24 August 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Descente Newton MTB short

When Descente returned to the US cycling market a few years ago, I remembered the brand from my ski bum days. Back then, the company was known for making very desirable, high-quality ski clothes. With this recollection in mind, I snatched-up a pair of their baggy Newton MTB shorts. I have been riding these shorts for over a year now, and they are a terrific pair of shorts. They are light but durable, snug but not too tight, and good looking to boot.

What keeps the Newtons near the top of my shorts drawer is their chamois. The Descente chamois is very good- you don’t often find a chamois of this quality on baggy mountain bike shorts and they're more than up to the kind of epic days I prefer. The chamois and the rest of the liner are holding up well and after over a year of use and washing machine loads (and occasionally even the dryer) the chamois is just barely starting to show some stretch marks and a small rip (repairable for those with a sewing talent) along the seam between the two layers of chamois. This is quite a long time for one of my chamois, which rarely see their first birthday. The liner has nice thick elastic bands around the waist and legs which are very comfortable without being too tight. It is removable of course- held in place by two small straps with snaps at each side. These still work just fine too.

On the Newton's shell, Descente uses welded seams front and rear, which makes it stronger and gives it a nice look. There is a medium-sized pocket in the rear and a small front pocket, both with zippers. A nice touch is a small triangular mesh “pouch” in front and below of the front zippered pocket. At first glance, this seems kind of useless because it is obvious that most anything will fall-out while riding. I love it though, because it is ideal for temporarily storing valve caps and such while you adjust suspension settings on the trail. Like any good Mountain biking short, the back of the shell has an elasticized fabric of some type that keeps the short in the proper place when leaning over in the riding position. For years now, I have really liked this feature on mountain shorts, and I rarely buy a pair of shorts that don’t have it.

The sizing is what I consider “about right”, which means that I fit into a large perfectly. I have short but fairly bulky legs. The shorts reach to the middle of my kneecap when standing- which is exactly where I like them. Descente’s language bills them as an aggressive short but that’s just marketing talk. As durable and tough as they are, they aren’t built like “freeride” shorts or other gravity type gear- they are just good solid trail/XC riding shorts. The Newtons are available in three different color combinations and retail for $120.00 (though it's not uncommon to see them priced them a fair bit lower, especially in discontinued colors).




Carl Martens said...

Loved the review. Would like to feature a guest post from you on our site, www.mtobikes.com Let me know if you're interested.

doug said...

Good call and good shorts. I got a pair from the manager of my LBS. He is about a 36in waist and the XL are more suited for my 38in waist. I find the chamois to be very comfy and the shorts are a good athletic cut. By that I mean they are close fitting without being tight and are cut for riding position. My only complaint is that my quads/but are bigger than the mfg expected, so after sitting for a while the shorts occasionally bunch at my hips.