by AJ Barlas
Up until a few years ago, the majority of the Royal range was aimed at downhill riders, but the range has grown alongside the sport. Their riding short range saw the introduction of the Matrix a couple of years back, then came the Hexlite and MW365, and for 2013 the Esquire and Signature shorts were added to the list—all with a goal of being lightweight, comfortable and functional.
The Signature Short is specifically aimed at the Trail rider—the guys (and ladies) that just want to ride bikes, whether it be a shuttle, pedal, hike-a-bike, whatever. The premise for the short is to keep you comfortable and not feel as though you have a couple of pounds of cardboard wrapped around your waist.
Did they succeed? Is the short durable and up to the challenge of rubbing up against trees, rocks and terra-firma day in day out? We've done our best to wear them out, so lets see...
Royal Racing Signature Short Highlights
- Ergonomic, strategically arranged directional stretch paneling
- Dual hook and loop waist adjusters
- Non rattle snap lock zippers
- Two open hand pockets
- Waterproof stash pocket
- Detachable padded pro level pant liner
- MSRP $119.95
Like most of the Royal gear we've reviewed, pulling the Signature short out of the box had us impressed. The finish is dialed—no loose threads, great color, quality zips, TPR dual hook waist adjusters, and low key branding—solid!
The Signature Short is the first trail specific short we've worn, and we have to say, we're impressed. These feel a little heavier than a pair of boardies (swim trunks for the American crowd), but significantly lighter than your regular DH/FR short. The material is super flexible as well, allowing you to move freely and despite the slimmer fit of the short, there is less restriction than in a baggier DH/FR short. Two thumbs up.
On The Trail
The fit of the short is great, with a length a little less than that of DH/FR shorts, which was welcomed when having to pedal more. The slimmer fit meant for a lot less chance of tagging on the seat when things got wild (we're yet to experience it with these), but isn't so slim that you feel like your next move will be to lycra. Having said that, these would suit the rider that wouldn't mind the occasional XC race but would rather not don the lycra, and would be perfect for any enduro racers. The comfortable fit is certainly helped by the flexible, directional stretch material (mostly vertical).
The shorts remained fairly water resistant through some wet winter rides, but being DWR coating, it does wear and on a real wet day after a few months, you will notice water getting through. The lightweight material of the short doesn't seem to soak up it's weight again in water and remains quite light on the waist when it is wet, staying comfortable. We also never noticed it clinging to our legs and restricting movement when wet, as others have in the past—another bonus!
The lightweight material (and these are light), combined with the ergonomic cut only solidifies our opinion of the short. With the weather warming up and it now being possible to put in some miles under the sun, these continue to keep us cool and comfortable, remaining our go to short. You really can ride all day in these shorts and simply go about it, not having to worry about any readjusting, or pockets opening up and so on. The 'stash pocket' is a little bonus to stick your phone, a small multi-tool or some food in and is waterproof too. We were looking forward to stashing the iPhone in it—especially given its waterproof qualities, but it is too short by a couple of millimeters—a bit of a bummer.
Long Term Durability
We're quite confident in saying that these shorts will last a good amount of time in rugged trail riding conditions. We've crashed in them and there are no tears or even scuffs apparent in the material. Snag them on a solid tree branch and they may tear, but anything would—the Signatures are good to rumble!
The DWR coating will wear off, but we don't consider it a big deal, as even with it warn, the material properties of the short allow them to remain comfortable regardless—wet or dry.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Royal Racing Signature Short feels great on and off the bike and has stood up to a wide range of weather conditions over the course of the winter (and now early spring). The pockets hold your bits and pieces without fail, the waist adjustment remains in the position you set it to and the bright green looks sweet as on the trail.
We would like to see the stash pocket made a tad taller, if only to fit some of the most popular phones on the market in there. We'll admit, this is being pretty picky and by no means a deal breaker. We liked our testers so much, we actually bought another pair!
If you're in the market for a solid short to spend a lot (or a little, it does't matter) of time in, then you will want to try on a pair. They're great value for the top end materials and design that you get, and comfortable in a wide range of conditions. There is enough adjustability andfeaturesto have even the most picky of clothes shopper covered too. Royal really seems to have the comfort and functionality dialed in this latest range. Oh, we think they look pretty good as well.
For more on the Signature Short, visit www.RoyalRacing.com.