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REVIEW

Kitsbow Haskell Shorts Reviewed

Words Andrew Major
Photos Deniz Merdano (Unless Noted)
Date Nov 22, 2019
Reading time

Three Season Shorts

Kitsbow's high-end Masterlink shorts are billed as a "mountain biking short without peer." The Haskells ditch the Schoeller fabric, Fidlock buckle, self-locking zipper, cycling-specific cut, and 265 USD price tag to deliver 'a really nice pair of shorts' which takes nothing away from their trail worthiness.

Kitsbow has positioned the Haskell, both the standard model I'm testing and the new breezier Haskell Light, as shorts to move around in and I've been enjoying them on and off my bike. 150 USD is still a lot of money, but considering manufacturing quality alone, they present a better value than a lot of cycling bottoms.

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The mid-weight Kitsbow Haskell shorts look good on and off the bike.

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The woven nylon material has just enough stretch, feels great, and has proven bombproof to date.

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There's plenty of clearance for bulky knee pads though I most often wear them without.

In all but the hottest couple of months of summer, I prefer a heavier weight short. This probably comes down to the fact I don't wear lycra underneath. For years I've worn mid-weight Swrve softshell knickers but mine have been well and truly abused and frankly, I've been wearing knee pads more with the scarier riding I've been doing and they aren't compatible.

The Haskell immediately became a key component in my three-part cycling lower ensemble. A beyond-beaten pair of Race Face Stage shorts for the dog days of summer, my much-loved Race Face Agent pants when there's a lot of water around, and the Kitsbow shorts for all the days in between.

They're very nicely made, durability has been excellent thus far, they have exactly the right amount of stretch, the cut works for me sitting or standing on my bike, they fit even the bulkiest knee pads, and they're great running around town or even when I need a pair of shorts that look a bit dressy.

To use a drivetrain analogy, if Dickies are Shimano Deore and the Kitsbow Masterlink is SRAM AXS then I think the 150 USD Haskell is still more XO1 than GX. 150 USD is more than I'd normally pay for a pair of cycling shorts, but not much of a premium over what my Swrves cost six or seven years ago, and the woven nylon-and-spandex Kitsbows look and feel bombproof.

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Left to right, black olive, wild oak and dry grey. Soggy grey has been discontinued.

I've had them out on some muddy days and so far they've washed up beautifully. I've laid the bike down a few times wearing them and so far not a scratch. At some point, I can envision them looking trashed enough to be relegated to a mountain bike-only short but if I'm not still regularly using them on the trails in 2027 I'll be seriously disappointed.

150 USD is not cheap but then neither is the Kitsbow Haskell. Highly recommended as a long term investment in cycling apparel. They're available in 10x sizes in 3x colours.

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Comments

mtmc99
+1 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Kelownakona
mtmc99  - Nov. 22, 2019, 7:02 a.m.

I haven't tried these shorts but wanted to vouch for the quality of Kitsbow stuff. I picked up one of their shirts this summer, and recently got a merino wool tshirt and sweatshirt during their moving sale and it has all worked wonderfully. I know its expensive, but if you wait around they do have sales or clearance items occasionally.

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Andrew Major
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 22, 2019, 9:03 a.m.

I wrote this review five years ago. I still wear both the A/M shorts and L/S jersey regularly, and they still look and feel great.

https://nsmb.com/articles/kitsbow/

Reply

jon
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
Jon Harris  - Nov. 25, 2019, 12:53 p.m.

Yep, can definitely vouch for Kitsbow gear being worth the investment. Wear my shorts regularly and still look crisp.

Reply

Kelownakona
+1 Andrew Major
Kelownakona  - Nov. 23, 2019, 12:29 a.m.

What's your choice of EDC?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Pete Roggeman Kelownakona
Andrew Major  - Nov. 23, 2019, 8:10 a.m.

It’s a Leatherman Skeletool. Specifically it’s the CX model which has a much nicer blade than the standard. 

