The best MTB pants have increasingly become a popular alternative to wearing shorts, particularly through the colder months. But since there’s more material in trail pants, they’re generally a more expensive option. Madison’s Flux trouser bucks that trend though and is comparable in price to a decent pair of baggy MTB shorts. The advantage with a pant is it offers a bit more protection if you’re riding in the bracken or brambles and all the dirt you can just peel off with the trouser at the end of a ride.
Design and Specifications
To keep costs down, the Flux is built using a fine-tooth, polyester fabric. This has a hint of elastane mixed in, which creates four-way stretch. That means the Flux moves when you do, so it doesn’t feel restrictive when really hammering the cranks.
That said, the Flux is quite loose fitting, particularly in the waist, and that’s because it doesn’t have any Velcro tags or cinch adjustment. The only closure is a DH/moto inspired ratchet and, while it can affect the fit to a small degree, it's positioned in such a way that the Flux wasn’t any tighter with it all the way in or out. I’d recommend going down a waist size to stop this pant hanging down but the potential problem with that is it could means compromising sizing elsewhere, such as in the leg length. The upshot is to just try before you buy.
The Flux does have some nice details and the build quality is pretty good for such a budget pant. There are twin zipped side pockets, a silicone grip on the inside back to help stop slippage and a ton of perforated venting on the waist, thighs and knees. Madison inserts a lightweight mesh panel at the back of the knee to boost breathability and finishes of the ankle with a plain cuff.
I like a side pocket or two on trousers because you can store a phone or your car keys and even just stash a tool when you’re fettling your bike before a ride. The problem I have with the pockets on the Flux is they’re just too small for medium sized hands, which meant I had to fish around with fingertips to get anything out. These pockets will hold a tool but they’re too tight for a phone or wallet
Madison has done its homework regarding the use of knee pads though, because the Flux is generous in that area. That rear knee venting also boosts breathability in warmer conditions, although this panel can get a bit breezy if the wind picks up. The Flux does dry quickly and even comes with a water-resistant coating. The material is not warm enough for full winter use or even early-season but summer rides it’s the perfect weight. I’d like to see a little of venting in the front, the perforations just above the knee and side of the hips seem more cosmetic than effective, but this isn’t a pant you really get that hot in.
Initially the lightweight material didn’t feel that durable and there’s a little bit of shine in the seat, but so far there have been no snags or bobbles elsewhere. The short zip on the fly is still going strong, as are the zips on the side pockets – but that’s only because I haven’t been using them.
To be fair, I'm just nit-picking, because for the money I can’t really fault the Flux. Despite Madison’s claims to the contrary, you will want something more durable and possibly closer-fitting for the bike park, but if a bit of brush protection is all that’s needed, the Flux fits the bill.
The Madison Flux is a causal trail pant with room to spread out. The build quality is very good, the price is right and it’s available in this inoffensive gray, as well as a more practical black. Just don’t expect to get anything major in those minor pockets.