When MTB apparel outfit Sombrio was having difficulties last year, we were bummed as we’ve been fans of their gear for some time. Although some of their graphics can be hit or miss for us, the brand has its roots in the dirt, the gear is well constructed and I’m a fan of the fit. Fortunately it looks like they’ll be around for a while as they’ve been acquired by Sugoi, and the resources of the larger company can only mean good things for the brand and their products.
In the last year or two I’ve acquired a few of their pieces, and they rank as some of my favorite riding pieces to date.
A full zip jersey with rear pockets is a staple of almost any performance cycling line, but not the first thing you’d expect from a brand with its roots in the North Shore. While the name alone strikes a chord with the Danzig fan in me, I’m also fond of the blacker than black color— it goes with everything— especially my all black Nomad. With the temperatures dropping and days now short, this is a piece that’s rolling heavy in my rotation.
This time of year requires a bit more forethought when heading out. Arm warmers or long sleeve jersey? Wind breaker, or vest? I usually keep a number of options stashed in my gear bag, but if the Black Metal is clean, it comes with me. (I also keep a jacket in the car after a close call with extreme weather a few years ago)
The full zip design of the Black Metal Jersey makes regulating temperature easy. The polyester blend fabric does a good job here as well. I usually get a bit too warm with long sleeve jerseys, although when it comes to high speed descents, its nice to have the coverage on chilly days. Mesh under the arms paired with almost sheer fabric help control the temperature.
The Black Metal works best on days when temperatures vary from warm to cool. (once it’s jacket weather, I go short sleeve with arm warmers with a riding jacket) I’ve had it for over a season now, and it often comes with me on trips because its versatility. It works well for our moderate climates here in the Bay Area, and paired with a base layer and light weight nylon vest you’re set for a wide range of temperatures.
I typically wear a small in most of Sombrio’s freeride and gravity pieces since they tend to be loose fitting for use with armor. (I’m a size 38 jacket) I went with the medium for the Black Metal Jersey for a fit that is inline with the other Sombrio tops I have, as it is more fitted. As a full zip jersey, it could easily have swung into roadie territory, but it manages to avoid that with a cut that is tailored but not racer. It doesn’t read like a road jersey, and is considerably longer in length than road specific jerseys. The length is nice and helps add a casual look to it, but it does come with a downside, as it bunches a bit in the front while on the bike. (I’m 5’10” ) It doesn’t bother me though, and I like being able to wear it pre and post ride without looking too bike-geeky. If you’re tall and lean, you might like the fit even more.
I’ve been rocking the jersey with and without a pack since it features the three rear pockets. It stows gear well, and the middle pocket features a zipper to secure items. The pockets carry as well as any decent road jersey (although it hauls a bit less due to the middle zipper pocket) and I haven’t had issues with stuff falling out. It also features an antibacterial treatment to help fight against odor.
I just need to remember to pull it from my gear bag when I get home, post ride. That coating doesn’t help much if you leave it wet and sweaty in your gear bag for a week. The black metal jersey lists for $75.
Sombrio Pinner Shorts
When I picked up the Black Metal Jersey, I also added the Pinner shorts to my closet. It’s another favorite due to the nice, trim looking silhouette and well thought out features. It falls under Sombrio’s freeride fit, but is considerably less baggy than the gravity shorts.
I’m 5’10” with a 31.5″ inseam and the size medium short with its 15.25″ inseam drops to the bottom of my knee. Tall riders with long legs will no doubt appreciate the Pinner as it runs fairly long. In fact, in the image above, it was sitting low on my hips, enough that a few people mistook them for knickers. (knickers generally have a 17-19″ inseam) The additional length for the most part covers my knee pads.
I’ve tried quite a few different models of shorts of various fits this season, and although I’ve come to like my shorts with about a 14.25″ inseam, other than that, the Pinner pretty much nails it for me.
While fit is often a matter of personal preference, style and tastes, consider this: too baggy, and you run the risk of hanging up on your controls or saddle in technical situations. Go too slim fitting and knee pad compatibility becomes an issue, as well as comfort, as your legs become constricted.
Another thing to consider: unless you have monstrous thighs, baggy shorts can make your calves look like skinny twigs sticking out the bottom. Fitted shorts on the other hand, can showcase your cycling-toned calves. Who doesn’t want to look good for the ladies?
For comparison, it fits very similar to the Troy Lee Skyline short— another favorite— although it’s about an inch wider in the thigh, about an inch longer in length, and a bit narrower at the bottom. Even with the taper, they’re just wide enough at the leg opening to play well with the Fox Launch knee pads, my go-to armor for dirt jumps and bike parks. They fit even better with my current favorite trail pad, the IXS Flow.
The Pinner is constructed from a durable midweight 4-way stretch fabric, and have held up well to date with over a season of rides logged. The durability adds a bit of weight and warmth, so Sombrio added mesh lined vents in the front with zipper closures to help.
There are nice details found throughout the short including a locking zip fly, bar tacks in key stress points and velcro securing a branded snap — just in case. The Pinner also features Sombrio’s waistband retention system, which works very well. I’ve never had issues with the shorts moving or sliding around on my hips. I’m even more pleased that they managed this without having to resort to an elastic waistband at the rear. Reliable YKK zippers used everywhere, and as a nice touch have Sombrio branded bits on the pulls.
I’ve hit the ground more than a few times wearing the Pinner shorts, and they still look great and have yet to tear. They’re not only durable though, but comfortable too, with a soft inner face backing the softshell fabric.
Although the short could be seen as a bit on the pricey side at $135 without an included liner, the detailed construction and features like zippers add to the cost. If it didn’t function and hold up as well as it looks, it would be another story, but I have yet to find a short I like more.
Get the look: