Review: Royal Racing Cutter Hoody Jacket

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What’s not to like about riding in a checked shirt? Having bought more than my fair share of ‘race tops’ in the past, most of which have spent more time in the back of the drawer than on the trails, I’ve come to realise how much more comfortable I feel in casual attire. If you want to go out and have fun on your bike, it goes without saying that you have to feel right in the first place and wearing what makes you feel comfortable is as important as style and the technical pedigree of the garment in question. Personally I can’t ride in “Race Pyjamas”, even when out on the big bike and I’ve never really felt comfortable in bright race orientated kit and if like me, you prefer the casual look, but still adhere to ‘bike specific’ gear, then the Cutter Hoody from Royal Racing might be right up your street…

Words: Tom Shilvock | Photos: Ben Lamming

When I first saw that Royal Racing were making a Jacket that resembled a checked plaid style shirt for riding in, I immediately knew that it would be just the job for wearing out on the bike. Royal says that the shirt has been “24 months in development” which I think means that the shirt should have been out as a 2012 product but wasn’t ready in time so they waited to bring it out with the 2013 range.

The product name for this item is “Cutter Hoody Jacket” now don’t get to mislead with the word “Jacket” – it is a cotton shirt that has a slight technical element to it and even reading Royals blurb about it, they still refer to it as a shirt. But this is a good thing, and its just the right item for when a proper jacket is too much and a plain old Tee shirt just isn’t enough.

If your not tearing out of a gate or charging down a mountain against the clock, then you don’t really need to look like you are. Bright colours are in and we love ’em, but wild graphics and looking like an MX drop out isn’t for everyone, especially when out in the local woods smashing jumps at the week end!

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Features

The technical element about this shirt is that it has a DWR water resistant coating. When the shirt was new, water would bead up on the cotton and not absorb in but after a few washes the water has started to absorb in… I am sure if I was to use a DWR rejuvenating spray/wash, then this would bring the shirt’s water resistant property back to how it was when new. But this could be said about any garment with a DWR coating. This shirt isn’t designed to keep you dry in a storm, but to look after you in a shower, but even when wet the shirt never felt heavy to ride in.

Royal love adding little gems of detailing across their range – check all the embroidered logos!

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I should also point out that the cotton feels soft yet very hard wearing and the dirt and mud just brushes off it. Another good feature of the shirt is that it is all done up with poppers that look just like buttons. It might sound a bit lazy but poppers are so much easier and quicker that buttons and if you just want to quickly put the shirt on/off or roll the sleeves up, it makes it a right doddle. Also – It’s worth pointing out, that if blues not for you, Royal also do the shirt in a black/grey pattern, which is pretty nice too…

Fit and Riding

I’m usually between a medium and a  large when buying clothes, much to my frustration and tried the medium Cutter first, which fitted well on the torso, but was a bit short on the arms when stretched out in a riding position. So I opted for a large, which is spot on in the arms but perhaps a little big in the torso, but as this shirt is designed more as a over shirt, a little bit more room seemed like a good idea. Going off Royal’s sizing guide, I would be just at the end of the scale for a medium fit, so I would recommend going up a size if you find yourself close to the end of a sizing bracket.

Riding in the shirt felt good with no restrictions – it has got a good length to it so that it doesn’t ride up your back when sat down pedalling and wearing it feels like you are just out to have fun on your bike with your mates, and not sat in a start hut listening to the beeps, nervously waiting for a race run.

The shirt’s hood is there, but its more for style than function although I have used it a few times when loading up in the rain and a useful addition all the same.

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Conclusion

So why buy this and pay £69.99 for the Cutter Hoody over a “normal” plaid shirt? This is a good question and having spent years riding in “normal” shirts that I’ve paid half the price for, I can tell you the reason for the Royal option is pretty simple: The Cutter Jacket is a more technical and of course ‘bike specific’ than a standard shirt, giving it an edge over a “normal” shirt. I find that when I ride with a normal shirt on, it starts off well, but then it can soon get a bit hot and sweaty and heavy when riding in wet conditions.

I haven’t really had these problem in the Cutter and have been able to ride in it all day in it without getting uncomfortable.

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I’ve been using this shirt on everything from trail rides to days doing DH runs and that’s the real beauty of the Cutter Hoody; it’s not really a discipline specific item, which is good thing if you ride a variety of disciplines. The build quality is awesome and it certainly gives you the confidence that you will get as much time out of it as Royal took to develop it. At the end of the day, yes £69.99 is a lot for a ‘shirt’ but its hard to put a price on radness and this is exactly that!

 Royal Racing is exclusively distributed in the UK by Decade Europe and for everything Royal and beyond, hit the big logo below and check out their awesome new website. Happy trails, Tom.

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