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Apparel

686 and Evil Collab on Clothes – First Impressions

The line is surprisingly simple, functional and refined, and unsurprisingly colored.

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Winter apparel brand 686 is dipping its toes in the bike game via a collaboration with Evil Bikes. The collection launches with four pieces: pants, shorts, a long sleeve jersey, and a short sleeve jersey. And in a twist that surprises nobody whatsoever, each item within the 686 x Evil “Blackout” line will  be available in a vast array of colors—as long as you choose black.

I received a kit last week and have had the opportunity to take the shorts and short sleeve jersey out for a few laps, and I have to say, I’m not unimpressed. Nearly every time a snow or outdoor apparel brand comes out with a bike line, they completely strike out on fit, fashion and features. Typically, we just get weirdly repurposed hiking cargo shorts and a tech tee, with maybe a drop tail. Which, is okay, I guess. But the 686 x Evil stuff is actually quite good, and what it lacks in pigments options, it makes up for in style, modern fit, and thoughtful, bike-specific design elements.

There are a few things in particular that 686 x Evil got right that way too many veteran bike-specific apparel brands can’t seem to. Right off the bat, I appreciate the button closure on the shorts and pants. Why people still think snaps are an acceptable way to hold pants closed is a complete mystery to me. These suckers are held securely with a tried and true technology that won’t pop open in the middle of a tuck no-hander. For the record, that’s never happened to me. For me, it’s more like I’m kneeling down to get a pump on my tire and my belly pops the shit open. You know, just to be real with you. With these, I’m saved the embarrassment of standing up while re-snapping a stupid useless snap.

Photo: Evil / Paris Gore

To “fine tune” the fit, there’s a board short-style drawstring, which seems like a lame and primitive thing, but sort of just works. Unlike the typical Velcro strap tension things found on most bike shorts, a drawstring is super easy to adjust and is much more secure. Also, it’s not elastic, so it’s not going to just stretch out and become weak over time. Personally, my favorite type of closure and waist adjustment system is the ratchet buckle scenario found on many DH (and moto) pants. But in lieu of that, this back-to-the-basics approach actually gets the job done better than so many other over-engineered flaps, tension straps and built-in-belt ideas out there.

Still focusing on the waist area, the shorts and pants are both designed with a high-rise back for better on-the-bike fit, another thing that brands who only make bike apparel still often fail to do. The pockets are well placed, and are abundant—nine in total. There’s even an RFID blocking pocket for paranoid peeps, although there’s no closure to it, which really just gives thieves even easier access to the credit cards you’ve scattered all over the trail. Maybe that’s more of an off-the-bike feature. And to be fair, there are three securely zippered pockets for valuables.

Photo: Evil / Paris Gore

Beyond that, the fit is accurate and comfortable. I’m a 34-inch waist, and size large fits perfectly. The inseam is long enough to cover knee pads and the cut is loose, but not too baggy. Build quality is impressive as well. The material is tough and there’s lots of double stitching throughout. They’re definitely not the lightest, most ventilated things out there, so I’d leave them at home in conditions any hotter than, say, 75 degrees or so. But, they’re stylish and low-key enough to make them an everyday wear. Finally, they’re made using mostly recycled material, and 686 as a whole is setting high environmental impact standards, so it’s a brand you can get behind.

Photo: Evil / Paris Gore

Moving on to the tops, the most standout thing I’ve noticed so far is the hem-less construction at the sleeves and waist. Rather than a folded and sewn hem to prevent fraying, there’s a ribbon of a sort of plastic material, kind of like a welded seam. It seems like a small detail, but it actually makes the fabric flow easier, which helps create a light and airy feel. I really like it. It’s too bad it’s only available in black, because it’d otherwise be great for hot riding temps. The fabric, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, is perforated to maximize airflow. The jerseys are also treated with an anti-microbial coating, which seems to be doing a good job of keeping the funk down so far. After two rides it remains un-funked, but that’s only two rides. In my experience with almost every synthetic fabric, the anti-stink stuff just washes out and you’re left with perma-yuck. I selfishly do prefer wool to synthetic as a performance fabric, but the fact that the jersey is made from bottles that would otherwise be floating around in the ocean or something does make me question the environmental impact of my merino addiction in comparison.

