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Troy Lee Designs Skyline Review

A trim pair of trail riding shorts that deliver exceptional comfort and pedal-friendliness but don't breathe particularly well
troy lee designs skyline mountain bike short review
Credit: Troy Lee Designs
Price:  $119 List
Manufacturer:   Troy Lee Designs
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 3, 2023
79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 15
  • Comfort - 20% 8.5
  • Fit and Pedal Friendliness - 20% 8.5
  • Features - 20% 7.0
  • Durability - 20% 8.0
  • Style - 10% 8.0
  • Protection - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Troy Lee Designs Skyline shorts are an excellent trail riding short that offers a trim fit and shorter inseam for a great pedaling feel. These slim-fitting shorts are a fantastic alternative to tight-fitting lycra shorts that make you look like a roadie. In addition to the dialed fit and length, the Skyline offers a robust feel that inspires confidence in the longevity of these shorts. Aesthetically, Troy Lee Designs didn't try to reinvent the wheel and went with a classic pocket layout and a simple velcro waist adjustment. The Skyline shorts sell for a reasonable price with a padded liner/chamois included, and for even less without. We found the chamois to be of respectable quality, and it provides a high comfort level.
REASONS TO BUY
Trim and clean fit
Quality chamois
Pedal-friendly
REASONS TO AVOID
A little heavy
Below average ventilation
Editor's note: This review was updated on January 3, 2023, with new color options, and additional comparative information that may help in the purchase decision process.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Trim and clean fit, quality chamois, pedal-friendlyGreat ventilation, low-pro waist adjustment, welded leg openingsStylish, functions well with knee pads, high-quality and reasonable priceClean style, reasonable price, pedal-friendlyAffordable, trim fit, comfortable
Cons A little heavy, below average ventilationSmall pockets, lightweight material may not be the most durable, asymmetrical waist adjustmentMinimal waistband adjustment, over-complicated closure systemDeep pockets allow contents to flop around while ridingSmall pockets, no vents, big logo
Bottom Line A trim pair of trail riding shorts that deliver exceptional comfort and pedal-friendliness but don't breathe particularly wellThis lightweight, highly breathable trail short is a great choice for cranking out the miles on hot daysA dialed all-mountain/enduro short that ticks most of the boxes but has some minor waistband issuesHighly functional trail-riding shorts that offer clean styling and a great in-saddle feelThese trail-riding shorts offer an excellent combination of performance and affordability
Rating Categories Troy Lee Designs Sk... Pearl Izumi Summit... 100% Airmatic Specialized Trail S... Fox Racing Ranger
Comfort (20%)
8.5
8.5
8.0
8.0
8.0
Fit and Pedal Friendliness (20%)
8.5
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Features (20%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
Durability (20%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Style (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Protection (10%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Troy Lee Designs Sk... Pearl Izumi Summit... 100% Airmatic Specialized Trail S... Fox Racing Ranger
Shell Fabric 95% Coolmax polyester, 5% Lycra 87% recycled polyester, 13% spandex Polyester elastane stretch blend VaporRize woven fabric TruMotion® 2-way stretch ripstop fabric -92% nylon, 8% spandex 2-way warp stretch w/ DWR coating
Removable Inner Short? Yes No (can be purchased with liner) No No (can purchase with liner) No (can be purchased with liner)
Lining Main Fabric AIR COMP None CyTech Premium None None
Chamois TMF 4-hour None Foam pad None None
Inseam Measurement (inches) 12.5 12.5 12 13.5 12
Number of pockets 2 2 2 2 2
Weight (grams) 244 grams 165 grams 250 grams 224 grams 208 grams
Weight (ounces) 8.6 oz 5.85 oz 8.8 oz 7.9 oz 7.3 oz
Weight Liner 4.3 oz N/a N/a N/a N/a

Our Analysis and Test Results

Troy Lee Designs sells the Skyline shorts with (tested) or without a padded liner. The shorts without liner retail for around $30 less. The color we tested is no longer available, instead, they currently come in solid black, solid iron, solid clay, camo military, and solid wine.

January 2023

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.

Performance Comparison



Comfort


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.

troy lee designs skyline mountain bike short review - these shorts are a touch baggier than the fox flexair.
These shorts are a touch baggier than the Fox Flexair.
As comfortable as the chamois/liner short is, the Skyline shorts only offer okay ventilation. Compared to some of our other trim/fitted test shorts, the Skyline seem a little clammy. The fabric is a little thicker and seems to trap warm air and moisture. There are no ventilation ports on the front of the shorts, and the stretch panel on the rear seems ineffective at releasing air.

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.

troy lee designs skyline mountain bike short review - text and logo placement is tasteful and doesn't overwhelm the eyes.
Text and logo placement is tasteful and doesn't overwhelm the eyes.

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.

troy lee designs skyline mountain bike short review - the mesh stretch panel allows the shorts a nice range of motion.
The mesh stretch panel allows the shorts a nice range of motion.

Features


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 tab.

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.

troy lee designs skyline mountain bike short review - pocket placement is sensible and easy to access.
Pocket placement is sensible and easy to access.

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 airflow.

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 for 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.

troy lee designs skyline mountain bike short review - the rear of the shorts continue the simple and clean appearance.
The rear of the shorts continue the simple and clean appearance.

Durability


Throughout our testing, we didn't experience any substantial wear or initial durability concerns. The seams are all intact with no fraying of fabric which 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.

troy lee designs skyline mountain bike short review - when charging downhill, the shorts sit a little above the knee.
When charging downhill, the shorts sit a little above the knee.

Style


troy lee designs skyline mountain bike short review - the skyline have a crisp and clean look.
The Skyline have a crisp and clean look.
Troy Lee Designs is well-known for their style. The Southern California company has roots in the motocross world and are known for their loud designs and colors. While our orange pair of test shorts jump out as colorful, the look of the actual shorts is understated with clean lines. The fit is clean and precise, creating a nice, minimalist look. Logo and text placement is on the subtle side, and these shorts just look good.

Trim fitting 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 the 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.

troy lee designs skyline mountain bike short review - these shorts use a simple and effective closure system.
These shorts use a simple and effective closure system.

Protection


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 shorts and avoiding an unsightly gap between the shorts and the knee pad.

troy lee designs skyline mountain bike short review - the skyline shorts have a great pedal motion.
The Skyline shorts have a great pedal motion.

Should You Buy The Troy Lee Designs Skyline Shorts?


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 quality chamois included. Our only notable downside is they may not be the best choice for super warm climates as the ventilation is somewhat lacking.

What Other Mountain Bike Shorts Should You Consider?


If you're seeking quality shorts for trail riding but want something a little lighter and minimalist in its design, the Patagonia Dirt Roamer is a great option, though they cost a little more. If a similarly slim-fitting short with better ventilation is what you're after, the Pearl Izumi Summit Shell Short is super lightweight and features laser-cut perforations on the thighs to promote excellent airflow.

Pat Donahue
 
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