FINDRA REVIEW: Muddy fun vs stylish cycling wear.
Performance sportswear brand FINDRA make stylish mountain bike shorts as well as innovative merino outdoor apparel for women riders. Their Ms-Mo Relaxed Shorts look great – but how will they cope with a mud-splattered soaking on a typical winter ride? There’s only one way to find out!
‘Just ride straight through the middle of the puddle”.
I’m halfway along one of my favourite trails, riding it as I have done a thousand times before – only this time I have a photographer in tow – and I’m trying to soak the shorts that FINDRA has sent to me in mud, in order to give them a thorough review. But despite the fact that conditions are distinctly wet, I’m not getting the result I expected.
Ride a slippery, muddy, puddle strewn trail without a mudguard and you end up with a bum covered in mud, right? Not in this case. While the bike looked as if it had been spray painted with sludge, the shorts seemingly refused to get as dirty. And any splatters of mud that did settle could be wiped away. No matter how hard I tried, these shorts resisted. Even by the end of the ride the water repellent fabric was still remarkably mud-free.
While this may be tricky for photography, it is a bonus for mountain biking in wet conditions. A soggy bum is a sure fire way to spoil your ride and it was lovely to be able to get round in comfort instead. So, thumbs up for that – unless, of course, you regard a muddy backside as a must-have badge of honour in which case, and from personal experience, I suggest you try lycra shorts.
Performance in mud aside, I also love the look of these shorts – and not just because the orange contrast zips coordinate with my bike (actually that’s not quite true – it’s a major reason why I love them!). I also love this navy blue shade – a really nice alternative to black. They are also available in Chocolate (the colour, not the confectionary!), and Indigo Denim with white contrast stitching. The branding is subtle but stylish, which makes a welcome change compared to the gear offered by many mountain bike ranges.
The two-way stretch fabric feels quite lightweight but is plenty tough enough. I will layer these shorts over tights in the depths of winter, and then wear them as they are for the rest of the year. The stretch makes them very comfortable to ride in and there is plenty of room to pedal.
The cut is streamlined – they are not all baggy, so no chance of looking like a 12-year old school boy in them – and shaped at the hip for a more tailored look. Lengthwise they finish at the knee but fit over my knee pads easily. Finally a word about the tailored waistband: it is super smart compared to an elasticated version, but, thanks to the stretch, just as comfortable.
Like many mountain bike shorts, Ms-Mo Relaxed shorts are not padded. I wore mine with padded pants (link) but you could just as easily wear a padded liner beneath.
Verdict? Best looking mountain bike shorts I’ve seen, with performance to match.
£90, exclusively from Wiggle.
Read my review of Findra’s merino range (and see more images of the shorts!) here.
Photos: Paul Mitchell
I am stunned and excited to have been nominated in the Singletrack 2015 Reader Awards, in the Best Written Article category. I’ve been shortlisted for my post ‘The trouble with womens’ mountain bikes’, which was originally published on the Singletrackworld.com site earlier this summer.
Singletrack had approached me about writing for them after I published a story on this site celebrating their choice of a female rider for the magazine cover – a hugely popular story that even Rachel Atherton retweeted!
For the nominated post on women’s mountain bikes I went back to the drawing board and spent a lot of time checking facts and researching details from brands such as Santa Cruz, Trek, Specialized and Orange, as well as talking to female cyclists and local bike stores. The result – I hope – peels back the layers of marketing and gets to the bottom of why it can be so difficult for women to find the right bike. It also addresses the fact that there is actually no such thing as a ‘men’s’ bike: perhaps it is time to start using the term standard bike instead, make more sizes and fit options, and also show women riding them alongside men in advertising.
There are several categories to vote for, but I believe Manon Carpenter (nominated for personality of the year) and I are the only women up for a prize. So lets hope at least one of us gets to make a victory speech and fly the flag for women’s mountain biking at the awards ceremony on the 25th September!!
Voting closes at midnight on Sunday 20th September and (hint, hint) you can vote here or on the link to the post above.
New to mountain biking? Find out what to wear, who to ride with, how to have fun and how to get home in one (happy) piece! (plus loads of other handy tips!!)
Below is a link to my latest post on this very subject, for female specific cycle clothing retailer Velovixen. Enjoy!!
