Tis the season for baggy shorts, and if you like to live in them in the office, on the bike and everywhere in between, these Chrome Folsom shorts are really well designed, solidly made and pack some cool features. The price tag is quite hefty though.
Part of the US company's USP since it was founded in 1995 is building kit and clothing that can survive a lifetime of punishment on the bike. Mostly it's been products aimed at urban commuters and professional messengers. It's about being resourceful too – its original messenger bag used a salvaged seatbelt buckle, for example.
These Folsom shorts certainly have the hallmarks of something built to last. They're made from a reasonably heavy duty Everest four-way stretch material that is water resistant, with reinforced seams and crotch. Despite the feeling of durability, they're not heavy shorts – some baggy shorts can feel heavy. These are light and breezy, just the way I like 'em.
The fit is slim, with six panels that are intelligently shaped so the shorts work well on and off the bike. The full-length seamless double layer crotch ensures they are comfortable on the saddle, and you can add some padded undershorts so they're ideal for a longer commute. When you get to the office, change the undershorts for regular underwear and you can wear the shorts all day.
As well as for delivering mail and commuting, I've found these shorts good for off-road adventure bike riding and mountain biking where they've had to contend with being crashed and dragged along overgrown trails and have emerged totally unscathed. The water-resistant fabric sheds light rain well and deals with puddle splashes.
These Folsom 2.0 models have a fit that is more true to size than the originals, says Chrome. I found the size 30in fitted me comfortably, but there's no waist adjustment, which is a shame, though there are belt loops if you need a belt.
For me the leg length has been judged perfectly, the openings sitting just above the knee when cycling, and there's no irritation as they move against your skin.
You get four generously sized pockets, two on the front and two round the back, but maybe one zipped pocket would be nice to safely stash the house keys/money/wallet.
Showing the company's messenger roots and who these shorts are really aimed at, there's a D-lock holster on the back. I never lock my bike up so it's a feature that is lost on me, but as the pic shows a compact lock fits and is reasonably unobtrusive when riding. More useful for urban cyclists is the reflective patch at the back, though there's every chance this will be covered by a jersey or jacket.
I really like the shorts and have been practically living in them for the past few weeks. In fact, I'm wearing them right now as I type this review. The only sticking point is the high price; there's no getting around it, they are a chunky investment. Even looking at the Rapha range, the bastion of reassuringly expensive products, reveals a £60 Commuter Short that is designed along similar lines to the Folsoms, and the Rapha shorts have an elasticated waist and zipped pocket, addressing my two minor complaints with the Chrome pair.
But Chrome has a good following with people drawn to its product design and durability, so there's every sense these shorts will last a bloody long time. Compared with some cheaper cycling and non-cycling baggy shorts I've got that haven't stood the test of the time, it could be a price worth paying.
Lovely durable and comfortable shorts but pretty pricey
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chrome Folsom Short 2.0
Size tested: 30in
Tell us what the product is for
Chrome says, "Named after the location of our first office in San Francisco, we designed these shorts in SF to work on the bike and off. A slimmer, shorter alternative to our legendary Union Shorts, we made the Folsom Shorts with a durable, water resistant Everest 4-way stretch material for comfort on the bike. With a reinforced crotch, seams and belt loops, an added u-lock holster and floating rear pockets to make the saddle more comfortable the Folsom Shorts are tricked out for crushing the streets (and hills) of San Francisco and anywhere else your bike takes you."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
6-panel, 4 pocket design
Full-length seamless double layer crotch for on-the-bike comfort
Reinforced triple-needle flat felled seams
Flat seam, floating rear pockets
5-bar webbing u-lock holster
Reflective rear patch for visibility
Reinforced belt loops
Matte black hardware
Water resistant, durable 4-way stretch Everest fabric for fit and movement
There are cheaper alternatives available.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Go through the washing machine just fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good comfort, no pedalling restriction and tough enough to survive daily wear on and off the bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good fit, comfortable and very tough build.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
No waist adjustment and no zipped pocket.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are more expensive than even similar Rapha shorts.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
Really nicely made shorts with great fit and comfort, though they are lacking a few essential features and quite pricey, which brings the score down.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.