Belgian cycling kit manufacturer Vermarc supplies pro teams Lotto Belisol and Omega Pharma Quick Step with their kit, as well as lots of other teams based in Belgium. With so many big names in their clothing, they’ve got to be doing something right. As I found out, the top end Mare shorts are a testament to this.
Even when first pulling on these shorts to get the pictures for this review, I knew they were going to be good. It’s a tricky quality to accurately convey, but the combination of the panels, seams and fabric against my skin just all added up.
According to Vermarc’s catalogue, the Mares are made from five different types of fabric. I don’t know whether I can say I noticed all five but there’s no doubt there were differences. The outsides of the legs are essentially one big panel and very smooth with an almost rubbery texture, while the inside panels are considerably thicker and more durable for where your shorts are rubbing against the saddle. All in all, it adds up to a pair of shorts that just feels right when you’re out on the road.
The leg grippers are made of the increasingly ubiquitous thin elastic (and rightly so, it’s far better than a seam at the bottom of your shorts in my opinion), and they do an excellent job of keeping the legs in place. A slight annoyance was that the test pair I had actually came with a little nick in the left gripper. The shorts still performed flawlessly but nonetheless I knew that it was there and it was just enough to get my inner kit OCD out.
With regards to the other main features of the shorts, the pad has been hugely comfortable on rides of all lengths, intensities, and disciplines. The straps on the medium size shorts tested here are also spot on for my 6 foot, 70kg proportions, and have a fancy mesh construction to keep you from getting too sweaty on hot days.
The pad was great. Vermarc call it their “long distance shammy pad”, specifically designed for their top end bib shorts. Vermarc claim to physically incorporate Aloe Vera into it somehow to protect against bacteria, cool you and even heal minor injuries on the go. To be honest I didn’t notice the Aloe Vera effect in any way during the test and only found out about it when reading their info later on.
The main design of the pad is fairly simple, a waffle texture that fitted me perfectly and helped wick away sweat. Overall the pad just worked. I didn’t notice any single bad thing about it during the entire test. In fact I didn’t notice I was wearing it at all. That’s the highest praise a cycling pad can receive from me, as it’s clearly doing its job.
In terms of design, I think the red and black/grey colours are very smart (that may have something to do with the fact that I ride a bike of almost identical colours), but the black colour did mean that when climbing on recent sunny days, I was noticeably hotter than I would have been in lighter coloured shorts. Having said that, the Mares are available in other colours if you think this would bother you.
Finally, price. On first finding ou the price of £105.99, I thought that I would be writing that the value could be better. However having spent the last month organising my laundry so that these shorts are available for as many of my rides as possible, I can’t really say that at all. I would buy these shorts in a heartbeat.
The Mares have been an absolute joy to ride in, and I can’t fault them anywhere major, other than a small nick in a piece of elastic that is nothing more than cosmetic. If you’re in the market for some new performance shorts, Vermarc should be one of your first ports of call.
Unsurprisingly, the Belgians have got it spot on. Lovely shorts at a completely justifiable price.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Vermarc MARE Bibshorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
From Vermarc's online catalogue:
Multi panel bib short. Ergo racing fitting made by performance materials with high density for a slight compression during the exercise. Blend of five different fabrics chosen for the different anatomic characteristics of the body.
Shame about that nick in the elastic. Everything else - 10.
Loved them out on the bike. Fitted me like they should in all places.
No issues with wear during the month and a bit I've been testing them.
I'm not saying these are cheap shorts. But - even as a tight student - I wouldn't hesitate in buying these shorts.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Almost everything. Fit, design, the colours and the very slight compression on my legs.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
That little nick. Would be a 10/10 otherwise.
Did you enjoy using the product? Absolutely.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 21 Height: 182cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: On-One Carbon Whippet Single Speed MTB/Kinesis Pro6 My best bike is: Scott CR1 Pro
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,