In a relatively short span of time, we've seen the women's mountain bike industry flourish. Prayers have been answered and voices have been heard as we once dreamed for an equal playing field when it came to the inclusion of females in this largely male-dominated sport.
In the past two years alone there have been considerable efforts made by clothing companies and bike brands to cater for, and include, the dirt descending women of our sport. Women's specific clinics, camps and races are springing up all over the country to help strengthen a budding network of female riders.
When it comes to mountain bike kit, we've been pretty spoilt for choice. Brands are stepping up their game to introduce stunning patterns, flattering cuts and high-tech fabric to work with you so you can descend in style and comfort. One of the leading favourites for women's MTB apparel is Fox Racing. With elite female riders on their roster, Fox can ensure their kit is well tested and well considered when bringing it to the mass market.
Last year we saw their downhill Demo kit take the trails by storm as streaks of pink and green blurred the treeline in beauty. For 2017, Fox has launched the women's Flexair Seca in two rather unconventional colourways, and we've been out shredding the trails to see if it lives up to its sterling reputation.
Fox Women's Flexair Seca Kit
Let's first discuss the look of the new Flexair Seca kit. You have two colourways to choose from: Ice Blue and Black/Pink. I was pretty surprised Fox decided to go with these colourways. While I love the colour blue, personally, a pale 'ice blue' is not something I would choose for MTB as it's so close to white, it's more likely to show up dirt. The black/pink combo is certainly attractive and would be better at disguising the mess of MTB, but I had hoped Fox would be bolder with their choices to move away from the commonly associated 'pink is for women'.
Moving onto the design... It's pretty rad. The pattern of the jersey and bottoms perfectly align to complete a stylish asymmetric stripe pattern which runs throughout the right-hand side. Completed with the matching Sidewinder gloves, you can't help but feel like a bit of a badass.
Fox Flexair Seca Jersey
The Flexair Seca jersey is perhaps one of the lightest long-sleeve jerseys I've come across. It's constructed from moisture wicking TRUDRI polyester/spandex stretch fabric, which really means that it's so light, it didn't feel like I was wearing anything at all. The fabric is cool to the skin, totally breathable, and the fit is spot on.
The jersey is long on the body, so no lower back gap when you're throwing your bum over the back wheel - yay! I found the cut of the jersey to have a subtle taper at the sides, but provide enough body room to wiggle under some body armour and a base-layer, or two!
The inside of both arms has an ultra thin mesh fabric to help improve air flow whilst riding in order to keep you feeling cool, something I definitely felt the benefit of on hotter days. If you're someone who likes to roll the sleeves up, you may have a bit of a struggle. The sleeve cuffs are stitched and fixed so there's little room for hiking the sleeves up your forearms.
Fox Flexair Seca shorts
Mountain bike shorts are notoriously difficult to get right. Some riders prefer them long, short, baggy, slim and then there is the minefield that are the features which can help or hinder our ride.
Maintaining the same fastening features from their 2016 Demo kit, the do-up closure is super secure with a zip and ratchet system. One new addition is the super tacky silicone strip that runs throughout the inside of the waistband. While it certainly does a great job of clinging to your chamois shorts, it also does too good of a job clinging to your chamois shorts. Whilst pulling the Flexair Seca shorts up my legs, they would grip to my under-shorts and pull them up too, often resulting in an awkward wiggle dance and faff to try and straighten yourself out again.
Unlike the jersey, the shorts are made from a strong heavy-weight stretch fabric which feels durable for riding in, and comfortable too. The cut is both flattering and long in the leg - great news for knee pad wearers who dread that awful skin exposed thigh gap.
Pockets on the side are ideal for stashing small essentials in, like keys, passes and coins, but not so ideal if you have a large phone or hope to zip away anything of size.
Fox Sidewinder Gloves
If you want to complete the look and go all out for the Power Ranger vibe, then the Sidewinder gloves are the ideal cherry on the cake. Available in both Flexair Seca colourways, these gloves are designed with shredding in mind.
With what can only be described as some kind of crocodile skin-like texture, the Sidewinder gloves are surprisingly light and comfortable. They're stretchy and breathable which is ideal in the summer months, although they lack any real padding on the palms if you wanted to venture out longer and further afield.
A Velcro tab helps fit the glove to your wrist and perforations in the palm help improve the airflow and prevent that awful sweaty hand sensation.
Having put the Fox Flexair Seca kit through some mountain miles and through the washing machine a few cycles, I've come to the simple conclusion that I like it. I can't say I love it, though.
While I love the bold asymmetric design, the cut, and fit of the Flexair Seca kit, I can't help but feel that Fox has gone a little too far in the detail this year. The 2016 Demo kit ticked all the boxes, and more, and so Fox decided to tweak and refine this model further, but why fix what isn't broken? This latest outfit has new features, like the silicone waistband that's too tacky, and almost non-existent thin meshing on the sleeves, and the pale 'ice blue' design which looks great, but personally, I don't think it's ideal for mountain biking where it's vulnerable to all sorts of messy splatter.
I will give Fox credit where credit is due, however, and as I've mentioned, there are elements of the Flexair Seca kit that I love. Fox work hard with their research and development to create fresh new designs for women, and they are one of the only big brands to refresh their women's line frequently with updated and refined garments for women to feel and look amazing in as they ride.
Despite its drawbacks, the new Flexair Seca kit from Fox inspires confidence that the women's mountain bike industry is certainly moving in the right direction for gender equality and inclusion. The efforts of Fox do not go unnoticed, if anything, they still remain a brand that we anticipate the most when the new kit season hits.
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