Madison's Flux women's shorts are an attractive and well featured pair for summer that are, for the most part, very comfortable. They are from Madison's mountain bike clothing range – hence the emphasis on sturdy construction – but their appearance means they should appeal to anyone who prefers a casual look and doesn't want a built-in pad.
The lightweight, stretchy material gives the legs a barely-there feel that makes them super-comfy to pedal in because there is no restriction of movement whatsoever. This is despite the shorts' 'M:TEC Bombproof' label, which references the double and triple stitching at the seams of the many panels these shorts are constructed from. However, after about six wears and washes, little bits of stitching have come undone in a couple of places, though it hasn't caused any loosening of the seams thanks to the back-up stitching. Madison gives a lifetime warranty against defective workmanship for the expected lifetime of the product and will replace like with like.
Although it's not listed as a feature on the Madison website, the fabric has a water-repellent finish. Water and rain just rolls off the surface until the shorts get a proper soaking. The nylon/spandex mix is very fast-drying too, so getting caught in a shower isn't a huge problem. This makes the Flux shorts a good option for touring and commuting.
While they are classed as 'baggies' and designed to be worn alone or over a pair of padded shorts, they are quite a close-fitting cut, especially around the derriere. If you always wear Lycra underneath, I'd suggest going up a size, otherwise you'll be able to see the outline of the pad. Wearing a liner will compromise their breathability, but extends the Flux's use into colder weather.
The shorts have a low-rise waist at the front, so no digging in, and although the rear isn't particularly high it stays in place thanks to a combination of the stretch rear yoke and silicone gripper inside the waistband that grips your liner shorts or skin.
The waist also has chunky 4cm-wide elastic and super-thick Velcro adjusters to get the fit just right. However, there is a downside to this – it means the waistband is four layers thick (two layers of Velcro or the elastic, regular fabric and polyester mesh lining, with silicone at the back) at the sides and back, which makes it far too hot and sweaty. This is a real shame as the remainder of the Flux shorts are lightweight and fairly cool, but the hefty waist compromises their overall performance.
On the plus side, the shorts have a zip and pop stud fly – no annoying Velcro to snag on your pants or jersey – and laser cut ventilation holes on the legs, hips and rear yoke. However, the Madison label is glued to the mesh inside just where the rear vents are, rendering them ineffective.
The two zippered hand pockets are a good size, and there are two smaller ones on each hip. The left-hand one is a 'stealth' pocket with a hidden zip, decorated with the Flux signature flower motif.
Lastly, there's a handy hanging loop inside the rear waist. Being designed for off-road use, there are no reflective details.
This pair are 'dark teal' – they also come in 'phantom black' with contrast pink and blue details. While 60 quid might sound a bit steep, the price is in line with comparable shorts from other brands.
Easy pedalling, fast-drying casual shorts with plenty of versatility but some niggles
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Madison Flux Women's Shorts
Size tested: 10
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?
Madison says: 'Our legendary Flux short is stripped down featuring only the essentials to keep it lightweight, practical and stylish... [for] all day comfort and superb manoeuvrability on the bike.'
On the whole, I agree.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Constructed from the finest 4-way stretch material, the Flux short gives all day comfort and offers superb manoeuvrability on the bike
Laser cut thigh, hip and rear yoke vents provide air conditioning to prevent overheating
Rear waist adjusters allow you to dial the short in for a perfect fit
Double and triple needle stitching in all the right areas ensure bombproof construction
2 zippered hand pockets are a backed up with 2 stealth stash pockets to give plenty of storage options
Silicone print in the back of the waist grips to your liner short to prevent any unwanted movement
2 pop studs and a chunky fly zipper add to the shorts bombproof construction
Limited lifetime warranty
Generally very good, with reinforced seams – but some loose stitching after a few weeks' wear.
Like most fabrics, it can snag on Velcro.
I'm a size 10 in Madison shorts but a size 12 in its jerseys and jackets. You might want to size up for the Flux if you wear a liner short, as it's a slim cut.
The overly thick waistband lets the rest of the shorts down.
Fair/average value for shorts like these.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash 30.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall these shorts met their description and were cool, light and comfy, with the notable exception of the extremely thick waistband.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Unrestrictive, lightweight and quick-drying fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The thick, hot waistband.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, but not at RRP.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, with waistband proviso.
Use this box to explain your score
The shorts are compromised by the uncomfortably thick waistband – otherwise they would have scored a 7.
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Giant Anthem X1
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax