Harlot Scarlet Knickers bike shorts

Bike Gear

Harlot Scarlet Knickers bike shorts    

Harlot Scarlet Knickers bike shorts

Harlot Scarlet Knickers bike shorts

Ladies, ditch the spandex—there's something new on the market. Let me introduce the Scarlet Knickers, made by a new women's mountain-bike apparel company called Harlot. With a funky, urban-inspired design, the just-past-your-knee Knickers are fit for bike messengers, commuters, and mountain bikers who want to lose the tired and unflattering black Lycra shorts of yesteryear. I never thought I'd call bikewear sexy, but these truly make you look and feel like a harlot.

When I first saw these shorts on the trail, I was skeptical that a piece of clothing that looked this good was actually functional. Instead of the diaper effect from the bulky chamois usually found in women's bike shorts, the knickers have a thin, seamless pad (coined the Beaver Comfort Zone) that's barely visible from behind. The scarlet-colored star patch on the back pocket and the slightly flared cut make them look almost like streetwear. I had to try them for myself.

I took them for a test spin one day after work, meeting some friends at the trailhead just after 6 P.M. so there was still enough daylight for a solid two-hour ride. I was sporting my Scarlet Knickers and a black short-sleeved jersey—in other words, I was stylin'. Within minutes, I was carving over the dusty singletrack of La Tierra, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The sun was low in the sky, and the temperature was a comfortable 75 degrees.

The hip-hugging Knickers are made of a water-repellent, stretchy nylon-and-polyester blend, but the inside liner felt soft against my legs. Even as I heated up on the ride's short climbs, the fabric wicked sweat away from me. As for that saddle pad? It turned out to be just enough support for the sub-two-hour ride. Any longer and I might have opted for more cushion between me and my seat.

One caveat on these trendy threads: The low-riding and stretchy waistband left a thin gap of exposed skin on my lower back between shorts and shirt—a perfect target for a pesky sunburn stripe.

After the ride, my friends and I went for margaritas at a local Mexican restaurant. All of them went home to change beforehand, but not me. And therein lies the real beauty of the Scarlet Knickers: They're as suitable for the trail as they are for the bar. And that's what I call versatile. $75; www.harlotwear.com

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