Unless you only ride park, baggy shorts can start to feel pretty warm during 90-degree mid-summer rides. While you could easily strip down to the bare essentials and rock XC bibs, sometimes a pair of outer shorts is critical. Whether you feel self-conscious in lycra, you’re planning to sit down at a restaurant, or you’re going to be out in the backcountry for days on end, Mavic’s new XA Pro Shorts provide baggy coverage with ultralight weight and excellent breathability.
Mavic calls the XA Pro a “feather light technical Trail short made with stretchy, durable, and lightweight fabrics,” and that’s probably all you need to know.
If you would like to know more, the XA Pro stretches in all directions, providing great freedom of movement on the bike. Specifically, the back panel, just below the waist, provides accordion-style flexibility to allow the short to move with the rider on the bike.
The closure features a durable snap with a secondary hook fastener, a zipper for the fly, and the waist has a light gripper to help keep the shorts in place. Speaking of grippers, the seat of the short is reinforced with some rubberized gripping material to help hold onto the seat.
Micro perforations help this already lightweight short to breathe even better.
As for storage, there is one small zippered pocket on the bottom of the right leg which is barely big enough for a smartphone. There’s also a hidden key pocket that hangs from the waist on the inside of the shorts.
Out on the Trail
As soon as I pulled the XA Pro shorts out of the box, they became my go-to baggy short. Lightweight with an excellent cut, I found myself growing more enamored with the XA Pro on every ride.
Exactly how light are these shorts? Mavic doesn’t provide a claimed weight but according to my kitchen scale, my pair currently weighs 6.7oz after some use and abuse. Compare that to 13oz for the much burlier Pearl Izumi Launch shorts I reviewed recently and 11.5oz for my previous go-to, Troy Lee Designs’ Skyline shorts.
Colorado Trail Tested
After using the XA Pro Shorts on several day rides, I put them to the test on a three-day bikepacking trip on the Colorado trail. While we took a more leisurely pace than many bikepacking diehards might, we still managed to cover 76 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing on our three-day, two-night outing. Through it all, the XA Pros were the perfect companion.
The light weight of the shorts helped keep me feeling spry through long hours of pedaling, with no extra fabric to push around with every pedal stroke. The above-the-knee cut helped with this. While the shorts hit me almost right at the knee when standing, when seated and pedaling I found no annoying catching or binding. The four-way stretch fabric and rear stretch panels helped the shorts move comfortably in all directions, even when putting body english on a fully-loaded bike.
While some people may wonder why I wouldn’t opt for a stand-alone pair of XC bibs for a long bikepack instead of the XA Pro Shorts and a pair of bib liners, the reason is fairly simple: by choosing these shorts, I didn’t have to pack another pair of shorts for hanging out around camp. Instead, I was able to simply ditch the bib liners and hang out at camp in the XA Pro short, which proved comfortable even when off the bike. The more uses an item has, the simpler your bikepacking kit becomes.
One feature the XA Pro shorts don’t offer is gear storage. While there’s one small zippered pocket on the lower right leg and a small key pocket, I found that putting anything heavier than a chapstick or granola bar wrapper in the lower leg pocket was uncomfortable. Storage in shorts generally isn’t an issue for me, as I usually wear a standard three-pocket XC jersey. Furthermore, on a fully-loaded bikepacking rig, I had no end of places to stash gear on the bike.
But if you pair the XA Pro shorts with the XA Pro Jersey from Mavic’s same gear line, storage becomes a serious problem. The XA Pro Jersey is also ultra-lightweight but again, it offers just one zippered pocket in the rear and it’s barely big enough for an iPhone. I also found the pocket difficult to access on the go. Since I was so pleased with the XA Pro shorts and so “meh” on the jersey, I just chose to pair the shorts with my standard selection of XC jerseys.
The seat of the shorts features reinforced, rubberized gripping material, which helps eliminate slip and slide on the saddle of the bike. While I didn’t find it to be detrimental in any way, I couldn’t help but wonder why this was included. I’ve never thought to myself, “man, I wish my ass stuck to my seat better.” My only conclusion is that this feature is designed to promote durability of the seat area of the short by reducing back-and-forth sliding abrasion.
Despite being so scandalously light, I’ve not experienced any durability issues with the XA Pro shorts. While granted, I’ve only taken a few minor off-the-bike tumbles in these shorts, the fabric feels remarkably durable to the touch for its diminutive weight. It might take a real tumble in a scree field to truly test the durability, but those I generally try to avoid.
The Mavic XA Pro shorts are ultra-lightweight, flex and move well when pedaling, are plenty durable, and provide all-day comfort. While it’s unfortunate that I wasn’t as thrilled about the XA Pro Under Bib and the XA Pro Jersey, the XA Pro Shorts can easily mesh well with other bibs and other jerseys, making them an excellent choice for the mountain biker who likes to wear baggies and pedal a lot in warm weather.
I’ll personally be doing my best to wear my pair out.
Thanks to Mavic for providing the XA Pro Shorts for review!