Review by Joe Schneider // Action photos by Shawn Spomer and Brandon Turman
As trail bikes become more popular, many people from all sides of the sport are upgrading their daily ride to one of these pedal friendly, downhill capable machines. Troy Lee Designs answered the calling from these people who want that classic TLD style in a pedal-able package with the Ace Shorts.
Ace Short Highlights
- 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex material
- Full waist and hip height adjustment using TPR adjusters
- Pedal friendly inner side pockets with revered zippers
- Permanent crotch ventilation via welded intake and exit vents (small round holes along inner thigh)
- Reflective TLD logos
- Additional thigh ventilation zippers
- Removable inner short chamois
- Padded rear zip pocket fits mobile phones or GPS
- MSRP $129
I was pleased with what I saw when I pulled the wrapping off these shorts. I tested a black pair with a fist sized TLD logo on the outside of each leg. The lines formed by the zippers complement the logos nicely and create a sleek looking outer garment to rock with any jersey. The leg length is appropriate - longer than standard “xc baggies” but not too long. They are about an inch shorter than the TLD Ruckus shorts, for reference. As for the material, it is light, flexible, and stylish looking. The logo is screened on rather than being a bulky stitched on patch, so it doesn't add any weight, stiff areas, or places for the material to prematurely fail. Overall the shorts looked great and set my expectations high.
On The Trail
I usually wear shorts with a 31-inch waist, but given the even-only-sizing offered by TLD, I chose the size 32-inch shorts as my next best option. They fit really well. I was nicely in the middle of the adjustment range on the TPR waist adjusters, which pulled evenly, creating a consistent, comfortable feel all around my waist.
One of the things that impressed me most while riding was the function of the chamois. The last two inches of the chamois leg is a folded lycra band stitched to the mesh body and does not have a rubber gripper on the inside. Being only lycra, it is easy on hairy legs and does not cut off circulation like a traditional elastic gripper leg band can. The legs are not overly tight but stay in place, making them comfortable and functional. The chamois pad is just thick enough and the stitching is distanced from the thicker, padded area so it's away from places were chafing often happens. I expected some chafing in the beginning but never once had a problem, even on all day rides. I have had several pairs of bibs which are less comfortable in every aspect.
The shorts never felt bulky or in the way while pedaling, and the material seemed to breath pretty well - both key to good pair of trail riding shorts.
Things That Could Be Improved
The side pockets are great and essential, but I feel that on a pedaling oriented short they are too loose. The contents in your pockets slap your legs, which can be annoying and a waste of energy on long rides, especially while seated with a decent cadence. They aren't the best for heavy small items like multi-tools, but are suitable for bigger lighter things like Honey Stinger Waffles or Shot Blocks. Although things could move around in the pockets, the bottom of the pocket is stitched to the leg keeping everything in pretty close. The padded pocket is nice for added protection, but the padding won’t prevent your phone from being smashed in a crash, and the down side of the extra layers is that they add up in that area, making the shorts hotter than they could be.
Long Term Durability
Durability wise, I never sustained any damage from riding through branches or bushes. The zippers always functioned well and I was never let down by these shorts. The shorts themselves held up great during testing and don’t seem to have any particular weak areas. They should wear out evenly and last easily for a few seasons.
What's The Bottom Line?
Light enough to pedal, flexible and stretchy enough to fit well, stylish enough to kick it afterward and comfortable enough to wear all day, TLD did a great job on the Ace Shorts. The function oriented pedaler will be satisfied with this purchase.
Cruise over to www.troyleedesigns.com for more details.
About The Reviewer
Joe Schneider grew up in Durango, Colorado. Beginning in 2002, at the age of 13, he started riding mountain bikes and racing in the local race series. One thing led to another and he eventually made it into the mid-ranks of the pro cross-country field. Collegiate racing shed light on technical riding and he began to pursue longer travel bikes and most recently dirt bikes. He enjoys smashing through rocks or getting loose on flowy singletrack. Ultimately the alpine shuttle is his favorite, with a couple thousand feet of climbing and two or three times that in descending. He is currently a Mechanical Engineer who designs tools to blow things up. He loves to ride snowmobiles, motos, and mountain bikes whenever possible with his lady and many good friends. As a practiced mechanic, he enjoys spending the remainder of his free time fixing and maintaining all of his rides.