SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MARCH 18th
SHOWERS PASS GRAVEL SHORTS
274g Men's Size 38 (waist) Sand (as tested) £73
Women's version available
Showers Pass Men’s Gravel Shorts are a the trimmest in the Showers Pass range, named with gravel riding in mind, they have much wider applications with distinct touring and leisure tendencies, in particular. In addition, a neat and tidy look, combined with thoughtful design, make them a good choice away from the bike. They ooze quality. You’ll get the impression that I like them, and you’d be right. There’s a women’s version, too.
Pros: Comfortable and versatile.
Cons: Reinforcement at abrasion points may extend longevity.
91% Nylon and 9% Spandex provides a fabric with sufficient stretch for shifting about on the bike without being clingy. It’s designed to be highly breathable and rapidly drying, too. Other shorts in the Showers Pass range have counterparts with water resistant coatings; the Gravel do not. All in all, the fabric is very tactile – just as the blurb promises.
The subtle four-way stretch mimics Lycra and is further enhanced by a stretch panel in the rear of the shorts, between the waistband and the rear pocket. Whilst in that vicinity, the waistband has belt loops – a distinctly civilian feature – which supplement the internal waist adjusters. On the inside, too, a broad silicone gripper strip sits across the back.
Closure comes via a zip fly and a sturdy hook and slide and two popper studs. Stitching here looks robust and neat – as it does throughout.
Pockets on cycling shorts may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they have their uses if you want to keep luggage to a minimum on lusty gravel outings or are not looking to lay the pace down on tour. They’re also dead handy away from the bike. All are mesh lined; two side pockets, two zipped leg pockets with the lining stitched in; the rear pocket is one side mesh and the other the same as the rest of the shorts.
There’s no reflective detail.
Ten inches of length offers plenty of coverage without going to MTB extremes. On that front, as well as being sans integral padding, there’s no anti-abrasion reinforcement on the inner thigh. Potential shortening of useful life compensated by civvy look and comfort away from the bike.
When setting up the test, Showers Pass were keen to stress that the Gravel shorts are their trimmest fit. Had they been spying on my lock down non-diet? Even so, I decided not to go a size up. Re-measuring my waist, I stuck to their sizing chart. The fit was perfect. Had I been right at the top end of the size range, I might just have gone higher. As it is, I can’t fault the waist, gusset, leg length: just very comfortable. Remember, there’s lots of adjustment in the waist, too.
By the way, there’s space for a padded insert, too.
There’s nothing very tricky here, but use liquid detergent – perhaps even a technical wash – at a warm temperature. No fabric softeners. Line or tumble dry on a low heat. No dry-cleaning. So, easily washable in a hotel sink.
A note of caution: lighter colours and fabrics like this can stain when in contact with wet leather. Not being kinky, just have a selection of leather saddles. Keep them covered if leaving out in the rain.
Drying Times 4/5
Post machine wash and spin, expect an hour or so on the washing line in decent drying conditions. Indoors, expect several hours after a hand wash – unless you’ve got some kind of air-flow.
Riding through moderate showers sees things dampen up quickly, but they’ve been dry almost as quickly. Ten minutes after a moderate shower stopped, the shorts were as good as dry. Really hefty downpours and things take commensurately longer, especially if undergarments get soaked, too.
The comfortable fit and the well-constructed gusset make for easy shifting around in the saddle during gravel rides. That’s less of an issue on the road, but long touring days are even better when you can relax whether on the drops, hoods, flats, or just stretching out the lactic acid at the top of a big ascent.
Even better, that silicone gripper and stretchy strip across the back really do their stuff. No riding up or drooping down. The latter true off the bike, too, when pockets start to fill with wallet, phone – not to mention fruit gums and similar necessities. On that front, they are smart enough off the bike to be plain civilian outfit. Ideal for summer evenings in the beer garden, or other informal settings.
In those latter situations, the pockets are a blessing. When cycling, I’m not overly keen on doing too many miles with pockets full. Thus, I’ve kept content to tissues, dog-poo bags I’ve forgotten to take out, and such like. Wallet in the back pocket, but quarter-pound of midget gems in the side pocket caused discomfort – keys, less so. Leg pockets offer nice secure carriage for cash, credit card, and such like when taking the café racer on an evening run with the possibility of dropping in at the pub somewhere.
For longer rides, I’d certainly pair them with a padded inner. For comfort, in part, but also to promote recovery. The shorts seem to breath well, so things have not felt more sweaty than normal. Even under waterproof trousers, things have not turned totally tropical rain-forest. Moreover, it is dead easy to do a quick change if you want to spend a few hours away from the bike. On shorter rides, I’ve not noticed a great deal of discomfort without padding over forest trails, but gravel enthusiasts may go for padding anyway.
Durability is hard to judge, but four hundred miles in, the fabric looks just like new, on the inner thigh … and elsewhere. I’ve not deliberately leapt into the brambles, nor have I any reason to think these are anything but robust. Equally, I’d be careful to make the most of my £73 and avoid too much contact with thorny undergrowth.
Leaving other Showers Pass shorts out – all roughly the same price – and bearing in mind the versatility of the Gravel shorts, £73 may still sound a lot, although you'll probably have gathered that I like them a lot.
La Passione Adventure Shorts will set you back over £23 more. They look equally versatile, and have many similar features. They are water-resistant and have abrasion reinforcement.
Giro Venture Shorts are DWR coated, and are officially a few pounds cheaper. Significantly cheaper are a host of MTB style more-or-less baggies, with more limited features.
£73 quid is a lot of cash to splash. However, shorts that work well for touring, gravel, leisure riding – a bit of MTBing as well, and that look good off the bike are not that easy to come by. I’ll be using these for anything but road racing, TTing, and fast club rides (which I’ve given up anyway. I think I’d still go for Lycra for sportive and Audax rides. For all other aspects of cycling I’ll be happy to pull on Showers Pass Gravel shorts. Showers Pass state that these are their most versatile shorts yet. I’d agree. Like much Showers Pass gear, they also have a place in more general outdoor activities.
It is perfectly arguable that Showers Pass Cross Country DWR shorts offer a better option when long days in climates such as the UK are concerned – courtesy of the water-resistant coating. In more reliable climates, things may be different. Even so, water -resistant shorts will get wet in persistent heavy rain. In such circumstances, the quick-drying Gravel shorts hold their own.
Verdict 4.5/5 Well-made and not unreasonably priced, versatile and comfortable for many styles of cycling.
PUBLISHED JULY 2020
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH