Troy Lee Designs Skyline Short ReviewAugust 4, 2016
- Zippered pockets
- Good ventilation features
- Sizing runs small
- Minimal crash protection
The Troy Lee Designs Skyline shorts have outstanding features to promote good breathability and ventilation. They are well fitted, eye catching and are kneepad compatible. However the sizing runs small through the hips and the shorter inseam of eleven inches will almost certainly leave skin exposed in a crash.
The Troy Lee Designs Skyline short runs on the small size and has a straight cut through the hips that is more in line with a men’s cut rather than a women’s. Our tester’s sample size small (3/4) felt tighter in the hips and rear when compared to all the shorts in the test. It is recommended that cyclists order the next size up for a more relaxed fit. This more constrictive fit makes these shorts better suited for enduro riding rather than straight-up cross country or urban riding.
The inseam for the small runs eleven inches and hits well above the knee. The legs are tapered but still accommodate kneepads due in large part to their shorter inseam length.
Constructed with a four way stretch, midweight ninety percent polyester/ten percent Spandex fabric, the Troy Lee Designs Skyline shorts have three zippered security pockets. One pocket on the left hip, one on the right leg and one back panel pocket on the waistband. All pockets are stash pockets rather than cargo. The leg pocket zipper is welded for water-resistance.
External Velcro waist adjustments tabs cinch in the waistband to assure no back gaps but also increases the probability of a jersey snag. The waistband’s wide-panel construction makes it very comfortable with a high rise in the back for good rear coverage. However, the Troy Lee Designs Skyline shorts also rise higher in the front, which can feel restrictive to the stomach when in aggressive riding positions.
A Lycra stretch panel runs across the upper back and as a panel in the crotch to allow for additional stretch and breathability. The fly is secured with Velcro and two sturdy snap buttons. Each leg has a mesh opening to promote ventilation on hot days as well as accommodate kneepads. Depending on the size and coverage of the kneepads, some cyclists will experience a pad-to-short skin gap when in aggressive riding positions.
The Troy Lee Designs Skyline shorts do not come with an integrated chamois but our tester found that the shorts accommodated all chamois worn during testing.
The Troy Lee Designs Skyline shorts are well constructed with a medium-weight four-way stretch Polyester and Spandex blend. The single stitching is straight and precise with a medium-weight thread.
The medium-weight four-way stretch fabric of the Troy Lee Designs Skyline shorts lends itself to good protection during low-impact crashes. However the shorter inseam of eleven inches, even when paired with kneepads, will leave leg skin exposed.
The Troy Lee Designs Skyine shorts run small and depending on the cyclist can feel restricted in the hips. While our tester noticed the tighter fit in the hips and rear, there was no restriction in range of motion. The higher rise in the front created some moderate bunching but did not chafe or feel uncomfortable.
Comfort is enhanced due to a waffle-weave on inside of the fabric, which creates a series of air-gaps that promote ventilation. A Lycra stretch panel runs across the upper back of the short and as a panel in the crotch to allow for additional stretch, comfort, breathability and range of motion. Each leg has a mesh opening to also allow for good ventilation on hot days as well as accommodate kneepads.
The highest-scoring shorts in this category were the Shredly Jana. With a score of nine, and the best fit among all the womens’ shorts, their tailored fit and straight cut through the hips were neither restrictive nor baggy, thanks to the stretchy fabric that is equal parts tailored and relaxed. Despite the more tailored fit of the Shredly Jana, the leg openings are wide enough to accommodate kneepads. The Pearl Izumi Elevate and the Zoic Naveah each scored a seven in this category. Although marketed as a relaxed fit, our testers found Pearl Izumi Elevates to be on the baggy size. The Zoic Naveah shorts run true to size with a very relaxed style through the hips that is tapered and fitted in the legs. However, this tapered and fitted cut in the legs made it more challenging for one of our testers to wear kneepads with the shorts.
Scoring the highest in this category was the Shredly Jana, which earned nine points. Durability and construction is outstanding. As they are made in the USA, this is to be expected. The double stitching is very meticulous, straight and precise with a heavier thread. With a score of eight points, the Pearl Izumi Elevate are constructed with a medium-weight four-way stretch ripstop fabric. The one pair of shorts that one of our testers crashed in and skidded into a mud bog during the testing period, however, were the Pearl Izumi Elevate shorts. Structurally, the Pearl Izumi Elevate shorts were unfazed after the crash with no rips or tears and cleaned surprisingly well in the washing machine. However it has single stitching versus the double stitching of the Shredly’s. The Zoic Naveah’s, which scored five, also uses single-stitching. Although it is moderately straight with a medium-weight thread, the SuperLight Stretch fabric is not as abrasion-resistant as other mountain bike shorts.
