Not only a name in the protection game, Dainese also have a great range of mountain bike kit. Here's their lightweight trail shorts!
Words: Mike Blewitt Photos: Lachlan Ryan
One pair of trail shorts is not like another, and if you don't like thinking about your clothing when you ride you'll understand that finding the right pair of shorts is not always easy. From strong materials for gravity riding, through to lightweight stretchy materials for trail riding and hot conditions, and of course longer cuts, shorter cuts, more pockets, less pockets, waterproof or crazily ventilated – there's a world of choice.
While Dainese are best known for their body armour, their new AWA Shorts are their lightest pair of trail riding shorts that trims back on useless faff and focuses on features, fit and comfort.
The AWA shorts don't come with a liner, and I paired them with a couple of different pairs of bibs that have pockets for cargo. There aren't tabs for a set of liner shorts to attach inside, which is not a deal breaker at all for me, as I prefer the fit of a pair of bib shorts underneath. The AWA shorts have two zippered pockets, one on each leg. But the pockets are cut as such that the contents sit to the back of your leg when riding. I still don't suggest keeping anything bulky in there, or your phone, but they are much more useful than a cargo style pocket. The shorts are a little longer on the front of the leg so they don't ride up over a knee pad too much, and while the cut isn't overly baggy, there's heaps of room to move with the slightly stretchy material. Interestingly there is no crotch gusset but I didn't catch the shorts on the nose of the saddle.
Fit is adjusted by two velcro tabs on the inside of the waist band, there's a press stud closure and a faux fly – it's just some sewn over material to help get the shorts on and off.
On the bike, I never thought about the shorts. They are really light, up there with TLD Ace shorts, but with some pockets. So far the shorts have worn well, but like many lighter weight clothing items they will probably show wear after a season of use. There is no second layer on the seat of the shorts, and given the thin material if they're used in muddy conditions it is likely that will stain the pale material and wear out this area of the shorts prematurely.
In terms of fit, I tested a small size, which was about spot on for expected fit based on the Dainese fit charts on their website. I used the same fit chart for the AWA Tee 4, and it fits like a very fitted undershirt. The fit on the legs could have been a tiny bit longer, or just more fitted. I found the lower leg still lifted above a knee-shin guard and sat on top of it, and they rode up my leg with some wind as well. In this area, shorts like Ground Effect's Snipes are hard to beat.
At about $160 these are a premium short. But if you ride in hot conditions or travel a lot then you'll likely take a shine to the AWA shorts. If you're after something that matches up with the range of protective gear that Dainese have, then I would suggest looking at something else, as I'm not sure these would last more than one or two dirt naps, only because of the light materials, not the quality of construction.
– Really comfortable in a range of temps
– Light to pack, light to wear
– Useable pockets
– Could be a little more fitted in the leg
– A little bit pricey