Review: Ride into the Ether, with Zoic’s New Premium Short
Building on the success of their best selling mountain bike short, Zoic has upped the ante with the new-for-2013 Ether Premium short. Constructed from the new Quattro fabric, the result features a water resistant DWR coating, 4 way stretch, and a soft touch on the skin. To go along with the Ether Premium, Zoic sent over their DNA Print jersey in order to complete the kit. Billed as an all mountain/DH V-neck jersey, it uses elbow length sleeves for increased coverage.
One of these comes highly recommended, the other? Well, read on to find out.
As one of the most important features of clothing, fit can make or break even the most feature packed garments. Both test samples were sent in medium sizes for my 5’8″, 150lb frame with a 30″ waist. I usually wear smalls in most cycling gear, but after reading Zoic’s sizing chart the decision for mediums was made. The $109 Ether Premium shorts (fit really well, definitely on the smaller side for mediums. Just baggy enough the short’s 12 inch inseam covered my knees while standing, but pull up when seated on the bike. I’m used to shorts being on the longer side given my short legs, but the Zoics fit surprisingly well with a snug fit on the chamois.
The $54 DNA jersey on the other hand, I would have been better off with a small. Built with a loose fit to begin with, the true to medium or slightly bigger size meant it was a little too baggy for my tastes. So you may need to size up on the shorts, but not on the jersey.
Since the Ether is their premium short, it is no surprise they are packed with features. Just about everything you could think of is there, with great attention to detail. The detachable Premium RPL System liner includes Cytech’s excellent Elastic Interface chamois which has 4 way stretch and multi level foam for extended comfort. The 9″ inseam liner is made from 6 panels of Bioactive fabrics which are antibacterial which should help to keep things fresh. A lot of work was put into the liner, and it pays off in spades.
The waist band of the short is sizeable with velcro elastic tabs, though my 30″ waist didn’t need them to be adjusted much at all thanks to the elastic rear waistband. At the front of the short you’ll find a double closure with velcro and a snap – a nice touch to keep things from coming undone.
While the shorts have a DWR coating to stay water repellant, there is no lack of ventilation thanks to the speed holes that perforate the outer short. Even on really hot days, the shorts regulate temperature really well without seeming like they give up much in durability.
The Ether Premiums have multiple pockets that are actually useful, including a cellphone/tech pocket. The pocket includes a headphone port along with the red tag above that works as a cable loop to keep the cable out of the way. The tech pocket is a nice touch, but I never used the headphone features due to the fact that if I am listening to music my phone is in my hydration pack or jersey pocket. Other nice features include a microfiber sunglass wipe stashed in the leg pocket, and taped seams for water resistance and the smoothest surface possible. Locking waterproof zippers with logo tabs take things a step further, and the shorts actually use a rivet to hold the pockets together like your favorite pair of blue jeans.
Up top, the DNA jersey features two “g00-slinger” side pockets instead of traditional rear pockets. This keeps things comfortable when wearing a hydration pack, and makes it possible to get to them without taking the pack off. There is also an internal headphone cable slit if you want to run your phone or iPod in your pocket. The jersey also features mesh venting on the upper back and armpits which combined with the wicking UPF 40 polyester fabric means a nice, cool fit.
Unfortunately, the fabric is too soft for its own good. In little time at all, the front of the jersey had multiple snags which seemed to match up with the waist and sternum strap of my hydration pack – though the same pack hasn’t snagged other jerseys. Also, one of the biggest snags happened before it even hit the trail during the first photo session before I ever used a hydration pack with the jersey. The DNA jersey is extremely comfortable, but its early performance doesn’t bode well for durability.
There is no question at all that the Ether Premium short is a homerun. Fit, performance, features, it scores well in just about every category while looking good too. The only concern with the shorts is how well the taped seams will hold up over time as there is one tiny spot that is starting to peel up slightly. However, the spot is located at a crease that was formed from the short being folded for shipping, so it wasn’t from use. So far it hasn’t proven to be an issue and with quite a few miles on the Ether Premiums including a 6+ hour ride in extremely hot, humid conditions, I’ll be reaching for the Ether Premiums more often than not.
If Zoic can figure out how to keep the fabric from snagging so badly on the DNA, it would definitely change my thoughts on the jersey. In all of the jerseys I’ve worn, very few have had the snagging issues I’ve seen with the DNA, even full on lycra. It’s a shame, since the design of the jersey and features are really well done.
Ether Premium Short
- Great fit, with adjustability
- Super comfortable Chamois/liner
- Light weight, but still durable
- Great pocket organization
- Good looks
- Taped seam around leg pocket may be the only weak link
DNA Print Jersey
- Soft, comfortable fit
- Good pocket placement
- Ventilation and UPF 40 fabric keeps you cool
- Propensity for snagging of fabric means durability and looks are greatly impacted