Race Face Conspiracy Wet Weather Line
Is there a conspiracy behind the Conspiracy line? I couldn't figure out why Race Face came up with this name. All of the definitions imply harm, unlawfulness and secrecy. I asked Race Face PR and marketing man Matt Hornland what's with the name. This is what Matt said: Conspiracy – I mean, we get a little thesaurus happy over here, but the intent behind the name was that “Conspiracy allows you to plot your lines, no matter the weather.” Or, in other words, the Conspiracy is to keep you riding in all conditions. To what gain? Probably so that the bike industry can sell you more brake pads. From our perspective, however, the idea that you have to stop riding is the battle we want to fight against."
Now that is a conspiracy I can get behind. Though whenever all of these companies come up with their ride-in-all-conditions blurbs, I have to think about what trails can handle that kind of wear and tear. As a builder, rider, and holier than thou'r, I know what trails can be responsibly ridden based on the conditions but if we are arming everyone with the idea that with the right gear they can ride whenever they want, are we accounting for the types of trails that can handle that? Is this a conspiracy to sell more shovels? Just kidding, it's not the bike industry's responsibility to teach responsible wet weather riding...or is it?
I digress, because when the fall rains come it's wet for months and many of us are going to ride. We will just be selective in what we ride based on the conditions past and present. For these wet times, Race Face has scrapped their old Agent shorts, pants and jacket and come up with these pieces to replace them. I enjoyed my Agent shorts and pants a lot. I found the shorts weren't getting used ever since I began wearing pants any chance I got but the Agent pants were my go to on cold and or wet days and they worked well for the one season I had them. Since I received the Conspiracy gear I have been riding every ride I could in order to give them a good test run. Somedays I didn't wash or let them dry out enough so I had to use other gear but I logged 15 rides and 5 trail building days with the pants and jacket. I did two days with the shorts just to give them a go but it was too cold for my bones to ride them more (don't tell my Norwegian ancestors). I will try the shorts on wet days next spring. The gloves were used on 11 rides.
The Conspiracy jacket is a lightweight packable waterproof jacket. When it was too hot to climb with the jacket, it packed up and fit in my low volume Hyperlite Versa hip bag. The jacket breathes well; I on the other hand do not. The 10k breathable waterproof material combined with the armpit openings (RF calls them gills, cuz well, they look like gills) allowed me to sweat my usual hot headed amount while still keeping most of the rain out. I say most because there was one day when I noticed wetness on the middle arm sections of my shirt. I had been building in the rain for two hours so I am assuming that the waterproofing did not work as well because of the duration in the rain. In order to test it, I needed to eliminate the sweat factor. I donned the jacket and pants and took a shower like never nude Tobias in Arrested Development. I put the pants over lounge pants and the jacket over a long sleeve shirt so I could see any water marks. After ten minutes (one can only suffer for science for so long) of showering the jacket and pants I thought there was going to be water on the underclothes because it sure felt like it was damp underneath. When I removed the jacket and pants I was surprised to see the underclothes were completely dry. The feelings I was getting when riding were just that, feelings, but no leaking from outside just sweat leaks from the inside.
The jacket's features are all well constructed. The waterpoof zippers are easy to use unlike others I have tried that get stuck easily. The elasticated cuffs are tight enough to enclose the wrists to keep the water out but not tight enough to restrict circulation or movement. The hood fits over my helmet very well. The only problem is there are no cinches so at high speeds or when it's windy, the hood gets blown off.
Race Face lines the hood, cuffs and hem with an elasticated fabric. The seams are all taped with what looks like high quality material and application. The armpit openings, the gills, allow some extra breathability in that hot spot. The one inside pocket is alright for something like a lens cloth but I would not want to leave a key or phone that close to my chest. I would prefer a couple of pockets on the outside in the usual location but with pockets in the pants and hip bag I really don't need pockets at all.
Race Face sizing is about half a size smaller than many manufacturers. A reverse of 7 Mesh which I find to be a half size bigger than most. I normally wear a large in jackets and tops but I found the Conspiracy jacket too tight in the chest and armpits. It's not a big deal when hands are on the bars but I would rather have zero restrictions. I tested the XL and it is definitely big and roomy but I like that. I have been testing upper body protection (after breaking my ribs for the fifth time in my bike career I just couldn't take it anymore) so the extra jacket space helped with that.
Conspiracy pants and shorts
The pants and shorts feel great when I put them on. The zipper/ratchet enclosure helps with the fit by making adjustments easy. For example, I wore them loose on the climbs and tight on the downs, accommodated with a few ratchet adjustments. After sweating in them I could tighten up the slack a little as well. In the pants there is plenty of room for all of my knee pads: low profile Race Face Indys to high profile plastic capped POCs. There is no binding inside the pant allowing for smooth pedalling motions during the ride. The shorts fan out at the knees to allow for all knee pad sizes as well.
The two pockets are generously sized and can fit a regular-sized phone comfortably. The waterproof zippers snug closed offering security for valuables like my car key. I normally wear a medium pant and short but the conspiracy to overthrow my expanded waistline made me upsize to a large. They are definitely roomy but I would rather have them a little big than a little small.
The taping is the same high quality as found on the jacket. As comfortable as the pants were at the start of the ride, during and after the ride they felt cold and clammy. The thin material doesn't insulate very well but that's not what it was designed for. On a couple of cold days I wore thin long underwear underneath and that solved the problem. In the legs. The cold and clammy feel in the seat area was an issue for me. I wasn't sure if it was a wet cold feeling from sweat or if the pants were not keeping all the trail splash out. The shower test was needed for the pants as well. As mentioned above in the jacket section, the pants were waterproof keeping all water away from my under clothes. I will try some warm B3NTH's next ride to see if that makes a difference. Or I could try Cam's method of wearing shorts over the pants...or not. I am very happy with the performance of the pants other than the cold clammy feeling I get on wet days below 10º C.
Conspiracy gloves are made for cold and/or wet weather riding. They feature DWR coated waterproofing on the outer layer and a thermal lining on the inner layer. The index and middle finger have silicone grip to help with wet and cold brake levers. It is also has touch screen thread on the thumb for anyone who uses their thumbs to type. The cuff-wrist is a stretchy bonded material that is also waterproof. A velcro closure is added for more security from the elements. My one complaint would be the the wrist opening is too small. I guess I have a thing about getting my things into small cuffs like the the 7Mesh Glidepath pants I reviewed. I shouldn't have to struggle to get the gloves on but I do. Speaking of struggles. I do like these gloves for cold days. I struggle with the extra layers of material taking away the feel of my grips and contributing to arm pump. I have a thin pair of 100%'s that I like and even those give me the pumps. I think I will go with thinner grips for the winter to compensate; maybe that will help.
Another complaint (ok I have two) I have with winter gloves is that when I take them off and my hands are sweaty and/or wet it is very hard to get them back on as the inner layer tends to separate from the outer layer. I would think continuous stitching throughout the glove's entirety would solve that but I am no seamstress.
The gloves kept out the cold (one ride started at 3º C and my fingers were a bit cold for the first few minutes then they warmed up and stayed warm) and the wet. The only other brands I can reference for warm weather glove sizing are 100% and Dakine, and the fit is similar. Other than the struggle to get them on, I liked these gloves on the 11 sub 14º C rides I wore them.
Age - 57
Height - 5'9"
Weight - 175lbs
Ape Index - 0.992
Inseam - 31"
Trail I've been stoked on lately - Bukwus
Bar Width - 780mm
Preferred Reach - 465-480mm