It’s been a wet and gritty winter here in Calderdale, which has provided idyllic conditions for testing waterproof riding gear. With jackets and bottoms from Endura, Leatt and Fox, our local two-wheeled adventurer has been putting three waterproof riding combos to the test. Over to Antony for the review!
I still remember my first item of Endura clothing. Around the time I got my first proper mountain bike, probably 25 years ago, I also acquired an Endura waterproof in a classy shade of drainpipe grey – this being back in the days when mountain bike clothes tried to blend in with the landscape.
I wore it until it started to fall apart, and probably for some time after that. I suspect that a lot of this site’s readers will have a similarly long history with the brand. So it’s pleasing that over that time Endura has gone from strength to strength, clothing Tour de France teams, that Danny MacAskill fella, and most recently the first family of UK downhill racing, the Athertons.
MT500 is Endura’s flagship waterproof clothing line, and features a variety of jackets and shorts, plus its new (and fabulously expensive) waterproof full body suit (Let’s not call something that costs almost £400 a “onesie”, eh?) The company offers plenty of more value-focused clothing too, but MT500 is its range for riding all trails in all conditions. It comes at a premium price, but does it deliver premium performance?
MT500 Waterproof Jacket
The MT500 jacket is made from a 3-layer fabric developed by Endura which offers 18,000mm water resistance. This means in theory it shouldn’t leak until it has an 18-metre column of water falling on it. I have to admit I didn’t test this.
The fabric is light, soft and less crinkly than some jackets I’ve tried. It’s also free of PFCs, the toxic chemicals used in many waterproof clothes which have a nasty habit of leaching out into the environment.
The jacket is available in three somewhat muted colours – the “mango” I tested was pleasingly reminiscent of an old Vango tent – and six sizes. It’s worth noting that Endura sizing is on the generous side, and whereas I’m normally a medium in jackets, a size small MT500 was a much less flappy fit.
The jacket features plenty of neat details. Additional grip and protection is provided on the shoulders by a pattern of silicone, and the two waterproof vent zips are also designed to work well with a riding pack.
You get two generous front pockets (also with waterproof zips), plus a small mesh pocket inside the jacket with a rubber headphone cable port. One of the front pockets also has a length of webbing sewn in with a microfibre cloth on the end – a nice concession to those who like to clean their eyewear mid-ride.
The sleeves and drop tail of the jacket have some reflective details, and the jacket also has soft inner cuffs with a thumb hole, similar to many mountaineering jackets. There’s also a nice fleecy lining around the collar to help keep the warmth in.
Even on a size small jacket, the hood is generous enough to fit over a large helmet, and has a slightly stiffened peak with another reflective patch. I’m a bit sceptical about mountain bike jackets with hoods, but while I was testing the jacket there were definitely a couple of rides where it helped avert an ice cream headache.
Should you prefer, the hood can be rolled up and secured with a small press stud. This is a bit of a fiddly process, particularly in the sort of windy conditions where a hood might start to annoy you, and it’s easier if you remove the jacket.
Endura MT500 Waterproof Shorts
Endura’s MT500 shorts come in two variants – the Spray, which only has waterproof material on the back of the shorts, and the regular full waterproof version tested here. They’re made from the same Exoshell 60 material as the jacket and feature two front pockets with waterproof zips.
As with the jacket, sizing is a bit M&S, and even with my 32in waist I was happier in a small than a medium. The shorts are cut fairly tight, so there’s not much room with kneepads, but if you do want to size up, the waistband sensibly has belt loops to make sure everything stays in place. They’re also compatible with Endura’s liner shorts, although I’m not a huge fan of the fiddly Clickfast attachment system.
On The Bike
From my first ride in the MT500 jacket, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it functioned. Not just as a waterproof (although it’s very waterproof indeed) but also as a general riding jacket. It’s not noisy or rustly, it keeps the warmth in, but it also breathes well enough that I didn’t feel the need to remove it every five minutes. Indeed, on most rides I didn’t remove it at all.
However if you do need to stow the jacket, it’s light and thin enough to go in all but the smallest backpacks. The shorts were equally good at keeping the wet out, and have a pleasingly minimalist feel. The pockets were also far more practical than most.
There are a couple of details on the jacket that didn’t really work for me. One was the soft inner cuffs, which take up water and dry out much more slowly than the rest of the jacket. Keep them tucked under your gloves though, and things will be fine.
The other was the hood retention system. As well as being tricky to use on the hill, the hood still managed to escape in really severe wind. I could happily live with these annoyances though, as the jacket generally performs so well.
With any waterproof clothing there’s a trade-off between keeping the rain out, and not simmering in your own sweat. The MT500 jacket and shorts seem to have the balance just about right. Both are very waterproof indeed, but let you reach a fair level of physical exertion without turning into a soggy mess. Both have been among my most-worn items of clothing this winter, not just on wet days but in cold and snow too.
The price is premium, but if I wanted a high-performing set of waterproofs for big days out in proper mountains, these would be on the shortlist.
|Product:||MT500 Waterproof Jacket, MT500 Waterproof Shorts|
|Price:||Jacket £199, Shorts £99|
|Tested:||by Antony for 2 months|