Zoic. What happened?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Zoic. What happened?

    I've been mountain biking since 2013 and have worn Zoic shorts since almost day one. I've got about 10 pairs of Ethers over those years and the most recent pairs I bought during the big Zoic sale were significantly different.

    All the Ethers I've had so far were made of thick fabric with some weight to them, plus features like a clip in one of the pockets for keys, lens wipe cloth, and a carabiner that doubles as a bottle opener. I've crashed on multiple occasions and other then scuff marks or stains, all the shorts I have are still in great shape with no tears or worn fabric or brittle elastic.

    The latest shorts have a lot thinner fabric compared to the old ones (although they're much more stretchier), plus some of the features like clip in the pocket and the headphone wire pass-through are gone. I know that Zoic's lineup has grown quite a bit, including various versions of the Ether, but I'm wondering if they tried to fix something that wasn't broken. They already changed the fit and material of their liners, specially the essential iners, and not for the better. I'd hate to see Zoic's stuff go down in quality, and I'd hate for me to have to find another brand to wear LOL

  2. #2
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    The same thing that has happened in most businesses? Maximize profit and reduce costs?
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  3. #3
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    Hmmm. My old Ethers are maybe 5-6 years old and are still kicking. Just bought a new pair last week. I noticed the key thing was gone, which is a plus for me. The material, fit and feel seem exactly like the old ones far as I can tell.
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  4. #4
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    The other thing they do is "improve" things and bring out new styles to try and get you to buy more stuff.

  5. #5
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    I was just going to email them. Brand new pair worn twice and 3 of the pocket zippers are now broken. Almost lost my car keys and phone yesterday!
    Denver, CO

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Streetdoctor View Post
    I was just going to email them. Brand new pair worn twice and 3 of the pocket zippers are now broken. Almost lost my car keys and phone yesterday!
    On the pair I bought earlier this year, the zipper tab broke the third time I worn them. There is still enough of a nub to where I can still pull the zipper up and down, but that has never happened on any of the other shorts I have.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant View Post
    Hmmm. My old Ethers are maybe 5-6 years old and are still kicking. Just bought a new pair last week. I noticed the key thing was gone, which is a plus for me. The material, fit and feel seem exactly like the old ones far as I can tell.
    The newest I got just this past friday came directly from Zoic, and the material on the new ones while being flexible is definitely thinner than the older style.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by matadorCE View Post
    On the pair I bought earlier this year, the zipper tab broke the third time I worn them. There is still enough of a nub to where I can still pull the zipper up and down, but that has never happened on any of the other shorts I have.
    I'm doing the warranty claim online and I'll see how it goes. On mine the 3 pockets with issues were zipped closed and apparently the teeth were not lined up correctly because they all opened while being "closed".
    Denver, CO

  9. #9
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    Lots of apparel companies are using lighter 4-way stretch fabrics in shorts and pants. I certainly like this type of fabric from a fit perspective. It tends to feel pretty great when riding, because baggies can be a touch more snug, but still not bind up/restrict movement (a problem I HAVE had on some non-stretchy baggy shorts in the past). Problem is, that I've found such fabrics are oftentimes less durable. Sending a pair of casual shorts of mine in for warranty because just a short time after purchasing them, a hole ripped right in the ass. I think a better solution is to use this kind of stretchy material in strategic low-stress areas and use something more durable in areas that get more abuse. For a mtb short, I think that needs to mean using more durable fabrics in the crotch/ass area, as well as abrasion prone areas.

  10. #10
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    Must be that specific version of Ether. I just got a pair of the digital camo Ether (black), with ultra liners and I think they are my nicest quality Ethers...and I have a bunch. I donít ride anything else anymore because Ethers work the best for me.

  11. #11
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    One of the first shorts I tried out when I got into riding were the Ether's as well. This was a whopping year and a half ago (if that) so I don't have the past versions to look back on, but whatever I bought at REI back then weren't too shabby. I don't use them currently as I've found plenty that I like more, but I never really had any issues with them.

    I will say that most of the features you list are ones that either mean nothing to me, or worse, are just wasted complexity in manufacturing that drive up the cost. Clip in pocket for keys? I just prefer there to be a zippered pocket. Lens wipe cloth? I had a pair of Fox shorts with that. Biggest waste of material ever since that cloth was perpetually filthy with sweat and gritty Arizona sand and dust. Nothing I'd put anywhere near a pair of glasses of camera lens. Headphone wire pass through? Yeah, so many reasons I couldn't care less about that 'feature.'

