There's a lot to like about the Dakine Syncline shorts; they are comfortable, versatile, well ventilated, and quite stylish. So stylish, in fact, that they are our Top Pick for Casual Style award winner. Not only do the Syncline shorts look darn good off the bike, but they are a relatively well designed and constructed product that is up for whatever type of riding you want to do. Bike park laps, shuttles, all day pedal-fest epic? No problem, the Syncline has got you covered with a fit and performance that can do it all. Is the Syncline the best bike short in our test? No, but they look good, perform well, and are reasonably priced.
The Syncline shorts are still a current model in Dakine's line of mountain bike shorts. They have changed enough since we tested them, however, that they are no longer the exact same model we tested. We look forward to testing the new version in the future, and we are linking to that new version now above. May 2019
Our Analysis and Test Results
Dakine has been in the mountain bike apparel business for quite a while now, and they have a reputation for making gear that looks cool and performs well. The Syncline has been in their shorts lineup for some time, and their most recent iteration is a comfortable, stylish, and functional short at a reasonable price. Their mountain bike apparel has generally had a casual style to it and the Syncline short is no exception, with a simple design that disguises their technical materials and features. We put the Syncline shorts through the wringer to find out how they compared to the competition and we were impressed with their versatility and comfort.
You'd be hard-pressed to know the Syncline are mountain bike shorts just by looking at them. They've got super clean lines and a monotone color scheme that is interrupted only by one Dakine logo by the left knee.
They look the most like regular shorts of all the shorts in our test selection, along with the Fox Sergeant, but the Syncline shorts strike a better balance between casual and technical. They have a medium length 14-inch inseam that hangs down to about mid-knee off the bike, with a very straight cut and moderate loose fit. These shorts seem like they could please an extensive range of tastes with their middle of the road fit and easy-going style, and they are equally at home on the bike as they are going out for some apres ride beverages or running errands around town. The Syncline is currently offered in three different colors, Midnight (a deep blue), Black, and Red Earth (tested).
The Syncline shorts have a total of two pockets; both are zippered hand pockets, one on each side. Testers found these pockets to be most functional when not riding, as the hanging mesh lining of the pockets holds their contents right on the top of your upper thigh and isn't the most comfortable spot while riding your bike.
The hanging mesh lining of pocket also allows the contents of your pockets to move around somewhat while pedaling, and that's just annoying.
The Syncline does have belt loops in addition to waist adjustment straps that are located on the inside of the waistband. The velcro waist adjustment straps offer several inches of adjustment and do an excellent job of keeping your shorts up, but the internal location of them does make them somewhat less convenient to use than shorts with them on the outside of the waistband like the Specialized Enduro Pro, or the Kitsbow Mescal. The waist is fastened with a zipper fly and two metal snaps.
Ventilation is one of the Syncline's strong suits. The material of the shorts is somewhat light in the first place, but they've added ventilation in the form of lots of small laser-cut holes that cover the entire full crotch gusset of the shorts. They've also given the excellent, wide panel on the lower back the same laser cut ventilation treatment, and this helps to keep the air and sweat moving when the temperatures rise.
We've been riding in the Syncline shorts for the past couple of months, and so far we have no complaints about their durability. The 4-way stretch material used for the main body of the shorts is relatively thin, but feels quite durable and shows no signs of wear, no rips, tears, or abrasion of any kind.
The finish quality is also quite good, and the seams look as good as the day we got them, with no loose threads visible upon inspection. The seat of the shorts, the area most prone to staining, shows no evidence of stains despite these shorts being lighter in color and ridden in muddy conditions on several occasions. The lighter fabric of the Syncline shorts is likely not as durable as the heavyweight fabric used in the Troy Lee Ruckus, but the trade-off is increased breathability and lighter overall weight.
The Syncline shorts have a 14-inch inseam, and they hang to mid-knee off the bike, rising just above the knee when seated and pedaling.
They don't offer the coverage of the Pearl Izumi Elevate, but they do provide plenty of coverage for most riding situations. The material is on the thinner side, but it will certainly protect you from interactions with trailside hazards like bushes and low hanging branches. The loose fit of the shorts and the wide leg opening also works well with knee pads, making these shorts versatile for a wide range of riding disciplines.
Fit and Pedal Friendliness
The Syncline shorts have a very comfortable fit. They offer a good range of adjustment in the waist and have great articulation when seated and pedaling. The 4-way stretch fabric isn't the stretchiest but has plenty of give to provide for pretty unrestricted freedom of movement. The 14-inch inseam of the shorts is on the medium end of the length spectrum, but the hem sits just above the knee when seated and pedaling and doesn't restrict the pedal stroke in any way.
Testers found the Syncline shorts to be great for a wide range of riding, from shuttle laps to all day epic visions quests with tons of climbing. Shorts made from a softer and lighter material like the 100% Airmatic and the Race Face Trigger offered slightly more pedal friendliness, but the Syncline shorts certainly aren't bad in that department. Anyone interested in a slimmer, shorter, and more performance oriented fit should check out the Kitsbow Mescal, the Specialized Enduro Pro, of the Club Ride Crush. These shorts are available in sizes S - XXL, and we found them to fit true to size.
Testers found the Syncline shorts to have a very comfortable fit. On the bike or off, the Syncline shorts feel like they were made for whatever it is you're doing.
The material is lightweight and breathes well, and the ventilation in the crotch gusset and lower back helps to keep the air flowing. The material isn't the softest in our test, but the on the skin feel is good thanks to the fine texture on the inside. We had no complaints about their comfort other than the fact that using the pockets while riding could be improved with a better and more pedal friendly pocket design.
We think the Syncline shorts are incredibly versatile with a fit and pedal friendliness that can please a huge range of tastes and riding styles. The clean and simple styling of these shorts is great on and off the bike, and their comfort and pedal friendliness will please gravity oriented riders and climbing enthusiasts alike. These are the most versatile shorts regarding style and function in our test selection.
At a retail price of $70, we feel the Syncline shorts are a great value. These shorts are made from durable, lightweight fabrics with quality construction and are versatile enough to be used for virtually any type of riding.
Dakine's Syncline short is a tester favorite for their simple casual styling and incredible versatility. These shorts look great while riding or grabbing a beer afterward, and they offer performance and comfort that you wouldn't expect just by looking at them. If you're looking for a pair of shorts that can do it all and look and feel good doing it, then the Syncline could be the shorts for you.
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