It's 2018 and if a few years ago you were to tell me that women's MTB apparel would be in abundance, I would have laughed, but look, it is and while we have to thank the big brands for leading the way, a bigger thanks goes to those few brave individuals who set out to cater specifically for female mountain bikers and Chicken Line is one such brand.
Chicken Line is the creative child from the founder, Elena who explains; "The idea of a women’s clothing brand was born in my mind a few years ago as I could not find MTB clothing with appealing colours and real lady fit. There were only a few brands producing women’s stuff at that time, so I decided to do something for the girls who ride. After 20 years in a company that produces lighting components, in December 2016 I quit my job and started this new adventure in the world of mountain bike wear."
We got our hands on the new Mojito Jersey, Cargo Shorts and accessories and in the brief spells of a snow reprieve, I managed to get out and give the kit a good shred...
Chicken Line Mojito Jersey
Starting at the top with the long-sleeve Mojito jersey, Chicken Line has ensured that not only the fit is feminine but the design is too.
With a striking pattern and colourway, you surely won't be missed as you shred through the trees like a blur of awesomeness. The fit is loose with a slight taper with a v-neckline trimmed in orange, along with the sleeve cuffs. Made from a breathable and light polyester, this jersey quickly dries and keeps the moisture away from your skin.
While I love the bright green, blue and orange, I couldn't help but feel this jersey is let down by the vast amounts of white. Purely from my laundry focused mind, white is a nuisance to keep white at the best of times, and in MTB, that's almost impossible.
Chicken Line Cargo Shorts
Rather than diving straight in at the deep end of the complicated shorts pool, Chicken Line has focused their attention on creating a simple 'little-black-short'.
Constructed from Polyamide and Elastane, these shorts are surprisingly comfortable, super stretchy and with a good fit. They're simple, loose and totally appropriate for trail riding in. There are two cargo pockets on the side, which are large enough to fit most non-tablet sized phones, however, the single popper fastening could do with being a little more confidence inspiring... I wouldn't put my keys in them.
Like with most shorts, we have that looming question; Are they long enough?
With the Cargo Shorts from Chicken Line, they're not as high-rise as I first expected. For me, they're on the border, while I didn't get any thigh-gap between the hem or my knee pads, I would have preferred them to be just a tad longer in length, but overall, quite decent.
Chicken Line Accessories
To finish off the look, Chicken Line has a wide variety of accessories to choose from including socks, gloves and headwear.
Completing my look, I donned the Jump Mid-Socks which complimented the colours of the Mojito jersey with the bands of colour around the cuff. These socks are quite long in comparison to most 6" cuffs we're used to, but actually, I really liked having the extra length. The extra bit of warmth, marginal relief for my battered shins and they look nice tucked over/under your knee pads.
The final finish is, of course, the gloves. Chicken Line has ensured that for every kit they offer, there is a pair of gloves to match. So, if like me, you consider yourself a bit of a colour-coordinating Power Ranger, this brand really does kit you out from head to toe.
Chicken Line offers two styles of glove for every design. The Lady Drop gloves come with medium padding across the palm and the Lady Ride gloves have no padding whatsoever, which makes them ideal for warm weather and more chilled trail days.
What's in a name?
When I first learnt of the Chicken Line brand being a women's MTB clothing line, admittedly, I had some questions.
For many of us trail folk, we know the term chicken line refers to an easy line option riders can take in order to avoid a feature i.e chickening out. So for a women's clothing company to have adopted this term for their brand, didn't sit quite right with me. At first thought, it came across self-deprecating and had quite the opposite empowering effect I'd want my kit to invoke. This feeling was further cemented by the rather tame chicken illustration used for a logo... which isn't very discreet either.
Now, don't get me wrong... I've taken the chicken line in the past and will probably do so again in the future, it's there for a reason. But it isn't something I'd particularly want to shout about especially as the brand is targetted at women.
So rather than let the bad taste in my mouth creep in any further, I went back to the founder of Chicken Line, Elena, to find out more...
"First, because the chicken line is the easiest way referred to downhill and enduro trails and then because all girls, including myself, are a little bit chicken because we never stop talking even when we face a very steep hill! No reference to the fact that women take the chicken line while they shred a trail!"
Chicken Line's Mojito Jersey, Cargo Shorts and accessories are pretty awesome. Well made garments from quality fabrics, simple in construction and elegant in design, I was most pleased with both their performance and comfort on the trails.
It's certainly commendable that an individual like Elena has dedicated her time to the women's MTB industry and is working hard to make her mark and to help female shredders around the world feel stylish and great on the bike.
As far as kit goes, I was impressed by it and I'm excited to see where Elena takes her designs in upcoming years, although, I can't help but feel the name Chicken Line lets it down a little in the ways of empowerment for female mountain bikers.
The entire test collection came to a total of €179 / £157 which is pretty reasonable considering the kit you get and the quality of the garments, and with a healthy variety of apparel to choose from, you'll surely find something to love over on the Chicken Line website here.
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