Troy Lee updated this Top Pick winner since we tested it, offering new colors and some styling changes. The waistband is redesigned with a double button closure, the rear panel is now constructed of two-way stretch breathable mesh and has been repositioned slightly for better articulation. The pull-tab adjusters have been redesigned to help with ease of adjustment on the waistband. Compare the new short in the first photo to the version we tested (second photo).
The updated short retails for $139, $4 more than its predecessor. The following review only takes into account the version we previously tested.
Hands-On Review of the Ruckus
If you are a fan of motocross, then you are likely familiar with the Troy Lee brand. Their mountain bike equipment carries over their moto heritage into a more pedal friendly design. Like 100% their products are eye-catching and probably not the best choice if you like to fly under the radar. The Ruckus falls in their enduro and all-mountain lineup of goods, but it is decidedly more heavy duty than shorts like the Airmatic or the Zoic Ether. While not our first choice for long days of earning your descents the hard way, they Ruckus is a great short for shuttle runs, and days at the bike park. If descending is your primary focus then the this is a great short for the job.
The Ruckus shorts were made for riders who like to have fun solid shorts for playing on bikes.
The Troy Lee Ruckus shorts have a more subdued look than the 100% Airmatic, yet they still maintain some of the moto look that the brand is known for. Our maroon colored test shorts received a fair amount of compliments from fellow riders when out on the trail. The cut is baggy and they hang just past the middle of the knee.
These shorts are at home out on the trail or in the lift line, but they will not be mistaken for casual shorts when you are out around town. They are a technical piece of clothing and they look like mountain bike shorts. For a brand that is known to be flashy, the logos on the shorts really don't stand out all that much because their color is not that far off of the body of the short. A Troy Lee Designs Logo adorns the rear waistband, and the other logos are midway on the outside of the leg. The shorts are offered in a total of six colors, so pulling off a matching kit should not be a problem.
The Ruckus shorts have a baggy moto-inspired style.
The Ruckus shorts have a good amount of storage, with plenty of room for a multi-tool, keys, and food. With a total of four pockets, they have more storage space than the Kitsbow Mescal Ventilated or the 100% Airmatitic. The zippered left hip pocket is spacious enough for an iPhone or wallet, and the un-zippered right hip pocket works well for gels or snacks, but we would not carry anything of value in it because it is not all that secure.
Another pocket mid thigh on the outside of the leg is designed for cell phone storage; we found that it works well for an iPhone 6, but a plus size iPhone with a case may not fit. The Ruckus model also has a padded pocket on the waist rear of the short that is integrated into the waistband. We are not sure what the intended use is, it is relatively small and it is positioned dead center on the sacrum. We would not recommend storing anything other than some cash or a credit card here, for safety reasons. The Pearl Izumi Elevate short has a similar pocket that we also struggled to find a good use for.
The waist adjustment system consists of a Velcro pull tab attached to an elastic band on each side of the shorts. We like that the pull tabs are located on the exterior of the short, but they do not offer the same level of adjustment as the Velcro strap system on the 100% Airmatic. A single snap closure at the waist, paired with a zipper keeps everything in place. The rubber pull tab is sewn into the flap that houses the snap, and it makes nature breaks quick and easy even wearing gloves. We are fans of this.
Velcro pull tabs for waist adjustment and a burly button and zipper for closure.
These shorts also have zippered inner thigh vents, that can be opened and closed depending on your ventilation needs. Troy Lee claims that they are 9" in length, but our measurements only show 5.5". While this is not a big deal and 9" vents seem a bit excessive, be advised that the product description is a bit off.
Zippered thigh vents on the Troy Lee Ruckus.
The Ruckus shorts receive the highest score of any shorts in the test (for durability). Bomber fabric and solid construction make these shorts capable of handling some serious abuse.
Finding the balance between durability and pedaling performance is a challenge. The Ruckus leans more towards the durable end of the spectrum, making them ideal for shuttle runs and downhill use. The fabric is thicker and more robust than most of the shorts we tested. The POC Resistance short also has a very burly fabric, but it has much less stretch than the Ruckus. We found the ripstop fabric to exceptionally durable and abrasion resistant during testing. Every structural seam on these shorts is either double or triple stitched for added durability.
We did not experience any signs of wear during testing despite a few nasty crashes. We were also impressed with the washability of the fabric, even after long days of riding in the mud, there was no noticeable discoloration of the material after being washed. Other shorts, like the 100% Airmatic, did not fare so well. These are the most durable shorts we tested and an excellent choice for gravity-fueled fun.
Heavy duty fabric makes the Ruckus one of the most durable shorts in the test.
