Review: Mavic’s Top Notch New Enduro Mountain Bike Clothing
Mavic are undoubtedly best known for their wheels, however they have been gaining a reputation for high quality mountain bike clothing. Until recently Mavic clothing has been tailored more towards the XC end of the spectrum with light weight, performance gear.
The new Mavic Notch range, however, is really targeting the booming Enduro, or AM, market. We recently received a selection from the new Notch range and have been testing it out both in the Basque Country, Spain and hot, humid US East Coast and Midwest. Read on to see how we are getting on…
Mavic Notch Shorts & Undershorts
Douglas: The Notch shorts come with a removable undershort which I will talk about separately. The Notch short is loose fitting but not baggy and the length is around about my knees. There is plenty of space for knee pads and the shorts have been specially cut so they don´t bunch up around the knee pads. The material is designed so that it doesn’t catch on the Velcro of your pads as well, a nice touch. The shorts use two materials, a more breathable front panel and a tougher rear designed to be tough enough to withstand the falls and abrasions that come with riding your bikes over dirty mountains. My shorts certainly seem to be lasting, despite having had a couple of big falls. The shorts have two zippered pockets, one front and one back, along with another pocket which closes with poppers. There is no adjustment on the waist of the Notch shorts, something that means it is important to get the sizing right, however there is are belt loops so if they are a little baggy you can use a belt. My European L size fit me perfectly though and I have no need for a belt.
Tyler: I wore mine around our local XC trails in NC, on one day of the TS Epic in PA and with knee pads at Whistler. In all instances, fit and form meant perfect function. Like Doug said, they fit well over pads (Kali, in my case) and didn’t bunch or snag on them. The weird thing is the shorts look thick, but they’re surprisingly light, and the inside face is incredibly soft. I did get a bit of bumps on a particularly long, hot day, but I don’t suspect the shorts are entirely to blame. It was really, really hot, and I had bumps all the way down my knee, beyond where the shorts went. But if you have sensitive skin, just something to be aware of.
Regarding sizing, I have a 33″ waist, and ended up needing a US Medium (EU Large). The large fell off me. Mavic could do well to get their sizing across garments a bit more cohesive. I wear an XL in their road stuff, but a medium in these shorts, and having EU and US sizing showing a size apart on the same label just confuses things further. That said, the medium fits me perfectly without a belt. There’s no sagging, and they haven’t once drooped and the crotch hasn’t snagged the saddle.
Douglas: The first thing I noticed about the Notch undershorts is that they are a lot shorter than other undershorts I use. This feels great, meaning there is less chance of interfering with my knee pads and they also seem to stay in place brilliantly without being over tight. The 2D pad is comfortable and has stayed that way after several washes.
Tyler: I like them, too, but if bibs are your thing, the shell shorts stay up just fine when worn over those, too.
Douglas: I really love the Notch shorts and undershorts. They look cool enough for me to ride into the centre of San Sebastian and not feel out of place drinking in the fashionable bars, however they are really comfortable on the bike and feel like they are tough enough to take the knocks. The cut and fit is perfect for the type of mountain biking I do, i.e. All Mountain / Enduro.
Tyler: …and for XC. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the way they look. I did cut off the large, ugly leather pulls attached to the zippers, though.
Mavic Notch Jerseys
Douglas: I have been testing the short sleeved Notch and Notch Graphic jerseys in various colours. The cut of the jerseys is baggy but not overly so, and fairly long. I found that the European Large, (also called USA Medium) was a perfect fit for me. It is less baggy than a downhill or freeride top however a lot baggier than an XC style top. There are two materials used in the jersey, a tougher material in the main parts and a more breathable, perforated material around the sides and underarms. The top is definitely breathable and having just ridden 14 days back to back through a heat wave I have found the tops to be really comfortable and hard wearing.
Tyler: I agree, it breathes really well. Aesthetically, the zipper stops at just the right spot, but it would be nice if it dropped open a couple more inches. I didn’t find any use for the chest pocket, the only one on the jersey. I ride with a hydration pack 90% of the time, and like any jersey it’ll stick a bit under a loaded pack, but if I arched my back inward a bit and leaned forward, air would sneak underneath and quickly cool it off.
Douglas: The Notch Graphic jersey has a far more “Team” design which you are either going to love or not but it has the same construction as the other jerseys so you can choose what you like. Personally I love the big, bright colours of the Notch jerseys and they look fantastic for riding photos if that interests you.
