Mountain bikers seem to fall into two different categories: those who wear baggy shorts, and those who wear lycra. Of those who wear lycra, some tend to wear regular shorts, some tend to wear bibs… and in the baggy segment, there are all different varieties
I’m usually a fan of baggy shorts for mountain biking, and Jeff is a baggy diehard–I don’t know if he’ll even wear lycra on a road bike. But personally, when I had my fling with ultra-endurance mountain biking this spring, I found that nothing performed as well for hours and hours of mountain biking as a good pair of bib shorts.
Ever since that revelation, I’ve had an internal debate every time I go mountain biking: baggies or bibs? Well, with the new RSX short from SUGOI in my dresser drawer, that argument has finally been put to bed.
RSX Short Specs
According to SUGOI, “The new RSX Short is a versatile lightweight, performance mountain bike baggy, designed for the XC / Marathon racer and all-day epic rides.” The outer shorts feature a feathery-light design with strategically-placed vents to let the heat out. The cut of the short is a good bit narrower and tighter than most other baggies, reducing the chance of catching on the saddle and avoiding movement inhibition, while still offering the feeling of actually wearing shorts and not walking around half-naked. Most of the pockets that you’d find on traditional shorts have been eliminated; one small zippered pocket in the rear remains.
The RSX short employs a BOA closure system. Most often found on footwear such as snowboard boots (and a couple of bike shoes), the dual dials can be quickly spun to dial in the tightness of the waistband, providing even pressure all around the waist.
As for the chamois, the RSX short features a high-quality “Formula FX chamois with 4-way stretch panels, seam-free synthetic knit top, and V-notch construction.” This is a thick but comfortable chamois that is designed to stay cool, wick sweat, and provide all-day comfort for endurance mountain bikers.
Out on the Trail
The philosophy behind the RSX Short’s design is inspiring, so I couldn’t wait to get these shorts out on the trail! Over the course of months of testing, I have found, in brief, that these shorts live up to all of the claims that SUGOI has made. The RSX is the perfect compromise between baggy shorts and lycra: low profile and super lightweight with an excellent chamois, you’ll hardly notice these shorts are there… until you walk into a convenience store and are quite thankful that you’re not showing your manhood (or womanhood) to the world. Since these shorts are so lightweight, they are perfect for warm-to-hot weather riding as they breathe superbly.
I’ve never seen a BOA closure system used on a pair of shorts before, but I have to say: it dials in the fit perfectly. Since there are no notches to tighten or loosen the waist, there’s no chance of you falling awkwardly between two different sizes. Lose 5 pounds of water weight after an epic all day ride? No problem, just tighten one of the dials up a little bit!
The quote above about the technology in the chamois might be marketing mumbo-jumbo, but out on the trail that mumbo-jumbo translates into an incredibly-comfortable chamois. In my experience, there are some chamoises that are comfortable, but might take a couple rides to get used to. The Formula FX chamois is one of those rare pieces of gear that is comfortable from day-one, requiring zero break-in period.
I will admit, my fling with ultra-endurance mountain biking this spring appears to be just that: a fling. I didn’t do any 100-mile rides in these babies to really test out the all-day comfort claims, but I have done multiple 30+ mile singletrack excursions in them, and have ridden back-to-back days in these shorts–all without a single complaint from my taint!
I only have one, very minor, complaint with these shorts: the “removable” liner requires a knife to remove it. The liner comes with short loops of webbing that attach the chamois to the shorts on either side, and that cord needs to be cut in order remove the liner. At first I wasn’t going to do this, but as I was hanging around for a few hours waiting for a shuttle after riding the McKenzie River Trail, I decided to do so in order to avoid saddle sores. The shorts ride fine even with the liner detached, but at the tune of $180 (MSRP) I’d expect these shorts to be perfect. It would be nice to have a snap closure on the inside for the liner, like the $95 (MSRP) Pearl Izumi Rev.
Small quibble aside, the RSX short has proven itself as a super-comfortable low-profile baggy short, that effectively eliminates the baggy VS lycra dilemma and provides hours-long comfort in the saddle.
Bonus: my wife says my butt looks really good in these. Sold!
Many thanks to SUGOI for providing the RSX short for review.