In this Zoic Ether 9 shorts review I’ll tell you why I like them for mountain biking, show you detailed photos, and tell you what I think are the pros and cons of this bike short. After a significant hiatus from mountain biking I’ve moved to a place where beautiful trails are practically outside my back door.
I used to be an avid mountain biker but “life” happened and I slowly drifted away from the sport. Given my new location with all of the excellent trails so close, I knew it was criminal not to be out riding again. So it was time for me to gear up.
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Most hobbies (mountain biking included) can get really expensive. In my opinion, the two pieces of apparel you really don’t want to scrimp on are your shorts and your helmet. Shorts need to fit well, have enough padding to be comfortable in the saddle and be durable enough to handle the occasional crash.
In the past I had a road bike for training during the week and rode and raced my mountain bikes on the weekends. So the standard issue lycra shorts with a padded liners is what I preferred to ride in even for mountain biking.
Searching for some good mountain biking shorts
I knew I wanted a mountain bike style short this time around but it had to have good quality liner and padding. So I began searching on-line and in my local bike shops. My town is small so my choices were limited. So I knew I needed to find something on-line. In my case I ended up buying from Amazon.com, but there are plenty of good on-line retailers selling bike gear.
Dissecting the Zoic Ether 9 shorts and liner
Let’s talk about who Ether 9 shorts are meant for. The “9” refers to the nine inch inseam of the short. If you have shorter legs (like me – 29 ” inseam) then you know that finding any kind of shorts can be tough because they are typically too long.
How do the Zoic Ether 9 biking shorts fit?
The Ether 9 shorts are “true to size” in my opinion. In the Amazon comments for the Ether 9, that seemed to be the general opinion as well. So that influenced me to buy these shorts. When I buy clothes on-line I almost expect to end up returning half of what I buy, so I was happy I didn’t have to do this with these Zoic shorts.
One thing I love about the Zoic Ether 9 shorts is that they are a two-piece configuration – shorts (outer shell) and liner. Why? Because if you ride regularly having an additional liner ensures you always have a clean one to use.
Zoic Ether 9 front view and feature descriptions
In the photo below you can see the Zoic Ether 9 mountain biking shorts. The shell is 95% polyester/5% spandex and the gusset is 87% nylon and 13% spandex. Note the following:
- Side pockets – they aren’t that deep but suitable for smaller items (my iPhone was too big to carry safely if riding)
- Zipper pockets – These are big enough to handle a plus-sized cell phone (nice to have that access if you use an app like Trailforks)
- Snap closure – reinforced with velcro backing
- Front zipper – another nice feature so the shell can double as a walking short sans liner
Zoic Ether 9 rear view and feature descriptions
The Zoic Ether 9 shorts do have a zippered rear pocket. I’ve never used it but it looks secure. The Ether 9 shorts have an elastic waist band.
To cinch the waist band you use a tab on the right and left hand size, pull them forward and secure the tab to the velcro.
Here is the front view of the Zoic Ether 9 liner. As I mentioned earlier this is a two piece shell and liner combination. If you ride every day I highly recommend a second liner for your Zoic shorts so you can always be riding with a clean lining. Just because the sweaty liner typically dries quickly, riding in dirty shorts is just plain nasty.
The Zoic liner reminded me of a conventional lycra bike short (which I expected). The waist band was comfortable and resistant to rolling over. The band was smooth and not scratchy. The elastic bands on the legs fit fine and were comfortable as well.
The biggest knock on the liner is the padding being just too big. I agree. For my body type it wasn’t a big deal, but some body types (the kind with smaller than averages butts, to put it plainly) they said the liner fit them like a diaper. My educated guess is that Zoic could get away with trimming down the size of the liner padding and reduce this “fit” issue. So bear this in mind if you decide to go with the Zoic Ether 9.
What you see below is the nylon loop and snap that attaches the liner to the shell. There’s one on the left hand side and right hand side of the shell waist band. It’s not too robust and I wasn’t really certain it would work, but so far every time I’ve taken off the shorts after a ride the shell and liner have remained connected. Personally I’d like it to be a bit more substantial but with nearly three months of riding it works fine.
Here is the snapped loop below:
How have these shorts been while mountain biking?
My rides consist of areas where you do a bunch of climbing followed by a reward of some fast downhills. So I’m in the saddle for most of these climbs. I’ve found the Ether 9 shorts to be really comfortable and I’m riding a hardtail, not a full squish bike. On the downhills where I’m typically out of the saddle, the Zoic shorts stay where they are supposed to stay. So all in all, I’m pleased with the way they “work.”
How do they withstand crashes? I’m doing mainly cross country riding on trails that are well groomed (compared to where I used to ride where it was muddy, and slippery rocks and roots were the norm). So to be honest, I’ve yet to have any crashes because after a couple of significant injuries I just ride within my limits. Do I think Either 9 shell would hold up to a crash? They seem pretty well put together. But if you ride stuff equivalent of Dirt Merchant and you crash… your mileage will vary. I can’t tell you that you won’t rip these shorts.
Can I wear these for longer road rides?
I wear them on my road bike but due to my limited training time I’m typically in them for only twenty to twenty five miles. I personally wouldn’t choose them for a century or longer ride. This probably goes without saying, but if something about the fit of your shorts is nagging you at mile 20, expect it to be multiplied tenfold by mile 100.
In other words, when I’m just in the saddle 90% of the time (like on the road) I due tend to notice points some points where these shorts fall short on the comfort you get from standard lycra shorts or bibs. So for quick training rides they are great. I just personally would opt for a different short for long distance road rides.
Zoic Ether 9 shorts review conclusion
If you need a mountain biking style short and have a shorter inseam, you’ll like the Zoic Ether 9 shorts and liner. But, there are pros and cons to every product so let me break it down:
- True to size
- Shell has plenty of pockets
- Lining is comfortable
- Good alternative to conventional lycra short
- Everything fits well while riding
- Shell and liner dry quickly
- Shell can be worn by itself as walking shorts
- Some body types may find the liner too baggy
- The liner padding works well but could be smaller
- The side pockets don’t hold much