MONTEREY, California (VN) – Cycling apparel looks a lot better than it used to. Gone are the days of goofy, loud, ill-fitting jerseys. Many of the companies driving cyclists to look sharp (and spend a bit more) are road-centric, like Rapha and Giro, but the knobby-tired set is quickly catching up with classy options from companies like Kitsbow.
Based out of the Bay Area, Kitsbow was created to fill a void in mountain bike apparel, providing functional apparel with a trim cut that looks good. Currently, their offerings are limited to a softshell jacket, long-sleeve jerseys, liner short and one style of baggy shorts, but their designers are hard at work on new options, including women’s fits.
We had a chance to wear a pair of the Soft Shell A/M Shorts on a sunny, hot afternoon at the Sea Otter Classic. On and off the bike, the slim, comfortable fit was excellent. The gusseted crotch is a must-have design for baggy riding shorts. We carried an iPhone, Garmin and small mini-tool in the two strategically placed zippered side pockets and hardly noticed them. While the stretchy material was ideal for the usual amount of body English required on a mountain bike ride, it was a bit toasty in the California sunshine; a couple strategically placed vents would go a long way to keep things cool. But on a damp autumn day, it’s easy to imagine how this Merino wool blend would be ideal. Kitsbow does have plans to release a baggy with lighter fabric in June.
Can you afford to look this good?
Many riders have come to terms with the notable upcharge that high-end apparel necessitates, but we must admit that Kitsbow’s pricing is a bit startling. The Soft Shell A/M short will set you back $270 (chamois not included). That works out to be about seven cases of nice craft beer, if you’re the type to enjoy a little post-ride libation.
Everyone has different priorities when it’s time to open the pocketbook. Some mountain bikers would see no sense in spending $2,000 on a pair of carbon tubular road wheels, but are the first to drop $1,000 on the latest Fox Float 34 CTD fork. The folks at Kitsbow figured that since they ride beautiful, high-end mountain bikes (as many do), they should have equally attractive and functional apparel as well.
You might agree. Or maybe you’ll just stick with those seven cases of beer.