Oakley is a name that nearly all people know, and when you think about Oakley you automatically think high-end eyewear. Well Oakley also has a bunch of soft goods available, from pants to bags to nearly everything in between. I recently tested out some Oakley riding gear: the Retro Vert jersey, Retro Vert short, and Hand Ratchet glove.
The Retro Vert jersey is not an old jersey brought back as the name might imply. The “retro” part is the late 80′s logo but everything else on this jersey is new tech. With modern fabrics (polyester) and strategically placed mesh under the arms and back, along with antibacterial treatment and UV protection, the Retro jersey is anything but.
Now this is a long sleeve version which I prefer to wear even in the summer due to the overgrowth in my area and the number of bugs that are in the trails during the spring and summer (Oakley offers a short sleeve version as well). The long sleeve Retro has shaped arms that are pre-bent at the elbow and stitched in a way that allows the jersey to flex easily rather than tug. The entire back is a mesh material which is great since most riders today are using hydration packs which tend to get hot and sweaty. With the mesh at least there is a greater chance for moisture and heat to dissipate around the pack. Oakley even added a small microfiber wipe area along the waist of the jersey to clean up your optics.
The Retro Vert short is a premium short for the trail rider with just the right weight fabrics (100% nylon) and strategically-placed stretch panels for comfort on epic rides. These shorts feature a CyTech E.I.T. multi-segmented chamois that is one of the most comfortable I’ve worn. When things get dirty or need cleaning, the chamois can be removed and washed on its own. The two cargo-type zip pockets offer plenty of room for keys and protein bars while silicon grippers at the waist and leg bottoms make this a no-slip fitting short. Add to that a smart two snap, two position waist with elastic adjustment and you’ve got a short that fits well all day long. And of course the Retro Vert features classic retro-style Oakley graphics for maximum effect.
Oakley’s top glove for the Trail rider is called the Hand Ratchet 2. Before this glove’s release, the design underwent the scrutiny of some of the top riders in mountain biking before being released to the public. The end result is a bunch of materials all working together to maximize comfort, control, and durability. The one-piece palm is made from sheepskin leather for durability while the separate synthetic Pittards leather thumb and fingertips add comfort. Up top you get a mesh upper with a two strap system to hold the glove comfortably in place and a stretch kevlar knuckle protector for those occasions when you happen to get too close to the trees.
On the trail
Wearing the Oakley gear for trail riding and at the slopes (when not donning full armor) I was happy with the performance of both the jersey and shorts. I really appreciated the mesh back on the jersey, especially on those days when I rode with a hydration pack. At the very least I didn’t feel as hot as I would have with other tops. The jersey cuffs didn’t ride up my arms on the bike and yet the elastic wasn’t so tight that it felt like it was pulling. There was even enough room in the arms for me to add elbow guards underneath, though not enough room to fit a full pressure suit.
The Retro Vert shorts felt very comfortable without a hint of riding up my leg. The silicon around the leg and waist really stayed put. Even when sitting and pedaling for hours I didn’t feel like I was overheating.
As for the gloves I was a bit disappointed. Don’t get me wrong: they fit great and I like the reverse stitch on the palm which really does make a difference. However, during my testing the velcro strap on one of my gloves started to de-laminate. I was able to fix it on my own with contact cement and it didn’t come apart again. Fortunately that was the only issue with the glove. The palms and fingers are very grippy, even when wet. Falling a few times and using the gloves to stop myself showed no sign of abrasion on the palm. Speaking of the palm, newer riders may not like the fact that these have no cushion to them but for a seasoned rider who wants maximum feedback, these may be a good choice.
Check out Oakley for these and other cool products. At $50.00 for the Ratchet glove, $150.00 for the Retro V short, and $90.00 for the Retro V long sleeve jersey, you’re getting the best Oakley has to offer.
I would like to thank the folks at Oakley for sending down the gear for review.