Product Test: Zoic Ether Shorts and Black Market Fusion Shorts

Zoic is a San Diego, California-based cycling apparel company that prides itself on making relaxed-fitting jerseys and comfortable, baggy riding shorts for riders who don’t want to look like they are competing when they head out for a trail ride. And while they proudly proclaim they “eschew mainstream media,” we promise not to hold that against them while reviewing the $79 Ether shorts and $69 Black Market shorts.

Tech features:
The Ether shorts use a ripstop nylon outer shell made from a polyester/spandex blend that covers the removable shorts with a sewn-in ZO-Tech chamois pad. The shell uses an elastic back waistband and Velcro side-adjuster tabs for fit and has a tech pocket for stowing a cell phone or music player with a headphone cord-control grommet and loop. The shell has two front hand pockets, two zippered leg pockets and a zippered rear pocket. One of the leg pockets has a sunglass wipe. The Ether shorts are available in five colors in medium, large or extra-large sizes.

Ether Shorts

Black Market Shorts

The Black Market shorts use a lighter, nylon/spandex-blend outer shell that covers the same removable shorts with the ZO-Tech chamois pad found in the Ether shorts. The shell uses an elasticized back waist and adjustable belt with a snap buckle for variable sizing and has the same cool little pockets, headphone-cord management and sunglass wipe as the Ether shorts. The Black Market shorts are available in five colors in sizes small to triple-X.

The large Black Market shorts with inner shorts weigh 15.6 ounces, and the Ether weighs 15.9 ounces.

Field test results:
We alternated between wearing the Ether and Black Market shorts over a three-month period and had the hardest time picking a favorite. The patterns used for both shorts offer a comfortable fit that allows plenty of movement for pedaling, hanging off the back or styling along your favorite twisty singletrack. The Ether shorts’ ripstop nylon feels more durable than the Black Market’s silky smooth nylon. They both dry relatively quickly after riding through a stream, and both came out of the washer and dryer just fine. Both shorts offer plenty of hours-in-the-saddle padding and are cool enough for riding in hot weather. There are more pockets than you should use, but the zippered leg-pocket closures can be opened for a little airflow when needed.

Our Ether shorts had a hook-and-loop tab rip away from its stitching. Zoic’s customer service said they would repair or replace the shorts after inspection, but we were on the hook for shipping.

The Black Market shorts get four stars because they deliver a lot of short for the money.