Chris Hoy made his first ventures into retail with his range of bikes and accessories a couple of years ago and has now made the move into apparel. Hoy's experience and Vulpine's technical knowledge have combined to create a range of cycling clothing, including the HOY Vulpine El Toro Bib Shorts.
The first thing you notice about the shorts when you put them on is that they are a thin lycra material that has a lot of flex. They stretch well, which means that they sit nicely whether you are off the bike or in the saddle. The thin material means that you aren't forced into one position or another, because of the shape of the shorts. This certainly gives them more flexibility in use and allows for comfort on and off the bike but does mean that they don't have the specialised fit that others offer.
At the bottom of the legs, the grippers work well, their small circular silicone dots allowing for movement without the shorts riding up. I often find that with grippers which circle the entire leg opening, that there can be a certain degree of pulling on leg hairs (I am not a leg shaver) so this design is certainly effective in minimising that. It is also secure, with only the smallest amount of movement, which is clearly allowed for in the design, meaning that they stay comfortable throughout longer rides.
The bibs have a Cytech pad, as you expect to find on many upper-echelon cycling shorts. My two favourite shorts in recent years (Rapha's pro team bib shorts and Assos' T.campionissimo_s7) use Cytech pads. It wiorkds very well here, and is more similar to the model used by Assos rather than the thicker Rapha chamois. Thanks in part to the pad, the El Toro shorts work well for hours in the saddle and compare favourably to bibs at twice their price.
The chamois has a dual density and thickness throughout the pad, with a thicker padding towards the rear and thinner towards the front. This is a nod towards higher range shorts, with a clear message that these are not meant to be budget shorts.
The straps are also comfortable, with good ventilation due to effective meshing and a lack of rubbing thanks to good thick straps. They sit comfortably on your shoulders without any kind of twisting or rubbing.
The shorts in general are very well ventilated and effective in keeping you cool. The highest temperature that I managed to test in was 25 degrees, but even then I could feel a slight breeze running through them. This meant that on longer rides, they managed to keep me cool and comfortable whilst also preventing the chafing and irritation that excess heat and sweat can create.
This breathability comes from the thin fabric on the legs, but this thin material does have some unwanted side effects beyond keeping you cool. Due to the pad sitting further back than many other brands, and the multi density nature of the pad meaning that the front is thinner than the rear, you can get a clear 'Linford Christie' effect. This can be a tad embarrassing with your particulars clearly outlined more than with other shorts I have used, what is a bump in most shorts becomes a clear outline.
The flexibility of the shorts also creates issues with the logos on the legs, which after a few rides are already cracking and I expect them to begin peeling within the next couple of weeks. This is odd as the the rest of the shorts are well stitched and seem like they would last for years, but the logo would probably be in tatters, if there at all, within the first six months.
In terms of looks the shorts have clearly used Vulpine's trend of understatement, with a plain back design complemented by a very subtle black Hoy logo. They have a good fit, but it is worth looking at sizing before buying, I normally wear large, but these fit perfectly at a medium.
Coming in at £80 these are very good value for money for the pad and breathability alone. When I compare them to the more expensive bib shorts, like those from Rapha and Assos, the difference comes down to the little things that matter, like the logo, specific bike fit and pad placement. At this price range though, these bibs are well worth a punt and are certainly a strong start from a new partnership.
Nice shorts, good breathability, but some small changes would be welcome in the next version
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Make and model: HOY Vulpine El Toro Bib Shorts
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?
'These bib shorts are a cycling classic, subtly re-thought to add style, comfort and an outstandingly high specification. Suitable for racing, training and endurance events. Suggested temperature range from 12°C to 30°C.'
They are a classic design that look good, would work well for a variety of uses thanks to the strong chamois and good ventilation. I would personally like a slightly thicker short at 12˚C, but that is personal preference.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Mens specific pro-level Cytech pad suitable for long distance cycling
Coolmax™ bib fabric to remove perspiration fast.
Triple needle zig zag stitch on pad edge for extra comfort
Flatlock stitching throughout for comfort and stretch
Unique soft, wide gripper tape with circular silicon grips.
No scratchy labels, all info printed onto inside.
Trackstripes authenticity tab.
Subtle black alternate texture HOY V prints on thighs.
In terms of the actual makeup of the shorts, I was very impressed. The stitching is strong, the material has a good amount of flex and the chamois is easily comparable to more expensive models. Loses a few marks purely for the logo cracking though.
Very good breathability, decent levels of comfort and easy to wear over a long or short ride.
Again, the shorts themselves would last for a long time, the logos however would not.
Good ventilation, wide straps and well thought out stretchy fabric all make for a strong performing set of bib shorts.
Although not quite at the level of the Rapha's and Assos' of the world, the pad and breathability alone make them good value for money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The shorts performed well with a well made chamois and decent breathability making them a pleasure to use throughout the review period.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The chamois is great, would not be out of place of a set of bibs costing considerably more.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The issue of revealing yourself when not on the bike thanks to the clear outlining of areas that should not be outlined. The logo could also be more hardy, not sure it would last too long.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Good shorts that are a strong start from the Hoy Vulpine partnership. They need some improvement in the next iteration, but I was not unimpressed with this first outing.
Age: 27 Height: 6 ft Weight:
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.