Old habits die hard. Even though my first ‘proper’ riding shorts were baggies, once I discovered the comfort and performance of Lycra and overcame my self consciousness, there was no looking back.
Still, there are some rides where baggies are just more appropriate. When on more social rides or doing big descending days with minimal climbing, I’ve long wished for a pair of baggies that weren’t heavy, floppy, and hot- all with a decent chamois. With a couple of big trips to rough & tumble areas on the calendar this spring, I put a call in to Mavic for their sleek take on the baggy short. Have the Stratos shell and liner made a believer out of me? Hit the jump to find out!
When pulling the Stratos Short and companion Stratos Undershort from their packaging, it’s the Undershort that really catches the attention. Save for some modesty-preserving sections at the crotch and over the buttocks, the Stratos Undershorts’ defining feature is their open, fishnet-like mesh. Closer inspection reveals that the undershirt is actually a single knit, with no seams beyond the pad or the waistband. Fantastically soft, it does feel a bit racy at first, but given baggies’ typical overheating issues, the decision makes a lot of sense. The multi-density pad feels a bit bulky off the bike (probably due to the Undershorts’ lack of compression) but all but disappears when riding and is easily good for four hours on the bike.
The Stratos Shorts are slim but cut in such a way that they don’t interfere with pedaling or snag on seatpost quick releases. The front and inside panels are Mavic’s stretchy Trail Tech ST fabric, while the more exposed seat and outer thighs are a slightly sturdier (but not stretchy) Trail Tech. A handful of laser perforations where side pockets usually sit are a nod toward ventilation and a pair of zippered pockets sit on top of the thighs. A pair of Velcro adjusters at the hip allow for limited (~2in) waistband adjustment- making finding the right size fairly important
And speaking of sizing: Mavic have chosen not to bring either short to the US in sizes smaller than their “International Medium” (US Small). Not a problem for most riders, but with my 30in waist, the US Small outers were just too big until they made a date with a hot clothes dryer. They could still be a bit smaller, but are a whole lot closer to what I’d chose in a store. Riders with a 32in waist should probably shoot for the US S/Intl Md.
While the Trail Tech and Trail Tech ST fabrics breathe reasonably well, a couple of mesh panels would be appreciated for rides in the 80s or above- and help to keep the shorts from ballooning annoyingly in a headwind. Beyond that, there’s really nothing to ask for. The Undershorts’ Ergo 3D Pro is a winner and their underwear-style waistband is awfully comfy too. The outers’ cut is as near to perfect as I’ve found- despite being a bit big for me they remain slim without being restrictive. The fabrics have done a good job at avoiding damage from branches and brambles too.
At $150 for the Shorts with Undershorts (available separately for $85), the Stratos also represent a solid value in a time of $100-200 Lycra shorts. Though I’ll probably stick to Lycra for most of my riding, Mavic have built the first pair of socially acceptable shorts that I just plain forget while riding. Anyone looking for baggies without the baggage would do well to track a pair down.