Between Your Skin and the Saddle

by Zach February 28, 2013

Assuming you can muster up the gumption to do so, ask ten different guys out on the trail what they choose to wear beneath their baggies, and you’ll probably get ten different answers. Their short’s included snap-in liner. Road shorts. Road bibs. Boxer briefs. Maybe even tighty-whiteys (somebody buy this man a beer). We’re well aware that there’s hardly a shortage of available options in mountain bike apparel, but we’d yet to find an included or integrated liner that felt as though it was as comfortable as our road shorts. Something about spending three or four hours in the woods wearing a kit meant for the road just never really sat right with us. So rather than include with our A/M Short another forgettable liner designed to fit neatly within a price point (all the while assuming you’d find a better or more comfortable substitute), we designed the Base Short entirely from the ground up as a standalone piece. It’s a definitive, purpose-driven mountain essential optimized for layering beneath your trail baggies to keep you cool and comfortable for the duration of even the longest rides.

The Base Short wouldn’t have a place in our line if we couldn’t make it ‘go to eleven,’ so to accomplish this, we used New Zealand merino wool blended with nylon and Spandex to create a supple and breathable liner that is still supportive enough to be there for your quads when they need it most. Merino wool on its own is incredibly versatile, but it lacks the expedient drying capabilities and durability or support that you need for day-in, day-out performance. But when blended with one or more technical synthetic fibers — like the compression-grade Spandex found in the leg openings — you’re really able to get the best of multiple worlds to specifically tailor the blend and give you all of the characteristics you’re looking for in the garment. Specifically, we were looking for a material that was as fast-drying and supportive as it was supremely comfortable — and we’re confident to say that the fabric in our Base Short delivers on all fronts.

Inside the Base Short, you’ll find the Italian-engineered Multi-D Anatomic Carbonium EIT (Elastic Interface Technology) insert, from CyTech. Say that five times fast, and we’ll see you at the bottom of the hill. This is a truly three-dimensional insert with a unique, anatomical shape and plenty of multi-density support to ensure hours of comfort. We’ve tested the short on everything from our brief daily commutes and punchy post-work rides to those all-day singletrack epics that fill our favorite weekends in Marin, and have yet to find a challenge it’s not up to. Granted, CyTech itself isn’t a name that every cyclist is readily familiar with, as the Italian company’s innovations speak more loudly than the brand itself. But flip inside-out the top-tier bib short from some of the most acclaimed cycling brands in the industry and you’ll find CyTech’s EIT insert technology — perhaps something you’ve already come to depend upon for thousands of miles.

Toss the Base Short on the floor and you’ll notice that it doesn’t lay flat. Your body isn’t perfectly flat, so why should your insert be? Without the use of any potentially irritating stitches, the EIT insert we used has been ultrasonically welded together from two half-moon shapes to give the insert just the right amount of anatomical curvature and a supportive structure that retains its shape through the duration of your ride and the life of the short. The comfort behind this pad isn’t just around its shaping though; across the surface of the insert is a honeycomb network of antimicrobial carbon threading that won’t harbor bacteria while also helping expedite dry time. Beneath the surface is a series of high-density foam inserts which are strategically placed in the perineal and ischiatic zones for maximum pressure relief. But strip away the nerdy, technical embellishments behind the Base Short, all of this simply means a better fit, relief from ride-ending numbness, and hopefully a greater enjoyment of your time on the bike. No need to contact your doctor if you begin to experience prolonged grins (upwards of four hours) whilst out on your favorite loop.

In addition to the overall comfort of the pad itself, we positioned it specifically for the more upright, in-saddle fit appropriate for all-mountain riding. Naturally, rider position on the trail differs dramatically from rider position out on the open road, so why should the pad be positioned the same? You’ll find our Base Short better suited for a wider variety of these upright seated positions, whether you’re hammering off the nose of your saddle on a steep section of trail, or rocketing down a twisty series of rutted-out switchbacks.

You can certainly wear the Base Short by itself (preferably with a jersey please), as we have done on plenty of occasions during our prototyping phases, but it really was designed with layering in mind. This is most visually apparent in the silicone bead that runs the outside side and upper hem of the short to help keep your outer baggy snug, and in place against your waistline. But more apparent once worn, is how the supple, next-to-skin merino breathes like a your everyday merino wool boxer briefs with the resilience and support of your favorite pair of road bibs. Another nod to comfort is how the paneling on the short was laid in such a way to give you the most comfortable and anatomic fit possible, but also for a quiet, and seamless integration with our Soft Shell A/M Shorts. Yes, they look great together, and yes, we meant to do that.

Just like the rest of the Kitsbow line, the Base Short is proudly made in Canada. It is available now in five sizes for $215. You can pick up your own pair of the Base Short here, or shop our full collection here.

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