How do we love the Fox Freeride? Let us count the ways… we love the clean lines of the silhouette, and the secure pocket options. We love the big ol' mesh venting panel in the back. We love the length for most adventures, but recognize that the 15-inch inseam probably isn't best suited for your average trail ride.
Planning the next backcountry ski mission.
Fit and Comfort
The Freeride was the only short in the test to have a ratcheting waist closure. The closure is offset to the center of the short, which prevented any "digging in" discomfort you might experience when bent over in the saddle. The system itself was easy to manipulate, even with gloves on. The one downfall of the Freeride is that this is the only waist adjustment option, which is why we rated the Freeride a 7 out of 10. One tester was able to cinch the ratchet as snug as it would go and still had room in the waist.
Thankfully the Freeride has a comparably short 8-inch rise, and though the shorts rode a little lower on the waist, there were no hang-ups for the rider when she dropped into that last rock garden. For a more customized waist adjustment, try the Best Buy Club Ride Ventura or Editor's Choice Pearl Izumi Elevate Women's.
Cinch it and forget it.
The Fox-patented, all-way Tru-Motion stretch fabric puts the Freeride close to the top of the pedaling podium, scoring an 8 out a possible 10. Although perhaps a tad too long in the leg for our more petite ladies, or a little heavy for our cross country crowd, testers across the board agreed that the Freeride had great stretch and stayed put when pedaling both in and out of the saddle. A strategically-placed large mesh panel across the rear of the short provided more than adequate venting while climbing and smaller pinholes along the inner thigh allowed an extra breeze to sneak through.
Both the Zoic Navaeh and Dakine Cadence used a different venting technique, substituting an overall lighter, more breathable material in place of venting panels. When it came to the descent, the Freeride held up to it's name and provided a distraction free fit. No matter how close we got to our rear tire, the Freeride stretched to accommodate our changing body positioning, the legs stayed put and there were no hangups on the saddle.
Back panel venting keeps you cool on the climbs.
Both the Fox Freeride and the Norrona Fjora landed perfect 10s in the protection department though they are wildly different shorts. While the Fjora's softshell design was stiff but slightly shorter, with a 14- inch inseam, the Freeride offered all-way Tru-Motion stretch construction and the longest inseam, 15.5 inches, in the test. The long inseam offered ample protection without kneepads, though if you felt the need to pad up, the wide leg of the Freeride covered the top of the pads without snagging or distraction.
The stretchy material held up perfectly as one tester dragged both herself and the shorts across a slab of Tahoe granite. For most of our girls in the test, the Freeride's length fit perfectly into that "I feel protected, I'm not going to shred my legs if I crash" category. If you are on the more petite side, these shorts might fit a little more like shants and may be a little overkill, in which case we would recommend the Yeti Norrie with its burly construction and shorter inseam.
The just-below-the-knee length of the Freeride lends a great amount of protection even without kneepads.
Keeping with its minimalist design, the Fox Freeride has only three pockets, but all are secured with watertight zippers, which is why we scored the Freeride a 6 in pockets. Two pockets sit against the hips, while the third pocket is located on the thigh and angled away from the body. Only two other shorts, the Troy Lee Skyline and Zoic Navaeh, had a similar pocket. It was a favorite feature of all the testers because it allowed us to keep a heavier item (like our smart phone) readily available but not in the way of our pedaling.
The two pockets located on the hip are easily deep enough for an energy bar or chapstick, and because of the looser cut of the Freeride, you actually have room slide a hand in and out! The Yeti Norrie's snug fit doesn't allow much front pocket storage.
The thigh pocket scored huge points among the ladies.
At first glance, the Fox Freeride's long and lean silhouette looks pretty basic. That is, of course, until you slide into a pair. For the Freeride, the devil is in the details. We scored the Freeride an 8 in style for it's simple, styled fit. The lower rise provided a hip slung fit which sat happily on the hips of our testers, and the yoke stitching on the rear was complimentary, a rarity in a ladies' bike clothing world. The leg tapered out slightly, giving a relaxed fit through the thigh, which was perfect for some of us strong-legged testers. The Freeride's sister, the Fox Ripley had a much narrower leg opening.
You could go incognito in black, or opt out in Flo yellow for the pro look. Fox also pumps out some pretty styled out jerseys so that you could add a pop of color to your kit.
So pro. And matchy matchy.
Yes, the Freeride was a Top Pick for Downhill, but this pair of shorts is definitely not a one trick pony. Ample venting at both the waist and inner thigh combined with Fox's patented all-way stretch fabric made earning your descent pure joy. While the Norrona Fjora is also a short best suited for the downhill, Top Pick went to the Fox Freeride for it's versatility in the downhilling world. Bottom line: this short is not just a conversation piece on the shuttle bus; it loves to get out and climb, too.
$130 is a bit steep for a pair of shorts, but its tried and tested construction and wide range versatility may help you decide to make the Fox Freeride your one-short quiver, especially if you tend to trend downhill. Of course, for $40 less you could go with the Editor's Choice, the Pearl Izumi Elevate Women's and invest that extra cash in a good pair of kneepads.
If you're out on the bike day in and day out and charging hard, the Fox Freeride will keep you protected and comfortable. She's not the lightest in the fleet nor is she the shortest, so cross country riders may want to reach for the Best Buy Club Ride Ventura.
Other Versions and Accessories
- Shorter inseam and only one pocket
- Good, simple short for casual riders