These are trail shorts?! Really?! They look just like a cool pair of causal denim shorts until close inspection where you can see they have been designed around free riding. All the features you'd expect from mtb shorts and more are delivered with the Dakine mode kit.
Apart from racing when I wear my team kit, these shorts have been my main riding shorts since I got them; not just because I want to test them thoroughly but because they look so rad and I can get away with going in to the supermarket for trail supplies pre ride in them without people wondering what on earth I'm wearing!
According to Dakine, "the Freeride Fit is A women’s specific relaxed fit that is designed to be flattering while still providing freedom to charge the trail. The shorts have an inseam length of 14.5" providing increased coverage and are designed to fit over knee pads."
So, to the test... I have worn these on xc/enduro loops, downhill tracks and also at the bmx track. They performed well on each discipline; although I was a little dubious how good they'd be on the practice lap of the enduro race due to them being quite thick material and Dakine specifically market them as 'designed for for freeride and downhill.'
The tough durable polyester material looks like denim but is much lighter and stretchy and it is lined with breathable mesh to wick away the sweat. There is a stretch panel on the rear, right across the back and around the hips to give you a better fit and the freedom you need whilst hammering down the trails. The shorts move with you and are not restrictive at all.
When I first put the shorts on, the low cut of the crotch did worry me as I thought they'd be quite restrictive, but this stretch panel made all the difference and proved me wrong. My friend, also a fellow reviewer for TWC, put the shorts on and thought the same.
They are quite low on the hips but to save my self from any embarrassing 'builders bum' moments I chose to wear my Ana Nichoola road shorts underneath - perfect because they are very high waisted and the dakine Mode shorts do not come with a padded liner.
The mesh lining runs all the way down to the knees where it then changes to a waterproof/abrasive resistant fabric : this is well placed to cope with wear and Rubbing from knee pads; which fit perfectly under the shorts. They are made up of a selection of panels, all double stitched in a way to make them fit perfectly.
The Dakine large (recommended size for my size 10/12frame) was a little large on the waist but fitted the rest of me just fine, no problem there. Dakine have thought of everything; adjustable Velcro waist pulls inside the waist, these clinched the shorts in a little and the use of my favourite belt made them just the right size. I think a medium would have been too tight on the thighs.
Pockets... It's well known within my team I NEED pockets in my shorts when I'm riding; they all like to take the Mickey out of me but my shorts have to have a secure pocket for my camera and an easy to get to jelly baby pocket for a quick burst of energy! These shorts definitely tick all the boxes with pockets. 2 hand pockets; one with a lift pass holder insert, 2 zipped side pockets - lined with mesh to protect whatever's in them and one also has an inner pocket which just happens to be compact camera sized, and last but not least one zipped rear pocket. There is also a fake pocket on the rear; just a pocket flap just to even out the look I guess!
Dakine have definitely thought about the styling of this product as well as rider comfort; they are styled to look like a pair of denim board shorts but all the little bits of detail add to make them that little bit better than your boring average trail short. Belt loops are styled into an 'x' design and one is in a contrasting fabric to match the fabric of the lift pass holder and pocket seams.
As mentioned earlier the shorts are specifically designed for freeride and downhill due to their thick abrasive resistant fabric, but I put them to the test on an Enduro race practice loop. I thought they'd be too warm and a little restrictive in the leg but the zippered inseam vents cured any problems here; as well as giving you that bit of cool breeze they also give you more freedom of movement on the tough up hill stages.
The mode shorts have been used in a wide range of conditions and tracks, I have crashed and slid across the floor and been covered head to toe in mud, yet looking at the shorts you'd still think they were brand new: no signs of wear, no bobbling, no pulled or loose stitching!
Thick durable material to give that little bit of extra protection on the trails, trendy design that can easily be worn pre/post ride, lots of pockets, venting for riding in the warm weather when it arrives!
Low cut waist could be a problem if you don't have high cut chamois liner
A great short for on or off the trail, comfortable and stylish but do require a high waisted chamois. You can guarantee I'll be getting some wear out of these!
Price: RRP £65
Size: XS, S, M, L, XL
Colour: Graphite (Pictured) or Habour (forest green colour with bright coloured accents!)
More info: Dakine
Available from: Wiggle and local bike shopes
We've also covered 8 of the Best MTB Shoes for Women and The Top 10 Most Epic Mountain Bike Events Around the World which are both worth checking!