We recently surveyed more than 2,000 Singletracks members about their favorite shorts for mountain biking, and we learned a ton about preferences and price points. In this article I’ll share some of those insights, plus a list of the 10 most popular mountain bike shorts for 2016.
Baggy vs. Lycra
Nine out of the top 10 mountain bike shorts on our list are baggy shorts, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise. But even beyond the top 10, most riders seem to be choosing to wear some type of covering over lycra–everything from gym shorts to cut-offs to cargo work pants. Bib shorts are also popular among mountain bikers, either as a standalone short or worn underneath a pair of baggies.
The average retail price for the shorts in our top 10 list rings in right around $95. This might sound like a lot of money, but most of these shorts do include a removable chamois liner, which is sorta like getting two pairs of shorts in one. Riding in cut-offs over a liner (or even just a pair of lycra shorts alone) seems like it would be a less expensive alternative, but as you’ll see with #8 on our list below, this isn’t always the case.
Interestingly, the next 5 most popular MTB shorts beyond the top 10 list below have an average price of $100, slightly more than the most popular shorts on our list. This just goes to show that you don’t need to spend the most to get a highly-acclaimed pair of shorts.
Most Popular Brands
Within the list of the 10 best mountain bike shorts, a few brands truly stand out with multiple mentions. And while several brands, including Dakine, Bontrager, and Specialized, didn’t have a single short in our top 10 list, they did get a ton of mentions thanks to their wide lines of quality shorts.
- Pearl Izumi
- Troy Lee Designs
The Top 10
Here are the most popular mountain bike shorts, according to Singletracks survey respondents.
Fox has been selling some version of the Ranger for years (I got my first pair back in 2008), and it’s by far the most popular short among the mountain bikers we surveyed. The Fox Ranger is a cargo short that includes a detachable liner with chamois and features an internally adjustable waistband with a two button snap enclosure system.
Fox actually just updated the Ranger for 2016, with improvements in both fit and performance. Riders can choose from 11 different prints–everything from mild and understated to wild and crazy. The Ranger shorts are available pretty much everywhere for a suggested price of $89.95.
Fox Racing Ranger Cargo Short - Boys'
$38.99 Competitive Cyclist AD
#2: Zoic Ether
Zoic’s Ether short features 6–count ’em, 6–pockets for stashing everything a mountain biker could possibly need on the trail. The 12″ inseam is designed to ride at knee length for most riders, with mesh ventilation panels running down the legs. The Ether shorts feature an external, adjustable waistband that’s secured with velcro, along with a single button, zippered fly closure.
Zoic offers the Ether shorts in a number of styles and configurations, and riders can choose to purchase them with or without a removable liner. There are at least 8 solid colors to choose from plus 8 more print designs, including camo and plaid patterns. There’s even a premium version of this short with a higher-quality chamois liner.
Pricing for the Ether shorts without liner starts at $60, and solid colors with a liner go for $80. Print shorts and the premium version sell for $90 and $120, respectively.
ZOIC Men's Ether Cycling Short + Essential Liner, Black, Medium
$79.95 Amazon AD
Endura is a European brand that may not be familiar to some US mountain bikers, but chances are everyone had at least one buddy who is rocking some version of the Hummvee shorts. The classic Hummvee trail short is constructed from coated, water-resistant Nylon and comes with a mesh liner and an integrated adjustable webbed belt. Like the Zoic Ether shorts, the Hummvees sport 6 pockets: two “large map pockets,” a zippered cellphone pocket, a cargo pocket, and two front zipped pockets.
Endura offers an entire line of MTB apparel under the the Hummvee moniker, including 3/4 length shorts, a “lite” version that uses lighter-weight material, pants, and even zip-off pants. Pricing for the basic Hummvee trail shorts starts at $89.99 and ranges up to about $105 for the zip-off pants. Women’s and kid’s versions are available as well.
Endura Hummvee Short II With Liner - Men's
$89.95 Backcountry.com AD
Like the Fox Racing Ranger, the Sergeant is a baggy cargo short meant to stand up to pretty much any mountain biking challenge. The Sergeant short offers a slightly longer outseam designed to extend over pads for added protection. A detachable chamois liner is included, along with an internal adjustable waist band, a two-button closure, and even belt loops.
Fox Racing offers the Sergeant in six different colors and prints (two of which are camo) for $99.95 MSRP.
Fox Men's Sergeant Shorts, Black, 34
$59.99 Amazon AD
The Troy Lee Designs Skyline shorts offer all the benefits of mountain bike shorts that riders have come to expect: stretchy materials, waist adjusters, and a fit that’s tuned for the unique demands of mountain biking. The Skyline features a two-button closure and deep side pockets for stashing hands or gear. These shorts can be purchased with or without a chamois liner.
Troy Lee Designs offer the Skyline short in a number of colors and patterns, including camo and plaid, and there are also ripstop and race versions, too. Pricing starts at $70 and goes up to $98 with a chamois.
Troy Lee Designs Skyline Short - Boys'
$35.48 Competitive Cyclist AD
Click here to read about #6-#10 on page 2!