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Hands-on Gear Review
Fox Sergeant Review
Cons: Cotton fabric, poor ventilation, internal waist adjustment
Bottom line: Nice looking cargo style mountain bike shorts, but the cotton fabric holds the shorts back.
The Fox Sergeant short is a bit of a throwback to years gone by, when a cotton short was common place for trail riders. Of all the shorts we tested, the Sergeant shorts are the most casual and non-technical in appearance. We like the look, but the heavy (predominantly cotton) fabric lacks the performance characteristics newer synthetic materials.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Fox designed the Sergeant shorts with a casual look in mind. They are essentially a cotton cargo short with a chamois liner included. A small amount of spandex gives them a bit of stretch, but not more than most modern jeans. These are not the shorts you want to be wearing for long epic pedaling missions, but coverage and protection are good, so they are not a bad candidate for bike park use.
The casual look of the Sergeant shorts earned them one of the highest scores for style of any short we tested. They look like a nice pair of cargo shorts, and can easily blend in and serve a dual purpose as a casual short. One small red Fox logo adorns the left leg, but other than that there is nothing to indicate that these are mountain bike shorts. The waistband even has belt loops like a normal pair of shorts, and the adjustment system is hidden on the inside of the waistband. A standard jean style button is used for closure, furthering the non-technical look. If we rated shorts on looks alone, the Sergeant would be an award winner. If you don't like the moto inspired appearance of shorts like the 100% Airmatic then these shorts are a welcome diversion from that trend.
These shorts rival the Ether for the amount of pocket storage space. The Sergeant has a total of 6 pockets, two open jean style front pockets, two cargo pockets and two flap closure rear pockets. Unfortunately, the only pockets secured with zippers are the cargo pockets.
An adjustable waist that uses Velcro pull tabs is concealed on the interior of the waistband, similar in design to the Dakine Boundary. We prefer a waist adjustment system on the outside of the shorts, as it is easier to access for mid-ride adjustments. A standard jean style button holds the shorts up, and a zipper sits just below the button. In addition to the concealed the waist adjustment system, the Sergeant shorts also have belt loops. We do not like to ride with a belt, but it that is your thing, these shorts can accommodate.
The Sergeant shorts are the only shorts we tested that utilize cotton as the primary component of the fabric. We found the cotton fabric to be prone to fading from washing and frequent use, particularly in the seat of the shorts. That being said, the fading is mainly a cosmetic issue and the fabric itself has held up well with no signs of abrasion or tears. Compared to some of the lighter synthetic fabrics used on shorts like the 100% Airmatic, the burly thick fabric of these shorts does a good job of resisting abrasion. The overall score of the Sergeant suffers due to fading, but we saw no signs of critical structural failure during testing.
The Sergeant shorts score well here, due to their generous leg coverage, and solid protection from abrasion. The heavy cotton fabric drags down the score of these shorts in other categories, but when it comes to protecting your skin from abrasion in a crash, they are one of the best in the test. Would you rather slide across the ground wearing a pair of Carharts or a pair of jogging pants? We would choose the Carharts, and the fabric of the Sergeant shorts is more comparable to heavy canvas duct than it is to the board short like material found on shorts like the Zoic Ether. The 12.5" inseam combined with the loose low hanging seat yields an optimal amount of leg coverage, with the short falling just below the knee. Wide leg openings are great with knee pads, so bunching is not an issue. These shorts are an excellent choice for the bike park and shuttle runs.
Fit and Pedal Friendliness
The advantages of the thick cotton fabric for protection and durability are liabilities when it comes to pedaling performance, and the score of the Sergeant suffers here. When pedaling in the Sergeant shorts, the weight of the fabric and loose cut causes a fair amount of resistance and friction. The minimal amount of stretch in the fabric accentuates the poor pedaling performance. Fox calls the fit (RAP) Rider Attack Position, but they feel like a standard cargo short fit to us, without any kind of articulated cut.
Just standing around in the Sergeant they feel quite comfortable, like a pair of casual shorts you would wear around town. Once you get on the bike, things change. The seams on the inside of the legs caused some abrasion during use and the interior waist adjustment tabs also rub on the skin. Ventilation is poor, and once the shorts get wet with sweat, they stretch and feel like you are riding in wet jeans. If you are using them in the bike park or for shuttle runs then many of the issues we have would not be as prominent, but for general trail riding, they are not ideal. On a positive note, the Sergeant shorts do come with a relatively comfortable Chamois liner with thick padding.
The Sergeant shorts are best suited to bike park laps and shuttle runs. The cotton fabric is not great for aerobic pedaling sessions.
Despite the low scores for pedaling and comfort, the Sergeant shorts are solid shorts for gravity fueled fun, and the $100 price tag is reasonable for a pair of shorts with a chamois liner. We feel that the Sergeant shorts are a good value for downhill or park riders.
The Sergeant shorts are a great pair of shorts for downhill riders, with good coverage and abrasion resistance. Unfortunately, the fit and cotton fabric do not lend them to trail or enduro riding that requires aerobic pedaling.
— Curtis Smith
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