When you live in the Pacific Northwest you learn to love riding in the rain. The wet, soppy, cold and muddy kind; where the first thing you do when you get back to your car is strip down naked and put your dry clothes on as fast as you can and get your core temperature back up. As miserable as this sounds, this kind of riding is rewarding to me, I really feel like I went out there and got after it; and if I devour a 2,000 calorie chicken fried steak, eggs, toast and hash browns breakfast afterwards, I don’t feel the least bit guilty.
(On with the review…) Having spent the last 2 winters dealing with wet shorts and toughing it out, I was convinced there wasn’t a short available that would put up a good fight against mother nature’s cold soup — even Gore-tex gets wet. I’ve used plenty of different gear, some claiming to be waterproof, and few have actually lived up to their claim. So when I found out about the Royal Racing Storm Short (claimed 100% waterproof), I had to give them a try!
Product Tested: Royal Racing Storm Short.
Specs: Fully water proof, breathable and stretchy “3 layer” 10,000MVP fabric
Sizes: S/ M/ L/ XL/ XXL
Fit: Form fit, Slim
Recommended for: XC and Trail
Retail Price: $99.95
The first thing I noticed when looking at these shorts is how well-made they are. Think high-end mountaineering equipment. That’s right, pick a brand that is north of $499 for a jacket and you know what I mean — (for mountain bike shorts) these look and feel that good. The aesthetics is understated with simple stitching and all seams are 100% taped-sealed for extra water repellency. This is a design feature which differentiate these shorts as a truly foul weather short.
The water proofing is rated at 10,000MVP which is a good rating. High-end water proofing can go up to 20,000MVP, but I suspect that would make for a very pricey pair of shorts. On test day, there was a steady rain with lots of water and mud getting tossed up. Within 20 minutes, I had a good layer of mud built up on my back side, but the water seemed to bounce right off the material and to my delight I remained dry underneath.
Royal Racing now offers product purchases on their website which is really convenient but getting the right fit is important for the Storm shorts. Dubbed their “All ride” fit, it’s a bit misleading. They are more skinny jeans like; so definitely go with your true size. In year’s past, I’ve always downsized for Royal Racing gear, so it was a surprise when I ordered the small and was disappointed the fit was tight. For reference, I am a 32″ waist and a portly 160lbs. The mediums are noticeably more form fitting but roomy enough to move in. Saddle snag is minimized with this design.
The length while walking is generous and sits 3-4 inches below the knee cap. This works out well in the pedaling position, where the hem is just above the knee pads and not short to where the thigh is exposed.
The shorts use waterproof zippers for the fly and 2 front pockets – there is no rear pocket which makes for a streamlined look. The one miss in the design is a lack of a grab handle or a string to assist in getting at the pockets; this may be a purposeful minimalist decision but I found myself having to search for the zipper handles when I needed access to the pockets.
For the waist closure, instead of using traditional snap closures (often) located in the center above the fly; a simple offset ratchet buckle system is used instead. This is a clever design detail I really appreciate because it allows the zipper to come up to the top of the short and eliminates that uncomfortable jab below the waist line caused when pedaling hunched over on long climbs.
ABOUT ROYAL RACING
Made famous by riding legend Steve Peat, the Royal Racing brand was inspired and designed specifically for downhill racers in 2000. It became an instant success with it’s bold designs and attention to detail that cater to the DH community. For complete product lineup information, visit royalracing.com.
GOOD: Minimalist styling – It’s a utility short made to do one thing well. Excellent water repellency.
BAD: Lack of pull handles on pocket zippers make it hard to access easily.
Reviewed by Qwan Pham