At A Glance
On the surface, it seems sensible, but it's taken a long time for the idea of a waterproof suit to finally become a reality in the mountain bike world. Last year seemed to be the year of the 'onesie' with several brands dropping their take on the ultimate wet weather outfit. Endura seemed a likely candidate for producing a good all-in-one suit for mountain bikers given their roots in Scotland and a track record of producing the functional waterproof kit, so here we have their evolution of their MT500 range, the MT500 Waterproof Suit.Buy Jackets on
Essentially this is a set of waterproof trousers attached to a jacket along the rear of the waistband. You can, of course, buy MT500 trousers and jackets separately but the suit aims to eliminate the rear gap and keep everything warm and dry. The trousers also have removable lowers which convert them into shorts if the weather dictates, or you prefer a breeze round your ankles. Pit zips and thigh vents add to the temperature control and keep the suit versatile for warm and wet conditions
At nearly £400 it's a hefty price to pay for staying warm and dry but is comparable to buying a set of MT500 trousers and a jacket from Endura, so it's not surprising.
Made as a suit, the top and bottom join along the rear waist seam to create an impenetrable barrier for water. The front isn't attached and the trousers fasten in a standard way with a zip and poppers to secure. The jacket then simply zips up to create a nearly 'sealed' suit. The gap around the front may seem strange for a suit trying to keep water out, but the advantage is all in the fit. By not having it joined, the jacket sits flatter and doesn't bulge up when you bend forward on the bike as with many other suits. This is one of the MT500s major assets, and by not trying to be a full suit, the fit and comfort are greatly improved.
Made of ExoShell60™ 3-Layer waterproof fabric, it's aim is to be fully waterproof throughout the garment, and with a 60,000 gm/m2/24hr breathability rate, it can fight against the sweat created in a waterproof suit. The construction throughout is of very high quality and the attention to detail is obvious. All the zips and fasteners are well attached and small touches like the lycra thumb loops are evidence that every aspect has been well thought through.
Once on, it's clear that the fit is pretty 'athletic' and this is especially true through the legs, which means they won't snag on the chain. Through the body and the arms this slim fit continues, but for me, this was a great fit and never felt like a bulky piece of kit. To the casual observer, especially if I was wearing a pack, it wasn't even noticeable that I was wearing a suit.
On the Trail
Out on the trail, the suit has proved an invaluable companion on my many winter rides. Living in one of the wettest places in the UK has its advantages for testing kit like this, and I took full advantage. Firstly, I loved the fit of the suit on the bike, never feeling like I had a cumbersome layer covering me from head to toe. The split at the waist is really good and the jacket sits nicely even went bent forward on climbs. The venting is good, which is important as no matter how good the 'breathability' is, once a jacket is wet, it doesn't breath so well and the big vents on the thighs and under the arms were particularly useful. One niggle on these was the ease at which the zips move, and on most occasions, I had to stop to get the zips done up again, perhaps a bigger zipper may have helped.
Using the jacket in warmer conditions with the legs unzipped was equally impressive. For those days where the trails are soaking but the weather is fine, this worked really well and the MT500 Suit became the thing I reached for nearly every ride. With the vents undone and only base layers underneath, it's a great layering set up for warm and wet rides.
The only caution with the fit, other than it being slim, is the distance between shoulders and crotch, which on mine was a little tight, especially when riding a more XC bike, or even a gravel bike. When leaning forward I can feel the jacket tight against my back and backside, and with the fabric pulled taught, I felt the waterproofing was not as effective. This is something to check carefully on sizing when purchasing.
After long rides in the filth, I would love to say I was bone dry after rides, but that, I think, is an impossible task. Sweat management is always a tricky issue and despite the waterproof fabric, I eventually got a damp backside. Hours of rain and mud on the fabric eventually overpower it and things got a bit wet. This could be down to the fabric being tight and therefore letting water through, or just too much water. For context, this was during long rides in full on wet and wild conditions and I've never previously found a set of waterproof shorts than keep me dry all day.
The other issue I had was the hood, which although is a brilliant shape and goes fully over a helmet, it's retention system of the elastic cord was no match for high mountain winds. In strong winds, the hood was blown back and wouldn't stay up unless holding the elastic straps, or tying knots in the end.
As a tool for foul weather riding the MT500 Suit is a really impressive piece of kit and has kept me warm and nearly completely dry on every ride this winter. It's the sort of kit that makes the difference between staying in bed and getting out on the trail on a wet and windy Sunday morning. The MT500 Suit is a suit for those people who don't like the idea of suits, with the styling and fit looking like 'normal' kit.
Forgetting for a moment about being dry, the other important aspect is how clean I was at the end of a ride. Despite the filth, I could just drop the suit in the car park and get changed super quick without dealing with mud coated clothing. This, in turn, made my kit last longer and the suit only needed a rinse and hung up to dry, making winter riding even less time-consuming.
Over the months of testing, the MT500 suit has held up very well. The seat of the trousers has seen some wear, which is to be expected, but I've not managed to put any holes in it anywhere and simply rinsing it every now and then has cleaned it up really well.
Far superior than a simple jacket and trousers combo, the MT500 gives you even fewer excuses not to get out and ride all winter. With great vents and the option for shorts, the suit isn't solely for winter, but for whenever you just want to stay dry on the trails. If you are serious about staying warm and dry, then the MT500 is one of the best solutions out there.
For more information visit Endura
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By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.