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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: New liner short is horrible, right hand pocket does not zip
Manufacturer: Troy Lee Designs
If you follow the Enduro World Series you may recognize the Troy Lee Designs Ruckus as the short that Curtis Keene has been wearing all season. We tested the Ruckus to see if the short worn by one of America's fastest mountain bikers would work for the rest of us.
We tested a previous version of the Ruckus a few years back, and it won our Editors' Choice Award. This version received significant changes over the previous version and is hardly recognizable as the same product. A few of the changes were for the better, but unfortunately some changes caused it to score lower in our test. Our Editors' Choice Award now goes to the Pearl Izumi Elevate which we think is the best baggy mountain bike short you can get your hands on today. The Ruckus is still a great short and earned the second highest overall score in our test. We recommend you read on to see if the changes are ones that work for you or not.
The Ruckus is available in five colors from a not so subtle Ops Desert camo print to a night mission worthy solid black. The Ruckus is available in five sizes. Troy Lee also sells the ¾ sleeve Ruckus jersey in five matching colorways for the pro look.
RELATED: Our complete review of mountain bike shorts
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Troy Lee Ruckus is a medium weight mountain bike short which is suitable for most types of riding and is best suited for Enduro. It is constructed from a 2 way stretch material and has a total of four pockets. A fully removable mesh liner short with a foam chamois is included.
Always the leader in style, Troy Lee Designs has given the Ruckus a new look that is much more towards the downhill end of the style spectrum then the previous version. This latest iteration of the Ruckus looks very similar to Troy Lee's iconic downhill short, the Moto. We still think the Ruckus is a stylish and good looking short, but we scored is slightly lower on the style meter because it is maybe a little too "moto" for some riders. It definitely lets everybody know that you are a wicked good mountain biker as opposed to some of the other shorts that could easily get you through a couple rounds at Bushwood. If you prefer to remain incognito, then check out the Fox Ranger or better yet the Zoic Ether in plaid.
The Ruckus has a screen printed TLD logo on the left hip as well as a Troy Lee Designs insignia on the right hip and rear so there will be no doubt what brand of shorts you are wearing. They are available in three solid colorways and two eye catching camouflage colorways for a total of five ways to match your kit to your new enduro super machine.
The Ruckus proved to be one of the more durable shorts in our review. The medium weight fabric as well as the stretch mesh on the outside of the legs held up perfectly to a summer of mountain bike abuse.
The Ruckus took the same durablity score as our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Pearl Izumi Elevate. The only short to outscore these two shorts in our durability test is the Endura Hummveem which is built like a pair of Carharts, unfortunately the Hummvee is about as restrictive as Carharts as well.
The previous version of the Ruckus only had two pockets, but this version has a total of four pockets: a zippered left hand pocket, an un-zippered right hand pocket, a zippered "phone pocket" on the right thigh, and a zippered rear waist band pocket which doubles as a vent. We found that the phone pocket on the right thigh is a bit too small for an iPhone 6 with a protective case, so we ended up storing our bike tool in that pocket. The best pocket for a phone is the zippered left hand pocket. We wish TLD had added a zipper to the right hand pocket, which is supposed to have some sort of "content security panel" but it just seemed like a regular ole pocket to us. The rear pocket is good for flat items like credit cards, insurance cards, and dolla bills, but we wouldn't put a bike tool in there unless you want to have it surgically removed from your sacrum at some point.
The Ruckus has external waist adjustments made by velcro tabs attached to elastic which recess into the outside of the waist band. Typically we prefer mountain bike shorts with internal waist band adjustments because they are less prone to snagging on jerseys, but the laminated tabs used on the Ruckus are low profile and do a good job of staying put.
The zippered fly is a big improvement over the velcro fly on the old version. The zipper is big and burly and makes off-loading all that Red Bull you drank way easier.
The Ruckus retains the rear stretch panel of the previous version, which greatly improves freedom of motion through the hips. Remember, it's all in the hips.
If you are like our testers and pockets are high on your priority list in a mountain bike short, then definitely check out the Zoic Ether which has a total of six pockets, including a dedicated sound pocket with a headphone cord guide.
Our biggest disappointment with this version of the Ruckus is the included "premium" liner short. The old version came with a very stretchy mesh liner that included one of the better chamois we've tested. Sadly, the new mesh short is not nearly as high quality as the old version. Likely the changes were made as a cost saving measure by Troy Lee Designs. For starters, the new version is made from a coarser, less stretchy mesh and lacks the lycra leg grippers that made the old liner so great. Our biggest disappointment with the new liner is the chamois, which is covered in a textured material rather than a smooth velour like the old version. The textured material feels a bit like sandpaper on the undercarriage after a short while in the saddle. It didn't take us too many rides before we decided that this liner is basically unusable and we stopped wearing it. Luckily we still had a liner from the previous version of the Ruckus to pair with the outer short for the majority of our testing. The outer short has a lot of seams on the inside, so you're definitely going to want to wear something under them and not go commando.
Other than the sub-par liner, the Ruckus is a comfortable short. The rear stretch panel at the back adds to the ergonomic cut, allowing for a full range of motion no matter how gnarly you get.
There are zippered mesh vents on the inside of both legs as well as mesh panels on the outside of either leg in an attempt to keep the air moving. We can' really say that we noticed much difference with the vents opened as opposed to closed, and we found we paid little attention to their position while testing.
The Ruckus is made from a medium weight fabric that would provide a good amount of protection should things not go as planned. The 14 inch inseam is the second longest in our review. The leg openings are slightly smaller than the previous version, but they are still plenty big to accommodate full size knee pads for Enduro or DH.
If you are looking for maximum protection, check out the Pearl Izumi Elevate which is made from a heavier fabric and has the most coverage with the longest inseam of the shorts in our test.
The combination of the 2-way stretch material and the ergonomic cut make the Ruckus a very pedal-friendly short. The rear has a large 4-way stretch panel which gives the Ruckus extra room in the seat.
The highest score in this test went to the Dakine Boundary which won one of our Top Pick Awards for being the best short for cross-country pedaling.
This burly short works best for DH, enduro, and standing out as a mountain biker.
The Ruckus has retained the $135 price tag of the previous model, making it the second most expensive short in our test. We felt that the previous version was worth the money since you got an excellent short as well as an excellent liner, but the liner included with this version is hardly rideable, making this version less of a good value.
If you are looking to get the most bang for your buck, consider our Best Buy Award winner, the Zoic Ether, which retails for $55 less than the Ruckus.
The Ruckus received a total overhaul from the version we tested a few summers back that won our Editors' Choice Award. That award now goes to the Pearl Izumi Elevate. Besides the name, the Ruckus shares little with it's predecessor. The increase in zippered pockets is an obvious improvement while we are impartial to the inner thigh vents. The previous version included what we thought was the one of the best liner shorts available, the new version comes with a liner that isn't worth wearing. Overall, the Ruckus is a stylish short that is worthy of most mountain bike adventures, but the liner just isn't up to par.
— Luke Lydiard
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 5, 2015
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