Cooking Downhill (with Butter!) in Specialized Gravity DH Gear | Review

This spring when Specialized released the Loic Bruni signature Butter Collection, they set me up with the whole Butter kit plus a bunch of other gravity gear. Throughout the spring, summer and fall I’ve been riding in all the various pieces.

All in all I’m pretty impressed with the fit, quality of materials, simplicity of construction and the strategic venting most of the garments offer. As a guy who doesn’t race DH, I found some of the pieces aren’t the most ideal for recreational trail riding, but to be fair, that’s not what they were built for.

Since temperatures dropped after a long hot summer I was able to break out the long sleeved jerseys and pants again, so here are my impressions of Specialized’s gravity clothing. With a number of pieces to discuss I’ve focused on ride impressions here, so check out Specialized’s website for complete product details (and to see women’s versions of all pieces featured).

Specialized Gravity Pants: $160

Specialized Gravity pants, front

My first ride in the Gravity Pants was on a 13° C (55ºF) spring day, with a bit of wind and light rain. I was pleased to find the pants weren’t too warm, and noticed the ventilation on the thighs really works! Even on a climb, air was flowing through the laser-cut vents and keeping my hips cool. Specialized says their Gravity gear provides venting at key ‘hot spots’, and I know what they mean after riding in these pants. While I never rode the pants in really hot weather, I’d bet they would be one of the cooler options with their thin fabric and effective venting.

Later in the fall I wore the Gravity Pants for a cooler ride (about 6-9° C, 42.8º – 48.2º F) in mist and light rain. The pants resisted this level of moisture easily; water beaded up on my thighs and never soaked through. Temperature-wise the pants kept my legs warm enough to start comfortably but not overheat throughout the ride.

Specialized Gravity pants, back

After my first few rides with the Gravity Pants I had no issues with abrasions or friction, but on a recent ride I did get some rubbing on one knee from the Butter pants’ Cordura fabric. Again, I was pushing the pants’ intended use by riding trails in them; DH racers would be wearing kneepads underneath, and doing a lot less pedalling.

The pants’ fit was great for me; the leg length is perfect, the buckled waist is true-to-size, and the legs taper down with a slim but non-restrictive cut. My only question for race purposes is how substantial of a kneepad you could squeeze under these pants… the legs are fairly streamlined.

My only gripe with the pants is the total lack of pockets! Even a small lift pass pocket would make them great for bike park riding, but ‘specialized’ these pants are indeed. With pockets the pants could also work on the trails, but the rough fabric may be problematic without kneepads.  For racing the pants are a well-vented, lightweight and durable-looking option.

Specialized Gravity Butter pants, stains

The Butter pants are the exact same as the Gravity pants in construction, materials and features. On their first test ride I got them muddy, and wondered if the mud would stain the fabric. The pants sat for a few days before going into the wash, and the mud did stain the seat of the pants a bit. Some grease from my drivetrain stained the inside of the right leg too, so if you want to keep these pants clean you’ll have to be a bit careful.

Gravity Shorts: $120

Specialized Gravity shorts, front

The Gravity shorts are basically a short-legged version of the Gravity Pants. They feature the same materials, buckle waist closure, and ventilation on the thighs and back of the waistline. However, the shorts don’t get the reinforcement panels seen on the Gravity Pants’ knees and lower legs. The shorts are obviously a cooler option for non-UCI racing, bike park or shuttle days in warmer temps, and would definitely accommodate DH-grade kneepads. Leg length is generous, reaching the bottom of my kneecaps, and the legs are not overly baggy.

Specialized Gravity gear, SF, rocky roll

The shorts’ Cordura fabric isn’t soft, but with kneepads I didn’t notice any abrasion while pedalling in them. I didn’t crash in the shorts, but they look and feel like they’d hold up to a few incidents at least. Like the pants, I know these were made as lean as possible for downhill racing but they’d be much more versatile for recreational riders if they had a pocket or two.

Gravity Jersey: $80

Specialized Gravity jersey, front

On first look, I was impressed with the Gravity Jersey’s construction. I love the super-thin hems on the collar and sleeves, the shoulder vent panels and the laser-cut vents on the upper back. Like the pants, the ventilation is effective and well positioned on this jersey.  It’s probably the coolest long sleeve jersey I’ve ridden in, and it saved me on a scorching day during Crankworx after I nearly sunburned my arms the day before. In cooler temps, the jersey’s fit is slim enough to easily wear under other layers.

Specialized Gravity jersey, back

Please note, the Gravity jersey does look slightly more red in these photos than it really is – It’s actually closer in color to the gloves pictured below. My title shot shows the color better.

At 5’10” my medium Gravity Jersey fits me perfectly; the body and arm lengths are both just long enough to ensure full coverage without a scrap of excess material. My only note about the jersey is regarding color; Specialized describes this jersey as ‘Imperial Red’, but it looks pretty pink to me! And I for one don’t care – it’s such a nice jersey I’d wear it in any color!

Trail Air Gloves: $30

Specialized Gravity gloves, pair

The Trail Air gloves are a simple but thoughtful pair, featuring mesh vents between the fingers, and slim palms that provide a bit of grip on the thumbs and forefingers. These are slip-on gloves with no wrist closure, and while the seams inside the cuff look potentially uncomfortable they didn’t wind up bugging me.

Specialized sent me size large gloves, which I expected to be too big, but they actually fit me just fine. I usually wear small or medium gloves so it seems Specialized’s sizing is a bit smaller than other brands. The gloves’ pretty pink color (oops, I mean Imperial Red…) was showing some discoloration after a few rides, but they came out of the wash looking almost new again.

Trail Air Shorts: $130

Specialized Trail air shorts, SF riding

The Trail Air shorts became my favourite piece from the Butter kit, not just because they are actually for trail riding, but they’re the coolest, lightest pair of shorts I own. The body fabric is very thin and construction is simple with a buckle waist closure, vent holes on the inseam, and one pocket on the left leg.

Specialized Trail Air shorts, waist overlap

I found the waist buckle creates an overlap of fabric when cinched down all the way, but it didn’t feel uncomfortable and visually it hides under a jersey. The legs on the shorts are fairly roomy, and the fabric is stretchy and soft on the skin. The zippered smartphone pocket worked well; some leg pockets allow for too much bouncing, but this one kept that to a minimum.

Butter Trail LS Jersey: $65

Specialized Butter Trail Air LS jersey, front

The Butter Trail Long Sleeve Jersey is a very comfortable, soft cotton garment. While offering full coverage, this jersey is quite cool to ride in; the cotton is thin enough itself, and there are vent panels running down the arms too. A size medium fit me well, with ample room for movement but a slim enough cut to wear under other layers comfortably.

Given the jersey’s bright color I was concerned about staining, but my mud splatters came out in the wash perfectly. My only warning is for pack-wearers; the cozy cotton showed pilling on the back after a couple short rides, so durability could be a concern.

The Butter Kit:

Specialized Butter pants and LS jersey, on SF

*Photo by Scott Gillis

Without warning anyone I showed up in the Butter pants and LS Jersey for a group ride, to see what kind of comments I would get from my friends! Unfortunately the Butter gloves I received were far too big, or I would have worn those for the full effect.

I’m sure Specialized knew the butter color would be a love/hate thing, and it seems to be! Most of my friends said I looked like I was wearing pyjamas, all agreed the color was ‘loud’, and most hilariously, I got called some interesting names. Of course I was overdressed for a casual eMTB ride, and on the DH track this kit would look far less extreme… but it was fun to see what people thought of it!

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