ENDURA MT500 Spray Baggy ¾ Pants – On Test- by c_g
Anybody here who doesn´t know ENDURA cycling clothes? Really?! It may have been by my ‚love’ for all weather riding that got me acquainted with the company some years ago, but here for all new to them is this small intro (From their website)
ENDURA Ltd. was founded in Edinburgh (Oh, I love that city!!), Scotland in 1992 by keen cyclist Jim McFarlane, who when looking for replacement of his stolen cycling kit, decided that he would attempt to produce highly functional cycle clothing himself … with a focus on longevity and durability and sophisticated construction. Initially they had their designs produced by other garment factories but soon began manufacturing all of its own clothing with lots of specialist equipment to manufacture performance cycle clothing that withstands the test of time (… and the grueling Scottish weather ). The parent company currently manufactures in Livingston, Scotland (with subcontracting companies elsewhere).
ENDURA’S first offering was its MT500 range of shorts (yep, we have one of those in ¾ lenght on test), some tights and jerseys. The range was an instant success. Since then Endura has grown to become the largest brand of cycle clothing in the UK and by now has established distributors around the world including Europe, USA, Canada, and the Far East. In its brief history, the company has won many magazine product awards along with various industry awards including the Eurobike Design Award for Clothing Innovation (for the MT500 Spray Baggy shorts). It is very apparent when looking at the range that durability and high end construction are the key to the company´s success and that is why we requested a set of their foul weather protective MT500 Spray Baggy ¾ pants and the ingenious Clickfast liner shorts.
More to the items now:
MT500 Spray Baggy ¾ pants – these pants are the newest interpretation of an ENDURA classic. They have been around as shorts since the beginning but have only made a debut as ¾ length pants in late 2011.
They look understated in their black grey design (like almost all ENDURA things really do ) but they are packed with useful features. The specific idea with these pants is that when mountain biking in mixed weather a biker generally suffers more from the goo and mud sprayed up from behind, then from the front … so they constructed the front with some water repellent Cordura nylon fabric with considerable stretch, while the rear and crotch areas are fully seam sealed and made of a tough waterproof 3-layer fabric.
Sounds sturdy? I expected some „bomber stiff“ rain pants (like the modern day DH-shorts – only waterproof) by the description but when I received them, I was very positively surprised about how soft to the touch the fabric was throughout. The construction was the most elaborate and immaculate I have seen in any cycling clothes up to now. It was amazing to see how 4 different fabrics were combined into one piece of clothing – each serving a specific purpose:
1. lighter weight Cordura front – for great wear properties and decent weather protection
2. Waterproof 3-layer rear – to keep you sitting comfortably whatever the climate
3. crotch made of extra durable Cordura and waterproof – maximum weather protection and durability in one
4, super elastic rear panel near the waist – for perfect coverage in any riding posture.
The other details like integrated belt, zipped front pockets, long thigh vent zips (on the side, with a mesh liner), strongly articulated knees and Velcro hem adjuster, make them a lot more than just rain pants.
Usually I would ride such pants with my own padded lycra underneath, but ENDURA has their own system for their own liners (attached by a system Endura calls ‚Clickfast’) which we were glad to try out as well. The liner on test itself is an elaborate (no surprise coming from ENDURA ) multiple panel Coolmax & mesh liner with a decent multi sectored padding. It attaches to any compatible ENDURA pants/shorts via 12 little buttons (they call them studs) on the waistband (smartly distributed in triples). The attaching/detaching takes only a few moments when off but pulls off easily when tucking on them in action (and is nearly impossible to re-attach while worn). We ended up using the liner mostly as a separate item – which worked very well for shorter and leisurely riding, but felt the padding to be a bit too soft and low profile for extended rides, so we eventually ended up using our performance lycra underneath when going long. What is good though – the studs on either the shorts or the liner are small enough and unobtrusive that when worn with other shorts or liners are not noticed much.
But now to the ENDURA Spray Baggy 3/4s. They seem to be a great choice for those spring/fall rides when full length rain pants are just too much but regular shorts would be overtaken by the foul weather too quickly leaving you uncomfortable … How about when you are going long in mixed conditions and constant swapping of layers is not desired – e.g. an endurance race. For such conditions one option for me has been to go for some light and waterproof ‚over-shorts’ over my regular gear, but that left me wanting in some areas:
- With the extra hard shell cover I frequently feel overheated.
- When things go really nasty, the mud and goo between the pants and saddle chuffs on the usually delicate material of such „emergency“ over-pants giving them a short life span.
- When things get technical, the (usually slippery) extra layer has me moving on the saddle more than I want and makes me feel ‚detached’ from the bike, plus the often loose fit of such pants get me locked behind the saddle occasionally.
So to me if I can get away with some of these problems by combining all into one garment – then why shouldn’t I at least give it a try?
RIDE IMPRESSIONS: Despite all technology, the real test lies in the ride, right. I have ridden these pants for several months now, initially in in cold wintery weather, later on in wet thawing conditions and now even in warmer and drier climates (yes, we have that as well here in Europe) and the impressions are very positive fort he most part:
The FIT is just perfect for me with absolutely no riding up or down when riding (does that make sense? ). I am usually not too fond of 3/4th pants but opted for this version (over the also available MT500 shorts) simply for the better coverage, and these are some of the few baggy ¾-pants I know of that I hardly notice when riding – the good fit and stretch in the right places allows for just the right freedom of movement without ever feeling like they were too baggy. Besides having my knees covered and warm is another benefit in such conditions.
The MATERIAL MIX makes for a very good climate control. The thinner but wind resistant front makes me feel well acclimatized for most of the time. I see a certain tendency of the pants to work better in the colder climates, but the venting side zips do a pretty good job at catching much air to further vent the inside if desired and extend the use well into warmer spring weather. I rode them up to 20°C and found them to do well – only to see that breath ability on the rear then would not suffice and leave a slight „steam bath“ feeling .
In really wet weather and when pouring down the ENDURA MT500 Spray Baggy ¾ pants do well for a while, but eventually the front does leak through. Leaving you feel wet yet warm for quite some time due to the good wind resistant fabric. For such conditions there simply is no way around some hard shell weather protection. On one particular ride with lots of water spraying from below (it had been raining hard before and was thawing heavily) I stood dry for a about 1 1/2 hours, but eventually the constant bombardment with water from behind and moving/sitting on the wet saddle – even the waterproof rear, had to surrender. Obviously you can´t have everything in one package.
SUMMARY: With several months of hard use, multiple washings under the belt and lots of foul weather riding – the ENDURA Spray Baggie ¾ spray baggie shorts have proven to be a really great piece of equipment. While not really adequate for lasting downpours and extremely bad weather, the MT500´s mix of material brings forth a set of pants that do have an extremely broad range of applications. We have used them as cold weather shorts over long cycling pants with the same good success as in mixed weather as stand alone shorts over lycra. Overall we have found them to be some of the most versatile and durable cycling pants we have used yet. Thanks to the excellent fit we never even looked back at opting fort he ¾ length, which has served us perfect well.
With the high quality construction and abundance of functionality we give the MT500s a full two thumbs up, but considering they sell for no more than € 94,99, they are pretty much a steal.
ps: We have also received some ENDURA Singeltrack Shorts, which we are currently starting to test on and off with the MT500s as the climate permits. Stay tuned for more on these, soon.