Reviews In the Queue: Fox TALAS 180, Royal Racing Epic Jersey, Blast gloves and Esquire shorts

by Brian Mullin on March 2, 2011

I am going to start a new series of weekly or biweekly articles. The first will be called “Reviews In The Queue”, which will cover products, which are currently being tested and reviewed, meaning the items that are been hammered and used on a frequent basis. It will include a first impression synopsis and a preliminary rating. The next will be called “Just In”, and will be a brief outline of a product along with some pictures.

Royal Racing – Epic Jersey, Blast gloves and Esquire shorts
I have been riding this set of gear for the last month, except for one week of below zero weather, where I was wearing everything I owned. I like the cut of the jersey and pants, as they are loose without being too baggy, and both are long enough to offer excellent coverage.

Esquire Shorts
I really love the Esquire shorts, as the extra length works well and extends to the top of my knee guards, so I never have a bare leg poking out when I am spinning. The shorts have two hand pockets, a small zippered stash pocket by the right hip (perfect for car remote or small tool), and two zippered mesh vents on the lower front leg. The polyester material is comfortable and durable, and stretchy enough to allow contortion movements while maneuvering around on the bike. It has two stretch panels on the sides by the lower legs, and then another by the lower back. The front closure uses a metal hook, and two robust snaps, and a nice long zipper for natures calls. The inner chamois is comfortable, but the hooking system is too delicate and hard to use, so I usually just skip clasping it. The shorts have a nice waist adjustment system, that uses two simple Velcro located at the hip that allow several inches of alteration. The Esquire is a superb pair of shorts, and is currently rating 4.5 chili peppers, and I am looking forward to some more saddle time with them.

Esquire Shorts – Company Specs
Description – This is our primo trail ride short – and comes with high performance detachable short liner and perforated performance liner pad. The Esquire’s utilization of 4-way stretch polyester for maneuverability and comfort, Spandex lower back panels and front and rear mesh vents are key to its performance credentials. Hook and loop waist adjusters, non-rattle snap down zippers, bar tacked stress points, open hand pockets plus a zipped stash pocket complete the detail.
Sizes – X Small, Small, Medium, Large, X Large, XX Large
Colors – Graphite, Steel Gray

Epic Jersey
The Epic Jersey is a pretty simple unit, but looks are deceiving, as it has quite a few highly functional features. The jersey is nice and loose, and drapes pleasantly down your torso, and along with it’s length offers excellent comfort and maneuverability. It has a short 1/4 zipped front, which helps with temperature adjustment, and a decently high collar, that snugs up on the neck for inclement weather. On the inside of the jersey’s hem, by the right hip is a small section (5×5 inches?) of optical wiping material, which is great to clean sunglasses or a camera lens. It has a zippered rear pocket that sits down low enough not to get in the way of a pack, so it is highly functional and can actually be used. The Polyester material wicks pretty well, and even when you get soaked on your back, it dries very quickly. I liked the graphics, since they were sort of interesting, without calling out that you are a walking advertisement board. The Epic is a great jersey, and is currently rating 4 chili peppers, and I am looking forward to some more ride time wearing it.

Epic Jersey – Company Specs
Description – Made from 100% moisture wicking Polyester and featuring sublimated no fade graphics, a rear zipped pocket, ΒΌ zip front, inside hem optic wipe and mesh side panels along with our signature drop tail design make the Epic Jersey… Epic!
Sizes – Small, Small, Medium, Large, X Large, XX Large
Colors – Red, Blue, Green

Blast Gloves
The Blast Gloves have turned out to be a surprise for me, since they have been impressively durable. I am usually a destroyer of gloves, especially on the finger tips, but so far the gloves have pretty tough. The inside of the middle and trigger fingers have some splotches of a sticky material (Silicon) to help adhere to the brakes and grips. The gloves use a .8mm thick Clarino, with very little padding, which helps immensely with the tactile feel on the grips, brakes and shifting, almost like you weren’t wearing any gloves. I have taken a few good tumbles, and landed directly on the gloves, and it did nothing to them. On some long rides additional padding would be nice, but it’s always a compromise. The backside of the glove uses a mesh material, which is flexible and comfortable. The thumb has a soft microfiber section, for wiping up sweat, and other bodily fluids. The wrist closure system works well, with a small tab for pulling them on, and then a thin Velcro strap to tighten them down. The Blast Gloves are pretty sweet, offering durability and excellent tactile feel, and is currently rating 4.5 chili peppers, and time will tell how robust and long lived they are?

