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October 2015

The Happy Place

Head221015 Hey! That would be awesome on a T shirt! That is what we thought so here it is!

 

Just like that, its feels like summer. Pull up at the forest, running late. Switch work pants for Dobies. OK, work pants ARE Dobies. Change shoes, ready to go. No need for a backpack, I can fill my camelfrontTM at the tap, and top it off before climbing up to the main goal of the outing, the trail called Hot Cross Buns.

Bung the keys in one pocket, the phone in the other. Might see a stunning view, or a UFO, never know. Pedal off into the woods, feeling like the kid I used to be when I was sliding around the grapefruit tree on an after dinner backyard speedway session.

Everything goes well until the second to last corner on Hot Cross, where my mind gets ahead of my handlebars or goes somewhere else and without even registering how, I am on my back. Deep in the rut that exits that turn, which I now realise is the same shape and size as my back. My head is downhill, and my bike is on top, where I suspect it always wanted to be. I check my appendages, and everything seems to work. I flail around like a beetle, but I can’t get up. So briefly, I relax, lie back, and have a little rest (hoping there is nobody else coming down the trail).

This is more or less what I see

I wish I could say I fished my phone out of my pocket and took the photo for the t shirt from my resting position, but that would be a stretch. Literally and figuratively.

 

Nzo Shorts review from Bikepacking.com

Here is a review of our key products from a website that focuses on bikepacking, hence its name: bikepacking.com

Review and photos from Logan Watts, Scuffers tested by Gin.

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NZOs are a product of New Zealand and a favorite of expedition savvy bikepacker, Joe Cruz. We reviewed the Dobies, Sifters and Women’s Scuffers.


Nzo is a mountain bike apparel company based out of Rotorua, New Zealand. They’ve been making shorts for the better part of 15 years, and some say they’ve perfected the art. I first saw a pair of Nzo’s shorts on the Kokopelli Trail. As it turns out they were Joe’s second pair over the course of 12 years.

Finding the perfect pair of bikepacking shorts has been a goal for sometime, for both long trips and overnighters alike; I had to give Nzo shorts a try. Here are thoughts on each:

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Nzo Dobies


Characterized by their geometric construction, an elastic waist, and a minimal bit of padding sewn into place, Dobies are the comfortable classic of the Nzo lineup. Think function over form. Even though they look pretty good, they’re all about comfort and performance. The elastic waist band, complete with drawstring, isn’t seen much on contemporary riding shorts, but it works in a retro-progressive kind of way. No more worn out velcro straps popping loose or flapping about. The centre section and back are made of ‘Nzonium’, a stretch knit fabric developed by Nzo. The side panels are made of ‘NzoFlex’, a quick dry blend of nylon and polyester, which is strong and light, but still a little stretchy.

Designed with versatility in mind, Dobies can be worn over a chamois under layer, with an underlayer, or commando style. Instead of installing a permanent thick chamois layer, Nzo chose to outfit these shorts with a minimal sewn in fleece layer to add just a bit of forgiveness.

Dobies have a few other great features, including ‘perfect’ pockets. They aren’t too deep allowing items flap about in the deep recesses, yet not too shallow. There are also two thigh pockets with perforated interior fabric that double as air vents.

Not the most elegant photo we have ever seen of our flagship product, here used as a flag in the eastern USA.

 

When I asked Joe Cruz about his, here is what he had to say, verbatim:


Oh, man, the NZO Dobies. I love those shorts. The fit and look are great, they’re ridiculously comfortable with their thin pad worn “commando” style, and they are basically indestructible. I’ve bought exactly two pairs in my life. I got the first in 2003 and wore them on countless day rides and dozens of trips. Alongside a pair of lycra race bibs, they were the only shorts I had for the 11 months I spent in Asia and were my mainstay for warm weather. By 2010 they were just starting to show some age, so I got a new pair. That second pair has been to Nepal, Southeast Asia, the length of South America and through South Africa. I still reach for them nowadays and I can’t say they look much worn at all. Crazy.

 

 

Here is Joe somewhere in his travels, in one of his original pairs of our original  Dobies. We made this model with various refinements form about 1999 to about 2008. Here is Joe somewhere in his travels, in one of his original pairs of our original Dobies. We made this model with various refinements form about 1999 to about 2008.

Dobies are a ridiculously comfy riding short with superior durability. They range in sizes from small to 3X-large  More at NZOactive.com.

