The Mai Tai Evo Bib Shorts are, as the name suggests, part of Primal's Evo line-up, a range designed for the performance cyclist thanks to their multi-panelled design and snug-fitting fabric. A decent pair of shorts is probably the most important part of your cycling wardrobe and the Evos certainly fall into that category thanks to an excellent pad and compressive materials.
The fabric for the main body is an 80% polyester, 20% spandex mix called Vero, which Primal claims has a 40 gauge knit – 40 stitches per inch, basically – and offers 'top-notch compression and abrasion resistance'.
The thinking behind compression material is that it increases blood flow in the muscles, which is why it is mostly used in recovery garments. More blood in means more blood out to remove waste products.
Using it in a less dramatic way, as you find here with the Evos, means that the material is quite supportive of your muscles, stopping vibration when riding over rough surfaces, reducing fatigue. It's minimal but still a benefit, especially on longer rides.
With lots of panels to create the shape there are obviously plenty of seams going on, but Primal has done a very good job of keeping them as unobtrusive as possible and they are flatlocked stitched too.
The legs are held in place by a silicone leg gripper which does the job, although if you have very large thighs they can feel a little tight after a fair few hours in the saddle.
The bib part of the shorts is made from mesh, which helps keep you cool – especially when paired with the lightweight Mai Tai Evo jersey. The mesh is breathable and it's good to see nice wide straps so you don't get any pressure points on your shoulders.
Of course a decent chamois is key for riding comfort, whether going long or short, and the Evos definitely have one with the E6 Carbon. It uses four layers to create a multitude of channels and pads to provide support where needed. The whole thing moves with you as you pedal and never bunches up, so it's beautifully comfortable.
Primal states that the chamois uses Resistex anti-static carbon fabric which promotes blood flow and the reduction of lactic acid. I'm not going to argue, it might well do, but I couldn't feel any noticeable difference.
Size-wise I'd say the Evos come up more generous than most, while still maintaining a close, contoured fit. The sizing is more realistic for our nation's shape compared with, say, Castelli and other European brands where you need to size up at least once if not twice.
As for value, there is a lot of competition in the bib shorts market, especially at the £90 price point, but the Evos do a pretty good job of justifying their price not only in terms of comfort but also in construction and durability. I have other pairs of Primal Evo shorts from a good few years ago and they are all still going strong.
Up against pairs like the BTwin Aerofits, though, or dhb's Aeron bib shorts, things become a little trickier, with those two coming in at £54.99 and £69.99 respectively, although both have the advantage of being in-house brands.
For excellent all-day comfort, a very welcome bit of muscle-supporting compression and a splash of colour, the Evos are well worth considering.
Well made, slightly compressive bib shorts that offer a very good all-round package for the money
road.cc test report
Make and model: Primal Mai Tai Evo Bib Short
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?
Primal says: "Everyone longs for white, sandy beaches on a gorgeous island. Escape to your own tropical paradise, complete with brilliant sunset and a drink in hand, hammock not provided."
It also says:
"Features an anatomic, race-specific fit, and excellent compression Vero fabric allows for superior flexibility. A duo-base paneling system and flatlock stitching eliminate undesirable seams to redefine comfort on the bike."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Primal lists these details:
9 Inch Inseam
Contout Race Cut Fit
E6 Carbon Chamois
Promesh Bib Upper
Silicone Leg Gripper
I'd say the Primals have a more realistic sizing and fit than a lot of cycling kit. You might even be able to drop down a size if you are right on the cusp.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed up clean every time.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Evo bibs are very comfortable for many hours.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The leg grippers can feel a little tight on long rides of five hours plus.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Evo bib shorts are very good when it comes to all-day comfort and fit, plus I'm a fan of the bright, fun colours – especially when paired with the matching jersey.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.