2XU's Compression Cycle Bib Shorts are designed with a host of features aimed to keep you comfortable and powerful during a long day in the saddle, and generally they work well. The pad isn't ideal for me, but that's highly subjective and it might suit you fine, but I was disappointed with the quality of the stitching holding it to the shorts in this critical area. The compressive technology is a benefit, but it's a hard one to measure.
As the name suggests, the shorts are marketed heavily on 2XU's compression technology, and are made predominantly from '105D / CK' Lycra, which provides muscle stabilisation and compression and thus lessens vibration and fatigue.
I was lucky enough to receive the shorts for testing before a trip to Spain, and tried them out on a couple of four-hour rides which included a few nasty intervals. I could certainly feel the compressive element, particularly around the thighs and hamstrings, which did give a nice feel of being 'supported' – a reassuring squeeze I guess you could describe it as.
During those long rides, and a few shorter test rides on the turbo, I finished feeling strong, and the legs felt reasonably fresh afterwards. How much of that can be attributed to the compression fabric and how much to external factors such as form and fitness is hard to determine though.
Other elements of the shorts are easier to assess. The moisture-wicking fabrics worked a treat in the mid-20s Spanish sun, as did the UPF50+ treatment – I came back without any element of burn in the areas under my shorts, and was spared that unpleasant feeling of clammy, sweaty legs.
The low-cut waist is also noticeable and effective, preventing the feel of sweaty belly and also eliminating any unpleasant feeling of the waistband cutting into your gut after the all-important tostada stop. I'm also a fan of the bib straps, which are wide in profile and thin and light of material. They fit comfortably over the shoulder and you hardly notice they're there, neither cutting into the skin nor causing a buildup of sweat.
The chamois pad is a tricky one to review; everyone's undersides are a different shape and so what works for some doesn't work for others. The 2XU Stelvio chamois, which uses 'dimpled fabric technology and 120 density foam for maximum breathability and comfort', just didn't feel quite the right shape for me, with the seams in slightly the wrong place. This issue, which is just the case of a millimetre too much or too little in various places, was exacerbated slightly by the stitching that holds the pad in place, which feels a little crude and rough. The stitching is wide and slightly raised, which is not ideal in terms of mitigating chafing. The density of the material is good, though, and relieves any sense of ache from being in the saddle for a long time.
Looks-wise, 2XU keeps it subtle, which I like, with only stealthy embossed black branding: understated and cool. Being all black, it makes them very easy to pair with any colour jersey, which is a big bonus for me. There are also small reflective tabs on the back of the legs, which is a nice nod to safety.
At £135, these shorts are definitely at the higher end of the market and there's a lot of competition out there. For example, the recently reviewed Castelli Velocissimo IV bib shorts – £100, with a pad that received rave reviews, or the Pearl Izumi Pro Escapes, at £129.99 and well worth a look. And if £100 is too much, Stu rated the comfort and performance of the £89.99 Northwave Extreme 3 bib shorts.
Pad fit and comfort is a very personal thing, and the 2XU's might suit you perfectly, but the quality of the stitching lets these otherwise good shorts down, especially at this price.
A mostly good pair of shorts, but the quality of the stitching could be improved
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road.cc test report
Make and model: 2XU Compression Cycle Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
2XU says, "Engineered with premium compression fabrics to provide powerful support to upper leg muscles for longer performance."
The chamois is aimed towards comfort over long rides.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
2XU lists the following key technical features:
- Engineered low profile one-piece bib strap for ultimate comfort
- Lightweight yet powerful PWX 105D compression fabrics to reduce muscle fatigue
- Anti-chafe chamois
- Moisture wicking fabric
- UPF50+ sun protection fabrics
- Premium Italian engineered silicon gripper for a secure fit and comfort
- Italian engineered STELVIO chamois, utilising dimpled fabric technology and 120 density foam for maximum breathability and comfort
The materials are nice and lightweight, and prevent excessive sweat buildup. However, the stitching around the chamois feels a little rough and crude, and this, for me, is one of the elements of a bib short that needs most attention.
I could certainly feel an element of compression around the legs from the shorts, though it is hard to quantify how much this improved my performance or recovery – as is the problem with all such 'marginal gains' in cycling. The moisture-wicking material was excellent and kept me nice and cool during a few long rides in the mid-20-degree heat. The chamois was comfortable, though not really the right shape for me. This is a very personal thing though, and what works for some doesn't work for others.
After about five washes, the shorts are going strong with no signs of deterioration.
See above regards performance.
At just over 6ft tall and 61kg, I'm of a long and slender build. I tested the medium, which is my typical sizing for shorts, and they fitted well, with the waist feeling comfortable and the shoulder straps the correct length.
As noted above under 'performance', the shorts work well for keeping you cool, and you can feel an element of compression as you ride, although it's hard to say how much of an effect this has. The pad is not quite the right shape for me, and the stitching around the chamois feels a little rough and crude, which isn't great for eliminating chafing. For shorts costing £135, I'd expect this vital part of the garment to be a little better.
£135 is definitely towards the upper end of the shorts spectrum, but not unusual amongst the competition. There is a quality feel to the fabric and some nice technical features that justify the price point, but I would say that a few elements, such as the stitching around the pad, should be better for a garment of this price.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems after about five washes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The shorts worked well over longer rides around four hours long, although the pad wasn't quite the right shape for me, and I found the stitching around it a little irritating. The other elements of the shorts designed around comfort, such as the low-cut waist and the wide shoulder straps, worked well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The light material is excellent for keeping you cool, as is the SPF coating. The shoulder straps and low-cut waist are also excellent for comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The pad doesn't quite fit my body shape, and I found the stitching that holds it to the shorts is a little rough and coarse.
Did you enjoy using the product? The shorts were OK; they weren't poor, but were hard to get too excited about.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd recommend others above these.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The shorts have a lot of positives, notably the fit and cut of the waist and shoulder straps, the lightweight material and the compression technology (though it's hard to comment on how well that works), and the pad shape might suit you better than it did me. But the stitching around the pad was disappointing, and overall I'd say for the price these are a 6.
About the tester
I usually ride: Giant TCR / Cannondale Supersix My best bike is: Giant TCR
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding