When I’m headed out for a day of riding that involves pedaling, long travel bikes and burly terrain, the shorts I dig out—provided they’re not already in the hamper— are the Syncline shorts by Dakine. Although they’re a tad wider in the thighs than I’d prefer, the relaxed fit means my knee guards will fit them fine. They’re solidly constructed, and feature zipper pockets which means I don’t have to worry about losing my keys on the ride.
I have actually lost keys while riding, as well as my wallet, and these crappy past experiences have a direct influence on how I choose my gear. We’ve noticed a number of manufacturers releasing shorts recently that don’t offer pockets, and it really makes me question what kind of riding these guys are doing. Not all of us want to wear a hydration pack, and my requirements for gear include shorts with options. There’s no way you’ll see me sessioning the local bike park or dirt jumps with a pack on, and if a pair of shorts can’t handle storing my every day carry, I’m leaving them on the rack for someone else.
I ‘ve spent a lot of time researching the short offerings currently on the market as well as parsing my collection of riding gear for stuff doesn’t work for me anymore. As such, I’ve become extremely meticulous regarding short selection. For something to be added to my personal collection, it needs to pass specific requirements. Quality and comfort rank as major priorities, as is fit. Depending on the material, I’m a bit flexible regarding durability in regards to materials. But not regarding construction. Obviously lightweight polyester isn’t going to handle contact with the ground the same way cordura will, but I’ve learned my lesson with wearing my lightweight stuff at the bike park. That said, stitching coming undone and my gear falling apart isn’t ok. I’ve had bad luck with nylon Fox shorts coming unstitched upon a second season of riding. While I don’t expect everything to last several seasons of hard use, I don’t think it isn’t unreasonable to expect to get more than one out of a pair of shorts. So far the Syncline has been holding up, and they’ve been worn all over.
The most strict requirement we have for shorts is they can’t hang up on the saddle—ever. As mentioned previously, I’ve had a few crashes due to “baggies” that were simply much too baggy. In one incident, I had the bottom of a short hang up on my shifter while cranking hard on the pedals. I ended up slamming straight to the ground, and while I wasn’t injured badly, it left me with an extremely foul mood. I’m pleased to report the Syncline hasn’t given me any issues to date. Dakine lists the Syncline as having their all mountain/ trail fit, and it has a 14″ inseam ends up being a nice length for pairing with knee armor.
I’m in a go-light anti-pack phase at the moment, so being able to tote gear and supplies in my shorts and jersey is a major consideration. That said, I go out of my way to avoid shorts with cargo pockets. Traditional cargo pockets on MTB shorts are stupid, and the least functional location to put a pocket on a short. While they work fine for motorcross pants, when I’m the motor, stuff bouncing around on my thigh is horrible.
At the bare minimum I need to be able to hold keys, wallet, phone and a multi-tool, so well done pockets are a must.
The Syncline short checks all of the boxes: Zippered front pockets. Two functional rear pockets with velcro closures; and they hold a multi-tool and my gloves when needed. There’s a gusseted crotch panel for those days riding street and you didn’t think you needed to run a chamois.
Besides the front zipper pockets, one of the features I like most about the shorts are the side waist adjustment straps and the belt loops. I don’t always want to wear a belt, but I love having the loops, because sometimes shorts just don’t stay in place without them. With these shorts I’ve never had issues with the shorts moving around or the back of them sliding down; likely due to the knit back stretch panel on the shorts that serves its intended purpose well. The side waist straps work better than a lot of other shorts models I’ve been testing, although I find I have to strap them down pretty tight.
FIt is the one area I’m not psyched on. The shorts are extremely functional, but size-wise there’s some room for improvement. I’m currently riding a size medium as I’m typically a size 32″ waist in jeans. I’ve been riding enough to have slimmed down this year though, and I’d be interested trying out the next size down. The size small is intended for a 30 to 32″ waist, so it is possible that these run slightly big. It never occurred to me to select a small size, and I’m guessing at this point I’m more of a 31″ in Dakine sizing. It may not matter to most, but a baggy looking short make one’s legs look smaller, and these days I prefer more of a tailored look to my apparel. It would be nice to see if the overall fit grades down a bit in the smaller size.
Overall, as a short intended for all mountain and enduro type riding, the Syncline is solid. It’s a staple piece for any rider looking for a well performing short, and if you love the fit, is good enough to own in multiple color ways. If you’re picking up a set, it’s available in Charcoal and black, (other color options are available) two color options that pair well with any kit, and likely durable to remain in your closet for a few seasons of hard use. The Syncline short is sold with and without a liner short included. I purchased the short sans liner to save some dough.
- Zippered front pockets
- 2 back pockets
- Gusseted crotch panel
- Zippered inner leg vents
- Side waist tab adjustments
- Rib knit back stretch panel
- Belt loops
- All mountain fit – 14″ inseam
MSRP on the Dakine Syncline Short without a liner is $85.00. Check them out at your local shop.
If you buy them online, consider buying them from this link on Amazon.com, which will benefit this site: DAKINE Syncline Short