Zoic sent over some of their winter clothing for us check out a few months ago, and since then we’ve ridden all over the Bay Area, and throughout the southwest rocking their gear. (see Inga’s post here) Designed for the core trail rider, the Zoic Crux Hoody, long sleeve Transition tech tee and Ether short are well worth consideration when you’re out shopping for new riding garb.
Zoic Crux Hoody
Of the three pieces, the Crux Hoody with its black square print is the stand out. The pattern is visually striking and our favorite aspect of the jacket. It offers a unique look with the benefit of looking good even when dirty.
The fabric used in the construction is similar to other fleece backed softshells, with a few details specific to cycling use; the 9″ wide rear pocket being a signature feature. It also features two front side zipper pockets, a left front chest media pocket, and drawstrings on the hood.
The outside is treated with a DWR coating that helps keep you dry. None of the seams are taped though, so you won’t want to stay out long in a downpour. In bad weather you’re still best off with a hardshell, but you’re covered on rides with a bit of drizzle.
Intended for cool weather, the cuffs have an internal sleeve designed to keep cool air out on those chilly mornings. It was especially nice when we were exploring trails outside of Las Vegas on a wicked windy day.
The Crux Hoody is a roomy fit in the torso, but doesn’t look overly baggy. The size small (I wear a size 38 jacket) I went with was a bit tight in shoulders, but the sleeves were of good length and kept my wrists covered, even when stretched out in a climbing position.
I’ve been gravitating toward more fitted jackets, but the relaxed cut was a boon in cold weather, as I was able to layer up as needed, including a light weight insulated vest. The weight of the material does make it more of a jacket though. Because of that, this isn’t a piece you’ll be pulling off mid-ride to stash in your pack— unless it has a good amount of cargo capacity.
On our recent trip to the southwest, it was just the ticket for cool temperatures and wind. Adding or removing additional layers allowed me to maintain a comfortable temperature. Pairing the jacket with a base layer and the long sleeve Transition tee was my preferred combination, (though I rotated a tech flannel in on some days) with a nylon wind vest for additional warmth as needed. In the evenings I’d swap out the nylon vest for a thicker insulated one.
Final Thoughts on the Crux Hoody
I haven’t really utilized the media pocket. Personally, I’d much prefer an inside chest pocket that was a bit bigger and could hold my phone. A bit more room in the shoulders would be ideal as well. The large cargo capacity of the rear pocket is cool though — it’ll hold an iPad or a sketchbook which is pretty sweet.
Check it out: Zoic Crux Hoody
Zoic Transition LS Tech Tee
Construction/ Materials/ Features
The Transition Long sleeve Tech Tee is a polyester jersey with a great feel to the material. It has a soft hand and is uber comfortable. On our SW trip it got a lot of use, and worked well pairing it with a base layer and wind vest.
In terms of cycling specific features, it has a rear side zipper pocket. I haven’t used it yet, but for XC rides without a pack, it could come in handy and is a nice detail.
The Transition has a dialed fit. It’s loose enough to be comfortable and not be constrictive. Zoic nailed it on with the pattern on this top, as it’s just relaxed enough you can move easily, while looking trim and not at all baggy. I really like the criss cross collar which adds a bit of flair. The soft hand of the fabric is comfortable against your skin and I ended up wearing the top for days at a time when traveling. It even worked well in warmer temperatures and I chose it on chilly mornings that evolved into sweaty afternoons without issues with overheating as it wicks well. A solid basic, the top goes with almost everything.
The comfort does come with downsides: you must avoid velcro at all costs. The loose weave of the material that makes it soft and lets it breathe so well also makes it prone to snags. Fortunately they don’t show up too much on dark fabric, and with some careful snipping I was able to clean it up after an abrupt meeting with the ground.
Check it out: Transition LS Tech Tee
Zoic Ether Stretch Short
Construction/ Materials/ Features
The Ether Stretch short is a Zoic staple. A solid option for a light weight summer short, elastic back waistband and velcro tabs allow for a dialed fit and it fastens with a snap. There’s adequate room for storing trail side essentials with two front hand pockets, two zipper leg pockets and a rear zip pocket. The two front pockets are reinforced with rivets for durability with pocket bags just deep enough to secure items while riding.
The polyester spandex blend is light and doesn’t cling to your skin when things get sweaty.
The 12″ inseam drops above the knee with my 31″ inseam. Unfortunately, it didn’t pair well with the cool weather rides we did in the southwest, as the short inseam is better for warm weather XC or trail rides. At my height, (5’10”) they didn’t play well with knee pads and the dreaded thigh-skin gap was in full effect. That said, I’ve seen shorter riders wearing the shorts, and it looked better on them paired with pads.
Better suited for warm weather due to the light weight, I took to wearing them around camp over a pair of long johns during our recent trip, as they’re super comfortable.
For fashion conscious riders wanting to avoid the knee pad faux pas, a longer version, the Ether LT is now available with an ample 15″ inseam.
The shorts have been holding up well in the durability department. After low-siding my bike in a flat, loose turn in Sedona, I had the opportunity to test its durability. After bouncing off rock and sliding across some hardpack there’s evidence of crash damage. To its credit, there aren’t any tears or holes in the fabric. Although are some scuffs, but I can’t imagine anything less than a cordura/nylon DH short would be more durable.
The shorts are lightweight, suitable for long days of adventure. I haven’t utilized the thigh zipper pockets, as they’re too low for me and I hate having stuff bounce around on my thighs when pedaling. I’d love to see these moved up a few inches, and to the rear when the weight wouldn’t be noticeable. They do work well for my empty goo packets though. I’m also not a fan of the elastic waist band, but I’m happy to report that Zoic has a few new models (the Grove and the Strand, both of which look solid, as well as affordable) with fixed waistbands in the works. (hopefully with a 14″ inseam!)
The Ether includes a padded liner making them a good value. I never expect too much from liners packaged with shorts, but they’re comfortable and I have no complaints whatsoever, plus they’re holding up. That’s good enough for me.
The light weight and short inseam make these a go-to short for hot summer days, and trail riders looking for a performance short would do well to consider them. They’re relaxed enough in the thighs to avoid being constrictive, but don’t have issues with hanging up on the saddle, and the tapered leg keep them from getting in the way. Zoic is based in San Diego where temperatures get warm, and their gear is made to be worn there. I’d have no problem jumping into a river or lake mid-ride wearing these as they’d be ready to go by time we finished lunch. For aggressive all mountain riding where knee pads are required, I go with a different short as the thigh skin gap is a no-go, but they work for the post ride pub stop, (other than the elastic, which isn’t as noticeable with my black pair) and are golden for XC riding.
Shorter riders or those unconcerned with appearances will be please to know most knee pads do play well with the leg opening, which is wide enough to accommodate most slim profile knee pads.
I’m running a medium, generally wear a 32 and they fit well, though the rear elastic can be a bit constrictive. Again, we’re not fans of the rear elastic, as it keeps the short from shining as a shred-friendly commuter piece but the short clearly has been a solid seller for Zoic, and there’s a lot to like. My recommendation would be the black version, as the silhouette is solid and it’s a great basic to have for those hot days.
Check it out: Zoic Ether Short