Vancouver-based Race Face has been developing products for over 20 years. With some of the world’s best riding on the doorstep and not coincidentally some of the best bikers involved in the design and testing of kit, you can rest assured its products will have been put through their paces.
I’ve been a fan of the quality and style of kit produced by Race Face since the beginning of my biking days, so I was keen to put the Khyber shorts to the test.
Race Face calls these shorts, the little back dress of downhill and I’d have to agree – a simple style of short that won’t go out of fashion in a hurry, and hardwearing enough put up with all the trail parties you want to throw at them.
I opted for a size small, supposed to fit a 27in waist, so sitting between UK sizes 8 and 10 (US 4 and 6). I alternate between the two sizes depending on manufacturer, and found the Khybers to be on the cosy rather than roomy side. Falling just below my knee they offer good knee coverage (I’m 5ft 4in / 163cm) with knee pads sitting well. There is plenty of storage via the six, yes six, pockets all with zip and or snap closures for security. Given the fitted nature of the shorts in the size I chose though, I won’t be cramming a lot into them!
The ‘Tweedster’ fabric of the shorts has a textured look and could easily be confused for denim at first glance. It’s tough, hardwearing and shrugs off any hassle given to it by the thrills and spills of the trail.
The material is rather heavy and a tad bulky, not ideal for long pedals or prolonged summer use. There are two inner thigh air vents, but I found they added to the bulk rather than achieved effective cooling. That said, Race Face isn't shy in stating that these shorts are aimed at downhillers, so it's perhaps a little harsh to dwell on this as a gripe.
The water resistant treatment of the material adds to the shorts' autumn/winter credentials. Puddle splashes and rain showers were kept easily at bay, although the shorts do predictably gain even more weight when soaked.
Khyber shorts of the past were prone to leaving riders behind you with a good view above the waistband of whatever Lycra you happened to be wearing – or worse, an eyeful of something altogether less modest. An updated design to the rear waistband sees improved lower back coverage compared with previous incarnations, while still retaining the inner waistband adjustment system.
The Khyber shorts have a satisfying feel that's akin to the ‘clunk’ of shutting an expensive car door. The cut, zips, poppers and the style of these shorts seem well sorted and thought out, and of a quality fitting for the environment in which they are tested. If you're looking for a robust pair of shorts – and remember not to wear them on long, warm, pedally rides – you won’t be disappointed.