I’ve been on a personal wet-weather riding endeavour lately, as for the first 29 years of my life I’ve had the pleasure of living in a climate where rainfall is the exception, not the rule. Now I’m living in ol’ Blighty though, I’ve had to learn a whole lot more about winter riding apparel than I ever thought was possible.
My induction began just before my first UK winter, when Chipps and I drove up the road to visit Endura in Scotland. The crew kitted me out with a bunch of gear, and then Chipps wrote a how-to article called: Winterising Wil: A Guide To Dressing For Winter Riding. Since then, I’ve been using a variety of cold weather gear, some of which ended up in my 8 winter essentials feature that we published just before Christmas.
Not everything made it into that feature however, like these Endura MT500 Waterproof Trousers that I’ve been using for a little over a year now.
Sitting at the top of Endura’s 16-strong trouser range (I’d call them pants, but ye olde English types get confused by that one, so I’ll assimilate into the local custom), the MT500 is designed as a lightweight, breathable, and waterproof overtrouser. Much like a waterproof jacket, these trousers are made to keep you dry inside when the outside is anything but. Because while us humans aren’t made of sugar (though given the recent collective office dietary intake, we have our suspicions…), when it comes to riding in foul conditions, any help to remain warm and dry is most welcome.
Endura MT500 Waterproof Trouser II Features
- ExoShell60™ 3-Layer waterproof fabric
- Waterproofness: 18000
- Breathability: 64000
- Fully seam sealed
- Stretch waterproof panels
- Reinforced Cordura crotch
- Reflective logos
- 12.5in leg zips
- Clickfast™ compatible
- Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large
As with all tops and bottoms from Endura, I’ve been testing the small size in the MT500 Waterproof Overtrouser, which Endura claims will suit waist sizes from 31-33in. At the other end of the scale, the XXL is claimed to fit waists up to 39-41in. The waist is elasticated and features a simple drawcord adjustment. It’s low-tech, but it works really well, and the waist is high enough to tuck comfortably underneath the jacket hem – an important feature to ensure that cold water doesn’t end up dripping down into the back of the trousers while you’re pedalling on the bike.
The fit is pretty generous through the waist and legs, which means they can easily slide on over the top of existing riding trousers or jeans. As a commuter rider, this makes the MT500 a more versatile option that can deal with muddy filth on the weekends, and road spray during the daily rat race. I mostly used these for mountain biking though, where I rode with them over the top of a pair of Lycra bib-longs. You can wear regular bib shorts if you like, but expect a clammy feel between your skin and the fabric.
In terms of construction, the MT500 is made from Endura’s own ExoShell60™ 3-Layer waterproof fabric with internal seam taping throughout, and a reinforced Cordura crotch panel. This ExoShell stuff is the same material used in Endura’s other high-end garments, including the MT500 jacket that Andi reviewed, and it has a pretty impressive rating for both waterproofing and breathability.
Unlike the MT500 jacket though, the fabric on the MT500 Waterproof Overtrousers feels much lighter and more packable. It’ll scrunch up to a pretty small size that makes it suitable for leaving inside your backpack for a rainy day, so you can easily whip them on partway through a ride.
Whereas most other waterproof trousers feel heavy (both in literal weight and in feel), the MT500s do not. You still get the ‘whoosh-whoosh’ sound as you pedal, but if you’re riding through the rain then you won’t notice any noise. They have great flexibility thanks to a stretch panel at the rear, and the articulated knees are pad-friendly. Keeping the minimalist vibe, you won’t find any pockets or vents on the MT500.
In terms of breathability the ExoShell60™ fabric is very good. If temperatures were close to freezing, then there was rarely any occasion I found these to be too warm. Closer to 10°C however, and you will start to notice more heat build up on the climbs. And because there aren’t any vents available, you either have to deal with it, or consider taking them off completely if it’s a particularly long climb that you’re facing. That hasn’t yet become an issue for me – I’m still yet to experience what it’s like to overheat from wearing too many layers in the UK.
As for waterproofing, I can’t say I found the MT500s to be impermeable – despite Endura’s claims. While the stretch panel at the back does help with flexibility for pedalling, once the outside fabric becomes saturated, it seems to slowly leach water through. In relation to this, a couple of small sections of seam taping around the bum have started to peel a little, which appear to be the source of the leak in the bathtub test. This area is the money spot that cops most of the mud and spray off your back wheel, so even if it’s not actually raining, you can still get wet just from riding splashy trails. Normally I’d be ok for the first half an hour or so, but beyond that I’d start to feel a dreaded cold seepage around my arse crack – a sensation that rates up there as one of the most unpleasant places to get cold and wet if you’re not expecting it.
I don’t admit to having a lot of experience with waterproof trousers, as the only ones I’ve used previously is a pair of Endura’s Velo PTFE Protection Overtrousers. Those are significantly heavier than the MT500s, using a much thicker fabric and reinforced cuffs around both ankles. I’ve used those a lot, and in direct comparison, I’ve found those PTFE trousers to be much more reliably waterproof. The flip-side however, is that they don’t breathe nearly as well, and they feel a lot heavier under pedalling. Swings and roundabouts I ‘spose.
The other issue I had with the MT500s were the flappy ankles. Because the fabric is so light and flexible, and the fit is quite roomy, the trouser legs have a tendency to flap about and move around while pedalling. There is a zip down the bottom of each leg, which is there to open up the cuffs so you can take the trousers off while leaving your shoes on. This zip also acts to snug down the trousers around the top of your ankles though, and that keeps the flapping at bay.
This is all well and good if you’re wearing low-cut riding shoes and a pair of snug-fitting booties over the top, or you’re rolling in Five Ten flat shoes with a pair of high-cut waterproof socks underneath. In either of these cases, you can snug the zips down and you’ll be a-ok.
However, I’ve been riding with chunkier waterproof riding boots during winter, which require you to undo the zipper a few inches (70s disco style) to open up around the bulky uppers on the boot. One moment everything would be in place, then 5 minutes later I’d look down and see trouser cuffs resting on the top of my riding boots. I was only ever alerted to this problem when it was too late, by which point the hoisted cuffs had channeled enough cold water into my socks that I then had cold feet – which kind of defeats the purpose of waterproof footwear really.
This issue is obviously dependent on the type of footwear you use, but I suspect a lot of riders who are contemplating a waterproof overtrouser are likely to own a thicker winter riding boot. With that in mind, I reckon the MT500s would benefit from either having a heavier and stiffer fabric around the cuffs, or some kind of bulldog clip system to keep them in place by clipping them to your shoe.
As waterproof overtrousers go, the MT500s are very lightweight, flexible and easy to whip on and off. They could do with some refinement around the ankles with some extra adjustability to secure them over bulkier winter boots, but it was really their lack of waterproofing around the backside that let the MT500s down – especially given the price.
|Product:||MT500 Waterproof Trouser II|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 12 months|