Rider protection from abrasion is the goal, and the Ruckus short delivers. The mesh vents on the lower leg push the overall score down a bit lower than the Pearl Izumi Elevate, but the Ruckus is still one of the best shorts we tested at fending off road rash in the event of a crash.
The inseam of these shorts only measures 13.5", but the effective leg coverage is very close to the Elevate short that has a 15" inseam. A bit more room in the upper part of the short lets the crotch area hang lower making the actual coverage area a bit greater than what you would expect from a short with this inseam length. The fabric is worthy and thick and does a good job of protecting the leg from brush and branches stick out into the trail. Knee pad compatibility is excellent, with a nice wide leg opening and a long length. We did not have any issues with the shorts bunching up on the top of knee pads.
Even in the attack position, the Ruckus shorts cover most of the knee for optimum protection.
The baggy fit also allows enough room for a padded under short. Many of our testers use this setup when riding gnarly trails where a crash is likely. The level of rider protection provided by the Ruckus is substantial, making it an excellent choice for days at the bike park.
The extended coverage of the Ruckus might give you some added courage to take those corners a bit faster.
Fit and Pedal Friendliness
The burly nature of the Ruckus short provides exceptional durability and rider protection, but the tradeoff is less efficient pedaling performance.
The Ruckus shorts weigh 13.25oz and are the heaviest shorts we tested. When pedaling it is not so much the overall weight of the shorts, that is a factor, but rather the weight of the fabric that must be displaced during the pedal stroke. It is certainly possible to head out on a long ride in these shorts, but they do not feel as good as the 100% Airmatic, or the Kitsbow Mescal. The heft of the fabric is noticeable and made us feel a bit more sluggish and less motivated to push the pace on a climb. The four-way stretch fabric has ample flex, but the shorts do not slip across the skin like the Airmatic, and the sensation of excess fabric flapping in the wind is noticeable.
The Troy Lee Ruckus are not the best shorts for steep climbs.
The Ruckus is not our Top Pick for long rides, but for shuttle runs and bike park use, pedaling efficiency is less important than protection and durability.
This model falls on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to comfort, due to less than optimal ventilation. This did not deter us from using them for gravity oriented riding but was a bit of a downer on hot rides with lots of pedaling.
These shorts have hefty duty fabric, which provides optimal protection but does not breathe or wick sweat all that well. Zippered thigh vents are included to help remedy the heat build up, but we did not find them to be all that effective while seated and pedaling. Out of the saddle on a fast descent, the sensation of air flow is noticeable, hence our love for these shorts in the bike park.
Notice how the Ruckus shorts cover the entire knee in the pedal stroke. This makes pedaling more difficult because the rider must flex the fabric with every stroke.
The Ruckus shorts have a padded pocket built into the rear portion of the waistband. Our testers felt that the placement of the pocket decreased the overall comfort of the shorts. It tends to get soaked with sweat when riding and makes wearing a waist pack or hydration pack uncomfortable. Once again, this is not an issue for most park riders who are unlikely to be wearing a pack but makes the shorts a bit less trail-worthy. The Elevate shorts have a similar waist pocket and suffer from the same problem.
This rear pocket is not all that useful and can make wearing a hydration pack or hip pack uncomfortable.
A chamois liner is included with the Ruckus. The body of the liner short is made of mesh and does ventilate relatively well, but it still does not compensate for the heat retention issues of the main shorts. The overall quality of the liner is good; the pad feels good in the saddle, but is stiff and not all that comfortable for walking in. Our testers also felt that the leg openings were a bit snug compared to the other similarly sized shorts in the test. Overall the liner is decent, but it does not compare to the amazing liner of the 100% Airmatic.
The leg cuffs on the Ruckus liner were very snug, other than that the liner was nicer than expected.
The Troy Lee Ruckus is best suited to gravity-fueled endeavors. It is our favorite short for the bike park and shuttle runs. For a more pedal friendly short, we recommend the Kitsbow Mescal Ventilated.
The enormous wheels bolted to the Stache make short work obstacles of in the trail.
The Ruckus Short retails for $139 and is a great value if you are looking for a durable short that can stand up to the abuse of bike park and shuttle run fun.
While the Ruckus shorts are far from the most versatile shorts we have tested, they are excellent for downhill use. The fabric is durable and abrasion resistant, making them ideal for the rider who puts their gear through the wringer. We prefer other shorts like the 100% Airmatic for long rides where pedaling performance outweighs durability, but for the rigors of the bike park, the Ruckus is an excellent pair of shorts.
The Ruckus descending in its natural environment.