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Say ‘waterproof baggy shorts’ to most American or Spanish riders and they’ll give you a puzzled look. Why would you want a half-leg length pair of waterproof trousers? And, in fact, what are you doing riding in the rain – don’t you know that it’ll be sunny and dry tomorrow?

As we all know, riding in the UK for a lot of the year can be a wet business. It doesn’t have to be raining because much of the moisture will be that thrown up by your tyres, leading to a wet arse and a soaking chamois along with chills and chafing. While mudguards can help keep some of this at bay, they can be awkward to use with suspension bikes, dropper posts – and the cool kids just don’t think that they look good.

Waterproof shorts can help keep things dry – or at least comfortably damp – and help with cleaning up after the ride as they can be hosed down when you do your bike to get the worst off and dry quickly for next time.

There’s a trade-off between functionality and fit and price, though. A great performing, lightweight pair of baggies might only last a season, whereas a waterproof nylon pair might be hot and oddly fitting but last longer (or last as long, but cost you less.) The trade-off is up to you, how much you ride and what you need out of shorts. If you’re a mile-muncher who needs to grind out the distance over winter, ready for the Cape Epic, then you might be better off with a cheapo pair from the sports superstore to thrash and throw away at the end of winter whereas if you ride off-road once or twice a week, and you’re easy on kit, then a pair of quality baggies will probably last you years.

Let’s see how we got on.


Price: £69.99 // From: Zyro,

Altura’s new 540 shorts offer a relaxed fitting short using its ‘Shield Technology’, which helps to keep unwanted rain and wind out, yet making sure the shorts are still breathable when riding. With a slightly raised back, the 540s provide reasonable protection against rear tyre spray.

The inclusion of a button-fastening fly, rather than the more familiar popper, was an immediate plus as it keeps the fastening incredibly well held and secure, and on a pair of riding shorts it’s a welcome addition for me. When riding, the slimmer fitting leg width does provide a comfortable riding short, though the legs do ride up slightly when pedalling sitting down, especially with kneepads underneath. Pockets are deep and roomy, but are a touch awkward to get into with a tight opening and flappy zip cover.

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About Singletrack

UK Adventure: A Dead Good Day Out Pete Scullion follows one of the Lake District’s coffin trails, from graveyard to pub. UK Adventure: Down The Sandstone Way Oli Townsend checks out England’s newest long distance trail. International Adventure: Rumble in the Jungle Jason Miles races across Sri Lanka, fuelled by tea, coffee, and a fear of elephants. Trail Hunter: Through the Bogs of Time Tom Fenton revisits the remote, and rather wet, Doethie Valley. Is it as good as he remembers? Singletrack Room 101 Resident Grumpy Mark presides over your submissions to Room 101. Classic Ride: Avebury, Wiltshire Tom Hutton explores the rolling hills and standing stones, while testing Murphy’s First Law of Mountain Biking. Grouptest: Waterproof Shorts We’ve ground our gussets, soaked our seams, and wet our waistbands in search of shorts to keep our derrières dry. Bike Test: Living the Ti-Life Jason Miles stops stroking and staring at three polished 29er lovelies from J Guillem, Kona and Stanton and takes them out to see whether they ride as well as the look. Through the Grinder An array of goods sprinkled with summer rain, ground in summer mud, and very occasionally exposed to actual direct sunlight. Grinder Bike: Scott Scale 710+ Scott’s plus size hardtail put through mile after mile of testing. International Adventure: Murky Morzine Our Rob heads off on his summer holidays, which prove somewhat damp, but nonetheless fun. International Adventure: Blackburn Rangers Chipps goes riding in the wilderness with the varied characters who will be promoting the Blackburn brand this year.