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REVIEW

NF Berzerker V2 Riding Pants

Words Cam McRae
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Nov 7, 2019

If you have been riding for awhile you know that what is old will eventually be new again. Fanny packs, purple anodized parts, flat pedals, fat tires, J bend spokes, water bottles, bar ends, triple chainrings... Okay, maybe not the last two but you get the idea. In the downhill world long pants, pyjamas if you will, never really disappeared but many of us who pedal for our single track abandoned the idea for cold and damp days years ago. The fabrics may not have been waterproof but they sure were hot and sweaty. If it was cold and dry they worked okay but that was about it. You were wet from the inside or the outside or both. Textiles have come a long way in that time and water resistant/waterproof materials that breathe relatively well are common and increasingly affordable.

NF is a small Vancouver company that manufactures gear right here in Canada. Marketing, design, sales, and manufacturing all happen under one roof, ensuring a quality product and good working conditions. Perhaps most importantly, the location allows NF to work closely with riders and respond quickly to customer feedback. The Berzerker V2 pant is a result of that feedback.

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Oh no.

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Good lord!

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And there it is.

The first question I asked Travis from NF was; "do kneepads fit underneath?" The Berzerker is designed for riders who go hard and space for leg protection was mandatory. After that was settled and the pants arrived and I wore them pretty much constantly from day 1. As luck would have it we had the rainiest September on record, and most of October was pretty sucky as well, so the arrival of the Berzerkers was welcome.

Pants have several advantages over shorts that don't all depend on weather. Obviously they offer a little more protection but they also limit water from entering your shoes and socks from the big holes at the top, keep dirt out of your footwear and off your socks and pads (I don't mind dirt but some do), and they provide a level of warmth and comfort that makes riding in shitty weather a little more pleasant. If they keep you somewhat dry, well that's a huge bonus.

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The cuffs are nicely snug to keep out crap and prevent snagging. They also mean your pads need to go on first and come off last.

Fabric

The Berzerker isn't made from 3-layer Goretex, and that is reflected in the 228 CAD price (173 USD, 135 GBP, 144€). Instead a softer, more breathable soft shell material covers you up. Another big bonus is that this fabric has a generous amount of stretch for comfort and mobility. The fabric is also a little thicker than a Goretex-type outer shell and is soft, warm and comfortable against your skin. A disadvantage is that these are not considered fully waterproof. Water doesn't bead up on the DWR (durable water repellent) coating, but it doesn't seem to absorb either. With your ass being spashed over a couple of hours, some moisture is the inevitable outcome. I haven't been uncomfortably wet, but not as dry in the assy area as when I wear a pair of 7mesh Revo shorts, the best waterproof shorts I have worn. On particularly nasty and cold days I may decide to wear my Revos under the Berzerkers, but despite some biblical days I haven't yet felt that need.

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No buckle, no snap, no velcro... Just a wide elasticized waist band (aka the 'no fly zone waist band'). Like those pants your grandma used to wear. But entirely different.

Convenience/Features/Fit

These are a nice balance between thoughtful features and well-planned minimalism. There are 3 pockets that never seem to get in the way and double as vents when empty with open zippers. The quality zippers are not waterproof however so unless your phone is waterproof I'd bag it or store it somewhere else, despite not having any issues personally.

Kneepads are where things get a little sticky. The cut is accurate for my much-loved Shred (formerly Slytech) knees and there is no binding or snagging, with one exception. I have a 31" waist but a 33" or so inseam. These aren't likely measurements commonly found together and as a result, the distance between the top of knee and my waist is a little too long for the size medium Berzerkers. It's not enough of an issue to affect my performance, but I find my knees pull down the front of my pants a little when I'm in a downhilling position.

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Another issue is that the narrow cuffs (which I love) do not have zippers. As a result you have to put on your knees before you put on your Berzerkers. Also, my personal preference is to climb with my kneepads around my ankles and the only way to accomplish this is to drop trou, push down pads and then raise trou. This isn't always the strategic play. I can however pull my pads up without performing the aforementioned procedure. Obviously this isn't something that would affect everyone.

One of the best Berzerker design features is the no-closure waist. There is a wide elasticized integrated belt that is a perfect fit for me in the size medium. It keeps the pants in position (aside from the issue mentioned above) with no seams, folds, pressure or hot spots. I pull them on and they seem to click into place. There are even belt loops if that's your preference but I haven't felt the need.

