- Product: Endura FS260-PRO SL Women’s Bib Shorts DS
- Price: £99.99
- From: www.endurasport.com
- Tested: 7 months
I tested the ‘DS’ version of these bib shorts, which stands for ‘Drop Seat’. This is a zipped rear panel that allows you to go to the loo without having to remove all your clothing. It’s a feature that’s only available in the women’s version of these shorts, although there are also non-drop seat versions of the shorts for both men and women.
The key feature of both the DS and standard versions of the shorts is the pad. This comes in different sizes to accommodate different widths of behind, or more specifically, sit bones. You can either use the charts provided or visit one of selected Endura dealers to experience the ‘Endura® gebioMized® PadFit™ system’ free fit service. Endura is so confident of the comfort of these shorts that they offer a 90 day money back guarantee:
“No quibble exchange or refund within 90 days of purchase if you don’t find the FS260-Pro SL Bibshort to be the most comfortable bibshorts you have ever used.”
That’s quite a bold claim, but for an item of clothing which is both critical to ride comfort and difficult to try before you buy, this is a very useful offer. Honestly, I don’t think I would concede that these were ‘the most comfortable bib shorts I have ever used’, but had I bought them I don’t think I’d be asking for my money back.
I found the sit bone padding width (I needed the medium width pad) to be good, and comfortable, but for me the padding at the front is thicker than I’d like. I think padding in this area is a matter of personal choice and body shape, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing so soft and delicate as your own soft tissues. Personally, I prefer to have as little pad as possible at the front of my shorts, and find that with the right cut out saddle and ride position it’s possible to have very little pressure on the most delicate labial tissue. For me a thicker pad just adds to the congestion down there and creates more pressure, rather than cushioning it. But as I say, this is all going to depend on what suits your body shape and riding position, and some will no doubt appreciate this padding at the front.
What is very comfortable is the fabric on the legs, especially the grip-rib silicone hems. They hold the shorts in place without rubbing or causing pressure in a tight strip, and the ‘Power Lycra’ has a nice solid, supportive feel to it. However, the zip creates a non-stretch seam running right around the shorts and in my view this reduces the comfort of the shorts and adds a slightly unflattering line around the thigh, as do the other seams between the various panels of fabric. While I don’t really expect to ever look that great in Lycra, I think the complexity of the construction adds more lines to my existing thigh and bum sausages.
While the zip has worked perfectly and indeed there have been times when I have been glad of the easy access for going to the loo, on balance the need for loo access to my mind comes secondary to ride comfort. I also can’t quite get over the slight psychological discomfort that if the zip did fail, my whole bum would be left hanging out. Having had jersey zips fail it’s a worry I can’t quite set aside – even if it is all in my head rather than a reflection of the actual zip in these actual shorts (which as I say has worked perfectly). Personally I’d go for the no zip all over stretch option rather than the DS, unless going to the loo is of major concern to you.
For those that do want the loo access, the DS system does work, although the line zip does restrict knee movement when squatting and you need to be careful to hold the flap up and out of the way if it’s a wild loo stop. However, these should prove but minor inconveniences for all but the stiffest, most inflexible, or cramp-ridden rider – or the very desperate.
Other very comfortable features were the broad straps and vest style back. The straps felt secure, and were of a good length – something I sometimes find a problem, at 5 foot 9 and a bit I’m fairly tall by many sizing standards, but the size 12 fitted well. The pocket in the rear was also handy for carrying a car key or credit card when wearing a jersey without a secure pocket, although anything you put in it tends to get rather sweaty.
These shorts have been worn and washed many times and still look and feel fresh compared to when they arrived, and while I feel the stretch fabric is not quite so taut as when they first arrived, I reckon I’ll still be wearing them for some time to come.
Overall: A good quality pair of shorts with some very comfortable features. Personally I’d give the drop seat option a miss unless it was a specific requirement you’re looking for, but with the 90 day money back guarantee you’ve really nothing to lose by giving these a go. I suspect you’ll find you like them.