Review: Mavic’s sleek Stratos baggy shorts

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.

marc

www.mavic.com

Comments

Mike - 09/04/12 - 10:35am

These sounds pretty nice, it’s a shame they aren’t bringing anything smaller than size medium to the US though. Just because most americans are fat doesn’t mean cyclists are too.

Topmounter - 09/04/12 - 10:54am

I have one pair of “baggies” and rarely wear them because they are… well.. baggy, heavy and low on the bang-for-the-buck meter relative to a quality pair of bib-shorts.

Instead, when I’m feeling the need, I wear a pair of light-weight hiking shorts over my bibs. It took a bit of trial and error to find hiking shorts that fit “just right”, but the combination is far more comfortable, lighter weight, less bulky (and therefore less prone to snags) and far more versatile… I have half a dozen pairs of bib-shorts and a couple pairs of overshorts, so road, mountain or free-ball, I’ve got it all!

Dave - 09/04/12 - 11:05am

For me, baggies have an additional advantage over lycra on the trail, they perform much better in a crash. A sliding layer of fabric between the ground and your skin helps to prevent abrasions. I just wear bibs underneath to keep my bum happy over long miles.

As a small guy myself, I’m disappointed in the sizing too. Can we get the smaller S by ordering from a european retailer?

Will - 09/04/12 - 2:36pm

Any idea where to find these in the US? I have a pair and they are my favorites. By far! I haven’t found any through a US dealer in some time.

Kenneth Olsen - 09/04/12 - 4:00pm

What color is that Giro Feature helmet ? Deep teal ?

Marc - 09/04/12 - 8:18pm

Ken,
That’s a cyan Giro Hex (reviewed here: http://www.bikerumor.com/2011/06/01/bikerumor-review-2011-giro-hex-helmet-with-rocloc-5/). The color is from ’11- but I like it :)

Will,
Sorry- I’d try my local Mavic apparel dealer. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of online availability.

marc

Eric - 09/05/12 - 9:41am

I own a pair of these outer shorts but opted not to buy the inners to save money and to able to use them with pairs of lycra i already own.

This review is spot on, these shorts are excellent quality and don’t have the balloon fit that most other companies employ to keep the freeriders happy. They are super lightweight and stretchy, real comfy, and I have worn them multiple times casually off the bike, too.

My only gripe is that they fit surprisingly large for a European product. I wear a 33″ waist and tried to err on the side of caution by buying the XL, but had to return them for the L which fit perfectly.

shabbis - 11/12/12 - 4:20pm

Backcountry.com has them online.

http://www.backcountry.com/mavic-stratos-mountain-bike-short-mens

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