Riding the Mainline: REI’s Urbane Novara Roxhill Shorts and Westbrae Knickers
When we found Novara’s handsome urban-styled Dutchtown jacket this spring, we also took note of several other pieces in the company’s good looking Mainline collection. Mainline is Novara’s set of clothing that’s designed to stand out and work well on the bike- while blending in when off the bike. To that end, REI’s cycling brand has used performance fabrics, strategic reflective hits, and casual styling to create kits that aim to be as safe on the road as they are comfortable around town. Have they succeeded? Hop the curb to find out!
In a nice break from the usual S/M/L sizing, men’s Roxhill shorts and Westbrae knickers come in five even waist sizes from 30 to 38in. As both share the same cut from the knees up, both models fit great right off the rack- going with our usual pant size worked fine. The slim cut of both the shorts and knickers bring to mind Dickies work pants- streamlined without being tight. There are a pair of hand pockets in the usual spots and a pair of back pockets as well.
The rear pockets’ snap flaps conceal reflective trim, which can be exposed by tucking the flaps inside of the pockets themselves. The left leg on each the shorts and knickers also conceals a strip of reflective trim, which can be exposed by turning up the cuff. Both also sport a U-lock holster at the left hip- a nice touch for those who would prefer to go without a bag for nights on the town.
While we appreciate that there are no leg or cargo pockets to clutter the design or flop about while riding, the shallow side pockets had us wishing for a bit more cargo security- an inch or two of extra depth would be more than welcome when pocketing a smartphone. Where the 14in inseam Roxhills feel more like standard cotton fabric with just a touch of stretch built in, the 17in Westbraes are oriented toward damper and cooler weather with a nice wind- and water-resistant 4-way stretch material. Both are extremely comfortable and moderately breathable both on the bike and off.
The built in pads are fairly minimal and unobtrusive: adding a touch of comfort while riding and a without being noticeable when walking. All in all, both the shorts and knickers take their cues and styling from boutique cycling brands- comfortable and modern without screaming ‘bike.’ Though neither are cheap (the Roxhill shorts run $65, the Westbrae knickers $70), both seem very well thought out and constructed and are backed by REI’s fantastic customer service. For next season, our only request would be slightly deeper side pockets- everything else about these shorts and knicks just works great.