Whether your riding season is short or long, chances are you’ll want to have at least a few pairs of baggy bike shorts so you’re not doing laundry every other day. The Singletracks staff has tested a ton of apparel this year, including these lightweight men’s shorts, all priced under a hundred bones. We also reviewed these women’s mountain bike shorts.
About our testers: Jeff is 6’3″ (1.90m) and 160lbs. Matt is 5’8″ (1.73m) and 160lbs.
Club Ride Mountain Surf Mountain Bike Shorts
Club Ride brings a different approach to the Mountain Surfs like they do with much of their apparel. The Mountain Surfs have a 12-inch inseam, a gusseted crotch, and the fabric is water repellant, made mostly with polyester and a touch of spandex. They come in four different solid colors and two different patterned prints.
The pair we received in a “steel link” pattern have a distinct casual appearance, and will be hard to distinguish from any nice pair of summer shorts. The mediums did feel true to size, but are a little baggy through the hips. Club Ride’s shorts often fit differently from piece to piece, even if the sizes are the same. The fit on these feels a little too baggy up top with a taper going down. The Mountain Surfs otherwise are a unique mountain bike short that will fit in anywhere from the trail to the apres barbecue joint. The fabric is nice and light, and the shorts feel at home on the bike, but they probably wouldn’t be our first choice for a trail riding short.
Price: $80. Size tested: Medium. Available at Club Ride.
Endura Singletrack Lite MTB Shorts
Endura seems to offer mountain bike shorts for every occasion, and the Singletrack Lite seems like it’s been in the line since before some of today’s groms were even born. The medium-lightweight material and laser-cut ventilation holes make it a great summer short, and it’s even got a water resistant coating to keep the elements temporarily at bay. There are two zippered hand pockets up front, and a zippered rear pocket too. Like other shorts we’ve tested recently, the hand pockets are skewed toward the front, rather than the sides of the shorts, making them slightly less accessible while shielding fragile items like smartphones in a less crash-prone area.
On the waist there are hook-and-loop cinchers to dial in the right fit with 2 snaps and a zipper at the front closure. The Singletrack Lites feature snaps for attaching an Endura Clickfast liner or buyers can pair with their favorite undergarment. Among the shorts in this test, I found these fit better than most with a good length and nice taper toward the knees. As expected, these Endura shorts work well with a saddle and flow nicely.
evo Bike Shorts
Retailer evo sells a number of apparel labels, including their own house label which includes mountain bike shorts, jerseys, pants, and gloves. These baggy men’s mountain bike shorts utilize a medium-weight Schoeller fabric that’s been treated to be water-resistant. There isn’t any ventilation to speak of so for me, this is more of an early season or fall short.
Two hand pockets grace the front along with a zippered pocket on the right leg for secure storage. The waistband is stiff and tall and features both belt loops and external hook-and-loop cinchers for an ultra-secure fit. For each pair of shorts sold, evo will donate 2% to local youth organizations.
Price: $99.95. Size tested: Medium. Available at evo.
Handup A.T. Short
Judging by what I read in the mountain bike media, readers must be obsessed with making sure their shorts extend to cover their knee pads. Well, if you’re one of those readers, let me be clear: The Handup A.T. shorts will not come close to covering your knee pads. In fact, mine don’t even cover my short liner when I’m pedaling. Yes, I’m tall and skinny but make no mistake, these shorts are designed to run a good bit shorter than most. As the kids say, that’s the style.
Handup markets the A.T. as a multi-sport short option, which includes (but is not limited to): going to a bar, riding a bike, or playing golf. As such there aren’t a lot of technical features to geek out over. The cotton / polyester / spandex blend is comfortable and on the medium-thick side for bike shorts. The two hand pockets in the front are zippered for secure storage once the legs get pumping, and there are two open rear pockets as well. An inner drawstring makes adjustments a cinch (see what I did there?) and there are belt loops for dressing things up. At just $42, these are by far the least expensive shorts in this season’s roundup.
Price: $42. Size tested: Small. Available at Handup.
