Troy Lee Designs Skyline Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Trim and clean fit, quality chamois, pedal-friendly
Cons: A little heavy, below average ventilation
Manufacturer: Troy Lee Designs
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Skyline shorts are a great piece for the trail rider who leans towards the cross country side of the riding spectrum. The Troy Lee Designs shorts are a fantastic alternative for someone who might have traditionally worn tight, lycra, shorts but wants to go for a more relaxed look. These shorts tick the boxes and score well in style, fit, and durability. Given the minimalist approach, protection isn't a strong suit for these. Also, they don't breathe quite as well as some other shorts we have tested.
The Skyline shorts deliver exceptional comfort. It is very nice that these shorts come with a chamois/liner short. Also, the liner is of decent quality. The AirComp Liner with the 4-hour chamois pad delivers a nice feel on the saddle. The chamois/liner is a nice size that avoids going to massive and bulky or too narrow. The pad is thick enough to deliver comfort for longer rides without feeling like a big sponge. The chamois is channeled and has multiple zones that contour effectively to the rider's body.
Fit and Pedal Friendliness
Troy Lee Designs knocked it out of the park with the fit and pedal-friendly nature of the Skyline shorts. They sought to deliver an all-day short for trail or cross country/down country riding, and that is precisely what they did. The fit is dialed and is conducive to long days in the saddle. Riders with especially large hips or thighs might find these shorts a little too tight. They tend to work a bit better with an average to slender figure.
The trim fit of the Skyline shorts works well. When you are wearing these, they feel close to the body and flattering without feeling too tight. They never feel restrictive in key areas like the crotch or the hips. They allow an excellent range of motion while minimizing excess material. We find the slim fit also makes it easier to move around the saddle without snagging yourself on it.
These shorts are very pedal-friendly. The slightly narrower leg means there is no excess material bouncing around. Often, baggy shorts feel like they are bouncing or flapping around with every pedal stroke. This can be a little uncomfortable over the course of a four-hour trail ride. The Skyline shorts effectively minimize excess material and are long enough to feel like a trail short, but short and trim enough to be very conducive to loads of pedaling.
The Skyline shorts are loaded with plenty of features. The manufacturer makes a big deal out of each feature for marketing purposes, That said, we found most features to be fairly subtle but all contributing to a very functional piece without too many bells and whistles.
The shorts have an adjustable waistband that features two velcro straps connected to the waistband. These can be pulled to be tightened or loosened easily. Velcro is a nice approach as you have virtually infinite adjustability. Pull the straps as tight or as loose as you want and stick them to the velcro bad.
These Troy Lee Designs shorts have two large pockets located just below the waistline at each hip. These pockets are opened and closed by a zipper with a black pull-tab that is easy to use, even with gloves on. These pull-tabs attached to the zippers may seem unnecessary, but we found them beneficial when you are riding and need to access the pockets without stopping. The pockets are large and deep. Any size cell phone will fit easily, and even the fattest wallet should play well. One drawback is the pocket is almost too deep. If your cell phone doesn't have a case, the smooth surfaces may cause it to slide within the pocket. This could be annoying during a long ride.
The inner waistband has silicone patches on approximately 40% of the band. This is intended to keep the shorts up and not allow them to slide around too much. These shorts didn't ride up or sag down, but it is hard to differentiate between the effectiveness of a nice adjustable waistband and the silicone pads. A rear stretch panel just south of the waistband is intended to provide a nice range of motion and also deliver some ventilation. We can attest that this stretch panel helps the shorts move well, but we aren't sold on the ventilation properties. The material seems too heavy, thick, and tightly woven to provide any real air flow.
The Skyline shorts use a velcro fly. It seemed to work well enough, but there is something about a good-old-fashioned zipper that our testers still prefer. We didn't have any issues with the velcro, but why mess with something, like the zipper, that works so well.
Troy Lee Designs is very proud of the Bluesign certified fabric. Bluesign is a certification given to responsible and sustainable manufacturing of textile products. Yes, it is marketing, but it is also something to feel good about and is a step in the right direction for the industry.
Throughout our testing, we didn't experience any substantial wear or initial durability concerns. The seams are all intact with no fraying of fabric that might suggest the seams will open up any time soon. We do have a couple of areas of concern that might be worth touching on.
The durability of the pockets is a concern. For lack of a better word, the inner pouch of the pocket is made of large diameter mesh. This is the part of the pocket that holds your items against your legs. Testers have had experiences with other pairs of shorts where these large diameter mesh holes tend to snag things and tear. Whether it is car keys, a tubeless valve that you took out of your wheel, or a multi-tool, these holes tend to hang up on things. If they snag the wrong item, they can rip quite easily and render the pocket useless. Again, we didn't experience this with our Skyline shorts throughout testing, but it is an issue we could see rearing its ugly head at some point.
The velcro fly is another small area of concern. As velcro gets used over the years, it tends to collect various strings, threads, and debris. As a result, it can lose some strength. The velcro fly worked well enough, but it might be worth monitoring how long it functions well.
Trim fit shorts are certainly a polarizing topic. Traditionally, most mountain bikers have been adverse to any style or look that seems to derive from the road biking world. As a result, we have seen some exceptionally baggy mountain bike shorts and jerseys over the years. Recently, there has been a movement to trim things down a little bit. While super baggy shorts may encapsulate the attitude of mountain biking, it isn't the most practical for day-to-day riding. The Skyline shorts offer a more trim, fitted, look that is more conducive to everyday trail riding. Testers found the Skyline shorts to be quite stylish. They are flattering when paired with an athletic figure and have a crisp and clean look to them.
The stitching is well-placed, and seams don't define the front of the shorts. The stitching is the same color as the shorts and helps contribute to the simple minimalist appearance. Two small graphics are relatively hidden. One "Troy Lee Designs" piece of reflective text on the outer right lower leg with a hand giving a peace sign on the lower left leg.
The Skyline shorts offer little in terms of protection. As we stated earlier, these are clearly light trail/cross country shorts. They were designed to be pedal-friendly, and light, and likely weren't intended to be hucked off drops or down enduro race tracks.
The fabric feels substantial enough to survive some crashes. This isn't a paper-thin short; they feel a bit tougher. Given the trim fit of these shorts, they aren't the best match for use with knee pads. The leg opening gives enough space for the use of a thin, sleeve-style, knee pad, but we are worried about the length of the short and avoiding an unsightly gap between the shorts and the knee pad.
The Skyline shorts are a strong value at their retail price. Not only do you get a short with a dialed fit and clean look, but they come with a quality liner. While citing the chamois liner may seem trivial, it isn't. Liners are quite crucial on mid-sized to large rides, and some consumers are rightfully frustrated when their $100+ shorts don't come stock with one. We give Troy Lee Designs credit for including a quality chamois.
The Troy Lee Designs Skyline shorts are excellent when used within their intended purpose. These trim shorts are all business and deliver a comfortable ride that is very conducive to long days of spinning the pedals. These shorts are a strong value with a dialed fit, nice design, and a quality chamois. Our only notable downside is they may not be the best choice for super warm climates as the ventilation is somewhat lacking.
— Pat Donahue