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Available in a wide range of sizes, with a comfortable fit and a flattering matt sheen to the Lycra, the Primal Onyx Women's Prisma shorts definitely look like a good value for money purchase for riders who want long-ride performance but don't like bib shorts. For the most part they really are, but with a tweaked chamois they could be even better.
They certainly look great, with a slight sheen to the robust PriFlex polyester and nylon fabric (containing a whopping 20% Lycra), which has also been developed with optimal muscle compression in mind.
The Onyx have a broad elastic waistband rather than the flat front I usually prefer on a pair of waist shorts, and there are silicone grippers at the legs. They come in a good range of sizes, from XS to 2X - something that's always impressed me about Primal is the range of sizing it offers as standard.
The fit was comfortable and felt supportive, with the waistband doing a great job of keeping everything in place (sometimes a problem with flatter fronted waistbands) and without feeling constrictive. The rear of the waistband could have done with being slightly higher, though, as I experienced some potential for a gap developing between jersey and shorts, even when not on the drops.
The leg length meant that for me (5ft 5in) they finished mid-thigh and the leg grippers were effective without biting into the legs or giving an unseemly aesthetic, while the fabric finish made for a flattering look too.
These shorts are aimed at "elite, pro touring" level riders with a "women's specific ergonomic design and highend components to provide an exceptional performance fit and lasting comfort". For shorter rides they felt brilliant, some of the most comfortable waist shorts I've ever worn. However, as ride duration increased, the pad felt somewhat uncomfortable around the edges, in part due to the method of attachment to the shorts (stitching rather than seam-free bonding) and the way the cut edge of the chamois isn't flattened fully. The main fabric didn't wick moisture away as well as some, either. Neither would be a deal-breaking problem for a more recreational user, but for more demanding, higher performance users, there could be some issues.
Attractive and flattering shorts but comfort is better for shorter mid-distance rides rather than long rides
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Make and model: Primal Onyx Women's Prisma Cycling Short
Size tested: Black - 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 says: "An elite, pro touring level short, the Prisma features a women's specific ergonomic design and highend components to provide an exceptional performance fit and lasting comfort."
Not as comfortable as an elite rider would like.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Primal says: "This short is made with 100% PriFlex polyester and nylon fabrics specifically developed to provide optimal muscle compression and elastic recovery. The bright yarn poly blend allows for excellent printability and ensures the highest quality durability and colorfastness. Flexible leg grippers create a secure and comfortable fit that keeps the short in place to ensure optimal performance."
Technical Specs: 80% Polyester, 20% Spandex | 250 gsm | SPF 50
The point of attachment of pad to shorts is less-well-finished than is desirable.
Extremely comfortable for shorter rides but performance levels drop off as ride length increases.
Nothing to suggest they won't last well.
Not a bad weight.
Fine for shorter rides but there are better shorts for longer duration rides.
Looking expensive for waist shorts that don't quite deliver for the elite rider.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed well for shorter rides but not so well for their designed purpose for elite pro touring riders.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fabric stretch, support and appearance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, for shorter rides.
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? For shorter rides, yes.
Use this box to explain your score
A good-looking pair of shorts, with some nice design work, but they don't quite deliver on their promise for elite riders, thanks to the under-wicking fabric and chamois attachment.
Age: 42 Height: 1.65m Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.