Outdoor Research Freewheel MTB Collection 

By Wil Wheaton 

Outdoor Research has been making gear that’s great for mountain biking for years, but the new Freewheel Collection steps up the game with functional features specifically for mountain bikers and the latest, durable material construction. The end result is biking gear that fits well, looks good, and does its job out on the trails. Below are reviews of three pieces of gear from the eight-piece Freewheel Collection. Outdoorresearch.com  

OR Freewheel Half Zip Hoodie: This breathable, tough-feeling and quick-drying layer will keep you warm and dry in the wind and light rain while still working with your body’s dynamic movements, thanks to stretchy, double-weave fabric. The top features include a drop-tail hem that helps keep unwanted plumber’s crack at bay, a front zip that’s deep enough to make layering adjustments easy, and, my favorite, the expansive hood that will fit over or under a helmet for temperature regulation options. I like the jacket’s simple design, with only one small chest pocket, but would gladly welcome the additional weight required to add hand pockets for warming up cold fingers. MSRP: $179.  

OR Freewheel Ride Shorts: Are mountain bike shorts pretty much all the same? Good question. At a quick glance, the Freewheel shorts check the usual boxes: flexible fabric, venting where needed most, a couple of pockets. But the Freewheel shorts have added innovations. What looks like hipster bike bling on the outer hems is really a 3D-printed overlay that adds extra abrasion resistance. A higher waist back offers better coverage when seated, and they have unique, low-profile waist size adjustment tabs. Also different, which might take some getting used to, is the slide lock snap closure on the fly of these shorts, seemingly more resistant to accidental opening than snaps. Finally, while I’m stoked with these shorts, the fly zipper isn’t as deep as I would like when it comes time to answer nature’s call. MSRP: $115.  

OR Freewheel Hip Pack: If you’re old enough, you may call this back-liberating bike gear storage bag a fanny pack, but OR’s Freewheel Hip Sack is a far cry from the nylon waist-satchels people used to stow combs, chewing gum, and other items in back in the ‘80s. The big differences are the modern construction built for outdoor abuse, its lightweight and comfort, and the 5L storage capacity that’s enough space for most short and mid-range rides. There’s a water-bottle holster on one side, a large main compartment that’s hydration bladder compatible, a smaller compartment on the back for sunglasses, and a mesh net that you can stuff jackets and other bulky light items into. MSRP: $85.  

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