Sombrio 2013 women’s MTB kit review: Birm Queen shorts, Pedigree jersey, Oso gloves

I’ve always avoided baggy mountain bike shorts as I think they are possibly the most unflattering garments on earth. Instead I have stuck with padded road shorts that do the job very well, but don’t exactly look ‘rad’ – and we all know what a glaring omission that is in the rad, rad, rad world that is mountain biking.

Could these slim fit Sombrio Birm Queen shorts change my mind? They certainly look great  – details such as the contrast stitching and belt loops mean they are smart enough to wear off the bike as a pair of sporty-looking shorts. But how would they measure up on the trails?

The shorts feature a seamless crotch panel instead of a pad. To see how effective it is – and bearing in mind that I have a full suspension mountain bike with a women’s specific fit saddle to cushion my derriere – I rode without a pad. I was out for two hours of fairly intense riding and am happy to report that I didn’t miss it at all (i.e. no chafing or soreness). In fact riding without a pad made moving backwards and forwards off the saddle easier: a revelation!

Of course you could wear a padded liner beneath if you’d prefer though I’d suggest going up a shorts size if you want to do that.

Despite the slim fit, the fabric is surprisingly stretchy and therefore very comfortable to wear – even in ‘knees bent, bum behind the saddle’ position. The stretch also allows the shorts to be close fitting so there was never any danger of catching them on the saddle as I moved back and forwards (which has happened with other shorts and can be quite unnerving whilst trying to descend!).

They are well made and feature five deep pockets with zip or flap fastenings: you could easily carry your phone, keys, energy bars and wallet in them. I tested them on a cold day in November so didn’t imagine I’d have much need for the ‘mesh-lined zippered air flow thigh vents’. Half way up a particularly long climb though I threw caution to the wind and ‘unzipped’: the refreshing benefits of some extra ventilation on the inner thigh were duly noted.

The shorts feature a high waistband with zip and stud fasten, plus a big Velcro patch so there’s no chance of them popping open! However I was aware of pressure on my middle when riding uphill and leaning forward and would therefore have preferred another inch of ‘give’ in the waistband.

Of course no ride is complete until you’ve stuffed the washing machine with mud -soaked clothing. The care label advices a cold wash and it really was all that was needed to get these shorts clean. What’s more they dry quickly and are crease free (you can also tumble dry on low). One word of caution: the Velcro pad on the waistband is really sticky and a merino top in the same wash stuck to it and came off a little worse for wear as a result.

For the record, the care label also says do not iron: though I’m not sure anyone does actually iron their mountain bike shorts, do they?


Bountiful radness. Boom.


– Seamless crotch panel
– Plenty of pockets
– Excellent ventilation


– Velcro fastener can ‘pull’ on other garments

TESTER DETAILS: Dress size 10, height 5’9”.
Price: From £25 on sale
Colours: Blacktastic, Mineral Grey (pictured)
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
More info: Sombrio 
Available from: Jenson USA

What Sombrio say about the Birm Queen MTB Shorts;

  • Ultra durable, mid weight fabric w.DWR finish
  • Mesh lined zippered airflow thigh vents
  • Front angled slash pockets
  • Back flap welt pockets
  • Side kissing welt zippered pocket
  • Seamless crotch panel design.
  • Fabric: Core Flex Dura Fit: EPIK Fit
  • Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, do not iron.
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