Depending on your colorway, these shorts scream Euro Downhiller. The slim, cut works great for the very thin, or people more interesting in standing on the pedals and descending. They’re also best suited for cool-weather riding. Ringing in at more than $150, the shorts justify their price with the plush, protective shoftshell fabric and a horde of pockets and vents. Essential shorts for anyone riding headlong into challenging terrain.
Designed for downhilling more than pedaling, the Norrona Fjora Flex1 Shorts are a snug, slim fit. The softshell fabric is stretchy enough overall that pedaling isn’t restrictive, especially if you are a thinner person, but they don’t excel in cross country riding as much as others in the test. The cut is very long—capri length—though the lower leg openings are large enough (to accommodate knee pads) that they aren’t restrictive for a bending knee. The waistband has very aggressive grip tape along the lower back to prevent plumber’s crack, and Velcro tabs to help tighten up the waist. One quibble: the waistband could be more stretchy for more dynamic riding, or occasional waistline fluctuations. Due to the slim cut, consider sizing up or at least trying on before you commit.
With a Euro look that can be emphasized with color choices, ranging from electric blue and scarlet to more understated black and grey, the Fjora Flex1 shorts do say “Scandanavia!” As cool as the Viking logo is, it’s more prominent than most. They also say downhiller with their over-the-knee hem length. If that’s your jam, though, they are sharp.
These are warmer shorts, with the heavier fabric less-suited for warm weather riding. Two large zippered thigh vents and smaller front pocket vents help. They’re bomber in cooler weather of course. The snug fit may be a challenge for some riders.
The Fjora Flex1 stand out for bells and whistles. The zippered vents on the thighs and waist help channel cool air into the shorts, and a huge cargo pocket on the left thigh can stash tools, snacks, a trail map, etc. A mesh pocket inside the cargo pocket secures a phone. Zipper tabs girth hitched to the zipper pulls make for easy operation even wearing gloves. The thick, sticky grip tape on the low back prevents plumber’s crack, and Velcro tabs on the hips help dial in fit.
Meant for downhilling, these shorts are almost as protective as pants. The softshell fabric is tough and pretty waterproof. The cut is very long—and covers most of a knee pad.
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HOW WE TESTED
Our testing team tested the shorts in and around Minneapolis and Duluth, Minnesota; Sedona and Tucson, Arizona, Jackson, Wyoming and Moab, Utah over a period of two months on asphalt, gravel, and singletrack in temperatures ranging from the low 40’s to the mid-90’s and on distances that ranged from six miles to 56. Our testing team did not intentionally set out to test the durability of each pair of shorts in a crash. Instead, to judge the shorts’ ability to withstand impact, they scrutinized their construction materials, the weight of the fabric and the stitching. Though, there may have been some crashes anyway.