The three pockets are well-placed, one on the right hip that fits a phone, and two on the side of your thighs. They are easily accessible but securely zippered closed. There is no fly but the elasticized waist, which sounds terrible but isn't at all, allows you to deal with your business.

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Pockets are useful but not cumbersome.

Final Analysis

I love wearing these pants on cooler and/or wetter rides. Usually I wear them with kneepads but if f I'm doing more pedalling on trails with a lower gnar factor I'll slip them on over my bare knees and feel somewhat protected and very comfortable. The stretch and the coverage actually inspires a little extra confidence; the extra shin protection from pedals and obstacles is nice and I'm certain that my kneepads won't slide on impact. They are warm without making me too sweaty and the nice hand feel on the inside never gets clammy like Goretex and other waterproof breathable tend to. My fit issue and the lack of ankle zips keep them short of perfection for me but the performance to value ratio is excellent.

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The three versions are black with black logo (far left) red with black logo and black with white logo. The red version makes it easy to see the multi-panel design – a key to the excellent fit. Not counting pockets or waistband I count 14 panels. The knees are nicely articulated to enhance mobility along with the generous stretch of the fabric.

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Comfy, protective, water resistant, practical; what more could a guy ask for?

Also

I've been wearing an NF merino wool first layer on virtually every ride for the last month - without washing it once. These are out of stock at NF at the moment but likely to be back in stock soon. The cut is great and there is nothing like merino against your skin for winter riding.

Check ridenf.com for more info on these products (Berzerker pants here) or to order some goods.

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Comments

Tadpoledancer
0
Tadpoledancer  - Nov. 7, 2019, 5:42 a.m.

It would be lovely if someone could make some high performance riding trousers that are actually waterproof. The only days I want to have trousers is when it’s so wet you’ve got salmon climbing the trails, but as far as I can see no one actually makes that (Where you at 7 mesh?).

Reply

JBV
0
James Vasilyev  - Nov. 7, 2019, 8:11 a.m.

some have said that the RF Agent is just such a pant. i'm sceptical about both performance and durability but i've read they have it all. i have to buy tall inseam stuff so not in the cards for me.

Reply

grcgrc
0
grcgrc  - Nov. 7, 2019, 5:54 p.m.

Unfortunately I have yet to find anyone that does anything longer than about 80 cm (32 inches) when there are so many of us with inseams that are so much longer.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Nov. 7, 2019, 8:51 a.m.

RF Agent. 

Also, Enduro MT-500 pant. I'll ha e a review on those out soon!

Reply

xy9ine
0
Perry Schebel  - Nov. 7, 2019, 9:53 a.m.

curious to hear how those compare. on the hunt for some weather resistant, pedal friendly trousers (with a slim long fit, ideally). lots to ask for, i'm sure, but there appear to be a growing crop of viable options out there. 

pants: so hot right now.

Reply

grimwood
0
grimwood  - Nov. 7, 2019, 8:32 p.m.

I had a terrible experience with the agents. Both pairs this year would be soaked through after riding 2 blocks in decent rain. The fit on the agents was great though. 

These NF pants look good. At least there’s decent pockets.

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me
0
M.E  - Nov. 8, 2019, 1:43 a.m.

Same experience with the agents unfortunately. They seem to be more in the splash proof than rain proof category.

Reply

FlipFantasia
0
Todd Hellinga  - Nov. 8, 2019, 6:26 a.m.

ditto, they're good in light rain, or for wet not raining, but if it's coming down, you will get soaked.

Reply

Tremeer023
0
Tremeer023  - Nov. 9, 2019, 8:37 a.m.

Looking forward to that.  I've had the mt500 Spray II pants for a year now and well recommend them.  They seem similar to the NF's but have zippered cuffs, adjustable waist and good waterproofing in the seat/ass area.  The fit is also quite long.  The thing I like most about them is they are comfortable in a wide range of temperatures.  I wear them from anything around 15 degrees c down to freezing.

Reply

shrockie
0
Shrockie  - Nov. 7, 2019, 4:59 p.m.

