Sombrio, the Canadian MTB clothing brand owned and developed by riders, is known for producing some great kit.

Their women’s range is extensive, with jerseys, shorts, gloves, jackets and so on in a huge array of styles and cool colours, and great technical fabrics to boot. We were eagerly anticipating the 2014 kit after the tantalising glimpses we got at various bike trade shows.

So we were shocked and dismayed at the recent news that the brand faces a very uncertain feature, which you can read more about here.

Sombrio kit

Despite the doubts over whether Sombrio can weather this storm (and we really hope they do!) we decided to go ahead and publish reviews on some of the 2013 kit we received. This is for several reasons.

1. As you’ll see, our reviewer really loved this kit!

2. There’s a lot of Sombrio gear still available to buy, and it’s worth checking out

3. We want to highlight Sombrio products, and their excellent women’s range in particular. This is a brand that produces quality kit that we buy; there’s a market for it.

Let’s hope – as the founder Dave Watson says – that someone with ‘resources, expertise, and vision’ comes to their rescue.

So without further ado, find out what our reviewer made of the Sombrio Birm Queen Shorts, Pedigree Jersey, and Oso Gloves.

[part title="Sombrio Birm Queen Shorts"]

I’ve always avoided baggy mountain bike shorts as I think they are possibly the most unflattering garments on earth. Instead I have stuck with padded road shorts that do the job very well, but don’t exactly look ‘rad’ - and we all know what a glaring omission that is in the rad, rad, rad world that is mountain biking.

Could these slim fit Sombrio Birm Queen shorts change my mind? They certainly look great – details such as the contrast stitching and belt loops mean they are smart enough to wear off the bike as a pair of sporty-looking shorts. But how would they measure up on the trails?

Sombrio shorts

The shorts feature a seamless crotch panel instead of a pad. To see how effective it is – and bearing in mind that I have a full suspension mountain bike with a women’s specific fit saddle to cushion my derriere – I rode without a pad. I was out for two hours of fairly intense riding and am happy to report that I didn’t miss it at all (i.e. no chafing or soreness). In fact riding without a pad made moving backwards and forwards off the saddle easier: a revelation!

Of course you could wear a padded liner beneath if you’d prefer though I’d suggest going up a shorts size if you want to do that.

Despite the slim fit, the fabric is surprisingly stretchy and therefore very comfortable to wear – even in ‘knees bent, bum behind the saddle’ position. The stretch also allows the shorts to be close fitting so there was never any danger of catching them on the saddle as I moved back and forwards (which has happened with other shorts and can be quite unnerving whilst trying to descend!).

They are well made and feature five deep pockets with zip or flap fastenings: you could easily carry your phone, keys, energy bars and wallet in them. I tested them on a cold day in November so didn’t imagine I’d have much need for the ‘mesh-lined zippered air flow thigh vents’. Half way up a particularly long climb though I threw caution to the wind and ‘unzipped’: the refreshing benefits of some extra ventilation on the inner thigh were duly noted.

The shorts feature a high waistband with zip and stud fasten, plus a big Velcro patch so there’s no chance of them popping open! However I was aware of pressure on my middle when riding uphill and leaning forward and would therefore have preferred another inch of ‘give’ in the waistband.

Of course no ride is complete until you’ve stuffed the washing machine with mud -soaked clothing. The care label advices a cold wash and it really was all that was needed to get these shorts clean. What’s more they dry quickly and are crease free (you can also tumble dry on low). One word of caution: the Velcro pad on the waistband is really sticky and a merino top in the same wash stuck to it and came off a little worse for wear as a result.

For the record, the care label also says do not iron: though I’m not sure anyone does actually iron their mountain bike shorts, do they?


Bountiful radness. Boom.


- Seamless crotch panel

- Plenty of pockets

- Excellent ventilation


- Velcro fastener can ‘pull’ on other garments

TESTER DETAILS: Dress size 10, height 5’9".

Price: From £25 on sale

Colours: Blacktastic, Mineral Grey (pictured)

Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

More info: Sombrio

Available from: Jenson USA

What Sombrio say about the Birm Queen MTB Shorts;

  • Ultra durable, mid weight fabric w.DWR finish
  • Mesh lined zippered airflow thigh vents
  • Front angled slash pockets
  • Back flap welt pockets
  • Side kissing welt zippered pocket
  • Seamless crotch panel design.
  • Fabric: Core Flex Dura Fit: EPIK Fit
  • Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, do not iron.

[part title="Sombrio Women’s Pedigree Jersey"]

Pedigree jersey sombrio

Sombrio make much of their North Shore heritage, and the relaxed, vintage baseball style cut of this jersey is as much about hanging out around the trails as it is about riding them.

Having said that, it is definitely designed for on-bike wear: hence the wicking and anti-bacterial properties of the silky, light weight stretch fabric, and the elongated back panel. It’s also free of scratchy labels, with the details printed onto the inside of the top instead.

This is a cold wash, non-iron best friend of a riding top that you can throw in your kit bag and wash and wear, ride after ride.

But there’s no getting away from the fact that this top is about looking good too. I love the feminine cut and the ¾ sleeves. Suitable for all year wear – so long as you have a merino base layer for winter!


- Technical fabrics

- Great fit and style


- Need to layer up for warmth

Price: From £33

Colours: Blacktastic, A.C. Slate (pictured)

Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

More info: Sombrio

Available from: Amazon

What Sombrio say about the Women’s Pedigree Jersey:

  • Elongated back
  • Wicking & anti-bacterial treatment
  • Screen print graphics
  • Fabric: Flex Wik (51% polyester, 49% CD)
  • Fit: FRD Fit
  • Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, do not iron.

[part title="Sombrio Women’s Oso Gloves"]

sombrio oso gloves

Despite a full finger design these are really summer gloves, designed to be lightweight and breathable. They are quite short in length so if you’ve got long hands you might need to go up a size!

Having said that the snug fit and suede fabric allows you to really feel the bike’s movements through the handlebars, while the mesh keeps your hands cool. There are some clever details: elastic and adjustable wrist closures, reinforced fingertips for durability and a terry thumb panel – a nose wiping essential!

The brake fingers have added silicone to aid grip – with a lip shaped design to boot!


- Great feel and fit

- Practical and stylish details


- Short length

Size: XS, S, M, L, XL

Colours: Blacktastic, Hazed and Confused (Pictured)

Price: £22.99

More info: Sombrio

What Sombrio say about the women’s Oso gloves:

A women’s specific all mountain glove. These minimalist designed gloves are ultra lightweight and breathable, and ideally suited for the epics.

  • Epic/Freeride design
  • Full mesh fabric with sublimated graphics
  • Elastic adjustable wrist closure
  • Axe suede palm
  • Grippy, silicone brake fingers
  • Axe suede reinforced fingertips
  • Terry moss thumb panel