The Mountain Bike Life

We all know that we need riding gear that is tailored for the types of riding that we love to do. Sure cargo shorts and cotton t-shirts work well enough on shorter or simpler rides, however, there is no denying the advantage that purpose driven mountain bike clothing gives us. After a few seasons of wearing the same shorts all too often, I found myself in the market once again. I decided that I was in need of something that would work well for longer, more pedal intensive rides, however, being that taking a tumble in a rock garden wearing lycra is never any fun I still wanted something in the baggy short department. After doing lots of searching I decided to go all out and purchase a pair of Mavic Stratos shorts.

Testing out the Mavic Stratos shorts on some of the local trails. (Photo Credit:Martina Platte)


Retailing for $99.95 the Mavic Stratos outer short is designed to be a light and durable all mountain short that is far from cheap. The outer short is made of a an abrasion resistant material that Mavic calls Trail Tech. This polyester elastane blend offers a decent amount of stretch while still promising to to be long lasting and not get torn up by rocks and stray branches. The shorts also have small vent holes to allow the short to function well in some of the hottest riding climates. The liner short (sold separately for an additional $84.95) keep with the same idea of providing the wearer with an extremely lightweight and breathable bit of kit.

The fit of the Stratos shorts is definitely on the baggier side.  (Photo Credit: Martina Platte)

The first thing you can notice about the Stratos shorts is that they are exceptionally light weight. Easily some of the lightest shorts I have ever owned. From initial impressions they almost feel too light. So light that it almost makes you question how tough they really could be. The outer shorts have a few decent features worth mentioning. There are two zippered thigh pockets that are small but could easily fit something like a thin phone or a small multi-tool. There is a snap closure up top with a zippered fly and two velcro straps help you to cinch in the waist to get a custom fit without a belt or anything of the sort.

The shorts are so light they will make you float over everything. (Photo Credit: Martina Platte)

When the time came to head out on my next ride I of course reached for the Stratos shorts. My first impressions of the initial fit were a tad mixed. The Undershorts felt awkward as I first got them on. The chamois almost felt as if it was too wide. Maybe this was from being so used to the Pearl Izumi liners I have become so accustomed to but it still felt as if everything just sat in a very different spot than I wanted. The liner shorts are also so thin and stretchy that it may take some time getting used to them, the fabric almost resembles fishnets (I realize this sounds weird, but somehow they make it work). Once I had the shorts adjusted and everything settled into place I had zero issues or complaints with the liners. In fact I think that they very well may be some of the most comfortable liners that I have ever worn. I never even had to stop and readjust after many hours in the saddle. The outer short is marketed as a baggy short and is cut in such a manner. The short actually fits much looser than a lot of the stock photos would lead you to believe, which I found a tad disappointing. After feeling how light weight the shorts were I almost wish they had a snugger fit in the thigh just because they really could be the ultimate cross country and trail shorts at that weight with no excess material floating around. On the plus side, the baggier cut allows for knee pads to fit underneath, which does a good job keeping in line with the more aggressive all- mountain designation that Mavic has branded these shorts with.

The materials and the cut of the shorts allows your legs to move freely and really lets you get behind the saddle when needed. (Photo Credit: Martina Platte)

Once I finally made it out on to the trail, any gripes I had about the shorts quickly vanished. The shorts are insanely comfortable; like most great bike components and accessories you know something is really good when you never have to think about it once on the ride. The cut and fit of the shorts really do come together well once you are in a proper riding position and are maneuvering around the saddle and that really is the key. These are shorts designed specifically for mountain biking in a no compromise package. That is why these are designed without belt loops or many other casual clothing features that you see on a lot of mountain bike clothing. The stretch in the material combined with the ergonomic cut of the shorts allow for total freedom of movement as you spin your way down the trail. The relatively high crotch ensures that you will not have to worry about snagging the nose of your saddle during tricky maneuvers like super steep chutes or rock gardens. The thigh pockets I mentioned earlier work well for thinner smaller items but anything with a little weight behind it tends to flop around more than I would like. The pockets can also be a bit difficult to reach while riding. I think that just tends to be the problem with a lot of thigh pockets in general though, nothing wrong on Mavic’s end. Fortunately in the amount of time that I have had the shorts I have yet to test out the abrasion resistance of the shorts in the event of a crash. I have heard from others that the shorts have quite literally saved their skin in some rather hairy situations, so I have no doubt to think that these shorts would be super tough for the long haul.

Side pockets worked well for smaller items. (Photo Credit: Martina Platte)

After spending a decent amount of time with the shorts I can say I would not hesitate to take these shorts out for all but the most aggressive of trails for which you would want full downhill gear. They fit great and I never have to worry about the shorts on any ride or even leaving them on for post ride eats and drinks. Despite all of this I can not help but feel that the price is just too high. At almost $190 (full MSRP) for the whole system I just could not help but to think that there are so many options out there that could surely work just as well. I do imagine that this is the price of comfort though. These are by far some of the most comfortable mountain bike specific shorts that I have ever owned.

Hopefully I will not be testing the durability any time soon on these rocky trails. (Photo Credit: Martina Platte)
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