I've heard good things about showers pass from my buddies in Portland.. and man, do they get rain up there.. https://www.showerspass.com/collections/mens-rain-pants

Reply

travis_the_tailor
+1 Andrew Major
travis_the_tailor  - Nov. 7, 2019, 6:41 p.m.

True waterproof will mean you sweat, they won’t stretch so they will be baggy, and grinding that kind of fabric into a muddy saddle will completely destroy the pants in a short period of time. There are pants that are at the WPB levels you speak of but they are expensive, baggy, and uncomfortable. Just my two cents!

Reply

Tadpoledancer
0
Tadpoledancer  - Nov. 8, 2019, 1:46 a.m.

Im sure the pricing is outrageous, but I noticed Gore just released some new gore tex pro fabrics, where one of the 3 options was actually elastic (20% I think). Given their track record for waterproofness I’m optimistic.

Reply

jan
+5 Kieran Andrew Major Tadpoledancer Deniz Merdano Cam McRae
Jan  - Nov. 7, 2019, 7:28 a.m.

I bought these pants but I'm still p. reluctant to hit the toonie drop. Must be defective.

Reply

travis_the_tailor
+2 Andrew Major Tadpoledancer
travis_the_tailor  - Nov. 7, 2019, 6:43 p.m.

They don’t come with steel balls. Maybe next season!

Reply

taprider
0
taprider  - Nov. 7, 2019, 10:26 a.m.

Are those gloves knit or are they a printed nylon fabric?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Nov. 7, 2019, 10:48 a.m.

Printed. They are from Handup. Earlier I couldn't find them on their website but they are there now - just not in that print. They are nice for days that are a little on the cool side. 

https://handupgloves.com/collections/cold-weather-gloves

Reply

taprider
0
taprider  - Nov. 7, 2019, 12:36 p.m.

they currently have a plaid-look and a work-glove-look though

Reply

travis_the_tailor
+2 Tadpoledancer Cam McRae
travis_the_tailor  - Nov. 7, 2019, 10:50 a.m.

Thanks guys! No Jon here (NF), just a Travis ;)

Reply

ehfour
0
ehfour  - Nov. 7, 2019, 10:57 a.m.

My comment is not about the NF pants, more about buying bike specific wear.  $200 seems like alot of $ to spend on pants that I will only wear on the bike....actually imho all bike specific gear is overpriced

I wish there were more options for low cost/well made/multi-sport clothing

Reply

cyclotoine
0
cyclotoine  - Nov. 7, 2019, 12:46 p.m.

I appreciate that the elastic is comfy but would rather see a webbing style waist adjustment like the hook or buckle type (see chromag and 7mesh for some examples). Elastic inevitably fails and then you have to add a heavy and uncomfortable belt.

Reply

travis_the_tailor
0
travis_the_tailor  - Nov. 7, 2019, 6:52 p.m.

Although we love the simplicity of the system we have now, our “no-fly zone” for spring is going to be really really good! We have some brilliant minds coming together to work on this. 🤓

Reply

gdharries
0
Geof Harries  - Nov. 7, 2019, 2:05 p.m.

Was NF born from the same company that used to be NFA?

NFA was a Vancouver-based snowboard clothing brand that was around for a while and made great stuff, but I think they ran into financial trouble.

Reply

travis_the_tailor
0
travis_the_tailor  - Nov. 7, 2019, 6:53 p.m.

Nope! Story is on the website.

Reply

carbonbootprint
0
carbonbootprint  - Nov. 7, 2019, 7:58 p.m.

Ive got the shorts and they’re by far the best piece of kit I’ve ever bought. Hoping they make some gloves or a rain jacket

Reply

smcmain
0
Samuel McMain  - Nov. 7, 2019, 11:26 p.m.

It'd be awesome if someone made pants, not even cold/wet weather pants, long enough. Everything seems to max out at 33 inch inseam, and when you wear pads that shrinks considerably. Considering I have a 37 inseam, most pants are, quite literally, long shorts at worst, or capris at best. Going off of pics of world cup pros that are tall, it seems like I'm not the only tall guy that can't find pants long enough! It can't be that hard...

Reply

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Nov. 8, 2019, 8:55 a.m.

Or short enough. I’ve got a 31 inseam, crotch to floor which means for biking I’d want a 29 or 30 but most pants, hiking, skiing  or otherwise seem to all come too long. Levi’s come in my size but not active wear.

Reply

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