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Think of all the things that you need mountain bike shorts to do. Obviously, covering you is the most important, but they all do that, hopefully. Some other important functions may not be as obvious. A good pair of shorts should cushion, reduce fatigue, and provide cooling airflow. The ZOIC Ether Plaid Mountain Bike Shorts do all that and more.
The most important feature of the Ether Plaid is its chamois liner. The chamois, called the ZO-Tech, is ZOIC's highest-quality, multi-level, stretch chamois. It's even made with recycled polyester so it gives a little back. The chamois cushions impacts and reduces vibrations in the saddle. While you may not even really feel these vibrations, your muscles do, and all that shock and vibration causes fatigue. The liner is also fully removable, which makes the Ether extremely versatile. You can wear the shorts with the liner, then ditch the liner post-ride. You can even wear the liner with other shorts to transform them from casual shorts to riding shorts.
The Ether's list of features doesn't end with its removable chamois liner, though. The whole body of the Ether is made with a stretch material that won't bind or limit your range of motion, and ZOIC taped the seams to create a smooth surface that won't cause chafing. The fabric also pulls moisture away from your skin to keep you dry and comfortable. The Fusion Gusset inseam further increases the short's range of motion and eliminates seat hang-ups, while vents below the waistband in the back and down the legs promote airflow so you can stay cool on hot days of riding. The Ether also comes with plenty of pockets–two front, two thigh, and one back– so you have plenty of room for your essentials. There's even a dedicated media pocket for your phone or MP3 player with a headphone cord control grommet and loop to avoid snags.
As far as fit is concerned, the Ether's cuffs fall right at the knee. The leg holes are loose enough that they don't interfere with knee pads. ZOIC also included waist adjustments so you can fine-tune the fit. The flat front waistband is secured with a standard zip-and-snap closure.
ZOIC Ether Plaid Mountain Bike Shorts come in sizes Small through 3XL. They are available in White Square, Castle Square, Black Square, and Brown Plaid.
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Versatile and comfortable
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
- Fit: True to size
The outer short is very airy and has plenty of pockets. It blends in well enough to stop off at the store and not look out of place. The outer is flexible and doesn't catch too often during dismount. The padded liner is decent, about mid-pack in terms of comfort but tops for ventilation. The sizing range is essentially the range of stretch for the elastic. If you are at the top of one size range, go up one size and snug the fit with the velcro tabs.