I had been eyeing some Swrve shorts for some time and my wife had bought me one of the models of knickers for my birthday. However, they were a) generally too skinny, and b) missing that essential (for my body type) feature of a high cut in the back as I am neither of an age nor in a physical shape that I want to display any lower back cleavage to the world. After returning that pair, I was hoping for another colour for a pair that I had tried on at on the Rivet, but like my salvage jeans, these still hadn’t arrived after four months, so I had to look elsewhere.
My first impression of the Muxu 3/4 shorts was very positive (partly because I was excited to receive them and excited that the shipping was so speedy). When I tried them on, however, they were quite snug. I guess this is generally the fashion for bike wear and the snugness looks good on the website photos. It also felt nice because the Lycra fabric feels soft and natural, but also immediately warm. The length takes the 3/4 shorts about 10 cm beyond the knee and when I tried them on, I was a little worried that they’d be tight around the knee.
The impression of snugness was confirmed further when I tried on a Muxu jeans of the same size that was significantly roomier. Snugness in the shorts is not necessarily around the waist (though tighter than jeans here as well), but rather around between waist and thigh and around knee. One of the signs of this snugness that I’m not so fond off is that the zipper tab stands not to stay flat, but sticks out as you wear the shorts.
The colour is actually quite nice in that it doesn’t look like spandex bike wear even though the fabric has give. I would be curious how much the fabric will bleach in the sun.
Overall design is also subtle in that the branding is attractive and not terribly visible. The top seam of the back pockets is very horizontal and looks like a seam rather than pockets. Nice! The extra pocket for a lock, phone, or pump might be useful, but these are not items that I carry in my pocket, so they don’t add much to the shorts for me.
I did leave the shorts on for a test-seat on my bike and was immediately surprised that the tightness in the knees that I feared when I just put them on was actually quite comfortable on the bike. Same with the snug fit around the upper end of the calf. I hadn’t tried a length like this on the bike and immediately liked it. The weather here in Vancouver has been turning a bit chillier recently and the shorts felt warm. I was also pleased to note that the cut in the back is sufficiently high for full coverage.
However, the snugness around the waist/thigh does seem to turn into tightness when I’m on the bike. Hm… even though I quite like these shorts and like them better than others I had tried on, they are a bit too tight for my taste and I returned them for a refund.
The tightness is also a factor in that I couldn’t wear long underwear underneath these shorts. That makes some sense as they are not really meant for weather (not particularly wind or water resistant), so can’t really fault the shorts for this, but it’s an option I want to have with half the year of riding here in Vancouver spent either wet or threatening to get wet.
I like the deep front pockets a lot, but given the snug fit of the shorts, the bottom edges of the pockets make for pronounced lines mid-thigh, especially while in a riding position.
Muxu items generally seem to have fewer bike-specific details than some other makes, suggesting that this may be a focus more on design rather than on technical specifics. In the 3/4 shorts that means that the bike-specificity is primarily in the fabric, the no-seam-crotch and the low-front-high-back cut. The latter in particular is important to me. The lack of additional features may be in part due to the fabric and its likely purpose in warmer weather riding where reflectiveness may also not be an issue because it might be light.
Given the Barcelona mention in the Muxu tag line, however, those late Spanish dinners will likely see you riding home in the dark, so some reflective details would be welcome.
P.S. (Dec 2012):
Muxu has now come out with the Tempest 3/4 Shorts. The “cut is slim, but not skinny (it’s much less fitted than Muxu’s Ride shorts)”. Sounds like it might just be what I’m looking for given the too skinny cut of the regular 3/4 shorts.