Clothesline: Kitsbow mountain bike apparel

  • By Spencer Powlison
  • Published Apr. 25, 2013
  • Updated Jul. 30, 2014 at 6:46 PM EDT

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.

First impressions

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.


FILED UNDER: Bikes and Tech / Clothesline / Mountain / MTB / News TAGS: /

Spencer Powlison

Spencer Powlison

When it comes to bike racing, Spencer is a jack-of-all-trades. He loves pinning on a number, whether it’s in a local criterium, a mountain bike enduro, a cyclocross national championship, or a gran fondo. Name any cycling discipline, and more likely than not, Spencer has ridden or raced it. He has been lucky enough to work in the bike industry for the majority of his adult life, from his time turning wrenches in a Vermont bike shop to his five-year tenure at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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