Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $42 - $87 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros: Long inseam, Excellent Stretch Fabric, Ergonomic Cut Suited to mountain biking, comfortable liner short
Cons: Right hand pocket does not zip
Best Uses: All types of mountain biking
Our Editor's Choice award goes to the Troy Lee Ruckus, which scored highly in all of our categories. Troy Lee claims this short is good for all types of riding, and we found this to be true. From cross-country marathons to lift assisted bike parks, the Ruckus kept us comfortable and protected. This stylish short is constructed from a breathable two-way stretch material that we find to be the perfect weight for the full gamut of mountain biking. The short includes a fully detachable stretch mesh liner short that has an excellent one-piece foam chamois. The outer short has a long inseam length and a short front rise that we find perfect for sitting on the bike and the leg openings are just big enough to fit over knee pads. This is the short that set the bar for this review, especially due to its articulated fit and awesome shell material.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Ruckus is made from a two-way stretch material that is the perfect weight for all types of riding. It has the best bike specific cut and the longest inseam, which is trimmable should you prefer a shorter length. The liner short is the best in our test, with the one of the best chamois and the most comfortable leg grippers.
Troy Lee Designs is the bike industry style king. From motocross to mountain biking, Troy Lee garments have eye catching designs which make riders stand out. The Ruckus Short is a perfect example of their eye towards style.
Either side of the short displays lightning bolt stripes and “Troy Lee Designs” in fairly large lettering. Nobody will doubt what kind of shorts you are wearing with these graphics. The stripes and lettering are printed in a rubbery material that we think might add slightly to durability of the short, especially on the lower leg at the cuff. For something more incognito, or if you are opposed to advertising for the brand you are wearing, consider the Fox Ranger short which has just a tiny logo and could be mistaken for a pair of Dickies.
We tested the black version with silver stripes and lettering. Currently, Troy Lee is also selling this short in blue, fluorescent yellow, and white, all with the lightning bolt stripes and large lettering. The previous version of the short came in black, orange, and lime green and are still available at a few online retailers on sale.
Troy Lee also makes a Ruckus Jersey in matching designs and colorways to complete your kit, if you are into that kind of thing.
Absolutely no complaints in durability on this short. The outer short material has great abrasion resistance. The short stretches so well that we don't think it would be possible to blow any of the well sewn seams due to over stressing the short. No problems with the snaps at the waist or the velcro fly.
This short does not have as many bells and whistles as some of the other shorts in the review, but we find that the features that it does have are well thought out and usable.
One unique feature to the Ruckus was the option of trimming the leg length. Troy Lee added a second sewn hem about 1 ¼ inches up the leg of the short allowing you to cut off the bottom and make a shorter short. We really like the extra length of the Ruckus the way it is, but if you have short legs compared to your waist size, this is a feature worth considering.
The waist is adjusted using velcro tabs attached to elastic sewn to either side of the short. These tabs are a laminated material which made them easy to grab, even with bike gloves on. Once set, we didn't find the need to adjust them again. While this mechanism of waist adjustment was common to many of the shorts tested, we prefer the tabs to be hidden on the inside of the short like the ones found on the Dakine Boundary and Fox Ranger. This gives the short a cleaner look, locks the tabs in place and prevents them from snagging on a jersey.
The only thing that we think the Ruckus lacks feature-wise is usable pockets. While some of the shorts we tested had as many as six pockets, this short has only two smallish hand pockets. The left is secured with a zipper while the right is open. We don't trust unsecured pockets to hold valuables while riding. We would like to see a zipper on the right pocket as well, so we could carry a smart phone in one and a bike tool and maybe credit card or bike park pass in the other. If you always ride with a hydration pack, the lack of carrying capacity of these shorts might not be a problem for you.
The Ruckus has the best bike specific fit of all the shorts we reviewed. The majority of the outer short is made from a two-way stretch material that stretched with every pedal stroke, and was quickly the favorite shell material we tested. In addition to the two-way stretch portion, there is a ribbed Spandex stretch panel just below the waistband in the rear. The short front rise combined with extra room in the seat provided by the Spandex panel essentially cant the legs forward to match the body when in the seated pedaling position.
The extra stretch and short front rise combine to keep the legs of the short in place when pedaling. The bike-specific cut in the seat means that the legs of the short do not pull up when you sit on the saddle. This was not the case with some of our least favorite shorts, which would bunch up in the front and pull up on the legs when sitting on the bike.
The Ruckus's liner short is our favorite inner short for a number of reasons. First, the liner is made from a light, breathable, four-way stretch mesh, which has a smooth exterior that slides well against outer short. The foam chamois is slightly denser than most foam chamois we tested, and is very comfortable against the skin. The stretchy mesh did an excellent job of holding the chamois exactly where we wanted it.
The legs of the liner are finished with three inches of doubled over lycra, which keep them in place around the thighs. We prefer this method of keeping a short down over both silicone or elastic grippers because it never pulls on the skin. This feature is similar to top tier road biking bibs, which also skip the silicone or elastic at the leg openings.
With the longest inseam, the Ruckus is more likely to come between the dirt and our skin in the event of a crash. The legs of this short are long enough and just large enough to wear with knee pads, which means that they are much more useful in the freeride and downhill end of the spectrum of mountain biking where riders are likely to wear pads. While the stretch polyester material wasn't as bulletproof as some of the shorts made from ripstop nylon, we felt that it would protect us well when sliding in the dirt.
The Ruckus is one of our favorite shorts to pedal in due to it's articulated cut and the amazing stretch material it is constructed from. The Ruckus has what we feel is the perfect cut for pedaling a mountain bike: a short front rise combined with more room in the seat, which cant the legs forward into a natural seated pedaling position. This ergonomic cut means that even though this short has a longer inseam length, it never felt restrictive.
The stretch polyester the short is constructed from doesn't restrict movement in or out of the saddle, but was slightly heavier than some of the other shorts we tested. We think this weight provides the perfect balance between breathability and protection, but if you pedal in extremely hot climates it might be a little much. For the the most efficient short for pedaling, made from a one of the lightest materials, consider the Pearl Izumi Canyon.
This short is especially great for Enduro, which up until a couple of years ago, was simply known as mountain biking. For most of us, this means anything between cross-country racing and lift assisted downhilling, which is where we think the Ruckus is best applied: just about any style of mountain biking.
This is our favorite short in the review, and we think it is well worth the money. We were able to quickly find some discontinued colors made from the same awesome materials for much less than retail price.
The Ruckus retails for $70 less than the Sugoi RSX, which is the most expensive short in the review but lacks useful features. If you are looking to get the most bang for your buck, consider our Best Buy Award winner, the Zoic Ether, which retails for $31 less than the Ruckus.
The Troy Lee Ruckus quickly became our favorite short, as it excelled in every area of our test. The ergonomic fit, awesome stretch fabric, adjustable waist, and longer inseam make this the perfect short for any type of riding from cross-country to what everybody is now calling enduro. This short pedals incredibly well for a short with so much protection. The liner short is the most comfortable we tried, with pro-quality leg grippers and a top-notch chamois. We would prefer if it had one or two more pockets and a zipper on the right hand pocket. This is our Editor's Choice Award winner and the short we recommend you buy.
Troy Lee Designs also makes a similarly named jersey to compliment the Ruckus Short. The Ruckus jersey has ¾ length sleeves and shares similar styling and colorways as the short.
For more DH riding, try the ever popular Moto Short which is made from a much heavier material for added protection.
— Luke Lydiard
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 11, 2013
Credit: Troy Lee
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