I used to carry the bit kit in my pack but it’s sort of useless if the bolts on your bike are properly tightened. I do always bring the tool itself on rides though - have used it plenty - and of course take it everywhere. I use the screwdriver feature around the house a lot.

Reply

Kelownakona
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
Kelownakona  - Nov. 24, 2019, 11:12 a.m.

Cheers Andrew. Currently only carry a little Fallkniven in addition to my multi tool but good to know about the bit kits not being worth it as I had looked at those in the past and was tempted.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - Nov. 25, 2019, 3:47 p.m.

Yeah, I though I was combining my EDC and multitool but definitely a bit of a let down. Turning loose screws around the house is a lot different than adjusting a stem after a crash.

BUT, I have used both the blade and pliers many times into woods so in that sense I’m always happy to have it. 

The key reason I chose the Skeletool over any other Leatherman (and competing products) is that the blade is readily available without first opening the tool. Also it can be easily opened and closed one handed (flip of the thumb open) whereas knives sold in Canada now have to be harder to open because of a change in interpretation of laws a couple years back.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
+1 Andrew Major
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 27, 2019, 1:31 p.m.

I also have strong feelings about carrying a decent set of pliers on every ride. Used mine just last week to bail out Trevor who absolutely sh!tf*cked our ride with a 45-minute delay to fix a 'flat' which turned out to be the mother of all flats. I have a SOG Reactor multitool and we needed it to remove and then replace a valve core that got gummed up and then popped out in a pump with an interface that was too tight. Whoooosh...that's 3 more minutes of screwing and pumping.

The SOG Reactor has been discontinued and doesn't have good reviews but you can find it for as low as $20 US (Blade HQ) and just as a lightweight plier set with a passable blade, that's ok. Forget the screwdriver, it's useless. The blade is so-so at best (but still handy for boxes, small cut jobs, or even picking mushrooms) and the lock mechanism isn't foolproof but it's light and the pliers are the main event and use compound leverage making them very powerful for their relatively small size. The Skeletool is a similar weight but more expensive, so...for true quality and actual EDC pedigree go Leatherman CX Skele, but if you just need lightweight pliers with a bonus blade on the cheap...the SOG Reactor works in a limited use case. It's come in handy at least a dozen times on rides and takes up next to no room or weight in my hip bag.

I think we'll have more EDC content on the site soon. Speak up gear nerds!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - Nov. 27, 2019, 2:09 p.m.

Oh man, life is way too short to use sh*tty tools Pete!

I use my Skeletool multiple times a day. As long as I don’t lose it (not generally an issue I have) its going to amortize out to $0.001/use. I’ve never once thought about replacing it since I bought it.

And that’s just the little things! Tool has paid for itself a couple times dealing with valve stems or lock rings in the middle of nowhere. Pliers are as important to me as carrying a pump.

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 27, 2019, 7:04 p.m.

This is for you down below, Andrew, b/c the comment system is borking:

I agree about shitty tools, and as a multi tool the SOG Reactor may not be ideal but the blade is fine and the pliers are great. So...I'm happy with it? And it lives in the bag and doesn't move from there. Don't worry, though, I have a Leatherman Free P2 at home and it's an absolute beast, but a bit heavy for my riding pack.

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 27, 2019, 1:31 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

kekoa
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
kekoa  - Nov. 24, 2019, 9:28 a.m.

So am I to I understand correctly that you have three pairs of cycling bottoms? I wish I had your self control.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Pete Roggeman JVP
Andrew Major  - Nov. 24, 2019, 10:31 a.m.

Hahahahaha... no, they would be part of my three pieces IF I had only three.

I’ve actually purged down pretty well I think?!

In addition to those three pieces I have two pairs of many-times-repaired Swrve soft shell knickers that I can’t bring myself retire and can’t replace and a pair of desert-camo short-shorts for riding in Cumberland.

