With the exception of hardcore XC racers, pretty much all mountain bikers have made the switch to baggy shorts by now. Pearl Izumi, long known for their quality race wear, offers a comprehensive line of baggies as well.
At $75 MSRP, the Canyon MTB shorts are the most affordable model in Pearl’s line, and they are spec’ed accordingly.
As with every Pearl Izumi garment I have ever worn, the quality and stitching of the Canyon mountain bike shorts are impeccable. The outer shorts are a somewhat-stretchy “Transfer Dry” fabric with an overall feel that is very comfortable, similar to expensive dress slacks. Even though they stretch to accommodate pedaling, they still hang like a regular pair of shorts when off the bike. There is a solid-feeling snap closure and a robust zipper fly, as well as a single, zippered front pocket. Minimalist is the theme here.
Inside, the included spandex undershorts have an excellent padded chamois. The undershorts are permanently attached to the outers along the back of the waistband.
Due to the stretchiness of the fabric, the fit is very comfortable with no binding or bunching. They feature a fairly low rise on the front, but still have good coverage on the back for when you’re reaching forward on the bike. The 11″ inseam is a decent compromise between shorter and taller riders. The waistline and snap front are comfortable with no digging, and overall they are just a comfy pair of shorts.
Out on the trail (and après ride)
I know I keep saying it, but these are super comfortable. On the bike they stretch enough accommodate pedaling but do not snag the saddle nose when mounting the bike in a hurry. The fabric is very breathable and wicking, resulting in less sweat accumulation and chafing on longer rides. They also seem to shed mud and water pretty well, so meal stops after a ride aren’t as awkward. On the other hand, the single front pocket isn’t very conducive to stowing a wallet, and getting car keys in and out of it is a chore.
I’ve gotten quite used to having multiple pockets on other shorts that I own. I like to stow my smartphone, lip balm, maybe keys, a snack or two, etc., and with the Canyon’s single pocket that’s just not possible. Even one more front pocket would be a huge improvement.
While the single pocket issues can be easily augmented by stowing gear in a hydration pack, the sewn-in spandex liner really puzzles me. Fresh from the laundry, it’s a bit of a Gordian Knot to get everything lined up and both legs into the right openings. Having the undershorts permanently attached also precludes using the outer shorts with other spandex liners you might already have, or even bibs if that’s your thing. To get away from the integrated design and have a true detachable liner, you’ll need to step up to Pearl Izumi’s $100 Impact shorts.
Nit-picking aside, these are a super comfortable, basic pair of shorts that will get you out on the trail in style without breaking the bank. As always, Pearl Izumi’s fit and finish are excellent, and so far they have been durable as well.
Given the minimalist design and attached liner, these are an excellent choice for shorter after work rides, and combined with the good padding and stretchy fit they are ideal for enduro racing. (Yes, they will accommodate knee pads.)
For a basic, affordable pair of quality mountain bike shorts, these are a good choice and a worthy addition to your gear collection.
Thanks to the folks at Pearl Izumi for providing the Canyon shorts for review!