The Troy Lee Designs Ruckus Shell continues its reign as our Top Pick for shuttle laps and bike parks laps. These shorts have a relaxed baggy look that retains a clean and tidy appearance. The sturdy construction has enough heft to feel comfortable charging down some gnarly terrain. The Ruckus shorts play well with all styles of knee pads. These shorts are comfortable doing some healthy doses of pedaling, but there are better options for big rides. At $109, the Ruckus Shell shorts are getting a little spendy. That said, the performance, design, and quality are impressive. It should be noted that these shorts do not come with a chamois also known as a liner short.
Troy Lee Ruckus Shell Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Well-designed baggy fit, knee pad compatibility, stylish
Cons: Not best suited for long days in the saddle, heavy
Manufacturer: Troy Lee Designs
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ruckus shorts fared well in our test and will continue their reign as our Top Pick for Gravity riding. If you like shuttling, bike park laps, and healthy doses of gnar, these are the shorts for you. The Ruckus scored well in the categories you would expect such as protection, style, and durability. Given the length and bulk, pedal-friendliness was not a strong suit. Bottom line, these are great shorts for the right buyer.
The Ruckus Short Shell that we tested does not come with a liner/chamois. Our test shorts sell for $109. If you jump up to the $139 price point, you can purchase the Ruckus Shorts With Liner. This $30 price jump gets you a padded liner. If you don't have a drawer full of chamois, it is probably worth throwing down the extra cash for the chamois. If not, you will be spending well over $30 to get a quality liner from a bike shop or online retailer.
Fit and Pedal Friendliness
The Ruckus shorts offer a nice fit for a baggy pair of shorts. When you are standing up and pulling at the fabric, there is a consistent feel in the baggy-ness. There are no areas of excess material or no areas where the short is baggier than others. The Ruckus shorts were well-designed. Some baggy shorts like the 7Mesh Glidepath have a sloppy fit that leaves excess material just south of the waistband and also in the mid-leg. The Troy Lee shorts share no similarities to the 7Mesh.
Given the relative heft and length of the Ruckus shorts, they are not the best option for pedaling. To be clear, these shorts pedal fine and have some features to enhance some airflow. That said, these are burly and heavy duty shorts, and pedal-friendliness was not a top priority in the design process. Lighter and more trim shorts like the Fox Flexair, Troy Lee Designs Skyline, and the Specialized Atlas Pro are far better options for long hours in the saddle.
The Ruckus shorts aren't loaded with interesting features. That said, Troy Lee Designs has been designing shorts for a while, and they know what they are doing. The features that are included work very well, including three pockets, inner leg ventilation ports, and a rear stretch panel to enhance mobility.
The shorts are constructed with a relatively heavy duty material. As a result, these shorts have a more substantial feel compared to others. This heavy and thick feeling doesn't provide the best ventilation right off the bat. Thankfully, Troy Lee designed the Ruckus shorts with a few effective ventilation zones. On the inner lower leg on both legs, you will find two small zippers that open some ventilation ports. Once you open the approximately 8-inch zippers, you will see mesh fabric with large diameter holes to allow for airflow. Additionally, on the outside of each lower leg, there is a stretch fabric that is the same color as the shorts. These have much smaller ventilation holes. We found these airflow zones worked well. We didn't have the pleasure of riding them in super warm temperatures, but they functioned well in moderate temperatures.
The Ruckus shorts have three pockets. On the left hip, there is a large zippered pocket that offers ample space for a cell phone, snack, or wallet. A burly zipper accesses this pocket with a substantial tab that is easy to grab with gloves or while pedaling. On the right hip, there is a non-zippered pocket that is approximately the same size. We aren't quite sure of the logic to not include a zipper. It seems like the lack of a closure system is asking for trouble in the form of a phone falling out or a lost multi-tool. Finally, on the outer right mid-leg, just south of the unzipped pocket, there is a small, zipper-accessed pocket. It is tiny. It fits small to mid-sized cell phones very snuggly, and the phone isn't that easy to put in there since there is so little space. The benefit of a snug pocket size is that the phone will not bounce around or move.
The rear stretch panel is a nice touch. It's hard to say exactly how well it works to increase mobility. That said, these shorts do have functional mobility with a wide range of motion. The waist adjustment system is simple, effective, and easy to use. Two velcro tabs are attached to an elastic waistband. Pull the tabs to tighten the shorts; it's quite intuitive.
