[Tested] Bontrager Rhythm Mountain Bike Short


Well before the warm weather actually hit, Bontrager mailed us some mixed bits of gear from their Spring lineup. They’ve been making ground in the apparel world for a couple of years now in both Road and MTB. We’ve been riding the lightweight and slightly stretchy Rhythm Short throughout most of these spring and summer months and feel they’ve been put through the paces enough that it’s time to share our thoughts…


• Nylon shell is lightweight and durable
• Easy-adjust waist with integrated belt and zippered, double-snap front, ensures secure fit
• Two traditional hand pockets
• Drop-in pocket keeps your phone secure and won’t bounce around while riding
• One zippered thigh pocket securely holds your essentials
• 14″ (35cm) inseam
• Non-restrictive loose fit allows for freedom of movement and casual style
• Price: $79.99
• Colors: Black & Bluebird
• Sizes: 28,30,32,34,36 & 38

The built-in, adjustable belt is anchored at the back of the waist with elastic, keeping things snug.
The right side slash pocket features a secondary pocket which keeps your smart phone from shifting around.

First Impressions


Initially we were surprised by the Rhythm Shorts’ light weight. Aside from the metal belt buckle, they are truly feather light for a mid-duty trail short. We like the idea of a “Semi-Fitted” short…There is nothing to quibble over regarding sizing accuracy, and every fit aspect was very middle of the road – they fall comfortably in between snug and baggy.

There are 3 belt loops should you choose to wear one. The idea of wearing an external belt seems redundant when there is one built in, but at least riders have both options. We tugged on each side of the belt and because the elastic can be exposed, if you really wanted to – you could cut out the built-in belt. Speaking of the waist, we liked that the shorts were cut fairly low up front and fairly high out back.

As far as storage is concerned, there are two slash pockets right where one would expect them and mid way down the left leg, there is an angled pocket located at the side of the leg with a zipper closure. Although Bontrager doesn’t go out of their way to note that the Rhythms are made from any sort of ripstop type material, the construction seems to be cut from the same cloth (no pun intended) and features a subtle amount of stretch to them. Last but not least, there are four pairs of laser cut holes running up and down the inside of the thigh…Gauging the cooling efficiency of such features is cryptic, but having them never hurts and hey, on the plus size they’re less heavy/rigid/complicated than zippered mesh vents.

On the Trail

Once we got to riding the Rhythm shorts, they basically became an afterthought. The length at the leg and the width of their opening was just right for riding with mid duty kneepads. For the sake of reference we used them with our tried and true 7 Protection Covert kneepads; the cuffs laid nicely over them. We appreciated the higher cut out back and although they are cut at a fairly average height up front, the metal clasp left us with mixed feelings – on a couple of rides it managed to flip over. Perhaps we should cut back on the burrito and beer intake, but we feel that the shorts could use a slightly lower profile clasp; especially considering that they already have the security of two buttons above the fly. In any case, as mentioned prior – you can cut out the built-in belt and opt out altogether, or just run your own…So it’s not a huge deal, but worth mentioning.

Like we discussed earlier, we dig the idea of a “semi-fitted” cut. These shorts weren’t overly restrictive or overly baggy; in other words we could move around, but they didn’t hang up on things or ever feel bulky. The functionality of the pockets proved to be just right. Open, slash style pockets are nice for quick & easy access, plus with a separate compartment for our phone inside the right pocket, it stayed put nicely. That said, we were glad that the Rhythm featured at least one zipper pocket. We tended to put our credit card, driver license and the truck key in there as we don’t quite trust smaller, more critical items with open pockets.

As far as weight and breathability, these shorts felt freakishly light but they don’t give themselves away as seeming like a piece of apparel that won’t hold up. The fact that they felt so airy and moved freely likely did more for airflow than the laser cut holes in the inner thighs. Touching on durability, we didn’t have any major crashes, but the Rhythms have withstood plenty of washings and a couple of slideouts without really showing it. With that in mind, they definitely don’t have that canvas/coruda like feel that tough, freeride oriented shorts have.


All in all we’d say this is a great short, especially for warmer weather. We never got a chance to test them out in wet conditions, but we feel that if you aren’t concerned with having a short that’s truly waterproof, this could be a solid option for wet days as it won’t take on tons of water or get weighed down. Fit, functionality and comfort is top notch. Our only minor gripe was the slightly fussy belt buckle, but it could have more to do with placement and body type than anything – plus, the built in belt can be cut out anyway. In the grand scheme of things, these are simply a great all around pair of MTB shorts that would likely please the mass majority of riders out there in most conditions. Two thumbs up!


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