Photo: Evil / Paris Gore

686 calls the fit an “Articulated Slim Fit”, which I’d translate to as loose but not baggy. “Articulated” I’d keep, though. It’s not just a simple box cut, it has a nice shape to it. And, the bike-centric elements, such as wider, drop tail back, and slimmer flap-resistant sleeve cuffs, are well-executed while keeping the style simple and everyday-wearable. It’s like thousand degrees were I live at the moment, so I haven’t ridden in the long-sleeve jersey yet, but I’m really keen to see how the hood works out when the conditions warrant it. It’s constructed out of the same material as the short sleeve jersey, which is lighter than you’d expect to find a hooded garment made from. But, that’s what I think makes it interesting and unique. I’m curious to find out if the hood winds up being useful or just kind of annoying.

I also haven’t ridden in the pants yet, but looking forward to reviewing those when the weather permits. Below is a cheat sheet the four products in the line.

 

686 x Evil Everywhere Blackout Bike Short – $99.95 USA / $129.95 CAN

  • Dual Side Stealth Zipper Vent Pockets – Pocketing has shifted to the back of the leg, which is the perfect location for items while pedaling.
  • 13.25” Inseam – Fits over the top of pads.
  • Curved High Waistband – A longer back rise combined with a curve high waistband across the back to fit better and keep you concealed while in the riding position.
  • Reshaped rise for cycling position.
  • Zip Close Card/ID 5th Pocket.
  • Cord Key Loop – Located just above the hand pocket opening, this loop allows you to clip your keys and you can still stash them in your pocket so they aren’t bouncing around on your ride.
  • 92 % poly / 8% spandex stretch and breathable fabric with water & stain resistant DWR coating.
  • Durable construction with all seams sewn with 686 Duracore™ thread – the same thread we use on our most bomber outerwear seams.
  • 9-pocket design.

686 x Evil Everywhere Blackout Bike Pant – $119.95 USA / $159.95 CAN

  • Dual Side Stealth Zipper Vent Pockets – Pocketing has shifted to the back of the leg, which is the perfect location for items while pedaling.
  • 3D Articulated Knee – Fits over most trail & enduro pads without compromising the casual look.
  • Curved High Waistband – A longer back rise combined with a curve high waistband across the back to fit better and keep you concealed while in the riding position.
  • Reshaped rise for cycling position.
  • Zip Close Card/ID 5th Pocket.
  • Cord Key Loop – Located just above the hand pocket opening, this loop allows you to clip your keys and you can still stash them in your pocket so they aren’t bouncing around on your ride.
  • 92 % poly / 8% spandex stretch and breathable fabric with water & stain resistant DWR coating.
  • Durable construction with all seams sewn with 686 Duracore™ thread – the same thread we use on our most bomber outerwear seams.
  • 9-pocket design.

686 x Evil Everywhere Blackout SS Bike Jersey – $49.95 USA / $59.95 CAN

  • Recycled fabric from plastic bottles (approx 10 bottles per jersey).
  • Anti-microbial Microban Zinc coating.
  • Articulated Slim Fit – Slightly wider across the back for on-bike comfort.
  • Slightly slimmer sleeves and body for less flapping in the wind.
  • Drop tail hem for greater coverage in pedal position.

686 x Evil Blackout Hooded Bike Jersey – $64.95 USA / $79.95 CAN

  • Recycled fabric from plastic bottles (approx 10 bottles per jersey).
  • Anti-microbial Microban Zinc coating.
  • Articulated Slim Fit – Slightly wider across the back for on-bike comfort.
  • Slightly slimmer sleeves and body for less flapping in the wind.
  • Drop tail hem for greater coverage in pedal position.