find what your looking for, but like Olly says, it’s always best to get to a dealer and try before you buy.
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