Nzo Dobies - SPOKE Magazine

I’ve had a pair of Sifters, Nzo’s less famous but still extremely popular short, since 2007 and they don’t look close to giving up just yet. In all that time I never had the inclination to try a pair of Dobies, the flagship model in the Nzo stable, until recently. And I’m glad I did.

Dobies are being made once again right here in New Zealand, and I’m all for local production of anything. This means the build quality can be monitored throughout the whole process, resulting in a tough and well made short. They use a fabric dubbed ‘Nzonium’ for the centre and back panels with ‘NzoFlex’ for the sides. What that means is it’s a short that feels light yet substantial, and moves with you when putting some hip and arse into your riding. It’s probably the most ‘don’t know it’s there’ short I’ve tried.

Teamed with the new Deanolite bib short, it’s a winning combo. Bib shorts are the ultimate for the road, but I’ve never been a fan of using them in the dirt. These however are the go-to undershorts now. With mesh panels to keep things cool, you don’t feel like you’re wearing a bib short at all. And although Gaz encouraged me to wear my Dobies sometimes without any liner at all, they really work best with the Deanolite underneath. But the thin pad sewn into them does a more than admirable job of providing some comfort and support.

There are good reasons why Dobies are a signature piece of Kiwi riding kit: versatility, quality, comfort and toughness. An old favourite I wish I’d tried long ago.

Nzo Sifters -

Nzo were one of the first cycle companies to separate the baggy outer short from the inner. While this is now a reasonably common way to create a baggy short, Nzo arguably know it better than most.

The Sifters is a casually styled outer-short that wouldn’t look out of place just walking down the street. A slim, yet non-restrictive cut leads to a comfortable ride without excess material flapping in the wind.

A stretch panel at the bum that extends to the side of the hips keeps the shorts in place and provides enough movement to never feel restrictive. The shorts feature two main pockets and a third zippered pocket on the leg. Each pocket was generously sized and caused no problems with affecting pedalling motion.

We found the sizing on the tighter side of things, our tester normally wears a small, or 30” waist pant and the small was on the too-small side of things. Just be sure to check out Nzo’s sizing chart to avoid this mistake and size up if in doubt - the velcro pull-tabs will take care of the rest.

The Sifters are fastened by a zipper and a push-button. With our test rider pushing the boundaries of the size, the fastener did accidently pop open, however, this wouldn’t happen if the shorts were the right size.

The Sifters are an outer-short only and so it’s BYO for the inner-short. We tested the Sifters with Nzo’s own Cruiseliner DeLuxe (AU$39), a basic inner short designed to be worn underneath your favourite baggies. The Cruiseliner features a basic chamois and breathable construction to fit like a comfy pair of undies. In conjunction with the Sifters, they make a great match and were comfortable for all-day rides.

We were even more comfortable using our favourite bibs underneath, but this combination is hotter and of course far more expensive.

After a few months of testing and having known other riders to use the same pair for years, we have nothing but praise for the durability. The Sifters are a quality short that were as comfortable at the coffee shop as they were on the trail. Our only gripe? If you don’t already own an appropriate inner short, the price may be prohibitive.

Nzo Dobies -

The Dobies outer shorts are Nzo’s trademark product and are what made the brand what it is today.

BikeRadar recently reviewed the Nzo Sifter shorts and found that their performance and style were both great. Nzo say the Dobies are even better for riding.

The Dobies feature a unique integrated pad at the seat of the shorts. The pad isn’t thick like a quality chamois; it has a soft feel and is designed to be worn with a padded inner short. Alternatively, the brave can just go commando! The 'free' feeling wasn’t for us, so we used an inner short.

A draw-cord and elasticated waist gave plenty of flexibility in the size and was very comfortable when we were seated on the bike. Unlike the Sifters, the Dobies' sizing was spacious and offered plenty of winter-time growing room.

Large stretch panels across the backside helped to keep the shorts in place. Further stretch panels at the legs provided a soft feel and ensured there was no resistance during pedalling.

The durable materials used weren’t the lightest or most breathable, especially when used in conjunction with a pair of undershorts, but were comfortable enough, even on scorching days.

The only storage on offer was open side pockets and a zippered leg pocket. These pockets were shaped perfectly though, and held items securely while on the bike without interfering with pedalling.

Without the inclusion of an inner short, the Dobies are priced on the high side. We still feel they're good value though, given the overall quality, and judging by how many people are riding in 10-year-old pairs, they last really well. The Dobies are definitely the most comfortable baggy shorts we have ever used.

Nzo Scuffers -

Nzo’s original Scuffers impressed the pants off many a rider. And with extra stretch and an updated look, the latest version Scuffers stick to the body like quality tyres to sweet Rotorua trails.

Nzo’s 2012 Scuffers retain many of the original version’s well-loved features.

Velco waist tabs offer approximately 8cm of adjustment, to cater for a wide range of body shapes. Deep hip pockets and a zipped side pocket allow you to securely carry your goods. An elastic back panel moves effortlessly in response to riding position.

Knicks are BYO: the Scuffers are unlined but cut to fit your favourite pair of seat-padders, should you choose

In the new Scuffers, Nzo’s new heavier, stretchier main fabric, NzoFlex’, and an extra panel on the inside leg are the most noticeable updates. These two features keep the shorts securely in place while you’re riding and put an end to any swishing or vertical movement mid-pedal stroke.

The elastic properties of NzoFlex allow for unrestricted movement, freeing you to give your full attention to the trail ahead.

The only drawback was they felt a bit hot at temperatures above 30°C. After a few months of use it’s hard to tell our test pair of Scuffers from a new set.

