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Fablecycle Tomahawk Cargo Commuter Cycle Shorts

 280g XL Black (as tested) £85

The Fablecycle Tomahawk Cargo Commuter Cargo Shorts are designed to allow the urban commuter to get to work in good shape whilst having easy access to all those bits and bobs that need to be kept close to hand. Cycling with pockets loaded can be problematic, but Fablecycle seem to have gone a good way to meeting the challenge. Nor is that their only charm, and I have come to see them as something of a go-to on warmer day ride to work, other utility outings, or gentler café-outings with friends and family - not to mention the rural commuter.


Pros: thoughtful design, accurate sizing, casual appearance, quick drying.


Cons: limited size range.

cycling shorts test review
cycling shorts commute leisure

Spec and materials 4.75/5

Designed in London; manufactured in Turkey out of 62% cotton, 33% viscose, and 5% elastane. That may not be the mix for the highly tuned athlete bashing a PB on the road or the trail, but it offers sufficient stretch for a comfortable fit when weaving in and out of the traffic. The cotton-viscose mix feels light, although, suitably durable.


There’s just one press stud to keep them secure, but there’s nothing light-weight about it, some might prefer a second, just in case. Equally, it does help to keep things manoeuvrable. For those with weight loss in mind or just a belt and braces approach to shorts, there are belt loops. There’s a zip fly.


There are pockets aplenty. Sewn on the back is one with both zip and hook and loop closures. On each leg there’s a pocket with two press studs. Storage is completed by two hip pockets. The hip pockets have mesh inners, aiding climate control and rapid drying.

Legs have an elasticated hem, although you’d have to have magnificently muscled thighs for them to be grippy. However, it does make for a gentle touch when pedalling. The waist-band is not elasticated, but, and here we have one of my favourite features (and a simple addition) – a hanging loop.


The rear of the waist and the front of the shorts have some weather-proofing. At the front these also act as vents, again helping to keep things cool when the weather hots up as well as increasing speed of drying.

Size and fit 4.5/5

Mine were XL (38 inch), currently the top of the size range (honest, I could have got away with L (36 inch) but it would have probably been uncomfortable). The fact is, these are not designed to be clingy or snug. In that sense the cut around the gusset feels looser than on the MTB baggies I have worn, probably closer to gravel or touring shorts, such as Showers Pass Touring Shorts. However, there’s no excess of fabric to cause discomfort.

The Tomahawk are also available in 34 inch medium and 32 inch small. The slightly limited size range, compared to some others, may well be because this is a new product.


Fablecycle point out that there should be space for a padded inner undergarment. I’ve used the Funkier Sestriere Seamless Boxer Shorts, neither the bulkiest or the slimmest of pads. A very comfortable fit, enhancing the use you’ll get form the Tomahawk shorts.


I have not really needed the belt loops, but a bit of experimentation suggests that a belt with a bit of elasticity and flexibility of fastening is better than stiffer models with a few holes for the buckle. Some might appreciate some waist adjusters, although that is unlikely to be a deal-breaker.

Care and durability 4.5/5

Wash at 30C, without bleach, and do not tumble dry or take to the dry cleaner. If you iron your cycling shorts – not something I have ever really considered before – these are for you. Just turn them inside out before you get stuck in.

cycling shorts gear pocket test
cycling leisure commuter shorts test review

Following a wash and spin, they’ve lined dried – on a breezy day – in under two hours. Should you be on a multi-day ride and a sink-wash is necessary, a good wring and hanging up should get them dry overnight. Following a wet commute, that hanging loop enables them to be hung up to dry: a few hours later I’ve had a ride home in dry shorts. I’d tend to avoid artificial heat, but I have hung them over a radiator, ensuring that the front of the shorts is away from the heat, and they have dried very quickly.


Drying mid-ride is quick, courtesy of the vents on the legs; I have found around thirty minutes after a moderate shower. However, it’s worth keeping some spare underwear with you if the weather looks grim.

Whilst there’s no reinforcement to the seat, the fabric feels as tough as any and is tidily finished. They don’t seem as rugged as a lot of MTB baggies, but then they are not designed for plunging through undergrowth on technical singletrack. For obvious reasons I have tried to avoid contact with gravel or brick surfaces, but a stray bramble along a canal towpath did not leave any marks.

Performance 4.75/5

Commuting, shopping, and other utility trips should be the Tomahawks natural habitat. It is. The pockets keep those items you need handy – keys, wallet, phone, for example. OK, these can be kept secure in a bar bag or suchlike – and I’d tend to put phone and wallet there in significant rain. However, when getting on and off the bike and nipping in and out of shops etc, it is really good to have all these items easily accessible. Ture, you could pop them in the back of your cycling jersey, but what of you just want to go casual?

I am not quite sure what it is about the design of the pockets that makes them seem more effective than most others. I feel that they are loose enough to avoid cramming whilst being tight enough to stop contents moving about – 

cycling shorts review test

keys rattling around so they jab you where you do not want to be jabbed; wallet getting squashed and as fabric tightens as you pedal. Fundamentally, I’ve pedalled on without really be aware of the things in the pockets.

cyclist shorts bicycle

That has not just been for commuting and utility rides, bit for some thirty or forty milers at a gentle pace. I’d have no second-thoughts about taking these on tour – and doing long mileage (especially with that padded inner short). They are comfortable off the bike, presentable, too.

cyclist bicycle review shorts

Many touring or gravel shorts have gripper strips on the rear inner of the waist band to help keep the riders back covered. Without one the Tomahawk shorts might suggest a more upright riding position. However, I have had no issue riding on the hoods of my nineteen-forties single-speed, but those sports-commuters on the drops may stick sportier clothing. 

Value 4/5

£85 is a fair old wedge to splash out. Showers Pass Apex DWR Shorts are handy for many activities on and off bike, although the pockets are not so effective for carrying basic items when cycling (in my opinion). Showers Pass Gravel Shorts are another comparator and may be more suited to touring when access to pockets is less frequent. Another Showers Pass model, the Cross Country DWR shorts, have more in the way of weather-proofing and have been a choice for my commutes in past summers. All those models come in at a similar price to the Tomahawk.


Pearson Kick Back Urban Commuter Shorts, for example, are cheaper, but do not have pockets. However, they do come in a wider range of colours. Then, of course, there’s Altura’s Humvee Shorts, originally designed for couriers, that come in a little cheaper.


The Fablecycle Tomahawk Cargo Commuter Cycle Shorts have become a favourite. They carry those useful go-to items with ease and without impairing pedalling. They look good off the bike and feel good on it. They have several well-thought-out features that really come from the designer’s experience of cycle commuting. Yet, they’ll go beyond the few miles to work or to meet up with friends. I’ll have no hesitation taking them on tour or on a holiday where cycling is not the main focus (such things can happen).

Verdict 4.5/5 Lots of nice touches make these a real go-to item in my cycling wardrobe.


Steve Dyster





Ryton On Dunsmore

Coventry  CV8 3FH


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