At the beginning of spring I took inventory of my bike apparel and instantly noted that my stained, faded, and torn gear simply would not do anymore. It was time to let go and invest in an upgrade. The apparel choices available to mountain bikers these days are numerous, and swimming through all the marketing and reading about all the different fits and fabric technology by each individual brand is pretty tiring. For a lot of other riders out there, including myself, there is one brand that stands out: Troy Lee Designs. TLD, with their motocross background, has been crafting high–end mountain bike apparel for many years now. Known best for their downhill shorts, pants, and jerseys, TLD has made strides into the all-mountain (trail/enduro) market in the last few years and their efforts have resulted in some truly unique and versatile clothing. Since I opted to buy a new bike this year, as well as pay to live in Park City, Utah, I opted for the most versatile bike gear that TLD makes and got myself two pairs of Ruckus shorts, two Ruckus jerseys, and a pair of XC gloves. The Ruckus line was designed around trail and enduro riders but is also durable enough to handle aggressive downhill and freeride. I’ve been pretty impressed with these products as I am one who doesn’t mind a long pedal, but I like to ride pretty hard on the descents.
Style and Functionality – TLD Ruckus Jersey
For my Ruckus jersey review, I want to start with the fit. The ¾-length raglan sleeves and loose fit feel really good. Freeride and downhill jerseys, in my opinion, have always fit too loosely, but TLD nailed it here with the Ruckus. The jersey fits comfortably over my shoulders, but I don’t feel like I am swimming in excess fabric. And the shorter sleeves lay comfortably on my forearms, providing sun and abrasion protection for the majority of my arms but still opening up and letting the air in. The jersey also feels really good with a hydration pack as it doesn’t bind or pinch on my back. The polyester fabric is super tough, but still lightweight and breathable so that you can stay at the right temp on a hot day. And there’s a small zippered pocket near the hem on the left side of the jersey – while I’m sure it’s useful, I have not had to use it yet. For those who ride light and need a spot for some cash or a credit card, the small side pocket would be perfect for keeping those items safe.
It’s Not All About the Chamois – TLD Ruckus Shorts
The Ruckus bike shorts are a piece that I’m truly super excited about, and I always tell my friends about them if they ever even mention anything to do with bike apparel in general. They are super light, breathable, tear resistant, have integrated thigh vents, and even come in an obnoxious orange color that looks great in photos and makes your buddies jealous. The adjustable waistband stays taut, and there are two zip pockets for your essential items. The fit is long enough to sit comfortably right on top of your knee, and the material is very stretchy for a full range of motion for your legs. I use these shorts for after work cross–country rides and simply remove the chamois for lift laps or shuttles. My only gripe with the Ruckus shorts is the chamois. It is light and breathable, but I feel that the foam padding isn’t up to par with other chamois that are included with competing shorts. That being said, these shorts are not for the dedicated cross-country riders, and the chamois will work well enough for riders looking to get up the hill in a non-Strava record-breaking fashion.
Minimalism – TLD XC Gloves
A personal pet peeve of mine is when I get too hot. That peeve is pretty stupid, since just about every aerobic sport on the planet is most likely going to make you really hot. However, at least TLD has solved the hot hands issue with their XC gloves. On the top is a 2-way stretch Lycra material that is very breathable for the climb. And when you start descending, the wind instantly cools down your hands. On the palm is a dual–layer Clarino synthetic leather palm. I’ve had other gloves before with Clarino palms and they have all provided great grip, regardless of how sweaty your hands get. There is a bit of extra support, too, across your hand where it meets your fingers for added grip and a bit of shock protection, which is nice on long descents. Some riders may like a little more padding on the top of the hand for more aggressive riding, but that is something the XC gloves have left out. They do have a welded TPR logo that runs the length of the palms, but that small bit of padding isn’t going to do much when you punch a tree. For cross-country riders or those who are comfortable with less knuckle protection, the XC gloves are a perfect fit. I made the mistake of purchasing a pair of TLD XC gloves in size large. They seemed to fit fine in the store but quickly stretched out after a couple of rides. I still use them regularly, but wish I had opted for a size medium and let them stretch to fit. Nonetheless, they still offer great grip on my bars.
Final Take–Functional Fashion
Every time I suit up to ride, I’m excited about wearing my Troy Lee Designs gear. It’s lightweight, simple, and the TLD brand has a lot of merit within the bike industry. They’ve found a great formula that combines functional fit and performance with a standout look that is sure to make you look great out on the trail. TLD also makes their T-Bone knee guards and E-Lite elbow guards, as well as socks and their very popular A1 bike helmet. So you could throw a couple of different riding kits together for the trails and be covered from head to toe.
TLD has nailed down the fit and performance of their Ruckus line while the XC gloves are fit for any rider’s style.
Ruckus Jersey: 5/5 – A well-fitting ¾-sleeve jersey, fit for XC climbs or huge jumps alike.
Ruckus Shorts 4/5 – These versatile shorts are light and breathable while offering protection for aggressive riders.
XC Gloves 4/5 – Light and airy, the XC gloves feel as if they are not there while suppressing hand fatigue and offering ample grip.
— Paul Boyle , Marketing and E–commerce