Do you ever notice in a mountain bike video that no one is wearing full Lycra? That's because full Lycra outfits are not ideal for the style and lifestyle of riding trails. Do you ever notice on most XC races, especially endurance ones, that few riders are wearing baggy shorts? That's because roadie style Lycra is more comfortable and lets you ride faster.
There is a gap between looking cool in baggies and going fast in Lycra. A lot of cyclists go both ways and make the clothing call depending on the type of ride they're doing and the crowd that's going to be there. Temperature plays a role too as the hottest weather usually calls for the thinnest roadie Lycra available.
That's where DirtBaggies has come to offer a solution. They offer a very lightweight short system, that includes a bib designed to be worn as a liner only and a shell that mates with the bib by hooking on each side with snap-on tethers.
The first thing you'll notice when you get the product is the weight. You pick up both pieces and they weigh less than a normal Lycra bib short. The bib liner weighs in at 170 grams and the liner at 160 grams.
You'll then observe how thin the materials are. Put the bib on and you'll see that it's mostly see-through, so it's not to be worn by itself, even in the hottest weather. The shorts are thin enough but also have these black panels that swoop down from the rear to each side of the leg. This material is a stretchy fine net type material and it ventilates very well.
These two units hook on to each other by a tether system that has 5 height points of attachment. One has to thread a fabric hook through one of the 5 holes then snap a micro button to itself. This tether system allows the shell to fit loose and comfortable yet they will stay in the optimal place because their height position is fixed on both sides.
Other details include two small pockets high on both sides of the shell. The bib liner has two pockets on each side by the chest, which are large enough to fit an iPhone. Finally, there is horizontal fly flap in the front for the inevitable pee break.
So how does it perform?
There's two colors, beige (aka stone) and black. The beige doesn't look quite right especially with the big, black panels running down the front of each leg. We opted for the black one which looked more stealth. It wasn't a cool fashion statement like the latest crop of all mountain shorts but it looked good enough.
Hooking the shorts on to the bib is easy enough but can be a pain when one is in a hurry. It's not a simple button snap like with other brands. You have to thread the hook through the right hole and snap a micro button. I wish these two units would just stay together all the time, but they seem to get all tangled together in the laundry.
The good news is it works. These shorts are as fast as Lycra and are as efficient as Lycra. There's no binding, drooping, and dragging that's common with most baggy shorts. When the temperature goes up, these keep you cool. In fact, some say that it keeps you even cooler than most Lycra. The DirtBaggies bib is so thin and aerated that it lets the heat from your quads escape. The shell can usually channel airflow in the bib area for some cooling effect. It works rather well.
The side hip pockets are pretty useless since they seem shallow and it feels like what you put in there might pop out. There's no side panel pocket like most baggies, since those will affect the pedaling/cooling performance of these shorts. The two pocket panels on the bib straps actually work pretty well for keys and gel packs. But if it's a hot day, those areas get drenched with sweat.
So in summary, these are awesome XC baggy shorts. They're very comfortable and they have the ability to disappear in a long, hot, 4 hour ride or race. I would do an endurance ride or race with these with no reservations whatsoever. For XC and marathon conditions, these are ideal.
For freeride and all mountain rides, it's not quite a slam dunk. They just don't look as good as most shorts in terms of style, graphics and length. Utility wise, you won't have all the leg pockets that you'll find in other shorts, and if you hit some rocks and some dirt, these shorts won't protect you as much. The lightweight material is tough but it's not as burly as most shells.
And finally, there's the price issue. It's $180 for the bib and $70 for the shell, so $250 for the set. That's just a lot of benjamins for most mountain bikers. Some roadies are totally comfortable at this price point but we might go out on the limb and admit that mountain bikers are cheap(er). There's ways to justify the high price but we'll leave that between you and your spouse. It's not perfect and quite pricey, but we'll keep taking out our DirtBaggies on those long, hot XC rides.
Overall rating: 4.5 stars
Value rating: 3.5 stars
For more information visit dirtbaggies.com