Subtle to Bold Mountain Bike Shorts, Plus a Few in Between

Like mountain bikers, shorts come in all shapes, sizes, and capabilities. Here are six pairs we tested recently.

Like mountain bikers, shorts come in all shapes, sizes, and capabilities. As summer comes to a close in the northern hemisphere, and spring is just getting started down south, here are six pairs of mountain bike shorts to check out.

Club Ride Mattock

Photo: Hannah Morvay

In a word, Club Ride’s Mattock shorts are different. Not at all in a bad way, though. The shorts are a two-tone, with a denim-looking fabric up front, and lighter, stretchier fabric around the waist, pockets, and cuff.

Photo: Hannah Morvay

Club Ride says that they will work on the gravel bike and at barbecues, or gravel biking to a barbecue, which sounds like a grand ol’ time. The Mattocks are quite comfortable indeed and have seen just as much off-the-bike use, if not more, than on-the-bike. The Mattocks are very comfortable.

The medium fit feels spot on to our tester, at 5’8″ and 165lbs. Paired with Club Ride’s New West shirt, the shorts are a perfect match for easy-going trail rides and work great on long days on a gravel bike.

Available online from Club Ride for $89.95.

Endura Humvee Chinos

Photo: Hannah Morvay

The Endura Humvee Chinos aren’t going to be the first choice of baggies most riders reach for on the way to the trailhead. Rather, they are perfect for commutes to the coffee shop or a short and laid back MTB ride. The Chinos have a tailored feel and have Endura’s Clickfast feature, a receiving set of buttons for snapping a chamois liner into the shorts.

The Humvee Chinos are made from what Endura calls a “tough cotton mix fabric with mechanical stretch,” and that feels about right. There is a minor amount of stretch in the fabric and though they are heavy for a mountain bike short, they are light for a casual short.

Photo: Hannah Morvay

The mediums fit a little big on me, but weren’t too bad. The Chinos still fit well enough to get out of the way pedaling around and they have reflective accents on the back of the cuff. The Endura Humvee Chinos retail for $90.

Available online at Wiggle, Amazon, and Moosejaw.

Endura Humvee Lite shorts

Endura’s Humvee Lite shorts are a thin, lightweight short great for all-mountain riding in the dead of summer. The Humvee Lites are a four-way stretch with an elastic, adjustable waistband. They also feature the Clickfast buttons for snapping in a chamois.

The Humvee Lites also fit a little on the big side in their medium size. There is some silicone on the inside of the waist, which spells out Endura. There isn’t quite enough silicone to make up for a loose waistband so mine slipped downward during rides.

Rocking the Endura Singletrack Lite kit in Marquette, Michigan. Photo: Hannah Morvay

Overall, the material is light, flexible, and breathable, aided by the laser-cut vents. Aside from being on the bigger side of medium, the Singletrack Lites are an excellent, lightweight short. These retail for $95.

Available online at Amazon.

Giant Transfer Shorts

The cozy Transfer 3/4 jersey sells for $67.50.

The Transfer shorts from Giant are the lightest pair I have worn in a while, and their stretchy main material remains tough enough to withstand a few spills. These simple two-pocket shorts have a subtle aesthetic that doesn’t scream “I’m mountain biking” while it does provide a proper ride-specific fit and functionality.

Both pockets provide space for a large cell phone and snacks.

I have equal 30″ inseam and waist measurements, and the size small I tested fits fantastically. The legs are long enough to overlap the top third of my kneepads without being overly long and bunching behind the knee.

The front closure uses a pair of sturdy snaps and an equally hefty zipper that feels like it will last as long as the shorts do. The waist can be cinched tighter with a hook system at either side, and the hooks stay put better than they have on other shorts.

Mountain bike apparel should be adjustable, durable, functional, and forgettable, and the Transfer shorts have all of those qualities locked down. They also look good with whatever else you decide to wear and have a cut that could work on dirt-roads or enduro-style riding. Transfer shorts retail for $89.

Gore C5 All Mountain Shorts

Mountain bike shorts should offer protection from abrasion and the sun’s rays, but they also need to keep riders cool in hot conditions. Gore threads the needle and does both with the C5 All Mountain Shorts.

The long-ish, 14-inch inseam legs taper at the bottom for a more fitted look than most full-on baggies. Zippered vents allow the legs to open up a bit, with a web of mesh that keeps the ends from flapping in the wind. The vents have a zipper at the top as well for those who need some extra air, but still like the tapered look and feel at the knee.

Mesh panels at the front, near the crotch area, allow plenty of air flow, which is vented out the back through another large mesh panel just below the waist band. Zippered hand pockets offer convenient storage, though no additional ventilation as found on other shorts we’ve tested.

The inside of the waist band has wide, grippy tape for holding shorts up, even when paired with a slippery lycra liner underneath. Fat, external waist cinchers grip to a generous hook-and-loop panel offering inches of adjustment range. Up front the shorts use a two-button and zipper closure.

I’ve enjoyed wearing these shorts over the summer thanks to the lightweight feel and full feature set. While not as cool as the Gore C5 Trail Light shorts I own, the C5 All Mountains are much more versatile and adjustable for a great fit. My one complaint is that while the beefy waist cinchers are robust and simple to use, they can become uncomfortable when paired with a hip pack waist belt.

The size medium shorts I tested seem to run true to size. At $129.99 without a liner, the premium price reflects both the quality and feature set Gore delivers.

Men’s and women’s styles available from Moosejaw.

Tasco Scout MTB Shorts

Tasco is well known for their comfy, lightweight mountain bike gloves, and they recently added mountain bike shorts to the line. The Scout was designed as an “all-day trail short” and offers many features that riders will appreciate.

The polyester spandex material Tasco uses is a bit thicker than some shorts we’ve tested this year, which is great for abrasion protection but not for breathability. For me, living in the southern United States where summers are hot and humid, that means this is more of a spring or fall short. The length of the inseam on the Scout shorts varies based on the waist size, from 13.5 inches on the largest size down to 11.5 inches on the smallest size. Many riders, our tester included, will find these to fall just above the knee.

There are two zippered hand pockets on either side, with a bit of mesh which allows for some ventilation. A smartphone pocket on the right side is tucked low and back to keep screens a little safer in the event of a crash.

Up top Tasco uses a two-button closure paired with hook-and-loop in place of a zipper. The fly has a piece of stretchy material connecting either side, offering an extra bit of modesty with plenty of wiggle room to slide the shorts on and off. Internal, hook-and-loop cinchers offer about an inch of adjustability on either side. There’s also a set of belt loops around the waist for additional cinching.

Tasco recently updated their sizing to simplify selection, but in my experience the shorts run large. That is, if you’re unsure or on the fence, it might be a good idea to order a smaller size. Also, tall, skinny riders may find the shorts are a bit shorter than they would like based on the variable inseam lengths that increase with waist size.

Available at Tasco and Amazon.

Check out our mountain bike shorts buyers guide and our picks for the best mountain bike shorts.