Zoic Ether LT Shorts and Highland Jersey
MSRP: Jersey, $65.00; Shorts, $79.99
Reviewer: 5’ 9”, 150 lbs, 32” waist
Ether LT Shorts
Color: Black w/ red zippers
Test Days: ~10 rides
Test Locations: Whitefish, Montana and Southern Utah
I’ve had a few pairs of Zoic shorts, and the Zoic Antidote shorts have long held the title as my favorite biking shorts ever. I’ve put a ton of time in those shorts, and it turns out that the Ether LT (“long travel”) is fairly similar, yet offers some improvements over the Antidote.
The Ether LT is distinguished from the regular Ether by its longer inseam; the LT’s stated inseam is 15”, whereas the “regular” Ether comes in at 12”.
First, here’s what I’ve come to like about the Antidote:
1) They’re the right amount of baggy. The shorts aren’t so baggy that it looks like you’re trying to hide a weapon, nor are they so baggy that they catch on your seat in technical terrain. But they are baggy enough that they don’t look totally out of place at the bar after a ride.
2) The length of the Antidote is just right: not too long, but not so short as to invite Nair leg jokes. Zoic’s website says the Antidote has a 14” inseam while the Ether LT has a 15” inseam, but the inseams of my Medium Antidote and Ether LT both measure 14”.
3) The chamois is comfortable and is still going strong after a couple years of use. It’s treated me well on longer rides and isn’t too diaper-ish. It’s also easily removable, which is nice when you want to turn the outer shorts into a bathing suit for a mid-ride dip.
4) The Antidote has a lot of pockets, and they’re actually useful. Lots of bike shorts have cargo pockets, which I generally think are dumb. My knee goes up and down while pedaling, so any pocket that dangles a bunch of crap around my knee is some combination of useless and annoying. The Antidote, however, has lots of small pockets, so instead of your keys banging around through every pedal stroke, they actually stay put.
5) There’s a pocket designed specifically for a music player. It has a headphone port, and there’s a little loop at the waist to keep the cord organized. I don’t really ever use it, but I think it’s a very functional feature, and the pocket works fine for whatever else I’ve crammed into it.
But there are a few things that aren’t perfect on my old Antidote shorts. Their material is a bit rough and grabby, which is mostly annoying when trying to fish something out of a pocket with gloved hands—the pocket tends to turn inside out when you remove your hand (yes, I know this is nitpicky).
They’re also cut a bit slim around the knee, though I believe this has been changed on the newer versions of the Antidote. A slim fit around the knee is generally fine except for when you’re wearing knee pads, and my Antidotes only hang nicely over really thin pads.
The final thing that I might change on my old Antidotes is the venting. There’s good zippered venting in the front of the shorts, but no corresponding vent in the back to allow air to flow through well.
Improvements: Ether LT vs. old Antidote
And this brings us to the Ether LT shorts. They’re similar to the Antidote, but some of my quibbles above have been addressed with the design of the Ether LT. The material used is smoother, so the whole inside-out pocket phenomenon is no longer an issue. And the cut around the knee is wider on the Ether LT, so they now work really well with pretty much any knee pad (which is to be expected, since the Ether LT is designed to be gravity friendly). I should also note that my Antidotes are a few years old. I suspect that the cut on the current version of the Antidote is similar to that of the Ether LT.
It’s worth noting, however, that by widening the knee to accommodate knee pads, some of the pockets become a bit less useful. The extra fabric at the lower end of the shorts means anything heavy in the lower pockets tends to flap around a bit. Given that I end up riding with knee pads fairly often, I’m okay with this trade off; they’re still better than shorts that just have one oversized cargo pocket.
The venting is the major difference in design between the Antidote and Ether LT. The Antidote has a pair of front-facing zip vents along the inseam, and I said above that I wished the Antidote had more venting. But unfortunately the Ether LT doesn’t have any—not that can be opened and closed, at least. The Ether LT does have mesh venting fabric along the top of the butt and in a few small panels on the legs, but no zippered vents.
The fabric used on the Ether LT is relatively thin, so they’re never going to be as hot and sweaty as thicker shorts designed to offer more crash protection. But they’re still probably not the best choice if you’re expecting a super hot day of riding.
The Ether LT has 2 front hand pockets, one zippered rear pocket, a zippered pocket on the left and right leg, and another zippered media pocket on the right leg with a headphone port and loop to keep the cable tidy. The pockets use flat zippers, but they’re not waterproof.
The sizing of the Ether LT seems standard. I wear 32” jeans, and a medium fits me nicely. The waistband has some elastic in it, and Velcro tabs to loosen it or widen it. The closure is a snap (as in, an actual snap, although I suppose it is also easy) and a normal zipper fly.
Also note that the Ether LT also comes in a regular cut with a slightly shorter inseam. Personally I’m happy with the length of the LT – it’s long enough to cover my kneepads but not so long as to feel like knickers.
Bottom Line: Ether Shorts
All I ask of a pair of shorts is that they be comfortable, have functional pockets, and not make me look any dorkier than necessary. The Zoic Ether LT hits all of those marks while still coming in relatively low on the price meter for decent shorts. They may not breathe quite as well as my old Antidotes, but the improved fit and material still make these some of my favorite riding shorts. If you’re looking for a great pair of shorts for all around riding, the Ether LT is a solid choice.
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