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The Swrve Transverse Rambler Belted Shorts are a great choice for on- and off-bike adventures. When paired with a padded undershort they can be ridden all day, and with the stretch fabric they are comfortable to clamber about in. Some may find the lack of secure pockets unnerving, mind.
If you're cycle touring, bikepacking or just sifting about town on a warm day, you'll likely be wanting shorts that don't scream CYCLIST. The kind of garb that you can head to a cafe or shop in, where you feel comfortable, and with pockets suited to practicality, or, if you're travelling, that can do double duty for off-bike adventures. Of course in theory any pair of shorts can be ridden in, but after a while the compromised placement of features like pockets, seams and belt loops and cut and fabric type all rear their heads and have you wanting for something more bike friendly. These Rambler shorts are a pretty good option, albeit with some unique design choices that need understanding.
The Rambler shorts are packed with technical features, starting with the Transverse fabric, a four-way-stretch nylon-spandex mix with a soft terry finish on the inside. It's a water- and wind-resistant fabric that dries quickly and feels hardwearing. Its stretchy nature means both on and off the bike the shorts don't feel restrictive when bending to extremes.
Keeping the Ramblers in place is a broad elasticated waistband, secured by a tough YKK popper and zip fly. The waistband has a wide nylon belt that runs internally around the sides and back, secured with a low-profile cinch plastic buckle.
The combination of elasticated waist and belt may seem overkill, but together they mean a perfect, adjustable waist fit with no excess fabric bunching anywhere.
A trick Swrve missed would be to make the belt removable, so it could be used as a luggage strap in a bikepacking gear emergency.
The front pockets are pretty standard – deep enough to hold large phones, with a comfortably-wide mouth. There's a wee pen holder pocket on the right side, but no zipped change pocket.
The rear pockets are a new take, with open mouths and angled towards the sides, not up at the back. This means items you place in the pockets – phone, snacks, penknife, gloves – are held more to the side of the thigh than rearward. On the bike this means items remain accessible, and the pocket keeps them away from the saddle. Because there's no flap or zip I was initially concerned that items might fall out, but after a couple of long rides things stayed put.
With a nine-inch inseam the Ramblers will sit a bit above the knee for most, so not baggy shorts, nor geography teacher walking shorts of yesteryear. Something in the middle, and when on the bike sitting mid-thigh. Size-wise the large were bang on for my 34-inch waist. (The UK site lacks a size chart for now.)
The seams of the Ramblers are flatlock and triple-bar stitched – the quality is top notch and comfort is high. If you prefer to ride without a chamois liner short, the Ramblers could be a good fit.
Coming in four colours – Black, Grey, Blue and Sage – the Ramblers are well suited to pairing with other non-bikey kit. I'd challenge anyone to spot these as 'bike' shorts, at any distance. And if you lent or gave them to a friend or significant other to wear, chances are they wouldn't twig they were 'bike' shorts either.
At £80 the Rambler shorts are good value compared with some – the now-£139 Chrome Industries Men's Sutro Shorts, for example – having a belt instead of the Sutro's Velcro, though lacking the zipped back pockets.
And Vulpine's Men's City Shorts, a cotton blend with maybe less sporty looks, are £85 and lack the features of the Ramblers, like a belt.
However, Liam on off.road.cc was impressed with Stolen Goat's MTB shorts last year, and they're now £70 at rrp, and at under £44 the Galibier Liberté shorts really bring the value fight, and with clip-in liner compatibility to boot.
Overall, the Transverse Ramblers are a good shout if you're after multi-functional shorts that work well on and off the bike, paired with undershorts or standard issue kecks. They look good, feel good, won't spook the horses and offer features aplenty to please the techno-fashionistas. Recommended.
Very good for bike, travel and kicking about, with comfortable, stretchy fabric for all manner of adventures
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Swrve Transverse Rambler Belted Shorts
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
They are for people wanting to jump on and off the bike, country or city, and not look like a cyclist doing so.
Swrve says: "The Rambler Belted Shorts are a brilliant companion for whatever warm weather adventures you get into. The Rambler shorts are built for pre-ride, post ride, and anything in-between. A short made to be strong, functional and practical, a great all-round short.
Using our exclusive - TRANSVERSE - fabric as the foundation, the Rambler Belted Shorts have a roomy and relaxed fit that gives you an unprecedented range of motion on the trail while feeling oh-so-comfortable when it's time to kick back and relax. To maximise the Rambler's utility, an all-new pocket design has been incorporated where the large front and rear pockets converge at the seams for easy access and an added dash of style. The back pockets are designed to keep their contents away from your seat to minimise the need to rearrange when sitting."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Swrve lists these features:
built-in belt for a perfect fit
elastic waistband moves with your waistline throughout the year
generously sized front pockets
strong poly-cotton pockets for durability
an inner pen pocket on the right front pocket
open rear pockets for quick access
high-quality YKK zipper
YKK snap button
DWR coating adds Water and Wind Resistance
roomy and relaxed fit
High nylon content makes these tough and durable. A 4-way stretch in the fabric allows for unrestricted movement while retaining their shape. The French terry backing to the fabric is soft next to skin and will wick sweat away. Water resistant, Wind resistant, quick to dry, weight 272 gsm.
Triple chain stitching on high-stress areas make the Rambler extremely durable. Elastic waistband with built-in belt to make the fit right.
Roomy and relaxed. 9" inseam.
THE FINAL PRODUCT
With a roomy and relaxed fit with all of the performance that the -TRANSVERSE- fabric offers, The Rambler Belted Shorts are built for leisure, adventure, comfort and style. Once you put them on, you won't want to take them off.
The stitching and build quality are first class.
They feel good and you don't remember you are wearing them.
Early days, but all seems to lean towards long-term robustness.
Its US site lists large as 33-34.5 inches – pretty much spot on.
They feel pretty light for what they are.
With the stretch fabric they feel plenty comfortable.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They still look like new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very comfortable, once you're over the secure-pocket anxiety.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The stretchy fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not having secure pockets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Pretty good. Cheaper baggy shorts exist, but lack the features.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
If you can get past the pockets not having a secure zip or button flap, these are really nice shorts.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L
Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.