Zoic has an established reputation when it comes to quality cycling apparel, producing gear that is functional but also stylish. I’ve purchased their gear with my own money for a while now, but I recently got to sample a couple of their latest and greatest garments: the updated Ether baggy shorts and newly-released Transition LS Tech Tee.
The $79.99 Ether short is Zoic’s #1 best selling model. Functionally, the newly-designed version is the same as previous versions, with a 12″ inseam, relaxed fit, velcro+elastic waistband, and a myriad of pockets with taped seams and stay-put zipper pulls. The padded lycra undershorts are included, and the screen printed labels help avoid uncomfortable chafing.
The biggest change is in the fabric. Those of you with the older model Ether shorts will be familiar with the fairly thick nylon shell with a decently-soft feel. The new fabric is noticeably thinner, and has a fair amount of stretchiness in all directions. The feel is still soft, but the switch to rip-stop nylon makes them even more durable than the previous models.
You read that right, they are thinner, more durable, and more comfortable.
Out on the trail the Ether shorts provide everything I expected from my previous pairs in terms of fit, gear storage, and overall durability. However, the new fabric is noticeably more comfortable, especially on longer rides. The snap fly, reinforced with velcro, stays closed, but is also easy to access for watering plants along the trail, and the velcro tabs on the waistband allow for a custom snug fit and help avoid “sagging.”
The overall fit is loose enough in the legs to let your quads work and allow for knee pads, but tight enough under the rear to prevent snagging a saddle nose when mounting the bike in a hurry.
The included padded undershorts have decent padding; not the best I have experienced, but not bad, either. Since the shorts are separate, the Ether outer shorts can be worn with different lycra liners… or no liner at all, if that’s your thing. If you ride frequently, the ability to swap out liner shorts helps keep the laundry under control as you can usually wear the outers for several rides, but liners will likely need to be washed after every ride.
The pockets provide ample storage for electronics like a smart phone or helmet cam, maps, snacks, keys, cash or cards, etc. When I go to trade shows like Outerbike, I can even stow my clipless pedals in a front pocket between demo rides!
Bottom Line: The Zoic Ether shorts are a critical part of my cycling gear, and I wear them for everything from spinning around the neighborhood to multi-day epic trips.
Transition LS Tech Tee
The $59.99 Transition Tee is a no-frills wicking polyester t-shirt that is cut to hang loose for on-bike movement, while still snug enough to avoid flapping in the breeze. There is one zippered pocket for bare essentials like lip balm or a very small mp3 player, and just like the shorts, the flat seams and printed labels help avoid uncomfortable chafing.
Out on the trail, the Transition is comfortable and… well, not something I really think about, so I guess that means it’s doing its job. The pocket is a bit awkward to access so I haven’t really used it. I tend to defer to the pockets in my shorts.
Sweat wicking is good, and the relatively thin material makes this an excellent choice for hot weather. For colder weather it is a good base to layer with.
After a couple months of wear, I have noticed some pilling on the Transition’s fabric. I assume this is from rubbing on jackets and hydration pack straps, and while there is no affect on the functionality at all, the shirt doesn’t look as sharp as it once did, whereas the shorts look as good now as the day I got them. I have taken to using the jersey solely as a base layer, and it works great for that, especially for winter fat biking.
With my prior experience with Zoic apparel, I had very high expectations, and to be completely honest I sort of expected “more of the same in different colors.” This wouldn’t have been a bad thing, mind you, but I am pleased to report that the new fabric in the Ether shorts is an excellent evolution of an existing product. The Transition tech tee, while not my favorite piece of gear, is a solid performer that is well-suited to specific tasks.
In both cases, the price point is respectable given the quality and features,and you won’t go wrong with either garment.
Thanks to Zoic for providing the Ether and Transition for review.