Want the performance of form-fitting spandex on the bike, but the looks and functionality of baggies off the bike? Well, Elevenpine's Crankitup shorts have been created for just that purpose.
As Elevenpine's founder Jeff Curran puts it, "these shorts are for 75% of riders. They're not for people doing intervals on trainers in the winter. They're for the regular, common cyclist."
It's kind of ironic that Elevenpine comes from Boulder, CO, where you could walk into an auto parts store in a full Mapei kit and no one would really give you a second glance. That said, not every place is like Boulder, where cycling (and the associated look) is an everyday occurrence. The crew at Elevenpine acknowledge this and are working hard towards building functional cycling shorts that won't make you the butt of jokes when off the bike.
Elevenpine Crankitup specs
- Patent-pending 11P system
- Comfortable, stretch-woven fabric
- Traditional, comfortable waistband with draw cord for easy adjustment
- Two spacious front hand pockets, one with a zip closure
- Compatible with Elevenpine's Liberator Liner
Elevenpine's patent-pending system boils down to two-in-one shorts, form-fitting spandex and baggies all in one. There are zippers on the outer thighs and Velcro tabs at the hem, so when you're on the bike you can zip them closed to create a form-fitting, non-baggy look and feel. When it's time to hop off the bike and join the non-riding world, simply unzip and the Crankitup shorts appear just like any normal baggy short or street clothes.
How do they perform?
The construction and material on Crankitup shorts are very nice, in line with other performance shorts. I really like the material's weight and the generous amount of stretch. I've ridden them in tight mode and baggy mode, and found that when zipped to be more form fitting they're very warm. These shorts still require a liner or undershort so there are two layers, and venting and breathability do suffer because of it.
However, I've ridden them in baggy mode as well and they ride quite nicely when unzipped. Ventilation is good (the material inside the zip area is mesh), the stretch is fantastic, and they don't get hung up on the saddle.
Off the bike, the Crankitups work as advertised. There's really no way anyone would know that these are cycling shorts, or that they can be zipped into what looks like spandex. Curran said, "we have people wearing these shorts for yoga, running, and golf, they're super versatile."
Another positive is the pocket design. I absolutely love the deep front pockets and really appreciate that the left one zips. I've taken to riding with my phone in that left pocket and because it's so deep, the phone sits perfectly on my thigh when pedaling and completely disappears, which is about the highest compliment I can give a pocket.
In my opinion, the sizing runs a bit large as I had to bump down to a medium pair, so that's something to consider. There are belt loops, but ideally waist adjusters would take up any excess.
I've ridden in the Crankitup shorts quite a bit and keep coming back to the idea that they're almost there. What does that mean? To me, it feels like the shorts are just one revision, or update, from being something truly special. That's impressive simply because anything that's designed to do two things always has compromises.
Therein lies the rub. Take all-season tires for example, they're not great in the curves like summer tires, and they're just sort of okay in the winter unlike dedicated, traction-crazy snow tires. Inevitably, there's always a trade off. So while I wish for more length in baggy mode, I realize extra length will look silly and function poorly in spandex mode. Also, I'd like a tighter fit through the front while in form-fit mode, but that wouldn't work as well when unzipped into baggies.
But it's okay, because I'm picky and I know what I like and that I'm not the target for these shorts. Elevenpine isn't going after high-end riders with seven sets of wheels, they're aiming for the average cyclist who likes riding bikes but doesn't want the racer look, and for that I couldn't applaud them more.
Elevenpine Crankitup pricing
$99.99 / UK and Australian pricing not set