Finding good riding shorts is everything. If you’re out on the mountain bike, you want something that is comfy, tough enough to cope with the punishment the trail hands out, and does not impede on your pedal stroke. And they have to look cool because, seriously, who is going to wear a pair of shorts for hours at a time if you think they make you look dorky?
Ground Effect’s Tantrums look sharp. Made of a tight-weave synthetic (Ground Effect’s Hi-Impact Stretch), the Tantrums coped just fine with the occasional spontaneous dismount – not that I do those, of course.
My review pair are a cool dark brown, but the latest release Tantrums come in in ‘Jet Black,’ ‘Kelp Green’ and ‘Greywacke,’ which is a dark grey – all colours that will cope with a bit of dirt. When I took these puppies out on the singletrack in is-it-still-raining Dunedin (at the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island) earlier this year, they were totally unfazed by the fluctuating temperatures that define a Kiwi summer.
I splattered these shorts with Kiwi mud, and ground a whole lot of coarse Central Australian red dirt into them too, mountain biking and photographing mates out on the trails. The mud splatters were pretty hard to see – and dried off pretty quickly. That harsh red dirt has shortened the lifespan of some of my other riding kit but it did not add any noticeable wear to the Tantrums.
The Tantrums have a zip fly with a single metal press-dome closure at the top, a non-stretch waistband with velcro adjustment tabs at each side, and a single zippered pocket on the left hip. Length-wise, the legs come to just above the knee. That straight-lace-looking tightly woven Hi-Impact Stretch fabric makes these riding shorts look like regular smart-casual kit, and, with those funky blue bar-tack finishing detail above and below the pocket and on the waist tabs, they are styley.
Structurally, the Tantrums are pretty darn sneaky. The legs are cut to fit loose-ish, with an inner leg gusset that, together with that one-way stretch fabric they’re made out of, mean there’s no fabric runch or restriction of movement. So I had unimpeded blood flow to key parts and I could turn that pedal with confidence.
But the real genius of these shorts is the stretchy panel at the back, just below the waistband. It’s not very wide – barely 3cm wide – but it does a whole lot of work, allowing the rider to bend down over the head stem and twist and squirm through corners and between trees out on the trails, while still keeping the waistband snug, comfy and gape-free.
I’m a big fan of this waistband and stretchy panel arrangement, but that waistband can be unforgiving if you stop riding for a month or so and spend too much time eating, and there’s only so much adjustment you can get out of those those hip tabs.
Lining the Tantrums – the Dovetails
The Tantrums are cut to be worn with a pair of liners or knicks or just regular underwear. Every combination worked well – I even wore these babies rock climbing, and they fit under my harness and allowed me a full range of movement on the wall, too.
Most often I paired the Tanties with Ground Effect’s wittily-named Dovetails liners.
The Dovetails are a mesh liner with a ‘Softail Pad’ chamois (another Ground Effect special), and this combo works. The Dovetails kept everything as it should be, sans bruising or abrasions, and they washed up great – exactly what I want!
So I’m giving Ground Effect’s Tantrums riding shorts and the Dovetail liners a big thumbs up. They function really well on the bike and they look smart enough to get me into cafés for post-ride fuel-ups, so I have no qualms about packing these as part of a limited mountain bike road-trip wardrobe or adding them to the much discussed desert island scenario suitcase. Plus, the Tantrums come with an emergency tyre patch in the pocket. Sweet!