Wisconsin is not the sort of place from which you’d expect to receive a package of riding apparel that also included warm and sunny February weather to facilite testing. But, lucky me, that’s exactly what happened when UPS delivered a selection of Bontrager’s 2017 spring/summer mountain bike apparel.
Magically, Pittsburgh experienced a series of sunny(ish) days that saw temperatures climb into the high 50s early in the week and later peak in the low 70s, before crashing back to wet, cold and yucky reality. Before things cooled off, I was able to check out a few of Bontrager’s latest mountain bike shorts.
Lithos Mountain Bike Short — $100
I immediately gravitated to the Lithos, the flagship short in Bontrager’s mountain bike lineup. With it’s sleek lines and 15-inch inseam, this shell looks lean and mean. The cut is loose, but not baggy or snaggy. The stretchy, mid-weight fabric moves with you and feels comfortable. It’s designed for durability, without going overboard and ending up hot and heavy.
There’s an integrated belt, but instead of it being one continuous piece of webbing, it’s made of two pieces. Each piece starts as traditional webbing at the buckle and transitions to elastic material, which is then sewn into the rear of the short to anchor it. The belt worked fine, but when I cinched it good and tight, I could feel a slight pressure point where its termination was sewn into the shell. It’s a minor quibble, but I’d prefer an old fashioned one-piece belt.
On the bright side, there are three zippered pockets to keep an old packrat like me happy, and little details like laser-cut venting holes help certify the Lithos’ trail cred.
Troslo InForm Cycling Liner Short — $70
Underneath the Lithos, I wore the Troslo liner, and came away impressed. It fit me like a second skin, and the chamois felt very comfortable, with none of the bunching or binding that sometimes happens with lesser liners. The biggest compliment I can give the Troslo is that I barely noticed it during my ride. I’m sure the extra-wide leg grippers, comfy waistband and strategically placed mesh panels all contributed to my comfort. It’s early in the game, but I can’t think of a single thing I’d change. I look forward to logging long summer days in the saddle with the Troslo next to my skin.
Evoke Mountain Bike Short — $90
Considering that the Evoke comes with a detachable mesh liner, it represents a good value for the asking price. Key features include an adjustable waist, double-snap front, two zippered pockets, two slash pockets, and mesh venting.
Compared to the Lithos, the Evoke’s textured nylon shell is lighter, its semi-fitted cut is slightly boxier and the 12-inch inseam is a few inches shorter. There’s no belt included, but the shell has loops for adding your own.
The provided mesh liner has the same comfy chamois as the Troslo liner, but it has narrower leg grippers, it’s inseam is shorter and it’s waistband is not as wide. As mesh liners go, however, it’s a very comfortable and seemingly well-made piece.
Quantum Cycling Short – $70
Bontrager designed the Quantum for everything from backroads to bike paths to singletrack. With its casual looks, integrated liner and $70 price tag, I see the Quantum appealing to a wide range of cost-conscious cyclists. It’s not the most technical piece, but you do get that comfy Troslo chamois, a drawcord waist, two slash pockets and a rear zippered pocket.
One consideration with integrated short/liner designs is that they don’t breathe as well as two-piece setups. That can lead to a sweaty chamois when the mercury rises. Wisely, the Quantum uses a lightweight shell material and a mesh liner to help keep things cool. I was comfortable riding in the low 70s, but that’s a far cry from summertime temperatures.
Fit and comfort on integrated baggies can be a tricky, and very personal, proposition. Some feel good and pass muster, while others bind and bunch and bum me out. Fortunately, the Quantum shorts treated me well. My test ride was a “gravel grinder,” so I can’t speak to the Quantum’s singletrack suitability. However, I was in and out of the saddle often enough to state that I’m not worried about these slightly baggy shorts snagging on the saddle when I do hit the trails.
Check out bontrager.com for more information on these pieces and the entire Bontrager line of apparel. All photos courtesy of Bontrager.