Mavic Notch Helmet
Douglas: I am testing the Mavic Notch helmet in team yellow, something that might not be to everyone´s tastes but which I love. The first surprise for me was the adjustability of the helmet, I have a huge head and struggle to get anything to fit but the standard large Notch helmet fitted me with room to spare. Despite the helmets light weight the coverage is really good and although other testers have complained about the lightweight retention system I found it very easy to adjust and get comfortable. The visor is non adjustable and I’m a fan of its more secure fitting, however if you feel the need to be adjusting your visor angle it is something to think about. The visor is removable if need be. The venting is good and the antibacterial pads are really comfortable and after a couple of very hot and sweaty weeks there is no hint of smell.
For me the Notch helmet is one of the stand out parts of the Notch range. I loved its comfortable simplicity, light weight and great coverage. No two heads are the same though so I’d always advise trying before you buy.
Mavic Notch Socks
Yes, there is even a sock in the new Notch range! The Notch socks are cut to just above the ankle, not too long but longer than more XC socks. Initially they felt quite thick and I was worried they would be too warm but the material seems to wick moisture away and keep the feet dry and cool. There isn´t much that I can say about a set of socks other than that.
And One More: Zach’s Take on the Notch
Considering this is basically Mavic’s first take on “Enduro” clothing, they have done a pretty good job – though it’s not perfect. To me, the stand outs are the long sleeve DH style and short sleeve with a 1/4 zip. The material is extremely light weight and breathable which means they aren’t stuck to your back in hot, humid weather. The cut is roomy, but not obscenely baggy, and the fabric has proven to be surprisingly durable. If I had to pick just one, the short sleeve would be a no brainer for future purchase.
I should mention, the sizing of the Notch gear runs quite large, at least for me. Smalls (US, International M) seem to fit like most other US mediums if not bigger, which as mentioned is a problem with the shorts since there aren’t any adjustments to the waist. Furthermore, there is no attachment of the liner to the outer shell so it makes wearing a belt almost necessary. I’ve heard people don’t mind wearing a belt while riding, but for me it is a deal breaker.
Really, it’s a shame because otherwise the shorts are quite good, they just wouldn’t stay up! I suppose an XS might have been better, but I’m not sure the rest of the fit would have been right. While we’re on the subject of easy improvements, the 2″ long, leather zipper pulls with a metal tab at the end make getting into the pockets with gloves on quite easy, but when you’re blasting down the trail you can feel them smacking against your legs. It was an easy fix though – I just cut off the metal tabs.
On the plus side, the shorts are surprisingly breathable and do offer a unique style that blends in well off the trail. Durability is impressive too, if you rip these you had better get to the first aid tent.
In the world of full(er) coverage helmets, the Notch is good, but average. There is nothing that would make the Notch jump out as an exceptional helmet, but at the same time the fit is good and snug, though some may find it a little flat across the top. The center ridge of my skull makes pretty solid contact with the top of the helmet, but not in an uncomfortable way. Ventilation is decent, as is protection.
Honestly, the purchase of the Notch will probably come down to the visor. The lack of adjustability will be a deal breaker for some, though it didn’t bother me. The 320g Notch is a solid helmet, and for $110 not terrible on price either.
Finally, for me the last two bits are the Notch H20 jacket and Single Track gloves. Marc already covered the gloves here, though unfortunately for me they are simply too narrow across the palms. With the fingers already too long, sizing up wouldn’t help. The gloves are pretty awesome as Marc found, just try them on before you buy. Oh, and don’t leave them in your hydration pack after a ride. I found out the hard way that they can grow some pretty gnarly mold if you do.
Notch H20 Jacket
Next to the jerseys, the Notch H20 jacket is easily the most impressive piece. The fully seam sealed, waterproof jacket proved to be breathable even in our steam bath rain showers. The back of the jacket features two zippers that allows the jacket to expand and fit over a small hydration pack, if yours doesn’t have a rain cover. The fit is more true to size on the H20 jacket, and it easily stows in hydration pack. It’s not the most breathable jacket ever, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a better jacket for the money.
Tyler: I agree, the jacket is amazing. (Actually, all of Mavic’s cycling jackets are pretty darn amazing!) It’s comfortable, not too warm and just loose enough to offer exceptional movement without flapping like a parachute. But you’d be hardpressed to wear elbow pads underneath. While it’s not a minimalist piece, it will squish down small enough to fit into a jersey pocket.