Polaris have been stalwarts of the UK mountain bike scene since the early days but in recent years they've dropped off the radar a little. That's all set to change, with a new off-road-specific range about to hit shops and some promising-looking kit in the pipeline.
Due to hit shops this week is the Sprinter, a new SPD-compatible off-road shoe (main image). Features include a Vibram sole, which should give plenty of grip off the bike, tough cords instead of laces, and a Velcro upper strap. RRP is £95.
A winter version will be available later this year called the Shredder, which will carry over many features of the Sprinter but will have a higher cut and a waterproof eVent lining. RRP will be £115. The shoe shown above is a pre-production sample.
Also new for 2011 are the Descent shorts. With a knee-length cut, these baggies have a lightweight yet durable feel, with stretch panels for improved mobility. An elasticated waistband and belt loops (a basic plastic-buckled belt is provided) ensure a secure fit.
Features include zipped vents, Velcro tabs to change the size of the leg openings, and five pockets, including two at the rear – it'll be interesting to see how usable these are on the bike. The shorts are sold without a liner for £48.
To go with the shorts there are two new jerseys – the long-sleeved Pilgrim (£34.99), which we reviewed earlier this month, and the short-sleeved Nomad (£29.99). Both are made from the same fast-drying and sweat-wicking Airbase fabric, and feature the same printed graphics.
Polaris do various packable jackets that look ideal for chucking into your pack just in case it rains, as well as a waterproof gilet – which unlike other vests on the market is waterproof on the back too, so you don't get wet every time you ride through a puddle.
However if you're heading out into a storm, the coat to reach for is the new Granite, due out in time for autumn. With a three-layer XOStorm ripstop shell, this jacket has a fairly baggy cut so it can be worn over armour if required.
One particularly neat feature is the 'data window' on the left sleeve which makes it easy to read your watch or heart rate monitor on the move. There's also an internal media pocket; an adjustable hood, cuffs and hem; and silicone strips on the shoulders so your hydration pack doesn't move around. It's available in Titanium (seen here) or Charcoal.
Also new for this autumn is the Vortex glove. While a lot of winter gloves tend to be bulky and over-padded, this is a slimline option with a thin windproof outer, a fleecy inner lining and an unpadded palm. RRP is £22.
Polaris do a range of base layers, including compression tops. Below is the long-sleeve Bamboo Tec which, as the name suggests, is made from 50 percent bamboo charcoal fibres.
According to the company, this "releases infrared rays to improve blood circulation". Other touted benefits include sweat absorption and odour control. RRP is £43 and it's available in green or blue.
One last thing that the guys from Polaris showed us when they dropped by the office is their new range of Aqua 0 (pronounced 'aquanaut') waterproof kit bags – two different sized holdalls, a rucksack and a courier bag.
The idea is that you can chuck your wet riding gear into one of these at the end of a ride and won't end up leaving a trail of mud through your car or house. Neat features include roll-top closures and detachable internal shoe bags. RRPs TBC.
Polaris have a load of other kit for mountain biking, road riding and commuting, along with decent women's and kids' ranges. For more information, visit www.polaris-apparel.co.uk.