Joe out on a salt lake in Bolivia, wearing his Nzo Dobies. Joe out on a salt lake in Bolivia, wearing his Nzo Dobies.

 

Nzo Sifters


Sifters are Nzo’s ‘trail’ shorts. These shorts are designed to be worn when you’re slaying single track, but would be equally at home in the local taproom. In fact, they’re pretty much the ideal short for a minimalist month long dirt odyssey. Made with a similar geometric construction to the Dobies, Sifters have more of a casual appearance. They also add contemporary systems such as a front zipper and velcro tightening. They are extremely comfortable, and built for motion and durability. Honestly, I have never had a pair of shorts that fit better. They move, stretch and flex in all the right places, with burly enough attachments to keep them in place. There is no sag in the gusset to hang on the saddle nose. The velcro tightening system is sturdy and the straps don’t twist or pop off. The front is reinforced with a heavy duty double button closure that has no chance of popping, even in the “fluffier” winter months.

NzoSiftersFrnt

Having searched for a good pair of shorts to replace my (another brand was mentioned here), I am extremely impressed with these and am planning on riding them for many miles on upcoming trips. Sifters are available in sizes extra-small to double extra-large.  More at NZOactive.com.

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Nzo Scuffers (women's)


Scuffers are essentially a women’s version of the Sifters. Ironically, Gin took a nice ‘scuffer’ down hill on the Warrior Creek trails, just before this photoshoot. The main differences in the Scuffers and Sifters, aside from the cut, is that the Scuffers have a little color variation with blue zips as well as a single thigh pocket. To sum them up, a quote from Gin, “Finally, a pair of shorts that fit!”

On that note, Gin did find that ordering the shorts was a little bit of a gamble in the size department. NZO shorts are not sized gender-specifically, so relying on her standard “medium” fit didn’t cut it. The sizing chart was a little confusing too. Neither of us has quite figured out where exactly our waists reside. In short, Ginny opted for the small size, although her measurements had her somewhere between the small and medium. Good choice…they fit perfectly. Scuffers are available in Black or Carbon in sizes small to extra-large. More at NZOactive.com.

 

Do something different

Coffee. Good. Coffee. Good.

Lately I have been bouncing around the trails on my Surly Krampus, a sled which wears monster truck tyres but has no suspension. The more I ride it the more I like it, but even if I didn’t it provides an example of how adding a new factor to a bike ride makes a familiar experience fresh.

Same thing with riding a well-known track in the dark, riding it in the reverse direction, or doing it on a singlespeed. Or your road bike. Or your mate’s bike. Or under the influence.

For example, one evening I got a text saying get up early for a dawn ride, and as it sounded like an order the next day I met a couple of friends in the darkness of the redwoods and we pedaled up toward daylight.

We didn’t go far, just to the top of the nearest hill.

Forestry operations are a funny thing around here: when it is time for trees to become wood we lose fantastic groves of huge trees, with a well-developed understory of native trees and ferns, and trails we know and love. We gain wide views, a clear understanding of the lay of the land, and new trails that are usually better than the old ones.

The hill we went to has carried a crop of Douglas Fir since this time last century, but they were felled a year or two back. Trails were re-created, and the start point for two of them must be the most photographed place in Rotorua that isn’t a geyser. It has an amazing view of the city, and the forest. That view is temporary, soon enough the young trees will grow up to cover it, but in the meantime it is a place to pause and look around, and more often than not, pull out the phone and broadcast it.

On this morning my friends also pulled out the materials to make fresh coffee, a pile of croissants, and things to smear on them. They had cups and various utensils, and all this stuff came out of various backpacks at about the same time as the sun popped up over Billy T. They even had the forethought to make sure our friend the photographer was part of the crew, so we got a great visual record of the occasion.

We yakked, laughed a lot, and got jacked up on java, sugar and sundry fats hidden in the pastries.

We reached our target heart rates for the day standing on the top of the hill. That was better than our usual way of doing it.

Then the team packed their appliances away and we took off down a trail. I don’t remember which one. Doesn’t matter, I do remember it was more fun than usual, and that is saying a lot.

More coffee. Even better. More coffee. Even better.

021015WP3 The big picture

021015WP4 Graeme captures the moment. I capture Graeme just as the coffee create a small steam explosion out of the top of his head.

021015WP5 Graeme Murray thanks the forest for being such a patient subject for his camera.