Huez says its Utility Shorts are 'designed to be everything you could want in a short; comfortable, durable, water resistant and undeniably stylish'. As long as you stick to using them for their intended purpose, as shorts for riding around town, and are happy to accept the rather high price tag, you won’t be disappointed.
First off, the length and cut is beautifully civilian – perfect for meeting friends in town and other contexts where Lycra attracts the wrong sort of glances. They’re shorter than my ideal for riding – at least compared with my regular messenger types – but shorter shorts are very much à la mode.
They're made from a very tactile 200g 'Swedish' nylon canvas, which supposedly doesn't inhibit movement, and treated with a DWR (durable, water repelling) fluoro polymer coating. Theory goes: moderate to heavy showery rain simply beads up and rolls away. Huez says it has incorporated mesh pockets to accelerate the drying process – and no need for swim shorts should you fancy an impromptu dip.
There are plenty of pockets – two at the hip for parking hands, loose change or other little essentials, and a capacious cargo type on the right thigh big enough for wallet/smartphone or a compact camera. This also sports a really nicely executed reflective strip that's genuinely incognito during the day but comes alive under vehicle or street lighting – good for junctions, roundabouts and the like.
There are also two rear pockets, and beefy belt loops continue the smart utilitarian theme, the sort of stuff that came over from the messenger circuit some years back. The fit is really tailored and there's no internal adjustment, so I went the (recycled bicycle tyre) belt route with no problems.
Bearing in mind that Huez has marketed these for city riding, the Utility Shorts have no padded liner – unlike its Daily Chino Shorts, which come with a Cytech chamois (Huez suggests the Daily Chino one can be used here, and it's planning on selling these separately next season).
I recommend you don’t bother, though. On 10-mile round trip utility runs they were absolutely fine; the legs tended to gather a bit but didn't give rise to chafing or other discomfort. Some short but sharp showers confirmed the outer's water repelling magic – nice to watch and no soggy crotch faux pas upon arrival 15 minutes later. I also took Huez at its word and took a trip to and a dip into the nearby river Blackwater, to test their prowess as swimming shorts (they do that job admirably too).
Don’t be tempted to take them touring, though, or to think they can do more than perform as short distance shorts, for combining cycling and looking suitably civvy. They’re actually not that great with a liner underneath – not even the Huez Daily Chino one. I found they would ride up over the liner – any liner I tried – and on longer distances at higher speeds they would chafe uncomfortably.
Overall, there’s no doubt that the Huez Utility Shorts do their job, albeit a limited one, very well. As long as you accept they’re not the most versatile of cycling garments then you won’t be disappointed; for me personally, I’d like a bit more usefulness for my cash.
Smart shorts that perform their intended task well, pricey though
road.cc test report
Make and model: Huez Utility Shorts
Size tested: UK 32
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Huez says: "The Utility short has been designed to be everything you could want in a short: comfortable, durable, water-resistant and undeniably stylish. The Utility short isn't simply a fashion piece; it has a number of understated features that make it perfect for city riding. A reinforced belt loop will easily accommodate the most robust D-locks whilst colour-matched reflective pocket trims keep you visible at night whilst being imperceptible during the day.
"A durable water resistant coating on the Swedish fabric means that rain simply beads off the short for those rides where you are caught in the rain. The coating is so water resistant and quick-drying that we incorporated strong mesh pockets so you can cool off with a swim after hot rides without having to bring swimwear.
"To remain as a true cycling short, the Utility exploits a hard-wearing Swedish 200g nylon canvas which allows stretch and movement whilst retaining a soft texture and durable nature. The fabric is naturally breathable and much more lightweight than denim or cotton making it the perfect material on the bike, off the bike, or even on the water!"
Nice looking shorts that do their job well, but don't go beyond that.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
This fabric has been treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating to give it a hydrophobic quality. These clever fluoropolymers will stave away the most inclement of weather.
MAIN - 98% Cotton, 2% Elastane
LINING - 50% Cotton, 50% Polyester
Made in Portugal
Decent quality fabrics that wash well and look really sharp in social settings.
Seem very hardwearing and wash well.
Decent, sturdy material.
Perform well on short rides with no liner – which is what they're designed for. On longer rides – which isn't what they're designed for – comfort on the bike is poor.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy to live with – can be bunged in at 40 degrees with no ill effect.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Although these shorts have – to my mind – a very narrow focus, there's no denying they perform their role well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Street style and some nice details.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Their limited use, for the money.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
Nice looking shorts with some good features; they do what they're designed for well, but I'd like more performance for my money.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)