Five Ten Brand of the Brave MTB Shorts
Five Ten recently added apparel to their line, and this season they have a few mountain bike shorts to choose from. The Brand of the Brave shorts are a mid-length offering featuring a lightweight, Primegreen recycled material. Men’s and women’s sizes and styles are available. The fit is fairly neutral with wide leg openings and a relaxed cut.
An inner drawstring and outer belt loops serve to keep the pants in position; these work for me with a belt, and a smaller size would probably fit even better. The grippy silicon lettering inside the waistband also deserves a lot of credit for keeping the shorts from sliding down. Two open hand pockets and a rear pocket are lined with mesh, allowing them to serve as stealth ventilation. A zippered side pocket works for storing stuff you don’t want to lose on the trail, like Clif bar wrappers.
Price: $70. Size tested: 34. Available at Adidas.
Patagonia Dirt Roamer MTB Shorts
The Patagonia Dirt Roamer shorts are among the lightest-weight shorts I tested this season, constructed with 86% recycled polyester and 14% elastane. This gives them a stretchy, flowy feel on the trail and makes them a good choice for summer riding. The color of the sample pictured here is called Borealis Green, though it isn’t currently available on the Patagonia website. At the moment, buyers can choose from black, forge gray, and superior blue colors. Women’s Dirt Roamer shorts are also available.
Two zippered side pockets can be found on the front, and there’s no ventilation built into the shorts. The waist closure utilizes two snap buttons and a zipper; the waist can be tightened using thin nylon ribbons and a pair of adjustable tension locks. Shaped leg cuffs make for comfortable pedaling while the length is on the long-ish side.
I also tested the Patagonia Dirt Roamer Liner Bib shorts, which feature three small rear pockets for storage, mesh legs for ventilation, and a stretchy, soft set of suspenders. The medium-thick chamois feels good even after multiple hours in the saddle, and the suspenders are actually long and stretchy enough that I don’t feel like I have to ride hunched over.
Pearl iZUMi Men’s Journey MTB Shorts
The Journey short is a bit different than a lot of other mountain bike shorts, and it feels like a hybrid of an active short. Hats off to Pearl Izumi for using recycled nylon this time. The waist comes in standard pant sizes, from 28 to 42, and it includes a chamois. The Journey fabric has a 4-way stretch, a 12-inch inseam, and a button front closure.
They feel like a lighter, active version of any regular pair of shorts, and since the waistband isn’t adjustable or cinch-able, riders may need a lightweight belt. The pockets work fine for keeping a pair of keys and a phone in during a ride, and we’ve found that they are very comfortable and breathable for trail riding. The price is not too bad, and the Pearl Izumi Select chamois is a much better option than what’s included with a lot of other MTB shorts out there.
Specialized Trail Shorts
You don’t have to ride a Specialized bike to wear their mountain bike shorts. I don’t, anyway. The brand has a surprisingly deep collection of baggy trail shorts, and the version I tested is fairly straightforward. There’s no rear pocket, and no zipper at the fly. Instead, there’s a single button closure, one open hand pocket on the right, and a zippered hand pocket on the left. Both pockets are oriented toward the front of the short, and feature a mesh liner that doubles as ventilation. External nylon waist adjusters with small plastic tension locks work well to adjust the fit, and I found they don’t dig in when paired with a hip pack.
A high waist covers more of your crack in pedal position, though I still recommend everyone wear bib liners whenever possible. You know, for the kids. These 100% polyester shorts cut a slim, tapered look and I found the fit to be among the best in this test.
Price: $75. Size tested: 32. Available at Competitive Cyclist.
Sweet Protection Hunter Slashed MTB Shorts
The Sweet Protection Hunter Slashed shorts are a stripped-down version of the brand’s Hunter shorts, with a slightly shorter length and lightweight yet durable polyester fabric. Like the evo shorts tested, these feature a tall, stiff waist band for a secure fit. A built-in nylon belt keeps things tight around the waist, while the zippered-closure uses simple hook-and-loop in place of a button or snap.
The side zippered pocket is mesh lined and can be opened up for air flow on the hottest days. Two shallow hand pockets on the front round out the feature set. Overall these shorts have a good shape and are among the most comfortable on the bike that I tested.
Price: $79.95. Size tested: Small. Available at evo.