Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shorts review - super breathable, affordable and versatile for outdoors use too

Highly ventilated, these are ideal for short bursts indoors

Image shows a rider wearing the Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shorts.
(Image credit: Joe Baker)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shorts are an excellent value option for those who are looking to stay cool while riding indoors. If you favour longer sessions on the indoor bike trainer you will find the chamois is lacking. But if your indoor rides are short and sweet, there's no need to pay for more.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great value

  • +

    Brilliant temperature regulation

  • +

    Subtle styling

  • +

    Good build quality

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Chamois not quite up to the mark

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The Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shorts sit in what is, for many, an unexplored niche - indoor-specific cycling clothing. 

After testing these shorts – aimed at both hot weather and indoor training – I have been suitably impressed at their comfort and effective cooling. These are well-built for the demands of indoor training and come highly recommended as one of the more affordable avenues of grabbing some of the best indoor cycling clothing.

Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shorts: construction

Image shows a rider wearing the Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shortd

(Image credit: Joe Baker)

With breathability being the aim of the game for these shorts, Van Rysel has opted for a modest thickness of chamois. The Endurance HD 2.5 pad is made from a high-density foam and features a central channel for improved blood flow. 

It did perform well given its thickness, but truth be told it is still incomparable to – for example – Le Col’s higher end shorts. Although it is a bit of a donkey and race horse comparison in terms of price, it’s still an important consideration. 

My feeling is that on much longer rides some discomfort would crept in – so really the emphasis on these shorts is for shorter, more intense rides, be them indoors or out.

In terms of fitting, the silicone leg grippers did a great job of holding the shorts in place, even on my skinnier legs. My usual size small was slightly tighter than usual, but I would personally always err on the side of a race cut, so the absence of bunching up was absolutely welcome.

Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shorts: performance in the heat

Image shows a rider wearing the Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shortd

(Image credit: Joe Baker)

Ultralight shorts with perforated cooling panels isn’t what would spring to mind when considering winter training – at least for me. But I have to admit the Ultralight Racer Shorts do deserve wardrobe real estate, especially for keen indoor riders.

Probably the worst part of turbo training is sweat management – seemingly however many fans you dedicate to your indoor setup, you still end up roasting hot in a gruelling session. So whilst to some extent it will always be 'damage limitation' for a product like this, I did notice a real worthwhile difference – especially in use with a fan.

The two types of mesh make up the majority of the shorts, excluding the crotch area, which has a more densely woven fabric. There are larger holes on the outside of the leg and a finer mesh on the inside/back of the shorts. In combination with a fan indoors, this noticeably helped sweat wicking over a standard set of bib shorts. And it’s worth mentioning that although mesh placements are liberal, they're still dignifying!

Image shows a rider wearing the Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shortd

(Image credit: Joe Baker)

Although our autumnal testing period has led to the majority of testing being in an indoor setting, I did brave some outdoor riding too, even in temperatures of 15 degrees and below. As someone who really feels the cold, this was pretty bold for me, but I was pleasantly surprised once again. 

On a ride with higher intensity, I did manage to stay warm which is a good mark for the versatility of these shorts. Rather than just being confined to indoor sessions and only the very hottest days, they should be usable for the whole summer and a little more on either side.

Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shorts: durability

One real concern I had with these shorts was the durability. By all means there is a trade off here, any perforated fabric is always going to be more at risk of snagging, but over the test period at least the Ultralights have stood up very well. 

I was pleasantly surprised at the confidence with which I could pull the shorts up and even being hard on them, there’s not a mark in sight. This is a testament to the mesh material itself - 65 per cent polyamide and 35 per cent elastane, the latter giving a nice level of support without any peculiar marks after wearing.

Speaking of peculiar marks, though, it’s worth mentioning the obvious - reduced UV protection. Van Rysel make a point of mentioning this on their website, and you really should put on an extra spray of sunscreen before wearing these on a hot day's riding outdoors in the summer.

Van Rysel Ultralight Racer Shorts: value and conclusion

Decathlon and its now rebranded cycling division, Van Rysel, has a reputation for strong value and this is another continuation of that. Retailing at $99.99 / £64.99 the Ultralight Racer Shorts show value for money, especially if you do a lot of hot weather or indoor riding. The styling is nice too. The gentle nod to the Van Rysel brand on the short grippers is subtle and is easily paired with any jersey without clashing.

The Ultralights are also one of the best value breathability-focused indoor options, and are similarly priced to dhb's Aeron Turbo Shorts ($90.00 / £70.00). 

If you are looking for an option with a higher spec chamois, it's going to set you back a lot – Le Col's Pro Indoor Bib Shorts cost $210.00 / £180.00 for example. 

In all, the Van Rysel Ultralight Racer shorts offer subtle styling, adequate comfort and brilliant ventilation – all at a very modest price point.

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