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Troy Lee Designs Skyline Review

A trim pair of trail shorts that deliver exceptional comfort and pedal-friendliness but don't breathe well
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Price:  $99 List | $63.20 at Amazon
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
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 29, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 16
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Fit and Pedal Friendliness - 20% 8
  • Features - 20% 6
  • Durability - 20% 7
  • Style - 10% 8
  • Protection - 10% 6

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 trim-fitting baggy 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 offer 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 $99 with a liner, also known as a chamois. We found the chamois to be of respectable quality, and it provides a high comfort level.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $63.20 at Amazon
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$130 List$155 List$89.00 at Competitive Cyclist
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$73.73 at REI
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Pros Trim and clean fit, quality chamois, pedal-friendlyFunctional slim fit, great features, SWAT bibs included, good valueLightweight, ventilated, articulated fit, quality construction, thoughtful designStylish, functions well with knee pads, high-quality and reasonable priceLightweight, comfortable, tailored fit, adjustable waist closure, quick drying
Cons A little heavy, below average ventilationNot the best quality controlExpensive, short inseamMinimal waistband adjustment, over-complicated closure systemTailored fit may be too slim for some
Bottom Line A trim pair of trail shorts that deliver exceptional comfort and pedal-friendliness but don't breathe wellThe Specialized Enduro Pro shorts are fully featured with a functional high performance design and come with SWAT bibs.They are expensive, but Kitsbow's quality construction, attention to detail, and high performance design can't be beat.A dialed all-mountain/enduro short that ticks most of the boxes but has some major waistband issuesPatagonia's Dirt Roamer shorts are comfortable and lightweight with a minimalist design and performance oriented tailored fit.
Rating Categories Troy Lee Designs Skyline Specialized Enduro Pro Kitsbow Mescal Ventilated 100% Airmatic Patagonia Dirt Roamer
Comfort (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Fit And Pedal Friendliness (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
9
Features (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
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6
Durability (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
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8
10
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7
Style (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
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7
10
0
8
10
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8
Protection (10%)
10
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6
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
Specs Troy Lee Designs... Specialized Enduro... Kitsbow Mescal... 100% Airmatic Patagonia Dirt...
Shell Fabric 95% Coolmax polyester, 5% Lycra Water-repellent VaporRize woven fabric 4-way stretch softshell, mesh vent panels Polyester elastane stretch blend 4-way stretch 90 denier 87% recycled polyester/13% spandex with a DWR
Lining Main Fabric AIR COMP Removeable SWAT liner chamois None CyTech Premium None
Chamois TMF Body Geometry Mountain None Foam pad None, but compatible with Endless Ride Chamois(sold separately)
Inseam Measurement (inches) 12.5 in 13.5 in 12.5 in 12 in 11.5 in
Number of pockets 2 2 2 2 1
Removable Inner Short? Yes Yes No No No
Weight (ounces) 8.58 oz 9.73 oz 9.24 oz 8.76 oz 5.22 oz
Weight Liner 4.25 oz 7.51 oz N/a N/a N/a

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.

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.

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 Specialized Atlas Pro and Fox Flexair, 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 dialed and is conducive to long days in the saddle.

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 like they are too tight in any region 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 get on and off the saddle a lot without snagging yourself on it.

Text and logo placement is tasteful and doesn't overwhelm the eyes.
Text and logo placement is tasteful and doesn't overwhelm the eyes.

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.

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 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 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.

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 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.

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 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 snag items. 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.

When charging downhill  the shorts sit a little above the knee.
When charging downhill, the shorts sit a little above the knee.

Style


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 outstanding. 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 nice.

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, like the Specialized Atlas Pro and Fox Flexair shorts, offer a more trim, fitted, look that is more conducive to lighter duty 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. When paired with an appropriately well-fitting jersey, there is a clean, fitted, and athletic look to them. We love it.

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.

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 aren't meant 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 like the Specialized Atlas Pro or Fox Flexair; they feel tougher. Given the trim fit of these shorts, they aren't the best match for use with knee pads. The leg opening likely 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 have a great pedal motion.
The Skyline shorts have a great pedal motion.

Best Applications


The Skyline shorts make a boatload of sense for the trail rider who doesn't plan on getting too radical. These are a great alternative for the rider who may have considered wearing lycra/tights but prefer the look of a baggy short. Riders who put in a lot of miles and spend loads of time in the saddle are prime candidates.

Gravity fiends and the enduro crowd should definitely look elsewhere. This short wasn't designed for that type of riding.

Value


The Skyline shorts sell for $99 with a liner. We find this to be a strong value.

For about $100, you get a short with a dialed fit, clean look, and a quality liner all in an extremely pedal-friendly package. While citing the chamois liner may seem trivial, it isn't. Liner's 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.

Conclusion


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 at the $99 price point. A dialed fit with a nice design and a quality chamois is a recipe for success. Our major notable downside is they may not be the best choice for super warm climates as the ventilation is somewhat lacking.


Pat Donahue