In the women’s shorts, the Pearl Izumi Elevate scored the highest in this category with eight points. The long, protective 12.5” inseam easily accommodates knee pads and does not leave any leg skin exposed. The Shredly Jana and the Zoic Naveah both finished with five points in this category. The mid-weight stretchy fabric of the Shredly Jana shorts lends itself to good protection during low-impact crashes. However the shorter inseam of 10.5 inches, even when paired with kneepads, left some of our tester’s leg skin exposed. A tad longer is the Zoic Naveah’s with an 11.5-inch inseam. The same length as the Pearl Izumi Elevate but our testing team couldn’t justify a higher score due to the very lightweight fabric and the narrow leg openings that cause the fabric to bunch up above kneepads.
The Zoic Naveah unquestionably scored the highest in the Comfort category with eight points. The ergonomic cut, SuperLight Stretch fabric that is breathable and dries quickly and the combination of the relaxed fit through the rear and hips all contributed to the most comfortable riding experience. The Shredly Jana also scored well in this category with a seven. Comfort was enhanced by the very wide and soft waistband and a nice low rise in the front to accommodate the natural position of tester’s abdomen in aggressive riding positions. Zippered thigh vents promoted decent breathability on warmer days and the stretchy fabric is relatively breathable and did not bunch up or restrict range of motion. The Pearl Izumi Elevate scored one point lower with a six in this category. Although best suited for all-mountain and enduro riding, and our testers did not experience restricted mobility in the Pearl Izumi Elevate shorts, however lesser breathability was noticed on hot and humid days due to the heavier fabric.
The Pearl Izumi Elevate scored the highest with a seven. The comfortable waistband is one of the reasons for the high score. The wide-panel construction of provides a comfortable low-rise in the front to reduce volume and a higher rise in the back for excellent low back coverage. Soft foam is added to the waistband for additional structure to prevent the back from sliding down. A Lycra stretch panel runs across the upper back, through the crotch and to the leg openings to allow for good stretch, breathability and range of motion.
Pockets, though few, are highly functional, well-placed and secured with sturdy zippers. They have two hip pockets that are moderately deep for carrying lightweight cargo such as a car key and a conveniently-placed small rear pocket at the waistband that can hold a key or MP3 player.
Scoring five points each were the Shredly Jana and the Zoic Naveah. With one side-leg snap pocket and two mesh-lined front hip pockets, pockets are few and lack any real functionality on the Shredly Jana. The snap pocket, while moderately secure, was not large enough to hold a Motorola smartphone. Comfort, however, is enhanced with zippered mesh thigh vents that offer additional ventilation on warm and humid days. On the Zoic Naveah’s, the number of pockets, placement and functionality are outstanding with five zippered security pockets. However, the zipper pulls are small and not the most glove-friendly. A small fabric loop above the right rear pocket keeps the headphone cord out of the way when riding. An integrated chamois comes with the ZOIC Naveah’s.
Indeed, mountain bike shorts have evolved since their humble single-gender and single-color days. Now it’s all about the stretchy fabrics that make a short snug enough to not get caught on the seat post, yet unrestrictive while pedaling or moving around on the bike. Thicker, stretchy fabric goes a long way in protecting skin in a crash too, absorbing some of the force skin would normally take. And savvy styles include kneepad compatibility. Most companies have clued in to the hip pocket designed to secure a smartphone while not effecting movement and they have certainly clued in to a growing women’s market that demands high-performance, protection and comfort.
The big differences were in how the shorts fit around the hips and in accommodating kneepads. The shorts with the most impressive knee-pad compatibility were the Shredly Jana and the Pearl Izumi Elevate. But what made the Pearl Izumi Elevate stand out over the Shredly Jana was a slightly tapered leg that still worked great with a kneepad and a longer inseam that provided outstanding leg coverage. The Elevate fabric was also heavier and tougher.
Our testing team tested the shorts in and around Minneapolis and Duluth, Minnesota; Sedona and Tucson, Arizona and Moab, Utah over a period of two months on asphalt, gravel, 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.