We’ve all seen it before—there you are shredding a succulent stretch of singletrack, trying to stay on your buddy’s back wheel and scanning the trail 5, 10, 50 feet ahead. Obstacles are blurring past your periphery, and your senses are on full-alert, laser-focused on picking the right line.
But there it is, smack-dab in the middle of your sight-line: a heaping helping of plumber’s crack being broadcast from your riding partner’s backside.
Anyone who's ridden in baggy shorts has likely inadvertently flashed a little skin out on the trail before. Loose-fitting jerseys have an annoying way of migrating northward, up under a hydration pack, while baggy shorts tend to go in the opposite direction, lower down on your hips as you pedal.
Enter DirtBaggies, which designer Tim Lane claims (and we’re liable to believe him) is the first mountain-bike specific bib-short/baggy combo ever produced. The lightweight bib-and-baggies combination sports some mountain bike specific features never before seen in a road-specific bib—like a built-in fly, for one.
"We've got all this whiz-bangery design and engineering going into carbon fiber suspension frames and what-not, but the thing that makes it a good day is your contact points—whether your tires are working, and whether your ass is bleeding," says Lane. DirtBaggies marries the comfort and functionality of a road-specific bib short with the rugged utility of traditional baggy mountain bike shorts. The first-of-its-kind product even incorporates a bonus feature in its integrated fly system, the virtues of which need little explanation for anyone who’s ever tried taking a quick leak on the trail while clad in bib shorts.
Lane says that there are two major issues with re-purposing road bibs for mountain bikes—1) they're usually constructed from slick material that encourage baggy short shells from sliding downwards, and 2) most road bibs are intended to be worn by themselves, as an external layer all their own, and when combined with a baggy short shell can cause relatively slower-speed mountain bikers to overheat on the trail.
Lane addresses the first of these points with the use of a one-way friction material (think: skins for backcountry skiing). Slide your hand along it on it one way, it’s slick, but in the other direction it's got a bit of a tooth to it," says Lane. "It goes from just above the chamois pad to the shoulder straps—so you've got friction from your toes to your nose, and no friction in the other direction." The shorts also have multiple attachment points on each side to tether the proprietary shell in place against the liner.
The overheating issue is remedied with a relatively shorter inseam and liberal use of breathable mesh fabric that is complemented by mesh panels in the shell short.
“Your quads are some of the biggest muscles in your body, and that’s where all the heat’s coming from,” says Lane. “The combination of our shell and sort is about the same warmth as roadie stuff alone.”
Lane says he and his product testers benchmarked out some of the most sought after road-bike bibs on the market—namely $300 Assos and $250 Castelli models.
Cytec is an Italian company with a long history of making chamois pads. It supplies parts for companies like Assos, Rapha and Specialized, and its catalog includes a number of different pads at three basic level: a recreational 1- to 2-hour pad, a sport-level 3- to 4-hour pad, and an endurance 5- to 6-hour pad.
"Most every mountain bike liner I've seen uses a 1-to 2-hour pad, because anything thicker in a traditional mountain bike liner wears like a wet diaper," says Lane. "Because we're using a one-piece bib design we can get away with the higher-performance, thicker endurance pad."
Lane believes in his product enough that he's willing to back it with a 60-day, no-questions asked money-back guarantee. The mountain-bike specific bibs retail for $179, and the matching baggy shell, which has two slash side pockets and weighs just 160 grams, goes for $69. The next product in the queue is a knicker.