When I first started mountain biking, I would wear boxer shorts and cargo shorts. And these weren’t compression boxer shorts mind you, but full on Hanes cotton underwear. Layer some ratty old cargo shorts from Target on top of that and you could guarantee the sweatiest, funkiest mess was going to be the only result of any ride further than the trailhead parking lot. I won’t even bother discussing chafing.
Over the months and years I’ve since learned a little better, graduating to shorts with built in liners and even engaging in a roadie period where I wore nothing but spandex on both the ‘cross bike and on the mountain bike.
After retiring my hardtail and switching to a longer travel, full suspension bike a few years back, I decided it was also time to retire my wardrobe and get into something a little more casual. This meant I could wear shorts and a t-shirt on my rides again, but this time I could be a little smarter about it.
Instead of wearing boxer shorts, I decided to pick up Pactimo’s Apex Bib Liner Short. They are thinner than standard bib shorts and have a vented mesh on the front and back of the leg to help keep you cool. The straps and back also use the same material as these shorts are meant to be worn under other layers.
Features of the Apex Bib Liner Short
1. Two Back Pockets
My current bike is the Yeti SB55 and it only has one bottle cage mount located on the downtube. Most Colorado trails are littered with rocks and that puts the bottle in a perfect location to get snagged and even ripped out, as has happened multiple times. To alleviate my hydration anxiety, I use the pockets on the back of the Apex bib shorts to carry a water bottle, tools, or anything else I need while riding.
There are two pockets in these shorts and the one on riders’ left has a small elastic retention strap to help keep pumps or other longer items tucked into place. I normally put my phone, wallet, and a multi-tool on the left side and my water bottle on the right.
That’s usually enough for more rides, but sometimes I wouldn’t mind a little more space if I’m riding for more than 2-3 hours. Other liner shorts have three pockets and that would help keep the weight distributed a little better since you can put the bottle in the middle and fill the others with snacks, a rain jacket, or tools. Pactimo does mention that these shorts were designed with two pockets to prevent anything from pressing on the spine while riding, so there is a trade-off for a little more comfort.
2. Gripper on the Leg Bands
Another fun feature of riding in boxer shorts or something other than a cycling chamois is that the legs of the inner short start to ride up, creating bunching and chafing. On the Pactimo shorts there are 45mm leg bands with a silicone strip that keeps things in place. I can’t recall a time I’ve ever had an issue with the legs of the short creeping up, so they’ve done their job well.
3. Long Lasting Chamois Pad
I have two pairs and have worn only these two pairs for almost 4 years now, riding at least 3 days a week in the summer. Through all that time I also haven’t followed the washing directions and usually throw them in the washer without a delicates bag and let them spin around in the dryer on low. Even with treating them no better than my old cargo shorts, the pads still feel fine. Now, they’re not as plush as they were on day 1, but I had a few full-day Enduro races this year and had no problems.
Pactimo says the chamois are Italian made and are the same chamois they use in their Ascent Vector bibs, which are a $165 pair of shorts. My ass isn’t so fine tuned that I can tell the differences between the various types of chamois, but I had an old pair of chamois that were pretty much useless after a few months of riding, and these are a far cry from that.
What Could be better about the Apex Bib Liners
The pockets can push my shorts down when I carry a bottle, which is pretty much every ride. Other bib short liners separate the pockets from the liner so they can go over the back of the shorts, if needed.
Choose the Apex Bib Liner for:
- Sneaking in a ride before or after work
- Medium distance weekend rides (about 2-3 hours long) where you don’t need too many supplies
If you’re heading out for a big day in the saddle or have signed up for a long enduro race, the Apex liner is probably not the best choice since you can’t carry as much as other shorts (Instead, check out the Pactimo Tellus Bib short that has 3 pockets). For everything else, the Apex MTB Bib Shorts are a great option, especially considering they come in at a price point lower than other alternatives.
Where to Buy
Purchase directly from Pactimo: Apex Bib Liner Short