Welcome to the second installment of the new RoadBikeReview.com Women’s Test Team where we continue to examine women’s bibshorts. This time we start with an offering from Primal Wear (below) followed by Rapha, Panache, Castelli and Capo. Also be sure to read our previously published bibshorts reviews on Hincapie, Pearl Izumi and Assos. And check back to RoadBikeReview.com soon where we’ll announce the overall winner of the test, plus best bibshorts for $200 or less, and easiest to operate when you have to use the restroom in a hurry.
Primal Elita Women’s Helix Bib Shorts
Sizes: XS to 2X
Color: Black with Blue/White Accents
More Info: www.PrimalWear.com
What The Manufacturer Says
The Elita Bib Short was designed for competition but built for everyday rides. The highest level performance fabrics and our top of the line HX8 Carbon chamois are used to create unmatched performance and unparalleled comfort. Ergonomic panels and elite fabrics create compression around key muscle groups to help increase strength, movement accuracy and endurance. The mesh bib upper stretches and moves with the body and provides easy airflow between the surface of the skin and the jersey. A flexible silicone gripper in the leg band creates a secure, comfortable fit. The new fusion technology of the HX8 creates an entirely seamless chamois without chemical fixatives and allows for the progressive reduction of foam thickness, removing the “steps” between layers. The 4-density, 4-way stretch chamois forms to your body to provide superior comfort, while the antibacterial Resistex anti-static carbon fabric helps promote blood flow and reduce lactic acid.
Tester: Lisa Sumner (Size Tested: Medium)
Fit: The medium fit was true to size on the lower half of the bib, however, the straps were a little too long for me. The loose straps didn’t move around on my shoulders while riding, but did cause a slight bunching of material around my lower stomach and hip flexors. However, I never experienced any chafing as a result of this bunching. The legs were a good length, coming to about mid-thigh and the leg band was an adequate tightness and was comfortable on my legs.
Function: These bibs are designed in a traditional men’s bib style with two straps up the front, with one subtle design difference. Instead of the straps starting down near the belly button, the Lycra continued higher up the body, to about mid-torso, before splitting up into two mesh straps. I liked this slightly adapted design. It was comfortable because there were no fabric changes or seams around the waist area and it resulted in a clean look and fit when wearing a jersey. The chamois was constructed differently than the others tested. Instead of being all one thickness, the padding was thinner on the outside and gradually increased in thickness moving inward toward the center of the chamois. For me, this design was comfortable on the back part of the chamois but was constructed a bit too narrow for my body in the front and was slightly uncomfortable after an hour in the saddle.
Materials: The Lycra has good elasticity and a very soft feel to it. All of the seams on the inside of the bib are flat so I never had any problems with chaffing. The material breathed well and it was really comfortable to ride in.
Fashion: I thought these bibs were very flattering when on. The seam lines contoured my body shape and the two-toned black material gave a slimming affect. The color band around the leg is also a nice touch to give it a bit of flare, but the blue would not be my first choice of color.
Additional Comments: Although the chamois did not fit my body perfectly, with a bit of re-positioning I could make it more comfortable and I liked the fact that there were no seams in the chamois. Unlike other bibs that were tested, there was no mechanism on these bibs to make using the restroom during a ride any easier.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Tester: Kate Powlison (Size Tested: Small)
Fit: All of Primal’s investment in their women’s teams seems to have paid off in the accurate fit of their apparel. These shorts are just the right length for me, especially on summer rides when I prefer a little less coverage and don’t need to worry about keeping knee or leg warmers from gapping. My main gripes had to do with overbuilt seams. The seams on the straps and gripper panels were thicker than I’d like.
Function: The traditional leg grippers kept these from riding up. The comfort was average: I could happily ride a few hours in these, though I wasn’t exactly melting into them either. I appreciated how the seam on the inside of my thigh stopped partway up the leg panel, instead of continuing all the way across the crotch and setting me up for major chaffing.
Materials: Nothing fancy here, but nothing cheap either. The bib strap material was a bit heavy and could stand to be more minimal. Overall the fabric and chamois seemed durable and able to hold up to many miles.
Fashion: The “92” graphics made me feel a little bit like an Abercrombie ’tween. But I did appreciate the pop of bright blue against the white and black. The heavy seam above the leg panel made my legs look lumpy. If bib shorts are basically spandex with a butt pad, they really could stand to be more flattering. Leg gripper panels just don’t flatter many women. I’d love to see more shorts without them, especially custom kits.
Additional Comments: Primal seems to be getting a lot right on their women’s kits lately. Fine-tuning a couple small details like seams and bib strap thickness could take them to the top of the ranks. If you’re looking for a custom kit for your club or team, your female members can be guaranteed a legitimate women’s-specific fit with Primal, not just a men’s jersey in a smaller size.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Tester: Liz Barcheck (Size Tested: Medium)
Fit: I liked the length and overall fit of these shorts. The straps also fit well and were relatively easy to put on.
Fit: The short length and overall fit is good, and I like that they have a wider band at the bottom of the leg. I found the bib straps to feel loose and too wide. That might be because I have a very short torso, but I don’t usually have this problem.
Function: I really liked the chamois on these shorts, it was comfortable, not too bulky, and stayed in place.
Materials: The material on these shorts feel a lot like the Panache shorts, breathable, flexible, the standard of a good bib short. The mesh bib is a little thick, especially in the lower back.
Fashion: Everyone who has seen these shorts has complimented me, and I think it’s because of the blue band at the bottom and on the number. It’s an interesting short because it has some fabric patterns in some areas and then a flat fabric in others and I also think that helps it stick out a bit. I’m not sure I love all of the seams, some of them on the leg and lower back stick out and are bulky, and could cause some chaffing on the inner-thigh.
Additional Comments: I’d place these in the same category as the Panache shorts. They are solid, made of good fabrics, move and fit well. There is nothing extraordinary about them, other than what I and my friends noticed which is the color.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Tester: Elizabeth Train (Size Tested: Small)
Fit: These bibs fit great. They ended up being my go-to mountain biking bibs during the test, and I kept coming back to them because I knew they’d perform well on long rides.
Function: These bibs are super functional. They’re comfortable, supportive, and the chamois is nice.
Fashion: There is a lot going on in the material department here. While it keeps things visually interesting, it felt too much like NASCAR for me. So I chose to rock them on my mountain bike — under the cover of baggies shorts.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5