    FWIW, maybe my pair is of a slightly older-stock generation as I recall them not being terribly stretchy which was part of why I have opted for some other brands/models since then.

    Wasn't impressed with the liner either, although that has remained consistent regardless of brand for me. At least until the current generation of liners from TLD. Still, none of the liners that come with various shorts that I've tried even come close to Specialized SWAT bib liners, so I stick to those.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoreau View Post
    I will say that most of the features you list are ones that either mean nothing to me, or worse, are just wasted complexity in manufacturing that drive up the cost. Clip in pocket for keys? I just prefer there to be a zippered pocket. Lens wipe cloth? I had a pair of Fox shorts with that. Biggest waste of material ever since that cloth was perpetually filthy with sweat and gritty Arizona sand and dust. Nothing I'd put anywhere near a pair of glasses of camera lens. Headphone wire pass through? Yeah, so many reasons I couldn't care less about that 'feature.'
    I have a very similar position on "features" like that. Just give me a reasonably deep zippered (any kind of closure will work, but I prefer zippered) pocket on the leg and some belt loops or a drawstring. What I look for most is fit. Second on the list is fabric that holds up.

  13. #13
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    Certainly is curious. Not doubting the OP at all. I checked both my Ethers side by side. My green pair as I said is about 5-6 years old. The only damage is where the key holder wore through the outer layer of fabric.

    I bought a black pair last week at REI. As stated, the key holder and weird little MP3 thing on the rear pocket are gone.

    Other than that, the two pair are identical far as I can tell. They fit the same and feel the same when wearing. They appear to have the same amount of stretch in the material. The older pair feel slightly different to the hand, but I had assumed that was from being washed for years.
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Streetdoctor View Post
    I was just going to email them. Brand new pair worn twice and 3 of the pocket zippers are now broken. Almost lost my car keys and phone yesterday!
    Same thing happened to me. Not buying Zoic again.
    NTFTC

  15. #15
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    I much prefer lightweight shorts with that stretchy fabric. I have some Race Face shorts that are super heavy and I dont like wearing them.

    I do have a Zoic Ultra liner and its complete garbage, the pad is so high on the ass that it makes literally no contact with the saddle. I thought I could salvage it by taking the pad off and restitching it but the its stitched on there like its a life or death situation, it would take hours to get all the stitches out. Complete waste of money.

  16. #16
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    Depends on color maybe? I bought 2 pairs of Ethers in the same year - tan was heavy and no stretch - black was thin and stretchy. Both are good in their own way.
    Ridley CX, Stumpjumper Carbon HT, Surly Wednesday

  17. #17
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    I recently returned two pairs of Zoics to REI after the zipper on one pair failed. Zippers seem small and delicate. Of all my shorts, the Zoics would always catch on my saddle when dismounting. My other shorts donít do that.

  18. #18
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    At this point ZOIC Ether is a "collection" of shorts. Its been that way for several years now. They release different designs under the brand name Ether.

    Based on their website the line has different lengths, fabric and even fit currently. I think e-tailers do not communicate that well, so you have to do your homework and cross reference to the manufacturer site. Rolling the dice and just returning seems to be an easy way as well.

    Even the exact same models, cut length, pockets etc, when using different fabric has a totally different feel it seems.

  19. #19
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    Curious, Where are you guys buying these? only at REI? or online? IBD?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyAsheville View Post
    I recently returned two pairs of Zoics to REI after the zipper on one pair failed. Zippers seem small and delicate. Of all my shorts, the Zoics would always catch on my saddle when dismounting. My other shorts donít do that.
    yep - add me to the failed zipper club. the zippers are entirely too delicate...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyAsheville View Post
    I recently returned two pairs of Zoics to REI after the zipper on one pair failed. Zippers seem small and delicate. Of all my shorts, the Zoics would always catch on my saddle when dismounting. My other shorts donít do that.
    As a zipper repair specialist, don't get me going on those small guage zippers. "designed to fail" is my opinion as I fix dozens of them every month on clothing and tents. I am actually surprised REI took them back as they have gotten really tight on returns. They certainly don't warranty items much anymore, even when warranted.

  22. #22
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    I have a pair that do include the key carabiner with integrated bottle opener. I really like having the bottle opener handy and do use the clip to hold my key fob.

