Bib shorts are a funny thing in mountain biking because they look very much like a road cycling clothing item when not covered by baggy shorts, yet many of those ‘in the know’ swear by them. The lack of waist-band is what makes them meaningfully comfier than most ‘non-bib shorts’, which is why such riders generally like them.
These new Bontrager Troslo bib-shorts are indeed comfortable; the material is ‘compression fit’, which is intended to fight muscle-fatigue. Unfortunately, I can’t say I noticed a lack of muscle fatigue, though that may have been due to the time spent on the couch right after I got these shorts, and I did notice that the medium fitted me with slightly more compression around the waist after I broke my ankle and spent three and a bit months off the bike… go figure. I especially like the leg gripper, which is simply a tighter piece of compression material rather than something grippy or silicon-like often employed to keep the ends of the legs in place. The chamois is also worthy of mention for its simplicity and overall shape, particularly its width across the sit-bone area. I mention this because some chamois are two narrow for where the bulk of my weight sits on a seat, or there is some silly three-dimensional component with ridges and ditches in the chamois right where all my weight is. Not so with the Troslo – the chamois is simple and flat, for a comfortable seating place.
The other claim to fame for the Troslo is the built-in storage pockets: three in the back and two on the legs. The back pockets are great for racing or for trail rides when you might want to leave behind your backpack or hip-pack (bum-bag). There’s enough storage there for a tube, pump, multi-tool etc. In addition to that are small leg pockets which are handy for small items like gels or snack-bars, or as Bontrager suggest, a good place to put gel wrappers you don’t want gumming up anything you put them next to (like your leg hairs if you simply stuff them up the inside of your short leg). You might think that bib-shorts would be noticeably hotter than regular shorts, but I didn’t find that to be noticeable with the Troslos, probably thanks to the use of mesh ‘Inform’ material in much of the upper and side panels.
Niggles? I did notice occasionally that the shoulder straps felt a bit short (tight), but only when I was standing upright, like when stopped, or pushing. And I wish they had a fly, or something clever to make ‘number-one rest stops’ easier trail-side. That is all.
The Rhythm outer shorts have been a staple for Bontrager for a while. I had the wine-coloured ones, which I reckon look pretty sharp with a black top. They’re also available in black. The fit is spot on; tailored without being tight and just long enough in the leg to cover knee guards most of the time. Closure is via two snap-buttons and a classy little metal buckle with a slightly elasticated and adjustable waist band that kept the shorts up without being restrictive. They’re made from quite lightweight nylon so were ideal in hot summer conditions (and in winter if you know you’re gonna get wet). I like riding with my wallet and phone accessible (rather than in my bag), so the two traditional open hip pockets were welcome. One nifty feature is a ‘smaller-pocket-inside-a-larger-pocket’ intended for a cell-phone, to stop it bouncing around or indeed bouncing out of the pocket. It works well. There is also a zipped pocket where your side-glute/thigh is for keys or other scratchy things you don’t want in with your cell phone. It also works well. Anything bad? I had a thread came undone somewhere in the zip pocket and the thread got caught in the zip; when I got home I bit that piece of thread off – solved.
Overall, this Bontrager bib-outer-short combo is bang-on for trail bike use; the bibs fit well, with an excellent chamois and handy additional storage, while the outers are lightweight, fit well and also feature usable pockets. Win-win.
Words: Carl Patton
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