If you are looking to go from the bike to the beach without a sideways glance, the Bontrager Rhythm is tops for being the most easy-breezy, casual style mountain bike short in the test. While it is not recommended for long or technical rides, it will keep you cool on hot days as you cruise some rolling singletrack.
The Bontrager Rhythm is lightweight and breathable, perfect for warm days.
Fit and Comfort
The Rhythm is a very basic short that offers a loose fit and casual style. If you want a more fitted look and are between sizes you may want to size down, as we found them to run a little large.
The waist adjuster is simple to use but didn't always keep the shorts in place.
The waistband has a built-in webbing belt that is adjusted by simply pulling on the buckle. While the webbing on the front of the short is stiff, it is sewn onto very stretchy webbing in the back. This makes sense in terms of offering movement in the shorts while riding, but in practice, we found the nylon to be too stretchy and the shorts did not stay in place.
With two-way stretch and super lightweight material, the Rhythm is super comfortable on the bike. The inseam, at 12.5 inches, is long and open enough to accommodate kneepads, though these wouldn't be our top choice for technical rides. Wearing kneepads when the shorts themselves don't offer much protection doesn't make a lot of sense to us. Instead, we appreciate the breathability that we gained from the loose fit and lightweight material.
Our main beef with these shorts is that they don't stay in place while pedaling. The waist belt is too stretchy and there are no silicone grippers on the waistband. There is nothing more distracting than feeling your shorts slide down your backside while you crank up a steep climb.
The 12 1/2-inch inseam on the Rhythm offers welcome protection from the sun and wind, but we didn't find the very lightweight fabric to be successful against the pokey bushes of Central Oregon. The trade-off for protection is breathability and we like these shorts for keeping us cool on hot days.
Super secret pocket is zippered but not large enough to hold much more than an ID or small snack.
Though the Rhythm boasts three pockets we were not impressed with our options. Two are hand pockets, which are great for casual wear but not so much for holding stuff on the trail. The third pocket is described as a "secret phone pocket," but unless you are rocking an old-school flip phone, it won't fit here. The inseam zippered pocket will hold your lip balm, key fob, or small snack, but we don't recommend that you carry anything too bulky or heavy as the placement at the bottom of the short is a bit awkward while pedaling and the pocket is not secured on the bottom, so items did some swinging. We preferred to keep our valuables in our pack when wearing these shorts.
We love the poppy red color of the Rhythm shorts.
We admit that we were like hummingbirds, drawn to the candy red color of the Rhythm. Yes, they are also available in black, but the red is fun and cheery, just like these shorts. The style is loose and casual and perfect for wearing on chill rides and hanging out after. You might easily mistake them for board shorts, and we imagine they would function quite well in that capacity. Honestly, nothing about these shorts seems bike-specific, though the stretch fabric and breathability are perfect for a hot day on the trail.
The Rhythm is on the low end of the price spectrum of shorts that we tested. They are lightweight and comfortable, but not really packed with features. For the same price, you could have a more technical short for mountain biking, so we don't think they are a great value.
For a ride on a hot day that is going to end with a jump in the river, the Rhythm would be an easy choice. It does not offer a great amount of protection, we don't love the pockets, and the fit is not going to work for everyone. However, it has a very casual style and lightweight fabric that offers great breathability.