With their versatile cut, which will suit a range of body shapes and riding styles, and their secure trail-fit, Nzo’s Scuffers are easy to recommend.

They’re built for riding, but we expect to see them off the bike too.

Nzo Shorts -

Nzo is a mountain bike apparel company based out of Rotorua, New Zealand. They’ve been making shorts for the better part of 15 years, and some say they’ve perfected the art. I first saw a pair of Nzo’s shorts on the Kokopelli Trail. As it turns out they were Joe’s second pair over the course of 12 years.

Finding the perfect pair of bikepacking shorts has been a goal for sometime, for both long trips and overnighters alike; I had to give Nzo shorts a try. Here are thoughts on each:


Characterized by their geometric construction, an elastic waist, and a minimal bit of padding sewn into place, Dobies are the comfortable classic of the Nzo lineup. Think function over form. Even though they look pretty good, they’re all about comfort and performance. The elastic waist band, complete with drawstring, isn’t seen much on contemporary riding shorts, but it works in a retro-progressive kind of way. No more worn out velcro straps popping loose or flapping about. The centre section and back are made of ‘Nzonium’, a stretch knit fabric developed by Nzo. The side panels are made of ‘NzoFlex’, a quick dry blend of nylon and polyester, which is strong and light, but still a little stretchy.

Designed with versatility in mind, Dobies can be worn over a chamois under layer, with an underlayer, or commando style. Instead of installing a permanent thick chamois layer, Nzo chose to outfit these shorts with a minimal sewn in fleece layer to add just a bit of forgiveness.

Dobies have a few other great features, including ‘perfect’ pockets. They aren’t too deep allowing items flap about in the deep recesses, yet not too shallow. There are also two thigh pockets with perforated interior fabric that double as air vents.



Sifters are Nzo’s ‘trail’ shorts. These shorts are designed to be worn when you’re slaying single track, but would be equally at home in the local taproom. In fact, they’re pretty much the ideal short for a minimalist month long dirt odyssey. Made with a similar geometric construction to the Dobies, Sifters have more of a casual appearance. They also add contemporary systems such as a front zipper and velcro tightening. They are extremely comfortable, and built for motion and durability. Honestly, I have never had a pair of shorts that fit better. They move, stretch and flex in all the right places, with burly enough attachments to keep them in place. There is no sag in the gusset to hang on the saddle nose. The velcro tightening system is sturdy and the straps don’t twist or pop off. The front is reinforced with a heavy duty double button closure that has no chance of popping, even in the “fluffier” winter months.


Scuffers are essentially a women’s version of the Sifters. Ironically, Gin took a nice ‘scuffer’ down hill on the Warrior Creek trails, just before this photoshoot. The main differences in the Scuffers and Sifters, aside from the cut, is that the Scuffers have a little color variation with blue zips as well as a single thigh pocket. To sum them up, a quote from Gin, “Finally, a pair of shorts that fit!”

On that note, Gin did find that ordering the shorts was a little bit of a gamble in the size department. NZO shorts are not sized gender-specifically, so relying on her standard “medium” fit didn’t cut it. The sizing chart was a little confusing too. Neither of us has quite figured out where exactly our waists reside. In short, Ginny opted for the small size, although her measurements had her somewhere between the small and medium. Good choice…they fit perfectly.

Nzo Cruiseliners - New Zealand Mountainbiker Magazine

Every now and again a product comes along that completely redefines mountain biking. Suspension forks did this. Disc brakes did this, and dropper posts are arguably such a product. There is no argument, Nzo’s Cruiseliner shorts are not such a product- they’re only under-shorts after all, and when was the last time underpants were credited with changing the world? OK, fine, you got me - Superman.  But(t) all that aside, these are without a doubt the best chamois shorts I’ve used.

What’s so great about them? I’ll make a list: the fit is great. They’re notably not designed just for 4% body-fat athletes. That doesn’t mean they’re baggy (that’s what NZO’s outer shorts are for), it means they fit without pinching or bunching anywhere, even when I’m ‘winter-weight’. The much-wider-than-usual waist elastic is a big part of this, such that, aside from bib-shorts, these are most comfortable cycling chamois shorts around the waist that I’ve ridden in. I do like bib shorts, especially for really long rides, but bibs are not always ideal – for instance, these are so much easier to take a nature break with, noticeably cooler on a hot day, and you can’t accidentally forget to put the bib-straps on and be reminded of it by a stranger as the straps dangle out the back, threatening to get caught in the rear wheel (I was the stranger on this occasion).

Also, the legs do not have grippy bits at the bottom of them to ensure your tan lines are really sharp – nope, they’re free to sit where your leg moving up and down wants them to sit – ideal. Next point: the legs are made from a mesh material that breathes really well and is sometimes noticeably breezy, especially if your outer shorts have mesh bits in them too. It does mean that if you ditch your baggies and go for a swim you’ll be wearing fitted tight black mesh shorts, which may be something you do anyway – I don’t judge. Luckily, the front and back middle portions are not mesh material, so you won’t, legally speaking, be exposing yourself. In any case, despite the name, these aren’t made for swimming in the pineapple-shaped pools of cruiseliners, they’re made for riding in. Speaking of which, the super-comfy chamois is just the right thickness, it sits in the right place (unlike some of my shorts where the most important part of the chamois sits half-way up my back – what’s that about?)  and it’s soft on the skin. I still use chamois cream on longer rides, but on shorter rides I don’t have the need to.

What else? They last for ages and they’re affordable. The best chamois shorts are usually really expensive. While more expensive than a Farmers 12 pack of briefs, for a riding short, the Cruiseliner DeLuxe is a bargain. Any niggles? Only that you won’t have much use for most of your other chamois shorts once you have a pair (or two) of these.