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PNW Shuttle shorts review – light but tough with really smart pockets

PNW’s Shuttle shorts fit great, wear well and even shrug off splashes, but it’s the hidden phone pocket that we’re raving about

PNW Shuttle Shorts as seen from the front
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Light, weatherproof, unrestrictive high-stretch shorts in a wide size range and with excellent pockets. Not for fans of vents or big baggy legs, though.

For

  • - Awesome pocket arrangement
  • - Tough DWR coated fabric
  • - Slim, flap free fit
  • - Wide size ranges

Against

  • - Online purchase only
  • - Slim fit won’t work for everyone
  • - No vents

PNW Components is best known for excellent, affordable dropper posts and other cost effective cockpit and contact point equipment. It recently added essential clothing to its range, and the Shuttle shorts have some really great, practical detailing, especially when it comes to smart storage. But are they good enough to give the best mountain bike shorts a run for their money? Read on to find out.

For more PNW clothing, check out our Ozone Trail jersey review.

Our testing explained

For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

Design, aesthetics and specifications

PNW Shuttle Shorts as seen from the front

The fit is quite close (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

When it comes to MTB shorts, the crucial aesthetic dimension is leg length. I’m happy to say that the 13in inseam sits halfway over the kneecap when standing, and just at the top edge when sitting on a bike with one pedal up. In other words there’s no gap between shorts and pads to worry about. 

Otherwise the relatively slim legs, dark color, tailored hand pockets and button topped zip fly have an almost ‘business casual’ vibe about them. The buckles and slim webbing for the side adjusters are top quality and the triangular ‘PNW’ logo tabs on the cord lock-pullers for the side pockets are classy and practical too. The side pockets are a standout feature as they not only face ‘backwards’ to position contents below your butt, but the left-hand one features a stretch mesh phone holster to keep your comms close.  

The fabric is similarly smart with the quiet, soft feel nylon base getting a 12 percent Spandex content for easy stretch. It’s Eco DWR (durable water repellent) coated too, which means the first few puddle splashes and light showers just bead up and roll off. PNW’s coating seems to last pretty well, so we’re still getting some benefit a couple of months into riding with – and washing – the shorts.

Both men’s and women's shorts come in XS to XXL sizes but in just one very dark gray/light black color.

Performance

PNW Shuttle Shorts as seen from behind, with wear marks and fade

There are signs of wear after a few months (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

While the Spandex element means there’s actually tons of stretch in the fabric for bigger legs, the Shuttles are definitely going to look snug if you’re regularly flipping tires or squatting big plates at the gym. On the other hand if you’ve got scrawny thighs like me, the lack of flap is fantastic. While waist sizing is accurate the side straps take up any slack without any worries about slipping or Velcro ripping up anything fragile it shares the washing machine or kit bag with. The fabric also gives no gapping or gaping even with a relatively simple cut, though if you like a fleecy or otherwise cozy back section you might find them too Spartan. As PNW only supplies online there’s no chance to try before you buy either, so hopefully we’ve managed to describe the fit accurately.

As already mentioned, the DWR coating actually stays noticeably effective for a while, which is a welcome change from a lot of other Eco coated fabrics. It also helps keep the shorts 'slightly dirty’ rather than properly ground in with filth. The lightweight, single skin fabric wicks sweat away well and dries quickly after the rain and puddle splashes that inevitably caught me out on days I was being optimistic about the forecast. There’s no venting or perforations around your privates though, so if you’re a fan of intimate air con, shuffle away from the Shuttles. 

While there’s no sign of physical wear over the months of testing, the single layer seat of the shorts is just starting to gray out where it rubbed against the saddle.

If you’re always struggling to find somewhere to put your phone though, the PNW design team has got a brilliant solution. While the phone placement is obvious when you first slide it in, it soon disappears off your ride radar in a way a hip flexor stabbing hand pocket placement or top/side of thigh position never do. It’s far enough round the front to be able to sit in a car/pub seat without it digging in or crush it if your butt takes the brunt of a crash. The same perfect positioning obviously applies to any other essentials you don’t want to leave behind for a quick lap but don’t want to carry a bag/wear a pocketed jersey for.

PNW extended the ‘lifetime’ manufacturing defect warranty of its components to all its clothing too and it has already got a superb customer support reputation despite being a relatively small, young company.

PNW Shuttle Shorts side-zippered phone pocket

This pocket offers a great phone storage solution (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

They’re quite pricey for shorts bought online and the non-vented, slim stretch cut won’t work for everyone. Everyone on our test team who tried them has loved them though and the cunning ‘hidden’ phone pocket works way better than it seems like it should at first. Excellent product support, tough fabrics and high quality details reduce the potential worry of buying online too. 

Tech Specs: PNW Shuttle Shorts

  • Price: $99 / £75
  • Materials: 88% Nylon 12% Spandex shell, 82% recycled PES mesh pocket liners
  • Weight: 255g
  • Sizes: XS - XXL

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg