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The Chrome Industries Men's Sutro Shorts do just what they set out to – they work really well on the bike while looking pretty smart (you might even say 'normal') when you get off. The fabric is surprisingly thick, but they cool well, prove very comfy and generally just get on with it. They're not the cheapest option, though.
The looks go a long way to justifying the price of these Sutro shorts – they really are 'civilian' enough to wear with regular clothes – so if you like the style and don't mind the price, go ahead and buy some. They come in this nice silvery grey (aka Castle Rock), a fairly light khaki (Olive Branch), a very nice autumnal brown (Monk's Robe) or Black (Coal Miner's Armpit). No, not really. The black one is called Black. It's like they just gave up.
I found them true to the stated size, and they run from 28in to 38in waists in 2in increments, so that choice shouldn't confound you either.
There are no belt loops, but the rear elastic adjusts very easily on hook and loop tabs, and covers an appropriate range. Some shorts need really cinching in to stay put while you're riding, but these never needed much more tension than they did for just strolling around in comfort.
The fabric is unusually thick – at first I kept thinking they were lined, but they're not – but the loose fit and reasonable breathability mean they cool just fine. I wore these on some very warm and humid rides and never had an issue, which was almost a surprise. Water beads on them pretty well, too.
The heavyweight (and slightly stretchy) fabric means they sit well as you pedal, instead of steadily rising and being too light to drop back down, and the well-judged cut means there's no awkward stretch to drag them up either. Basically, they hover neatly above your knees and instantly drop a bit lower when you stand. Perfect.
There are two good-sized hand pockets at the front, and two secure pockets with zips hidden very neatly in the seams.
The one on the left is excellent – it actually runs around behind your leg, and is perfect for comfortably securing keys, cards or cash where they're no hindrance at all. The 12cm opening was fine for my hand, and it's long enough for today's sizeable phones (mine is 17x8cm in its case) to slip in easily.
The one on the right, however, is very awkward. For some reason the opening is shorter at 11cm, and I found it a proper struggle to force my hand in and out. This pocket also runs forward, under the regular open hand pocket, so you're clashing with anything in there and trying to jam your fingers in with your wrist at quite an angle. It's not deep enough for a phone, either. I pretty much ignored this pocket.
The overall build is very neat, and I had no issues with any seams in any way. The zip fly and button closure work very well, and although there's also a popper to keep the nice wide windflap in place behind the zip, the thick fabric and tidy shaping mean you don't even need to do it up. It lies where it should do anyway.
At £132, these are pretty expensive for what they are. There's a huge range of choice when it comes to baggies, and it's not hard to find similar things for less.
The low-key-looking Stolen Goat Men's MTB Shorts are now £70, for instance, and even get water-resistant zips on the pockets.
The Royal Racing Quantum Shorts are £89.99, which is still more than £40 less than the Sutros, and also pretty stylish.
Even those two are a bit on the spendy side, though: the Altura Esker Men's Trail Shorts (you can read a review of these on off.road.cc) are closer to most function-orientated (as opposed to form-orientated) shorts at £55, and still don't look massively 'technical' anyway.
Overall, these are very nice to wear whether you're riding or not, and they're ideal if you're bimbling/thrashing around and want to look stealthily non-cyclist whenever you stop. In fact, they're comfortable enough to just wear all day even if you're not riding at all. If you don't care about the looks, however, there are much cheaper alternatives that work just as well on the bike – and many that still look pretty cool off it as well.
Very comfortable and effective shorts that can pass as 'regular' wear off the bike, but quite expensive even so
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chrome Industries Men's Sutro Short
Size tested: 34
Tell us what the product is for
Chrome Industries says: "Tough enough for the city with enhanced performance and a loose fit designed for the trail. With classic style and details like secure mesh pockets, an adjustable waistband for fit plus stretch and articulation for ultimate mobility, the versatile Sutro Short is ideal for on the trail and into the bar."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Chrome Ind lists:
- Durable, 4-way stretch city to trail short
- 5 Bar Flexi comfort waistband
- Seamless bonded hem to avoid chafe
- Quick dry, stain & water-resistant
- Relaxed, adjustable fit with 14" inseam
Feel particularly thick and rugged.
Not light, but fine for these kinds of shorts.
Very good, both on and off the bike.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. They're comfortable, stay put and don't interfere with saddles.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfortable, look good and not as hot as the thick fabric suggests. The hidden valuables pocket is nicely done, too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £132, these are pretty expensive for what they are. There's a huge range of choice when it comes to baggies like these, and it's not hard to find similar things for less. The low-key-looking Stolen Goat Men's MTB Shorts are now £70, for instance, and even get water-resistant zips on the pockets.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Though the fabric is unusually thick, I found no downsides – they're perfectly cool enough, comfortable both on and off the bike, sit well while you're riding, are easy to adjust, and have a very neatly done pocket for keys and cards. The thickness also means they feel particularly rugged. It's only the price that nags; you really have to want this stealthy non-cycling look for the Sutro's premium over 'regular' baggies to start making sense. If they were under £100 they'd be an easy 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,