Also on test at the end of summer - and I’ll be putting in more hours once it warms up - are a pair of Abit shorts and a pair of Showers Pass shorts. They’re both spring-summer weight.

Reply

jon
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
Jon Harris  - Nov. 25, 2019, 12:55 p.m.

The Haskell pant is a really nice addition to the wardrobe too btw. I use them as a travel pant, good for hiking in, comfortable to sit on a plane in, comfortable to ride in and can be dressed up a little... really versatile and allows you to travel light.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 27, 2019, 1:06 p.m.

Jon, are they as durable as the shorts? If so, I may look into them. 

I've also got a pair of Mission Workshop Mission jeans...they're priced beyond what I'd normally consider for pants, but they're far and away the best pants I've ever owned. I've worn them all weekend camping and then to work (when I had an office job) on Monday, without washing them. They're comfy, stretchy, but still look good and work with runners or nice shoes, a t-shirt or a button down. Outstanding versatility and durability and they're still going despite a lot of washings and being worn 200 days a year for two years (no joke). Worth $200? Given what I just wrote, yeah, I think they have been - to me.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 27, 2019, 8 p.m.

Suddenly beyond interested in the Haskell pant... thanks Jon?!?!!!???

Reply

lev
+1 Andrew Major
Lev  - Nov. 25, 2019, 2:18 p.m.

What frame and fork is that?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 25, 2019, 3:58 p.m.

That’s my custom rigid Waltworks V.1 w/ paint by Toxik Harald. It’s a non-suspension corrected rigid bike designed around riding Black+ trails on the Shore.

~1190-1210mm WB (sitting at ~1210mm with this gearing) | 66-HTA static

Reply

lev
0
Lev  - Nov. 25, 2019, 4:35 p.m.

Thanks, I like it. It sent me on a rigid internet odyssey.  Is the geo working?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 25, 2019, 7:20 p.m.

It's been a journey. I've owned quite a few rigid bikes over the year but just as Shore-XC rigs until I started experimenting using a Kona Explosif (67° HTA) with a rigid fork and a 29+ front wheel which combined preserved the sagged geometry of the Explosif with a 140mm travel fork and a 27" wheel. I really enjoyed the bike but wished for a longer rear center and also for a 29" rear wheel as running the mullet (27x2.6" rear) rigid I found there were places the bike didn't pump-and-roll through terrain as well as I knew a dual 29" would.

Walt had built me the rigid fork for the Explosif and the fork was holding up great and V.1 was an extension of that bike. Clearance for 29x2.6" out back with a longer rear center (currently sitting about 450mm) another degree slacker up front with a longer front-center and a slightly reduced fork offset. 

This year I've managed to clean Bookwus and Upper Digger on V.1 so it's far exceeded my goals. There's a review pending but running the Plus-sized CushCore is a surprising part of that - I think CushCore is a fantastic product in general but certainly, a rigid bike is the most obvious way to feel the difference. 

The V.1 is long but not unwieldy or at least the bike can be muscled into most situations. The weight distribution is almost exactly where I'd like it. It's part of a process for me - I'd love to learn to weld and have space and time to play with all my ideas - and by the end of this year or early in 2020 I'll be riding V.2 full time. It grows significantly with a wheelbase that will vary between ~1240-1260 depending on the rocker position (gearing dependent) and has a slacker HTA, further reduced offset, and longer front-center to boot. It'll definitely require an adjustment period but I'm excited to learn to ride it and see if I've gone too far.

Reply

lev
+1 Andrew Major
Lev  - Nov. 26, 2019, 2:57 a.m.

That's some in-depth trialling going on Andrew.  I'm chuffed with myself for experimenting with stem length!  

Thanks for taking the time to answer.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 26, 2019, 6:03 a.m.

Ha, yes it’s become a bit of an obsession or quest for lack of better works. I do plan to eventually write about the process going back to my Monocog.

Thanks for reading!

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