At A Glance
Waterproof shorts are perhaps a rather confusing concept to some who live in sensible parts of the world where the winter brings snowsports or perhaps just mildly chilly conditions. Elsewhere, riders might just have a rest whilst it rains before riding once more when the sun returns. In the UK waiting for the sun to return could be a long old haul and it's no surprise that northern Europe celebrates plenty around the winter solstice.Buy Shorts on
Pagan rituals aside, if you ride all winter in the wet, then keeping dry becomes a battle, one which can be aided by keeping your body and upper legs as dry as possible. Many brands have tried, and a number have failed as creating a waterproof fabric to survive the rigours of winter riding is a huge challenge. With Madison being a UK-based brand, they know what real weather is and the DTE shorts aim to keep us pedalling all winter.
Made from a 2.5 layer fabric, for the most part, they have a 3-layer fabric on the rear panel, inner thigh and knees to hold up to abuse. Fully taped seams keep water out from every possible point and the material should be breathable enough to prevent overheating.
For the fit there are two waist adjusters which are elastic and fasten with Velcro. Silicon gripper on the back of the waist stops them sliding about too. The cut reaches well over the knee and is articulated to work with your knee pads and fit well when the knee is bent. Add some triple and a double stitching in the main wear areas and the package looks pretty bombproof. Final fastenings are poppers on the fly with a stitched-in panel to avoid water ingress through the front.
With a price of £84.99 GBP, they aren't super cheap, yet they do represent a great price for waterproof shorts which can often seem astronomically expensive.
On The Trail
First up, the length of the shorts is great for winter riding and as a result also ideal for lanky riders like me. Coming over the knee avoids gaps and extra coverage is always welcome when riding in the filth.
As a 195cm tall rider, I needed to go for the XL shorts to get the required length, but these ended up being a bit baggy around the waist. Fortunately, the waist tabs offer plenty of adjustment to take in the slack. As always, fit is personal and trying clothes on is always the best way to test.
Pedalling on the bike is unaffected by the long shorts thanks to the curved knee and they are unobtrusive and not even that noisy for waterproof shorts. The material is soft enough to happily wear them even if it's not raining.
With the fit sorted, the main question is whether they are truly waterproof. Fortunately, I live in the best place to get waterproofs tested, with the highest rainfall in the country. Heading out on wet trails but a dry day, it's clear that the DTE shorts can fend off plenty of splashes and leave you with the magical experience of having a dry bum at the end of a ride. Add in some rain from above and they continue to prove that they are actually waterproof!
Testing them to the extreme, I finally took them out into some of the wettest weather possible, which included riding trails turned to streams and torrential rain from above. At this stage, I couldn't say they still kept all the water out and did eventually let some in, but I was certainly dryer than I would have been. Now, we must remember that the only conditions that the DTE shorts failed to keep me dry were so horribly abysmal that most riders would just stay in bed, so this in no way suggests they aren't up to the job, it's just good to know the limit.
Durability has been impressive, with the reinforced backside and multiple stitchings having kept it all together and not so much as a stray stitch visible over the entire garment.
These are the most waterproof shorts I have had the pleasure to ride in. Despite the filthy weather, they do an exceptional job of keeping water out and the rider dry. There is always a limit, and most will have gone home long before the weather gets bad enough to challenge these shorts. Couple this functionality with a competitive price tag and it's hard to imagine not having these in a winter riding wardrobe.
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.