A short while ago we brought you news of the new mountain bike clothing range from The North Face, an outdoor company with a strong following amongst the fashion conscious.
This range of mountain bike clobber is all-new, and includes jerseys, jackets and baggy shorts. With the recent weather the new £110 Muddy Tracks jacket has been put into instant service. The company’s focus on style is immediately obvious from the moment the jacket is pulled from its wrapper: a sharp green coloured fabric with contrasting yellow zipper and other discrete details got the thumbs up from everybody who clapped eyes on it.
While style is undoubtedly a key criteria for North Face, it’s not to say that performance is low down the list. Far from it, the company’s own HyVent fabric is employed and gives the wearer of the jacket incredible protection from the elements. All seams are taped and no dampness was detected internally.
Quite delightfully, wearing this jacket didn’t turn us into a sweat pile at the sight of the first hill, its breathability proving adequate for vigorous riding. There’s no pit zips or such but the breathability is good enough that they weren’t missed.
The Hyvent fabric has a high-tech feel to it. It’s a thin material, with a soft feel between the fingers. It’s so far been completely waterproof, keeping us dry on a number of occasions where we’ve been out riding in the constant rain all day long. Hyvent is made from two layers with a polyurethane coating (PU) for keeping water out. It has some Elastane which gives the jacket a bit of stretch and the inside is lined with a nylon print which helps deal with sweat. All seams are soft taped.
The rear of the jacket is dropped lower than the front, as is typical with jackets designed for cycling, and provided good coverage for the area just below the waistband. There are no side pockets, just one zipped chest pocket and one at the back. The collar is on the high side so the neck can be protected, and it’s lined with a soft brushed material which boosted comfort during cold rides.
Fit has so far proved a cause for concern. We tested a medium which, when first pulled on seems absolutely huge. The Velcro tabs at the cuffs reined the sleeves in and there’s discrete drawcords on the waist which when used cinched the jacket in and held it all in place nicely around the body. While definitely feeling on the large side, once we started riding the size issue didn’t make itself known, with little ‘flap’ in the wind.
The jacket has an impressive low weight and low bulk, with the Hyvent material clearly a lightweight but great performing fabric well suited to mountain biking. How it stands up to a hard winter of riding and the occasional crashing is something we’ll find out in the coming months.
Unfortunately the jacket isn’t available until March 2011, but we’ll not let that stop us giving it a thorough test through the winter. Full review soon.