Throughout testing, we observed no signs of wear and have very few durability concerns. The seams are intact and do not appear to be fraying or starting to wear out. The seat of the short feels just as substantial as the day we received the shorts and hasn't worn at all.
We often find the seam that runs down the middle of the rear of the short to be fairly vulnerable. This seam has a lot of contact with the saddle, and as you shuffle around, it can wear out and fail. Troy Lee Designs paid attention to this area, and they have a big wide seam that is triple stitched. Nice work.
One area that bears watching is the mesh inner pocket material. The holes in the mesh are quite large. These large holes can get caught up on car keys, key rings, or multi-tools and tear. We did not see any of this with the Ruckus shorts. That said, we would recommend being careful with what you put in the pockets.
StyleThe Ruckus shorts offer a classic, gravity-oriented style. These shorts have been a long-running model in the Troy Lee Designs lineup, and the aesthetics have not changed much over the years. We love a relatively simple short that avoids being over-engineered. Pockets and zippers are tastefully hidden as are the seams and stitching. The fit looks nice and relaxed without appearing clumsy or over-the-top baggy. Logo and text placement is relatively subtle.
The Ruckus shorts have a clean look to them. Examining the front of the short, you are not smacked in the face with excessive amounts of zippers, panels, or seams. When you are looking at them straight on, the only noticeable variation from the plain fabric is on the lower outer legs where there is some stretch ventilation. We are quite fond of the simple, minimalistic approach. Troy Lee Designs didn't try to do too much with the aesthetics.
The baggy appearance of the short is very tasteful. Sometimes we see baggy shorts that are a little clumsily designed with excess material all over the place. The 7Mesh Glidepath are the perfect example. We feel the 7Mesh shorts are excessively baggy and poorly designed with excess material balling up in certain areas. The Ruckus shorts are the opposite. They achieve a loose fit and appearance while maintaining a well-designed and stylish look with a clean fit. They don't look sloppy; they look quite tidy. They have a slightly longer fit than some other models and play well with all styles of knee pads.
The logo placement is tasteful and not overpowering. There is text displaying the name Troy Lee Designs on the outer lower left leg and the rear of the right lower leg. The font is a reflective silver and isn't overpowering. The text color plays well with our Fatigue colored shorts. Other color options are also relatively subtle including a charcoal dark gray and a camo color.
The Ruckus shorts offer a heavy-duty feel that should encourage confidence when pinning through the rocks. They do not have any padded zones, attachment for hip pads or anything like that. Still, the burly construction should instill confidence that you have a durable layer of material between you and the ground should you crash. Shorts like the Fox Flexair and Specialized Atlas Pro have a less protective feel with paper-thin fabric that could tear very easily should you dump your bike.
The Ruckus shorts work very well with knee pads. Our bike short testing period overlapped with knee pad testing, and this gave us plenty of opportunities to experiment with different knee pads. Thin, and pedal-friendly sleeve style pads fit very easily. Enduro style pads that are burlier than the sleeve style pads and often have a bulkier front with a hard protective material, also work very well. We even tried these shorts with heavy-duty downhill knee pads. They work well enough, but they don't have a ton of extra space in the leg opening. Any way you spin it, these shorts play well with knee pads. This makes them an excellent option for the aggressive rider.
It's easy to pin down the best application for the Ruckus shorts. These are a great option for the gravity-focused rider who wants a pair of shorts for the bike park and trail riding. This rider likely isn't going to be doing many half-day climbs or 50-mile rides. These shorts are for shredding.
Riders looking for a supremely pedal-friendly short for huge rides and lots of climbing should check out the Patagonia Dirt Roamer, Fox Flexair, or Troy Lee Designs Skyline.
At $109, the Ruckus shorts are an above average value. Sure, $109 is on the steeper side for a short that doesn't come with a liner. However, we do feel these shorts deliver on the trail and feel like they are built to last.
The Troy Lee Designs Ruckus shorts are an excellent option for the gravity-focused rider. These are a great choice for the rider who wants a do-it-all short but favors shuttling and park laps to days with 3000+ feet of climbing. The Ruckus shorts have a well-designed and clean look, functional features, and a dialed fit. At $109, they aren't cheap, but we feel the performance and quality back up the price tag.
— Pat Donahue