I've been trying out a number of XC/AM MTB shorts over the last few months and have some reviews which may be of interest:
Troy Lee Designs (TLD) Ruckus shorts ($130 MSRP, purchased for $81 at Backcountry) Ruckus Mountain Bike Short | Troy Lee Designs(R):
I purchased the TLD Ruckus shorts in March. The shorts are lightweight, and good for AM riding, though the rear waistband has a bit of fleece which makes them warmer than necessary. The size 34 shorts were true to size, and had velcro waist-band adjusters. The shorts included a liner short, made primarily out of mesh, with a cheap chamois. The velcro waist-band adjusters have the hook portion on the adjusters and roughed up the short fabric in the wash, but otherwise functioned well. The fit is good for riding, and the fabric is stretchy enough to allow for comfortable pedaling. Pocket layout is good, with multiple zipped pockets in pedal-friendly locations. Small knee-pad gap is present with TLD 5450 pads. After approximately a dozen rides, in June, the liner short tore in the chamois stitching and rather than replace them under warranty, Backcountry refunded me the $81.
- Nice MTB styling
- Good pocket layout and zipped pockets
- Good for pedaling
- Very cheap liner
- Poor durability (liner)
Endura Humvee Lite shorts ($99 MSRP, purchased for $99 at LBS, available online for $54) Endura - Products:
Purchased these in June to replace the TLD Ruckus shorts. These shorts are extremely lightweight, with a silk-like fabric hand, an elastic waistband and an integral belt adjuster which works well. Construction quality is high, with solid, clean stitching. They are very good XC shorts and good for summer. Despite their light weight, they've demonstrated good durability. The Humvee Lites include a snap-in liner of significantly higher quality than the TLD liner. The pocket layout is not as bike-focused as the TLD shorts, with open handwarmer pockets and limited zipped pockets on the legs. Short inseams and lightweight fabric make them less suitable for use with kneepads (lots of gap), but a solid entry for summer XC shorts. Styling is pretty horrible 70s dad, but for dedicated summer XC shorts, these are good. For me that's a limited use window, because I'll just pull on bibs, but that's ok.
- Lightweight and good for the hottest summer days
- Liner is good quality
- Don't work well with knee pads
- Pocket layout is mediocre
- The styling is uninspired at best
- Fabric feels a bit too slippery/silk like
Acre Supply (Mission Workshop) Traverse shorts ($165 MSRP, purchased for $165 at Mission Workshop) ACRE | Traverse All-Mountain Short:
I purchased the Acre Supply Traverse shorts in August to have a pair of go-to fall riding shorts. The Traverse shorts are a premium short, costing $165 without a liner. I also purchased the associated Parallel liner, which uses a Cytech EIT chamois ($125). The Traverse shorts have great styling, a long inseam, narrow legs, and a flap to ensure compatibility with knee pads, though large knee pads still cause a bit of interference. The waist sizing is managed via an integrated belt with an aluminum tightener; it's a very useful system though pulling them snug leaves a bit of a tail to contend with. They have minimal pockets, with just two on the outside legs, but the pockets are well-placed for pedaling. I really thought these were my future shorts. Unfortunately, I noticed immediately after buying them that the pocket stitching was loose and slopped, and after one wear and one wash, the side seam on one of the leg pockets let go entirely. I thankfully noticed this when putting on the shorts and inadvertently caressing my thigh while putting my phone in the pocket, but if it had happened on a ride I might well have lost my phone or tool. Moreover, despite their vaunted customer service and warranty, the return process was, at best, inexpertly handled - they failed to respond to my email with pictures of the problem, and while on the phone, they didn't agree to cover return shipping until I prompted them, and certainly no apology for the failure of the shorts to deliver was forthcoming. Pretty disappointing for a "premium" company.
- Great fit and awesome styling
- Good waist adjustment
- Nice hand to the fabric
- Not great for kneepad integration
- Very poor stitching quality
- Poor customer service