Race Face Ambush ¾ Jersey and Shorts
MSRP: Jersey, $70; Shorts, $100
Sizes Tested: Large Jersey and 32” Shorts
Fabric: 100% Polyester “Cool Touch Yarn”
Flatlock stitching throughout
¾ length sleeve
Moto style collar
Slight drop back patterning
Hidden zip stash pocket
Faux suede pocket bag/goggle wipe
Fabric: 70% Polyester, 26% Rayon, 4% Spandex
Waterproof/breathability rating: 8,000mm/3,000g/m2
Mesh interior lining
Zippered thigh vents
Zippered side cargo pockets
5’10’’, 165 lbs
Typically wear 30” or 32” shorts, depending on cut.
Days Tested: 10
Location: Whistler, BC
Race Face describes the Ambush shorts as “certainly the burliest” in their line, “recommended for aggressive riding when extra abrasion resistance and durability is preferred.”
The Ambush jersey is one of two ¾ sleeve jerseys they make. A recent test trip to Whistler, BC, riding in mostly moist PNW conditions with a few days of dry, mosquito-filled trail days tossed in, was a great way to put the Ambush kit through its paces.
The Ambush jersey has a relaxed fit. If you like to wear spine protectors and / or elbow pads, the Ambush Jersey has plenty of room to fit over armor without feeling restrictive. I don’t usually wear armor, and while the fit of the jersey in a size Large was loose, it wasn’t so big that I would suggest sizing down if you’re not going to be wearing armor underneath.
In general, the sizing seems just right, so stick with whatever size you would typically choose for any riding jersey or t-shirt. And if you want a jersey with a tighter, slimmer fit, it would probably make sense to opt for another jersey altogether.
I usually wear pants or shorts in a 30” or 32” waist, so I’m often in between sizes depending on the cut of a given pair. In a 32” size, the Ambush shorts fit my waist just a little loosely, though I was able to tighten the waist using their stretchy inner-waist band. I did find that after some hard-charging bike park laps, the shorts would loosen up and sag a little bit. This wasn’t a huge deal at all, it just required fiddling around a bit to get them re-tightened. So, like the Ambush jersey, I would not say that you need to size down in the shorts.
Design & Features
The ¾ sleeve-length Ambush jersey is made from Race Face’s ‘Cool Touch’ wicking material, which is 100% polyester, and pieced together with flat-lock stitching. Race Face’s wicking fabric works fine, like most wicking fabrics in the year 2014.
I don’t often wear ¾ sleeve jerseys on pedal-y trail rides, but I’m a big fan of the jersey’s ¾ sleeve length for lift-served riding. I like having a couple extra inches of fabric over my elbows and forearms to ward off encroaching bushes. And if you overshoot a corner and lay your bike down, the slightly longer sleeves help protect your forearms from dirt rash.
One of the features I appreciate the most about the Ambush Jersey is its goggle wipe (that tucks into a hidden zip pocket on the lower left side of the jersey). In typical PNW fashion, it rained / drizzled five out of the nine days we rode the Whistler Bike Park, and the the faux suede wipe always did an excellent job of clearing mud and water from my goggle lens, preventing scratches and improving my vision considerably. I never actually used the pocket that the wipe is stowed in for much else, because the shorts’ pockets stowed everything I needed them to.
The Ambush Shorts’ double stitching and heavier, textured fabric gives them a somewhat rough hand-feel. While it isn’t the most comfortable material out there, this does seem to make the shorts quite durable, as advertised, which I’ll say more about below.
The zippers on the shorts’ cargo pockets run diagonally, parallel to your hips. The angle of the zippers required that I use both hands to pull something out of the pockets, which was a little bothersome. More importantly, though, the pockets are huge and consume whatever you need them to – phone, wallet, keys, tire levers, patch kit, CO2, etc. Everything you usually throw in your CamelBak for a day of riding will probably fit in the pockets, and their long, deep design comfortably keeps things collected low around your knees, rather than over your thighs.
Venting: Ambush Shorts
The Ambush shorts come with two sets of vents to help you stay cool.The first set of vents are really just mesh panels that run along the outside of the leg. The second set of vents run vertically down the front of your thighs and can be zipped open or closed. When open, the front vents do a decent job of channeling air into the shorts as you ride. Overall, for hot days of riding in-resort, the Ambush shorts vented well enough, but if you’re looking for a highly breathable pair of baggies for long trail rides, they may not be the best choice. Yet while the thickness of material used on the Ambush doesn’t do much for their cooling performance, it does help make them well suited for the DH / Freeride crowd.
I haven’t worn the Ambush jersey enough (or crashed in it yet) to comment on its durability. At least I can attest to the quality of the stitching, and I would expect it to hold up for a whole lot of rides.
I did go down once pretty hard while wearing the Ambush Shorts, however. I blew a pedal while whipping a small jump on A-Line in Whistler’s Bike Park, which sent me sideways into the dirt, landing hard on my my left hip. I don’t wear hip pads, so the only thing between my skin and a brown pow-poundage were the shorts. After sliding a few feet and getting up to brush myself off, a quick inspection of the shorts revealed no damage; all the zippers and mesh vents were intact, and there were no tears or big scuffs to speak of (though the bright green color now had a brownish tint to it.)
Overall, I like the look and fit of the Ambush shorts. They’re tough, should withstand a handful of crashes, and will accommodate knee pads on the days you need them. I would have liked the shorts to vent better, but will find use for them in the spring and fall when temps don’t hover around 90 F.
The Ambush ¾ sleeve Jersey’s relaxed fit is cut well—not too tight and not too loose, regardless of whether you’re wearing a pack or not—and the built-in suede goggle wipe was a feature that I really came to appreciate. Thumbs up.