Chrome Industries are best known for their packs and apparel that have historically been aimed at the urban/commuter crowd. Recently however they’ve been sliding toward some offerings aimed at the mountain bike crowd. This Spring and Summer I’ve been wearing the Sutro short – a durable all around offering that Chrome sum up as being appropriate “from City to Trail”, which I find quite apt. Read on to see how they’ve been working out…
- Durable Water Resistant (DWR) 4-way stretch fabric
- Waist: 28, 30 (tested), 32, 34, 36, 38
- Inseam: 14″
- Seamless bonded hem
- Velcro waist cinch
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
- $130 USD
The waist band features a two button closure – one snaps and one hooks – along with a metal zipper fly.
The waist adjustments are easy to reach while riding and provide a great deal of range.
Although they’re already highly reinforced, many of the seams have piping internally as well.
The crotch area is also internally reinforced in the most high wear area.
In addition to the slash style pockets, there are also two zipper pockets to secure more important items like keys or a cell phone. The right one is just below the waist band…
And the left one sits in line with the pocket, down by the thigh.
A feature I really liked – and haven’t really seen in the MTB world – was the bonded hem. In addition to feeling nice due to the seamless nature, it also seemed to have a little more structure.
A look at the hem as well as the inside surface of the fabric, which is soft and plush considering how rugged it is.
On the trail
Starting with fit, I opted for a size 30″. In an ideal world I’d grab a 31″, but finding odd sizes in cycling apparel is rare so I erred on the slimmer side and found the sizing to be pretty accurate. This meant that I didn’t have much experience with or use for the waist adjustments, but they did seem quite sturdy and effective. Interestingly, the tag states that the Sutro shorts have a 13″ inseam, but the website states 14″. Regardless, I found the length to be just right for rides without kneepads. In combination with kneepads, the inseam was just a smidge too short, and although the front of the leg opening is slightly longer than the back, it wasn’t enough to properly cover my kneepads. However, I do have fairly long legs for my height, so I’d imagine that shorter riders and those with different proportions might not be very fussed when pairing the Sutros to a set of kneepads.
One minor complaint was that I would like to see a slightly taller waistband height in the rear – something that is common in the mountain bike world as it helps prevent crud flinging off the rear tire from ending up down in your shorts. I really liked the feel of the waistband itself, and much like most Chrome products it is very heavy duty and in it for the long haul. However this did mean it was a little bit on the warm side and tended to get a bit soggy and sweat filled on the hotter days. With that said, all other aspects of the shorts managed sweat and moisture nicely. The fabric used is ultra stretchy and easy to move in…while it has an extremely tough feel, it is fairly porous and breathes well.
As far as functionality was concerned, I liked the combination of somewhat deep (read: secure) slash pockets and a couple of smaller zipper pockets. This made it easy to pull my phone out for a quick photo, or grab a bar, but instilled confidence that I could keep my key fob and ID in one of the zipper pockets and have zero risk of losing them.
All told, these shorts are precisely as they are marketed. They’re simple, clean and understated which means you could go from the trails to a bar without looking silly. As a brand, Chrome prides themselves on ultra durable products that are built to last forever. With that in mind, the Sutros are edging on overbuilt – particularly at the waistband, which is ultra thick and thus a bit warm. In the grand scheme of things I’ve found them to be very comfortable and functional on the whole. It will be interesting to see how Chrome does in the MTB world. With just a touch of fine tuning I think they could take their expertise from the Urban world and do very well moving forward…