This no-nonsense pair of riding shorts arrived at our Bible of Bike Tests base camp in Sedona, Arizona, and, seeing that they were lightweight, low-profile and in my size, I quickly snagged them before any of my co-testers could. It was an impulsive move, but it turned out to be a brilliant one: Yeti's Teller shorts are so functional and comfortable they immediately made their way to the top of my rotation. In fact, they were so non-obtrusive and breathable on our desert test courses that they ultimately became the only shorts in my rotation, and I began throwing them into the communal load each night so I could wear them again the following day.
One of the main factors guiding my choice of riding shorts is not noticing them while I'm on the trail. The Teller, made of thin, stretchy fabric with 'glide patches' that keep them from making noise while pedaling, are as quiet as church mice.
I also love them because my jet-black pair looks cool and conservative, and I can walk straight into the pub after a ride and nobody looks askance at me. The two hand pockets are perfect for slipping my phone and wallet into, and they zip at the top to keep contents safe while shredding. –Brice Minnigh
A pair of these shorts came as part of a generous swag bag at a suspension company's product launch I went to last May. They had the logo of the company plastered in billboard-sized font across the leg, making me far less likely to try them. For me, the fewer logos, the better.
The Royals felt nice, though. The fabric is durable, but not overly heavy. The cut seemed reasonable, and the Velcro waist adjusters looked sturdy.
Since last May, I've regularly turned myself into a walking suspension advertisement because I really like these shorts. The cut is very nice; it's baggy and long enough to wear comfortably with or without kneepads, but taken in at key places to avoid getting hung up on the seat. The material could be described as mid-weight-plus. It's a bit heavier than the Yetis to the left and lighter than the Scotts on the right. They feel tough, but make noise when pedaling, which may bother some. I personally don't mind, but it's my job to point these things out. Small, clatter-free zipper pulls made me not mind having zippers. Topping these rugged shorts off is the fact that they come with a liner that's pretty nice. –Ryan Palmer
SCOTT ROARBAN LS/FIT
The Scott Roarban is a low-key short that doesn't scream, "Look at me, I'm a mountain biker!" It's got a relaxed freeride-inspired fit that's perfect for days in the bike park, but they are comfortable enough to wear pedaling around the trails, too. The one rear pocket is cleverly off to the right side so anything you have in there is hardly noticeable, and a zip close ensures that everything will stay put.
Another subtle-but-clever feature is the hidden ventilation zippers located on each of the large side pockets. The fabric is surprisingly breathable, though, so I have seldom felt the need for a gentle breeze up my shorts.
Perhaps the only feature on the shorts that I didn't find particularly useful was the zip-off waist gaiter. I've never felt like having something to keep dirt out of my shorts was a feature I needed, so I zipped off the gaiter and called it good.
Smart pocket placement, along with cool, comfortable fabric, has made the Roarban short a personal favorite, and despite the freeride billing they've been my first choice for a day on the trails for more than a year now. –Anthony Smith
DIRTBAGGIES VENT AND FEATURE BIB
Though Dirtbaggies sells their bibs (not pictured) and shorts separately, they are meant to work as a system. The shorts attach to a sort of daisy chain on either side of the bibs, allowing the rider to adjust where on the waist they sit. Since they're already held up at these attachment points, the waist can be elastic without the shorts creeping down. This makes them feel incredibly comfortable, and if I eat too many Pro Bars on a ride, I'm still good to go.
Made from a lightweight and stretchy material and tailored to more of an XC fit, the shorts wear very nicely and ventilate exceptionally well. They're so stretchy though, that they'd snag on my seat every now and again.
The bibs feature extensive mesh construction, also making them nice and cool, and include one of the nicest chamois I've ever ridden. One of the smartest details in the design is the mesh on the back panel. It's directional, like the scales on a fish, keeping jerseys from creeping up. And most importantly, there's a nice flap for easy trailside bladder evacuations, although those of you with two X chromosomes are still out of luck. –Ryan Palmer
Very much the opposite of the Dirtbaggies above, the Dakine Pace shorts are pretty simple. There isn't much technology here, but that's kind of what makes them perfect. They're not embellished with extra zippers, textured fabrics, or anything else. I'm actually not sure what the difference is between the Pace shorts and a pair of boardshorts, which is actually pretty sweet because there's a beach near our office.
Like anything relying on fit, experiences will differ, but they fit me absolutely perfectly, and with six sizes available, you're more likely to find the proper fit as well. They're not too tailored, but not overly baggy, and include ordinary side pockets that are deep enough not to dump my phone on the side of the trail. The Pace shorts are made out of a mid-weight material that stays cool enough, dries incredibly fast and hangs well.
I like the length of my shorts to come just below the knee, so that when I'm on the bike they're covering my freakishly pale quads but not getting hung up while pedaling. These fit that bill. Despite having a dresser drawer full of baggies, the just-right fit of these uncomplicated shorts keep them in the constant wash cycle. –Ryan Palmer
CLUB RIDE FREEDOM
The limited apparel options for female mountain bikers can be unflattering and awkward-fitting. That's why I wanted to try the Freedom shorts from Club Ride. The 12-inch-inseam shorts have an unconventionally slim fit compared to the sport's baggier brethren, but they are surprisingly comfortable on the trail. They don't ride up, slip down or bunch while pedaling.
One of the most distinguishing features is a cut that tapers near the knee. Because of that, the fit may be too tight through the thigh for some body types, but the cut worked for me. The fit is still loose enough to comfortably wear a chamois underneath. The shorts feature lightweight, quick-dry stretch fabric with inconspicuous reflective accents that are nice on night rides. I especially appreciate the perfect placement of the zippered side-pocket, which easily holds a phone and a multi-tool. I've also crammed a tube in there during pack-free jaunts.
I've worn these shorts for almost a year and they have held up with nary a tear in the material. It's also the only short I've ever worn for which I've received multiple compliments from other females, which tells me Club Ride is onto something. –Nicole Formosa
This piece originally ran in the May issue of Bike. To subscribe to the digital edition of the magazine, click here.