Craftsmanship has always been at the heart of cycling. Think of the heritage of bespoke Italian steeds and kit that has long defined cycling’s upper echelons. The folks at Kitsbow are true believers in quality and craftsmanship and they use the finest materials available to showcase the beauty of their wares. They’re cranking out arguably the best merino MTB kits on the market, and we’ve been testing their merino-blend Rudy Jersey.
Kitsbow Rudy Jersey Features:
- Wide, shoulder-to-shoulder ventilation panels across the back help regulate your body temperature on hot ride
- Tethered inside the button-close chest pocket is a microfiber cleaning cloth for keeping your sunglasses clear
Zippered, side-access back pocket keeps necessities at the ready and easily accessible
- Available in four purpose-driven colorways
- Moab Orange, Black, Mineral Blue: 48% nylon, 46% Merino wool, 6% spandex blend
- Enhances durability while still maximizing mobility and moisture transfer
- Melange Grey: 79% polyester, 21% Merino wool blend
- Enhanced moisture transfer and quick-drying capabilities
- Half-length button closure on convertible collar can be buttoned down for easy ventilation, up for a more formal presentation
- Stitched sunglasses dock on outside of chest pocket provides a place to secure your optics for hard climbs
- Silicone gripper bead along back hem ensures snug fit
- Made in British Columbia, Canada
- Price: $220
Merino brings (and fends off) the heat
Premium craftsmanship really doesn’t mean much unless it’s accompanied by premium materials. If you read Feed the Habit frequently, you know that I’m a nut about what materials and there are few enough that can outperform a good merino blend. Kitsbow chose a 48% nylon, 46% merino and 6% spandex weave for the Rudy. There’s a significant chunk of nylon in there, which is intended to lighten up the overall fabric while still giving the jersey a certain feeling of significance. A full-merino jersey at this weight would be too heavy for summer use, but Kitsbow’s blend makes the Rudy ideal for slightly cooler climes. I’ve enjoyed the Rudy throughout some chilly morning rides and stormy mid-afternoon rides that involved plenty of rain. It’ll also be an ideal shoulder-season piece once it comes that time. Kitsbow’s option for warm summer riding is the AM Ventilated jersey.
Kitsbow used that wonderful merino base to create a riding polo with a ventilated back and a convertible collar that can either be rolled down and buttoned or left up for a more ‘formal’ look to use Kitsbow’s language. Additionally, the main buttons on the polo open to around halfway down the jersey, allowing for a considerable amount of ventilation when it’s needed. The fit of the jersey is spot-on; I’m 5’11”, 185lbs and wore a size Large. It’s tailored throughout the torso, but never tight in any areas. The jersey features a drop tail that’s lined with a silicon grip; I found that it did an excellent job keeping me covered on the bike.
Kitsbow took care to include a curated slate of features with the rider in mind. First is the buttoned chest pocket which includes a microfiber wipe for your cycling glasses. There is also a small pocket on the right-hand side of the jersey. It’s zippered shut for security and has a small toggle to attach a key chain too. The pocket opens backward into the jersey so that your belongings won’t be mashed by your quads while you pedal.
My first encounter with the Kitsbow Rudy bears recounting. I was going for a ride at Beacon Hill Bike Park in Spokane. Beacon Hill is one of those pick-your-adventure places with everything from easy cross country loops to double black diamond descents. I usually opt for a course that links together some blue and black for a nice all-mountain feel with decent mileage and elevation gain. I had just finished a ride and was returning to the parking lot, hitting a few small whoops in the trail as I made my way down. Then, literally within sight of the car, I caught my front tire wrong and slammed hard into the ground.
As I was waiting for my body to skid to a stop, I thought for a millisecond of the jersey that I was wearing – premium merino wool, laborious Canadian handcraftsmanship – and wondered vaguely how this rather snooty piece of kit would hold up to a crash. Once my body’s motion was gently arrested by the Spokane dirt, I eventually picked myself up and looked at myself. I was covered in dirt from my skid and my shorts, which were durable nylon, had several tears. The Kitsbow, though it was streaked in dirt and blood, looked otherwise unharmed. Indeed, when I put it through the wash it looked as good as new. So, even though this is an expensive piece of gear, I personally can say that Kitsbow designed it with all of the vagaries of mountain biking in mind.
The one factor that I haven’t addressed in this review is price. At $220, I could easily buy two jerseys from Asian manufacturers. Clearly this price range isn’t accessible to everyone, but it’s up to the buyer to decide whether or not wearing a jersey that was crafted on their own continent and is designed with longevity in mind is worth the significant extra cost. I’m a bit of a Made-in-the-USA freak myself, but a Vancouver-made product is just as good in my books. The price tag is justified in part because Kitsbow sources all of their wool sustainably.
- Great fit throughout – tailored, but not tight
- Half-length buttoned opening handles ventilation when coupled with the back panels
- Excellent crafstmanship. I suspect it will last for many seasons.
- Featureset is thoughtful, well-implemented
- Compared to most MTB jerseys, this one is very expensive. You pay for the quality.
- Chest pocket can look strangely bulky due to glasses wipe
- Pricey kit still does not prevent crashes!
The Bottom Line: Kitsbow Rudy
Kitsbow does not cut corners with their gear. That fact is evident everywhere in the Rudy jersey, from the careful stitching to the perfectly tailored fit. It’s a jersey that rewards both initially and in the long term due to the emphasis on durability, and that’s something of a rarity in today’s market. It feels great to wear something that was produced in a factory that treats its workers very well, out of fabric that was responsibly sourced.
Buy now: Available from Competitive Cyclist