UK distributors Hotlines were showing off the latest clothing from Loeka and iXS at their London show earlier this month. The kit should also be on display at today's show in Bristol and their impending event in Manchester. Here's a quick look at some of the highlights.
Loeka make women's cycle clothing and, unlike most female-specific brands, aren't afraid to make clobber for the gravity-assisted end of the riding spectrum. Alongside their downhill, freeride and trail riding kit, they do have some commuting gear too, though.
They're based in Vancouver, Canada and their products are tested on the terrain that the area is famous for, including the North Shore and Whistler Bike Park. British Columbia is prone to cold, damp weather so the kit should cross over well to the UK. Here are some of the key items for 2011.
Loeka Kasista 3/4-sleeve jersey and All Mountain Oszust Metal shorts
First up is the Kasista 3/4-sleeve jersey. An 'hourglass' cut sets it apart from the freeride pack and the wicking, breathable and antibacterial fabric should keep you dry and odour-free. Size up and you can wear it over armour. RRP is £49.99.
The All Mountain Oszust Metal shorts, at £59.99, have been tested on the downhill race circuit and, according to Loeka main man Rory Harmse, are "super-durable". The company have spent a lot of time perfecting the fit. They end just below the knee, have side vents for cooling, plus a front pocket and zipped back pocket. You have to supply your own liner.
Loeka Tenzien Commuter Cross jacket
The Loeka Tenzien Commuter Cross jacket is aimed at the urban warriors out there – so it may not stay white for long. Fortunately, it's also available in Ceramic/Lily White, plus reflective red or purple.
Made of lightweight 75D polyester, it has fully taped seams and is said to be waterproof to 10,000ml and breathable to 8,000ml. Other features include asymmetric front zips, reflective piping and a plethora of pockets. RRP is £99.99.
Loeka Cascade Freeride Foliage shorts
The Cascade Freeride Foliage downhill shorts are made from light but durable 320D polyester with taped seams and, impressively, are just as waterproof and breathable as the Commuter Cross jacket. They end just below the knee and have side vents and a rear zip pocket. RRP is £69.99.
Finally, the £129.99 Schutzen Tech jacket is made from the same material as the downhill shorts. Upgrades over the commuting jacket include improved warmth, a removable hood (which will fit over a full-face helmet) and shoulder gussets for better manoeuvrability.
Loeka Schutzen Tech jacket
Also new from Loeka is the Zoeker Commuter short, available in standard (£59.99) and 3/4-length (£69.99) versions. Made from four-way stretch polyester, with a relaxed fit and available in black or pinstripe, Harmse reckons "you can wear them straight into the office". All this gear should be available from spring 2011. Check out www.loeka.com for more information.
iXS, who started life as a motorcycle brand 30 years ago before expanding into cycling, also have a strong women's range but they have plenty of men's clothing and armour too. One product that leapt out at us is the Phobos full-face helmet.
Available in three designs, each of which comes in three colours, this good-looking polycarbonate downhill lid costs just £69.99. Features include an adjustable peak, removable and washable pads, reasonable ventilation (air channels are integrated into the EPS inner) and a double D-ring closure. Claimed weight is around 1,100g, and it's available in six sizes including a kids' version.
iXS Phobos Shred helmet and Combat goggle
iXS's goggles are also looking good, and good value. The entry-level Storm model is £49, which sounds fairly expensive until you consider that the package includes two lenses (smoke and clear). The more expensive Combat (£59) comes with a pack of tear-offs as well, and has strap 'outriggers' to improve fit. There are three colour options for each goggle.
The company also have a promising-looking range of body armour that includes six upper body options (including the female-specific Battle JacketEvo Lady), nine leg pads, six elbow guards and four pairs of armoured shorts. On top of that, there are gloves and a full line-up of jerseys, shorts and jackets for everything from downhill to cross-country.
iXS Barrhead (left) and Lacombe cross-country jerseys
There are some lairy colours for the attention-seekers out there, as well some more subdued, 'earthy' tones on the freeride kit. The new iXS gear has some neat features, like neck brace cutouts on the back of the downhill jerseys, internal lens wipes, mesh and vents for cooling, and use of anti-bacterial nano silver technology to keep odour at bay. For more details, visit www.ixs.com.