“WHAT COULD THE MTB COMMUNITY & INDUSTRY DO TO HELP ENCOURAGE MORE WOMEN TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SPORT?”
Pinkbike posed this question in a feature posted on International Women’s Day (read it here). These are my thoughts, based on my own experience during ten years of mountain biking (because they didn’t ask me to participate: something of an oversight, obv!).
- Women don’t all want the same thing out of mountain biking. Some want a straightforward, reasonably safe, social ride in the lovely countryside. Others want to ride nothing but downhill, others want to win races. Some ride once a week, others almost every day. As fashion brands know only too well, ‘one size’ marketing will not fit all and the industry needs to target us according to our riding habits as well as our gender.
- Just a thought: when I started riding I borrowed all my kit off my partner, including his bike (too big, too pacey, fell off a lot). Many of my friends started by riding their partner’s bike. Last weekend I met a group of women who were out for one of their first rides – all using their partners’ kit. I know it’s not every woman’s way into the sport but, in my experience, it’s a significant entry point. Eventually there comes a tipping point of confidence and commitment where we step out of our partner’s shadow and decide to invest in our own kit: surely the perfect opportunity for brands to empower women (and win our custom).
- I learnt to ride with a group of women. We still ride together, every week. Most weeks we tear up and down the trails, other times we spend more time drinking coffee and chatting than we do riding. We like it like that. I have made the very best friends in the process, and that is as important to me as my riding skills (and believe me, I am very precious about my riding skills). For this reason, mountain biking does not feel like a ‘man’s sport’ when I am on the trails – however it’s a different story in the media. So….
- Women need to be as visible and at home within the industry as they are on the trails. My teenage daughter has recently started riding and I’d like her to be inspired by sporting role models doing fabulous things on their bikes, friendly faces in our local bike shops, and an the industry that is vocal about encouraging women’s cycling. And please, no more riders in bikinis promoting dodgy calendars: it is every shade of wrong.
- Many of the mountain bikers I know are male, and this is what I have observed: as a rule, the better and more confident a man is as a rider, the more generous they are with their encouragement and advice, and the more interested they are in hearing about my experience. For this, I thank them. Sadly I’ve also learnt that those men who regard me as competition (or just think I’m better than them) tend to be dismissive, talk over me or give advice I haven’t asked for. It took me a while to realise what was going on, so I just want to put it out there: gentlemanly conduct at all times, please.
- Now this is really important and I’ve learnt it the hard way: mountain biking frequently demands more technical skill from women than it does from men. This is because we tend to have less physical power available to charge up and over things, and are therefore more reliant on finely honed skills, position and accurate trail reading. I am forever pointing this out, both to women who want to improve and to men who think they know how we should ride (but actually don’t).
- In my experience, women tend to like to know how to do technical challenges on the trails correctly and safely before they will attempt them, where men are a bit more ‘ride first, think later’. Logically, this should mean that women riders will sign up for skills training at the drop of a hat: yet the women I know don’t. The reasons I hear? Too expensive /I don’t want to risk looking stupid or hurt myself in front of the group or instructor/my partner tells me how to ride (sometimes a good thing, sometimes not – see point 6). Food for thought if planning skills sessions.
- I came to mountain biking with zero mechanical knowledge: I couldn’t even change an inner tube (calm down, I can now). I’m fully aware that my safety and enjoyment depends upon riding a mechanically reliable bike and I keep on top of that, but I am never going to get excited about fettling in a cold shed. Unless you can ‘sex it up’ by convincing me that it’s what Kate Moss does on a wet Saturday afternoon, of course. Good luck.
- Bit of a sore point coming up: please don’t try to fob us off with a high-end women specific bike that has lower spec than the equivalent men’s version. We’ll do our research before spending all that cash and it’s one of the reasons why a friend of mine is currently having such a hard time choosing a new bike. Rant over (almost).
- I love mountain biking, I’ve made great friends, I challenge myself, enjoy riding in the most beautiful landscapes and have become really fit in the process. I enjoy being part of my mountain bike community and I have the greatest respect for my wonderful bike. None of this is gender specific and mountain biking needs to make it abundantly clear that the sport is accessible for everyone, male or female, if it wants to go forward.
So, over to you.