SPECIALIZED ATLAS XC PRO SHORT
The range of quality baggy riding clothing in South Africa has traditionally been quite limited, so we were pleased to see Specialized is now going big in this category – for men and women and across a variety of colours and sizes.
The Atlas XC Pro Short looks fairly simple from a distance, but is loaded with technology and carefully considered design. Specialized’s proprietary ‘VaporRise’ fabric is essentially moisture wicking from the body but with a four-way stretch that basically also makes the material more robust and harder to rip.
There are two zippered pockets on the outer thighs, with the zips operating very smoothly. The pockets and zippers are positioned for ease of access while on the bike. Keys, multitools and most smartphones will fit in these. There’s bonded seam construction along all the typical areas and movement zones. While this is great for comfort and feel on the bike, time will tell how long this will last as welded (glued) seams do have a tendency to come undone over time. We reckon the Big S designers are aware of this, since the hem seams have larger than normal welded areas, which theoretically should give them a longer lifespan.
There’s a removable bib-liner short with SWAT and Body Geometry Mountain Chamois that comes standard with XC, Enduro and Demo shorts, although the SWAT bibs can be purchased on their own too (see separate review).
The Atlas XC Pro shorts fall within a range of loose-fit shorts alongside the Enduro for heavier trail focused riding and the Demo for hardcore/downhill riding.
On the trail the XC Pro shorts were incredibly comfortable and light feeling. While the cut is a loose fit, it’s still a slim enough fit that it doesn’t flap or snag anywhere.
The lightweight fabric dries quickly and the laser cut ventilation holes ensure there’s extra breathability with no overheating on longer/warmer rides.
In fact, even on five-hour rides through a variety of terrain and climate conditions, these shorts were flawless in comfort and performance. The four-way stretch material proved it’s worth in a couple of crashes too (the lengths we go to).
Thanks to the adjustable Velcro straps on the waistband, we could keep the shorts snug at all times. So effective in fact we didn’t bother using the clips inside the waistband for the bib attachment. The shorts come with a Velcro fly. Some testers like this, others prefer a zipper closure. It worked well regardless.
The Altas XC Pro is well priced, comfortable, functional and good-looking and is sure to be a hit in this country.
*PRICE: R1699 (Including SWAT bib)
SIZES: S, M (tested), L
CONTACT: www.specialized.com; 021 808 7333
SPECIALIZED SWAT BIB SHORT
The Specialized SWAT concept isn’t only limited to it’s bikes. SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) essentially optimises existing space to trim down traditional hassle factors. There are five pockets on this bib short – three on the back and one on each lower outside thigh. The three back pockets are slightly higher up the back than traditional jersey pockets, allowing the jersey to cover them completely. These can store just about anything from tools, spares, phone, keys and even an extra water bottle. The two thigh pockets are great for stashing extra food, cash or car keys. With all the pockets integrated and close to the body, there’s no discomfort or movement, you barely have a sensation of the items being there. Although we’re mightily impressed, we’d like to see a waterproof pocket for phones/remotes in future iterations.
The elasticated fold-over leg cuff also doubles as a leg grabber for your thigh for extra comfort and stops the shorts creeping up. On the one test pair we did find the stitching coming loose. Although we sorted this out ourselves without further issues Specialized does have a two-year warranty (on all apparel) and will fulfill this under any normal use and/or manufacturing defect.
Body Geometry Mountain Chamois is Specialized’s own chamois. We found the combination of this with the mesh construction material made these some of the most comfortable we’ve worn, comparable to any other bib shorts we’ve worn actually.
Initially we were skeptical over the idea of the SWAT bib liner shorts being gimmicky. Over time though, they’ve come to be a favoured bit of kit and considering how most baggy shorts are hit and miss with liners we ended up using these more often with our other baggy riding shorts and tops, purely because of the storage convenience and consistent comfort. Expect other clothing brands to follow suit on the SWAT concept with bib shorts – it’s truly groundbreaking.
SIZES: XS, S, M (tested), L, XL, XXL
CONTACT: www.specialized.com; 021 808 7333
TREAD Magazine is sold throughout South Africa and can be found in: Spar, CNA, Exclusive Books, Discerning bike shops and on Zinio
*Originally published in TREAD Soul Provider Issue 31, 2014 – All rights reserved