The Floe women’s mountain bike short from Alpkit is a durable, comfortable and well-made option in a crowded market, with water-resistant coating and trail-ready styling. They're a bit too short to play well with kneepads, though, which seems quite an oversight.
The Floe short is aimed specifically at trail riding, so uses noticeably stiffer material (with an even more durable feel) than the same company's adventure-focused Strada. As it's 12% spandex, it gives a really stretch fit and all-day comfort on and off the bike.
The fabric also gets a durable water resistant (DWR) coating to protect against trail splash and rain... to a point. It beads water in the hope it'll run off instead of letting it sink and soak in, and while it's not waterproof by any means, it’s a nice feature to have and one that's still working well many washes later.
The shorts get two pockets at the hip – a nice casual feature – but they obviously aren’t secure. There's a zippered pocket for stashing a key, a card or some money on the right leg, but it's not huge.
The zips that run from the bottom of the hem to about mid-thigh are actually mesh-backed vents / expansion joints, which Alpkit says give more room for knee pads. Neither is really necessary in my opinion, as the Floes are a little too short for knee pads without leaving an irritating thigh gap, and I’ve never felt the benefit from opening a zip on my leg in terms of heat.
The waistband is improved over the Strada shorts, with Velcro adjusters to tailor the fit. They stay up with two poppers and a zip, and a sturdy gripper tab helps you grab the zip in gloves.
Alpkit claims these are seam free in 'high wear' areas, but there's still a seam running front to back under the crotch... arguably the most wear-prone spot of all. It caused no comfort issues (not with a chamois, at least), but given Alpkit's claim it’s something that could be improved upon.
Nevertheless, the Alpkit Floe is a hard wearing and durable short with bright contrasting zips that make the already sharp styling really pop. At £60 they aren’t bad value either, although they would best suit a rider that doesn’t ride with kneepads – which may restrict their appeal somewhat.
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