I’m a huge fan of baggy shorts for gravel riding, coming from a predominantly MTB riding back round I’ve never been totally commited to the full lycra look. I’ll concede that for pure road riding that the wind cheating and muscle supporting advantages of lycra hit the spot. Having said this I will not go on any decent length of ride without a lycra bib short on. I just choose to wear a baggy short over the top. I do this for the extra protection the shorts afford for the abrasive nature and tumbles and falls that off road riding brings. I also do it because (i think) it looks good!
First of all let me say that Morvelo have had no influence in this review and that I used my own pocket money to buy these two pairs of shorts. the second pair were purchased after my experience of wearing the first along with the fact that they were on special offer on Wiggle!
Both pairs of shorts have been worn for around two months over approximately 500 miles in weather ranging from 5 to 30 degrees, sunshine, rain, hail and in plenty of mud and dusty conditions.
The selector shorts are described as “stretch combined with the lightweight BlueSign-accredited fabric means the Selectors offer unparalleled freedom of movement. Packing down small, and with their discreet design and DWR treated fabric”
First off, this statement is 100% true, I’ve not worn a pair of shorts this stretchy other than full lycra shorts. It’s like some sort of wonder material and it also feels great to the touch, a sort of silky, satiny material that instantly felt great to wear. The short is very light weight and i hesitate to write a cliché but they really do feel like they are not there! the list price is £90 but i managed to get them for less than £70 in a sale
They work well with lycra underneath but because of the amount of stretch they do fit to your form. These are no MTB massive baggy which means no flappage at speed but they do feel different if you are used to a traditional baggy short. the length is spot on for me, with a standard length bib short underneath the leg length easily covers the end of the bib so there’s no embarrassing lycra poking out. your knee will stay exposed though so your cycling tan can still happen. there are no belt loops but there are internal adjusters to micro adjust the fit. I usually wear a 34 and the size 34 fit perfectly. there are two zipped side pocket and one rear pocket.
The DWR coating is effective for rain showers but as you’d expect they will wet out in a deluge but the usual trail spray from the front and rear wheels is shrugged off, but if it’s wet out and you don’t want a wet crack fit a mudguard. The first two weeks of ownership coincided with the Spring heatwave and with temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius and despite them being listed as breathable i did feel over heated in them but i think this would have happened in any short. The short material, being so lightweight does give the impression that it’s not going to be able to take the general wear and tear of gravel riding. But to date after a couple of months of use this has proved unfounded. My local trails are strewn with brambles and nettles and the ground is a mix of clay, gravel and sand so quite abrasive.
- superb fit
- lightweight material
- spot on length
- price, although if you shop around you can get them for less
The elemental shorts are described as “A short where simplicity is paramount. Once you hit the trails, the freedom of movement offered by the quick drying four-way-stretch fabric makes it a short perfectly suited to road cycling, mountain biking and gravel rides”
Again this is pretty much spot on but they are a very different short to the Selector. I bought these at the full price of £45 on the back of how good the Selector short was, after all everyone needs two pairs of shorts for when the other pair is in the wash. the material is more satin-y and does have a little rustle to it, they are again lightweight and pretty much fit and forget.
The Elemental shorts also have stretch built in but not as much as the selector so although not in the MTB baggy league they do flap more but it’s not at all noticeable unless you are going really fast or there’s a gale blowing. They are not as fitted as the Selector short which may suit someone used to wearing MTB shorts better than the more fitted Selector. The length again leaves them just above the knee when riding. the shorts have belt loops and to date I’ve been wearing them without a belt but because of the less stretch they do ride down a little when standing up pedaling. there are two unzipped side pockets. These shorts size up differently despite the size guide being the same and my usual size of 34″ (L) was too small and so I returned the pair and exchanged for an XL which fit much better. The Selector short adjusters are in no way maxed out so it might be wise to size up from your normal fit with the Elemental shorts. The return and exchange procedure was slick and quick despite the corona virus limitations.
The Elemental short does not come with a DWR coating but they do dry quickly, they are not advertised as being made of a breathable material but the extra bagginess over the other shorts makes them feel airy and I’ve never felt over heated in them. I’ve ridden these shorts on my gravel bike and MTB and they have taken a few scrapes and knocks without any damage and given the relative price compared to the Selectors I’m not so scared about plunging into thorn strewn tracks and trails in these
- fit and length
- they look like normal shorts. wearable anywhere, ride or post ride
- not as stretchy so you might need a belt, but loops are provided
the Selector and Elemental shorts are both great items, they are both great to ride in, comfort wise the Selector edge it slightly in a baggy, close to lycra level of comfort. This doesn’t take anything away from the Elemental shorts though, they are comfy too but in a different way. You could wear both pairs to the pub but the selector wouldn’t look out of place in a swanky wine bar whereas the Elemental would fit in at real ale festival without a second glance.
I’d recommend both shorts, if you can “stretch” to the price go for the Selector short and you won’t be disappointed. If you are on a budget or want a second pair of shorts to throw in a frame bag for touring or bike packing (the elemental will pack down smaller) go for the Elemental. either way both shorts are worth spending your cash on.