Overview: Troy Lee Designs has long been a major player in the motocross world, and downhillers have worn TLD gear for many years. Troy Lee has been making XC apparel for a few years, but is coming on strong for 2011 with some great offerings that are perfect for trail and all-mountain style riding. The Sprint collection is a tough but light and breathable blend of jerseys and shorts, suitable for downhill but great for trail riding also.
First Impressions: I have always been a big fan of the Troy Lee Moto Shorts, so I thought I’d try out the Sprint Shorts; they’re lighter, better ventilated and have a new waist closure for 2011 that is much better than the 2010 version. One area the Sprint’s are lacking in is pockets. I like to carry several things with me when I ride, but since most of my rides are short, I don’t usually wear a hydration pack. Thus, I love the big pockets on the Moto’s. They swallow up gear but keep everything tight and close to the leg. There is a small zipped pocket at the waistband of the Sprint shorts that can hold a cell phone, key and a pack of gel, and for most people that’s plenty. Obviously, pockets are not an issue if you use a hydration pack or wear the Sprint’s on race day.
The Kit looks great. If you can’t ride like a pro, you can always look like a pro, and you will in this gear. The Ruckus Jersey matches the red zipper accent on the Sprint Shorts, and obviously the Sprint Jersey is designed to go with the Sprint Shorts.
At first I was a bit miffed that TLD had messed with my all-time favorite pair of gloves, the Air Gloves, but as soon as I rode with them I found that I had a new pair of favorites!
On The Trail: Luckily, the Ruckus Jersey has a hidden side pocket that’s big enough for a cell phone, so between the short’s pockets and that one, I had enough storage for my ride. Don’t put anything heavy in the jersey pocket, though, as you will feel it swinging around. Fit-wise, the Ruckus is great. I especially like the moto-inspired neck. There’s plenty of room, I never felt it at my throat, yet it’s not loose and floppy either. I am becoming a fan of 3/4 length sleeves, also. The sleeves on the Ruckus are loose enough to encourage airflow, but if you push them up, they stay. The fabric is comfortable and soft. Unfortunately, the Ruckus is not the most breathable jersey, so I’d avoid it during the hottest months of the year. If you want a long sleeve jersey to wear in the summer, then the Sprint Jersey is for you. The Sprint Jersey is half mesh, and therefore has tons of ventilation. Of the two, the Sprint was my favorite, which might be due to the mid-day temps I usually ride in.
The Troy Lee Air gloves are awesome. That’s all there is to say. If you wear full-fingered gloves, you should wear these. End of story. The only reason not to wear these is if you trim branches with your knuckles instead of a saw.
How did the Sprint Shorts perform? Flawlessly. The fit is dialed. Troy Lee sizes their shorts by waist size (32, 34, 36, etc) so you are almost guaranteed to get the perfect fit. Adjustment tabs on the side of the waistband let you cinch down the Sprint Shorts up to a full size. The legs are just long enough for style points, but don’t get in the way of knee pads. In fact, the leg opening perfectly fits around knee guards without bunching or getting hung up at all. Compared to my beloved Moto Shorts, the Sprints almost made me a believer; they are lighter weight, seem to fit a bit better, have massive mesh panels on the front and rear for ventilation, and have a trimmer profile as well. A rational person would declare the Sprint’s the winner and move on from there. I, however, can’t get over the lack of storage. I know that many riders hate riding with stuff in their pockets, and for them, the Sprint Shorts are going to be perfect.
Bottom Line: Troy Lee’s Sprint Shorts are an affordable alternative to their Moto Shorts, and many riders will like them better thanks to the superior ventilation, reduced weight, and perfect fit. The Ruckus Jersey is stylish and comfortable, but not well-suited for warm temperatures if you have to earn your turns. If you are shuttling or on a chair lift, you will love it. For hot weather or anyone who pedals to the top, the Sprint Jersey is awesome; it’s light, insanely ventilated, and breathes so well you won’t need to push the sleeves up. And the Air Gloves? Get them. Thats all. Just get them.