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The Hoy Vulpine Saitama Trail Shorts are a trail and city offering from the clothing brand and Sir Chris Hoy's collaboration, designed for the female commuter. Attention to detail and a good balance between tailoring and performance makes these shorts great for long rides and day trips, especially if your hours in the saddle are interspersed with off-bike activities like cake stops or sightseeing.
Comfortable and hard-wearing, with their four-way rip stop cotton and 2% elastane, the Saitama Trail Shorts proved perfect for long towpath rides and jaunts around town, while blending in nicely with pedestrians off the bike.
If skintight clothing gives you the horrors, these shorts are just the ticket. On the bike there's room for your legs to move unhindered, padded undershorts or not, without unnecessary bagginess, and off the bike they are tailored enough that you can wander around without feeling self-conscious. While they aren't pretending to be as stretchy as a pair of Lycra shorts, there is a surprising give in that small percentage of elastane so you won't feel uncomfortable or restricted, even after hours in the saddle.
Though obviously not intended for hiking, they also showed their mettle on a two-day, 30-mile cross-country walk.
The Saitama's crotch is made from an eye-shaped panel – aka the Vulpine Diamond Gusset – doing away with that uncomfortable cross of material where trouser panels normally meet. The front pocket opening has an L-shaped cutaway, a nice little touch that prevents material bunching up at the hips when you're riding.
The small size fit me perfectly, both on the waist and legs, though it does seem to stretch a little after a long day's wear. The shorts' belt loops may come in useful at this point.
Rear and front pockets are capacious enough for even the largest of phones, wallets, keys and other stuff you may care to chuck in there, while the soft cotton pocket bags themselves, free to shift about inside the shorts, are barely noticeable on the bike. There's a secure, zipped pocket at the front for keys, and both the secure pocket and zip fly have a plastic tag-pull small enough that it doesn't stick out and dig in anywhere while riding. Meanwhile, the back of the shorts is raised to prevent rear midriff exposure – another nice, and important, touch.
For comfort there are no labels to annoy or scratch, as all the care instructions are printed on the inside of the back pocket bags, while Vulpine's traditional coloured seam binding – red in this case – removes any potential scratchiness there. In fact the shorts' seams weren't noticeable at any point.
As for branding, the Hoy V logo is embroidered subtly on the back pocket in black stitching, the same colour as the shorts.
There is much to recommend these shorts. They're great quality at a good price, with a lot of subtle touches that show how much thought has gone into their design. The only downsides I identified were a slightly flared inside seam and a bit of stretch in the waist after a few hours of wear.
Great value, comfortable and good-looking shorts with design that fits cafe rides, commuting and trail rides perfectly
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Make and model: Hoy Vulpine Women's Saitama Trail Shorts
Size tested: Small
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?
Female commuters, cafe rides, trail rides.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rip stop cotton shorts with 2% elastane for stretch. Neat tailoring includes the Vulpine Diamond Gusset, which prevents discomfort from seams. There are no internal labels to irritate, with instructions printed on the inside instead.
Can't fault construction – everything is well made and securely stitched, with nothing loose or irritating. One noticeable issue was a bit of flaring on the bottom of the inside leg seam, possibly due to that diamond gusset.
Ripstop cotton will help these shorts survive ride after ride unscathed.
Very comfortable, even after hours of riding.
Great design for the money – a lot of thought has gone into these shorts.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The shorts performed really well on day-long rides with sightseeing, cafe stops and walking in between. Comfortable and hard-wearing, these are the perfect shorts for day trips, remaining comfortable even after long hours on the bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great design features like the diamond gusset, large pockets and neat tailoring help make these shorts great value for money, and likely to be a wardrobe favourite.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
To be honest there's very little to dislike about these shorts.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much so.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, definitely.
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