Blast Gloves -Company Specs
Description – Blast by name – Blast by nature – this glove is racked with performance features. Check out the palm – no unnecessary padding – just .8mm perforated Clarino with embossed Silicon fingertips and roll-over fingertip detail. The back of the hand features 3D primo mesh for maximum flexibility and comfort. A microfiber thumb-wipe is a great added touch, as are the direct-inject logos which provide great flexibility without compromising comfort. A TPR wrist closure and low profile hook and loop closure complete the profile.
Sizes -X Small, Small, Medium, Large, X Large, XX Large
Colors – White, Red, Blue, Black

36 TALAS 180 FIT RC2
I received the 2011 TALAS 180 just after Christmas, but it sat dormant waiting on my new bike arrival. Once the sweet Ibis Mojo HD arrived a month later, the bad boy was installed as quickly as I could. Thanks to the crew at Criterium Bicycles in the Springs for doing an excellent job of installing the headset and cutting the steeer tube to the proper length! I have gotten around a month use of the fork, and even though I tossed a new bike into the brain confusion of the test, the fork it has turned out to be one of the best forks I have ever used! It’s buttery smooth and a plush meister, and has a very linear feel though most of its travel stroke. The fork as one stout beast, and I can’t feel any flex, no matter how much torture I can toss at it. I have slammed it into some heavy duty technical terrain, at Palmer Park, Pueblo South Shore and the Monument Preserve (once the snow dried out), and it has come out with flying colors. The two position TALAS has been very useful, and on technical climbs (even short ones) the 140 settings have worked wonders at taming the tall fork. The 140 setting isn’t as plush as the 180, and feels a bit congested, but that works great where you need some platform to do technical maneuvers. It’s simple to reach down and twist the knob (clockwise for 140, counter for 180), and punch it down into 140, or wheel up to return to 180. At Palmer Park, it came in handy for many of the wicked short climbing moves on the techy T-Gap trail. The tallness of the fork on the Ibis HD and the slackness of the steering (66 degrees), sometimes made some technical moves a tad dicey, but I have been getting used to that. I am looking forward to installing the Cane Creek Angleset, so that I can steepen the fork up by 1 degree, to the normal 160’s 67 degrees. Until I installed the brake, I hadn’t realized that it’s a 8 inch post mount, so no adapter was required to run a 203mm rotor, and I was very happy I had a spare rotor that big floating around in the home shop. At first the 203 seemed like overkill, but now I am liking it, and after doing some sick steep runs on my local nemesis trail BLS (Brian’s Little Secret), I am ready to install a 180 in the rear! I have played to much with the tuning, since it seemed pretty good right out of the box, but I did increase the Low Speed Compression to alleviate some fork dive. I have been running around 45-50 psi, which seems to work well for me at 155 lbs, as it still gives excellent plushness without the dive, although when I started to do some jumps (thanks Joe) I needed to bump it up slightly.

I am looking forward to more testing with this excellent fork, and it has opened up riding to a new level, and has made terrain more enjoyable, and the rough stuff more fun and less abusive. It’s currently rating a preliminary five chili peppers!

Measured Spec: Weight – 2493.5 grams

Fox Company Specs:

  • Weight
    • (1 1/8″ steerer) 5.40 lb / 2.45 kg
    • (1.5″ taper steerer) 5.37 lb / 2.43 kg
  • Travel – 7.1 inches / 180 mm with TALAS [2-position] 180-140mm
  • Adjustments
    • Low-speed compression
    • High-speed compression
    • Travel – TALAS [2-position]
    • Air spring pressure
    • Rebound
  • Damper – FIT
  • Stanchions – Kashima Coat
  • Lower Leg – 20QR thru axle system,
  • Post style disc brake mounting
  • Steerer
    • Standard: 1 1/8″
    • Optional: 1.5″ Taper
  • Spring – Air
  • Color – Black Diamond
  • Intended Use -DH, FR, AM

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