Some bib shorts just feel right from the moment you pull them on – and that's the feeling I got with the Endura M90 Graphics bib shorts I've been testing since spring. Luckily, that feeling stayed with me right through the test.
It wasn't love at first sight, though. They arrived with the matching M90 Graphics Limited Edition SS Jersey I was also testing. 'Please, don't let them be the same all-over camo pattern,' I thought. I'd never be able to show myself in the street. Fortunately, they aren't – the M90 print being restricted to the leg grippers. Even so, it does rather limit the versatility of the garment. You simply couldn't wear these with a blue top, my dears. Nevertheless, the whole ensemble looked pretty sharp, and once I got out in it I forgot about the style and just enjoyed the comfort.
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I can't really see much that's revolutionary about these bibs to account for the ride quality; I think Endura has simply done all the basic things well and the outcome is a fit and all-day wearability that I wasn't convinced was really out there.
Starting at the top, the mesh shoulder straps are wide, with broad, flat hems that sit comfortably and don't cut in. Even my protruding broken collarbone didn't mind being under these. It helps that the straps are long and stretchy, as at 6ft 2in I often find them stretched to the limit in other shorts.
The straps meet at the back above a broad back panel, made from the same fabric. When flat against your back this is very comfortable too. It never got clammy while testing (though the weather wasn't all that warm). This is flatlock stitched into an almost-square panel, made from the same genuine Lycra as the rest of the garment, and this is also neatly stitched to the two side panels that run the length of the outer thigh, as well as the two panels that form the horseshoe pattern of the back of the legs.
At the front, the straps meet a mesh stomach panel, above the two pieces that form the lower belly and inner leg. It's a design that results in a close but forgiving fit all round.
The pad also has a lot to do with the ride comfort, and this is a difficult thing to be objective about, but for me this was spot-on too. This is the 600 series pad, which Endura says 'is sculpted from a single block of foam, with gel inserts for extra comfort. A TRS perforated foam 'dermis' layer is positioned under the face for improved blood-flow and wicking especially on longer rides.' It does the job admirably, even on two 60-mile, 6,000-feet-of-climbing clambers over the North Pennines on the same weekend. Endura produces no fewer than 12 different pads for men and 10 for women, and it is well worth looking at the website to see which one is best suited to your riding style.
This just leaves those camo-patterned leg grippers, about 5cm wide, which are made with a raw edge (no hems) and a generous helping of silicone to keep everything in place without pinching, even on (whispers it) unshaven legs. These are attached to the legs with a double-stitched seam which isn't flatlock-stitched, and if I was picking around for something to improve it would be this as I needed to adjust the grippers a bit when putting the bibs on, to make the seam sit flat. That was it though; once done, everything stayed where it was meant to.
On price it's on a par with many Italian-made garments, cheaper than many and a better fit (for me) than anything I've tried. Endura tells me the design and fit is the same as the FS260 Pro, with the same pad, which comes in all-black and would be a more versatile choice.
> Buyer's Guide: 18 of the best cycling bib shorts
Bibs to match Endura's M90 Graphics Jersey, and they are supremely comfortable
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Make and model: Endura M90 Graphics Bibshort
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?
Designed to go with the Endura M90 Limited Edition SS Jersey, and it comes in two designs (green or blue). The fit and design is the same as the FS260 Pro bib, which is plain black and would match a wider range of tops.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
High quality Italian Lycra® fabric
coldblack® technology dramatically reduces heat build up
600 series pad, computer cut 'Continuously Variable Profile' (CVP) stretch pad with gel inserts and antibacterial finish
Pre-curved race fit
Wicking upper-mesh for optimal breathability
Raw edge grip rib hem with super fine silicone grippers
Reflective trim detail on rear hem bands
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Lots of tough stitching on all the seams, which don't open up at all on being pulled. Seams across the small of the back and down the outside of the leg are flatlocked, others are not, but all were strong and comfortable. Only the seams that hold together the legs and the leg grippers required a bit of adjustment to get them to lie flat after pulling the shorts on, but this was a minor issue.
Rate the product for performance:
In the conditions I've tested these they've been brilliant. If you are looking for a more open mesh on the back for really warm conditions then you might disagree.
Rate the product for durability:
No reason to suppose these won't last for a good few years.
Rate the product for fit:
Good length and stretch in the shoulder straps, close and comfortable around the stomach. The meat and two veg was discreetly accommodated. Great leg grippers.
Rate the product for sizing:
I tested a large. In UK sizings I can sometimes fit a medium and probably could have stretched a pair of these over myself in medium too, but large was spot on.
Rate the product for weight:
The pad is chunky but that's a small price to pay for the degree of comfort.
Rate the product for comfort:
Probably the best bib shorts I've ever tried in this respect.
Rate the product for value:
Very good for high-quality shorts. The fact that they perform so well makes it worth the outlay.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No trouble here, in the "sport wash" with everything else and all looking good after repeated use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They did everything I would ask of summer bib shorts. Comfortable over long distances, fitted well and didn't rub or cut in anywhere. The back mesh, though not the most open, seemed cool and not at all clammy.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Excellent comfort and fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, but I would want the top to match!
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Not far off the perfect bib shorts for me. I would give them 10 but for the fact fact that their versatility is a little limited by the camo design. I also thought the hems holding the camo grippers to the legs could have been locked down to prevent them accidentally folding over when putting on the shorts, but it's just a little nit-pick really.
Age: 52 Height: 6'2 Weight: 73kg and holding steady
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
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