Primal's Axios Helix bibshorts go together, as you've no doubt guessed, with the Axios Helix jersey we've also tested. The Helix range is Primal's more race orientated collection and the bibs themselves carry the description 'designed for competition but built for everyday rides'
Priced at £120 we're talking pretty top end and the Axios are up against some stiff competition from the likes of Castelli and Assos but the tech sheet at least points to some impressive performance details.
Quality looks good too. Just like the matching jersey the stitching is tight and tidy and after plenty of miles and washing cycles everything still looks much the same as it was when it came out of the bag.
The main fabric is named Vero, a 4-way stretch Lycra that has in built compression properties. Something we're seeing a lot on performance shorts, the compression is good for reducing muscle vibration which can lead to fatigue on long rides, it also promotes blood flow removing waste products from your muscles quicker - that's the theory at least. It's rated to SPF50 so once summer does finally arrive sunburn through the material shouldn't be an issue.
Z92 dimpled fabric is used at the lower part of the legs as the claimed aerodynamic benefits will be most beneficial on the parts moving the fastest through the air. They are held in place by silicone grippers which are usually more comfortable than the traditional elastic band.
The bibs sit about mid stomach height at the front with the material changing to mesh for the straps, two at the front with a large central rear one travelling up your spine.
The HX8 Carbon chamois is seamless with plenty of stretch and varying thicknesses which should mean plenty of flexibility for the rider. The Resistix carbon material is also antibacterial which is ideal for the mile munchers.
Fit, as with the other Helix clothing, is aimed at the performance rider and once you're on the bike these are very comfortable. The Vero fabric feels very supportive, close fitting without actually being restrictive and you can feel the compression aspects especially on rough sections of tarmac. The silicone leg grippers stay put and apply so little pressure that they remain comfortable for hours.
Up top, things are kept pretty cool thanks to the mesh bibs, and the straps are comfortable regardless of whether you're wearing a baselayer or not. When paired with the Axios jersey the wicking properties are very good and you certainly shouldn't overheat in temperatures up to the mid-twenties.
The chamois was the only thing I didn't really get on with. It was just a bit too wide for me (compared to say the Etxeondo Bira) this was fine in the short term but once the miles started to increase the excess material bunched and caused some numbness. The padding was about right though in terms of thickness and the antibacterial properties did their job of warding off any irritation or saddle soreness.
On the whole the Axios Helix bibshorts offer good performance and fit but the chamois does let them down. I know everybody's physique is different but having around 20 to 30 pairs of bibs in my wardrobe from a range of brands these are the first ones I've had an issue with. Bring price into the equation and another point is lost. There are shorts out there that are comparable in fit, performance and quality at a good 30 to 40 quid cheaper so its difficult to recommend these over say Sugoi's Icon or Etxeondo's Bira.
Editor's note: That isn't Stu wearing the shorts in the pictures
Although good, the performance and fit don't live up to the price tag. The pad could cause some issues too.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Primal Axios Helix bib shorts
Size tested: Large
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 state that the Axios bibs are for performance riders with a nod to all day comfort. The fit and performance of the materials are great but they're let down by the chamois.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Mesh Bib Upper
HX8 Carbon Chamois
Silicone Leg Gripper
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performance was good in terms of materials and cut but the chamois didn't suit my shape.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The materials and fit were great.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Overly wide/padded chamois and the price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Okay for short rides.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No.
About the tester
Age: 34 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Ribble Winter Trainer for commuting, Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Sarto Rovigo
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.