    Like the shorts but, like others, the zippers are failing. I will be going with other options going forward. I need the zippered pockets to work and keep working.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by stiksandstones View Post
    Curious, Where are you guys buying these? only at REI? or online? IBD?
    I've gotten mine from Zoic themselves when they have sales, Steep & Cheap, REI, and amazon.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyAsheville View Post
    I recently returned two pairs of Zoics to REI after the zipper on one pair failed. Zippers seem small and delicate. Of all my shorts, the Zoics would always catch on my saddle when dismounting. My other shorts donít do that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Briareos View Post
    yep - add me to the failed zipper club. the zippers are entirely too delicate...
    I have experienced 3 main zipper failures of my 5 pairs of Zoics. I understand they will warranty these if sent in. I'm tired of wimpy, subpar zippers on (otherwise) good shorts.
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

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  25. #25
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    Ask for #5 instead of #3 zippers.

  26. #26
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    ^^^^ That is certainly worth a try!

    Thanks!
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Briareos View Post
    yep - add me to the failed zipper club. the zippers are entirely too delicate...
    I had a zipper failure as well. Zoic was great about sending me a new pair quickly.

    Hopefully Zoic will redesign with a better zipper in the future.

  28. #28
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    I have 4 ethers. 2 of the ones with thick material and 2 of the thinner ones. I prefer the thinner ones quite a bit. I'd rather be more comfortable on the majority of rides in which I don't crash instead of worrying about shorts getting torn.
    The liners have always been throwaways.

    My latest shorts I fell in love with are club ride mtn surf. If you like the ethers you'll probably love them. They are thin though.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by 92gli View Post
    I have 4 ethers. 2 of the ones with thick material and 2 of the thinner ones. I prefer the thinner ones quite a bit. I'd rather be more comfortable on the majority of rides in which I don't crash instead of worrying about shorts getting torn.
    The liners have always been throwaways.

    My latest shorts I fell in love with are club ride mtn surf. If you like the ethers you'll probably love them. They are thin though.
    I don't mind the thinness as long as they're as durable as the old shorts. I do mind the lack of functional pockets and crappy zippers like others have said. These shorts aren't cheap even on sale, so I don't want to end up buying essentially beach shorts for mountain biking.

  30. #30
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    I have only owned Zoic shorts, they seem to last forever and since I don't have long legs the shorter inseam works for me. I just got a new black Ether short from REI off their sale rack, personally I think the new material and stitching has been improved. Same fit as well. My only zipper failure was on a lower pocket on a 5-6 year old grey pair, I had the zipper replaced at a local tailor for $5.

  31. #31
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    I own multiple pairs of Ether Shorts. I like the fit and think they are the best bang for the buck. I had a problem with the main zipper on a pair I bought last March.

    Contacted Zoic last week, sent them a few pictures, received new pair this morning. Thanks for the great service Zoic!

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerjoe53 View Post
    I own multiple pairs of Ether Shorts. I like the fit and think they are the best bang for the buck. I had a problem with the main zipper on a pair I bought last March.

    Contacted Zoic last week, sent them a few pictures, received new pair this morning. Thanks for the great service Zoic!
    Lucky you. My pair are over a year old and my back zipper just broke (teeth). Love these darn shorts. I think Performance Bikes have some TurkeyDay sale so gonna see if any Zoic on sale.
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  33. #33
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    I bought two pair of Ether 9 from Steep & Cheap just a couple months ago, and one pair has two zipper failures already.

    I love the length, fit, and breathability of the shorts, but these wimpy little zippers are ridiculous. I'm sure the others will fail in due time.

    Warranty claim time.
    Rigid bikes FTW!

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by adept1 View Post
    I bought two pair of Ether 9 from Steep & Cheap just a couple months ago, and one pair has two zipper failures already.
    Yeah, I have 2 or 3 pairs of Zoic shorts and one of them has a blown out zipper. This will be the 3rd season I've been riding them like that. The liner keeps my junk in place so I just consider the opening to be a vent now. It's easier than dealing with a warranty claim.

    I'm actually a pretty good sewer and have replaced zippers on a bunch of jackets over the years. Maybe I'll get motivated to deal with the shorts someday too.

  35. #35
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    Zoic is a great company dedicated to mountain bikers. If you have an issue, it's best to deal with them directly.
    The suspension of your bike sucks if it's different than mine. Really. It sucks. Big time.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-T View Post
    Yeah, I have 2 or 3 pairs of Zoic shorts and one of them has a blown out zipper. This will be the 3rd season I've been riding them like that. The liner keeps my junk in place so I just consider the opening to be a vent now. It's easier than dealing with a warranty claim.

    I'm actually a pretty good sewer and have replaced zippers on a bunch of jackets over the years. Maybe I'll get motivated to deal with the shorts someday too.
    Warranty for that is 10,000,000x easier than you're thinking it will be. E-mail customer service and she'll get back to you by Tuesday. More work for us, but very easy for you.

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