The Endura Pro SL Lite bib shorts work really well – a great fit, quality construction and strong (but not excessive) cooling make these an impressive summer choice.
Pros: Cope very well with heat, not excessively chilly either, well made, good fit
Cons: Thin-fronted pad, attractive packaging is excessive
The 'Lite' in the name actually refers to the pad, but it could just as well describe the whole thing – any shorts with holes punched out of them are clearly on the minimalist side. Designed for very hot weather and tested by pros from the Movistar and Cervélo Bigla teams, the Pro SL Lites use large perforated inserts and high-airflow padding for impressively effective cooling. One surprise, though, is that despite the looks they're 199g and not that light.
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What's perhaps most surprising is how usable they are in more temperate climates, such as the UK. I found no detectable draft or temperature difference across the different fabrics in any weather (including rain showers) I tested in, and none of the breezy thigh sensations I fully expected. They stayed perfectly comfortable even under clouds on 13 degree days – there's no more reason to fear being caught in the 'wrong' kit if the weather fades than with regular shorts.
Naturally, the hotter it is, the bigger the advantage. Even on some blaringly sunny climbs that had running sweat stinging my eyes, the only heat build-up in the Pro SL Lites was in the small of the back. After a few rides I realised there's a little laser-cut rear pocket there, theoretically for a race radio but big enough for a credit card, a gel, keys or at a (literal) stretch, a phone. Consequently there are two layers of material, and it's enough to leave that small patch sweaty. A mesh pocket backing would probably fix this.
Everywhere else they resist heat build-up extremely well, and even in truly beautiful UK weather never got hot enough for that slightly clammy, slimy feeling of about-to-boil-over Lycra. The 'Coldblack' finish is designed to reflect heat – black normally absorbs more energy than lighter colours, heating you up – and consequently blocks enough UV light to get a UPF50 rating.
The legs are fairly short and well secured with wide silicone grippers and elastic cuffs, while the straps are open mesh and cool well.
The broad elastic edging provides a secure hold that was never too strong to be uncomfortable, even on my relatively long torso. The edging did quite quickly discolour to a creamy white that contrasts against the pure white mesh – I'd suspect suntan lotion as the culprit, but the discoloration is so uniform it can't just be that. It's a mild effect and generally hidden, at least.
The 'pre-curved' (or 'curved') race fit is good; these bibs can feel a bit tight between the legs while walking, but they're just right on the bike whether in or out of the saddle. The overlocked seams are comfy to the point of undetectable, and sizing is accurate, making these summer shorts an easy 'fit and forget' item – at least until you walk into the coffee shop.
I was concerned I'd look a bit perverse in see-through mesh(!) but it's actually – I think – not that obvious, at least as you ride past. It's easy to mistake the exposed skin for a printed pattern, especially as you build a razor-edged tan and your thighs get even paler by comparison.
As for tanning little dots all over your upper legs, you'd have to wear these for a very long time without moving them for that to be a problem. I never had any sign of it happening despite many hours in the sun.
> How to protect your skin in the sun
Neither the antibacterial pad nor the Lycra is prone to getting smelly, so they can survive multiple rides with just air drying between washes (we won't tell anyone).
Endura supplies these in five sizes and three pad widths (medium/medium tested), and offers an online tool for working out which pad you need. The reticulated foam of the 700 Series Lite pad has a more open cell structure than most, Endura says, for better air flow and faster drying. I found it unsweaty and very supportive under the sit bones, but further forward the pad thins considerably where it mimics the lines of a channelled saddle. Pressure can build up here during long seated sections, so if your hips typically roll forward or you run quite flat saddles, you may not find it ideal.
Endura does offer a 90-day satisfaction guarantee on these, though, promising a 'no-quibble refund or replacement' from the shop in question with just a proof of purchase.
There's not a lot of competition on the 'extreme heat use' side of things, but there's plenty in summer bib shorts overall. The Lusso Active Aero Cycling Bibshorts employ similar large panels which, if not quite perforated, are thin to the point of transparency in a series of stripes. In this case the claimed benefit is aero rather than cooling, but thinner is cooler and either way they're a very comfortable, well-made option at under £100.
> Buyer's Guide: 22 of the best cycling bib shorts
At a higher price (£140) are the Castelli Free Aero Race Bibshorts, featuring very light fabric and a swathe of super-thin 'aero dimples' that also bring above-average cooling. They're also extremely comfortable, with a great pad and excellent fit.
The Pro SL Lites are a great choice for warm summer days and better still for truly hot climates. They’re noticeably cooler than ‘regular’ Lycra, yet not so chilly as to cause problems when it’s merely mild. Ideally Endura would ditch the attractive but excessive multi-part packaging and let the quality speak for itself, because – so long as the pad works for your riding style – those qualities are impressive.
Comfy and well-made shorts that get better the hotter it gets, though the thin-fronted pad may not be supportive enough for some
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Make and model: Endura Pro SL Lite Bibshort
Tell us what the product is for
Endura says, "Game-changing bibshort for hotter climates, with award-winning multi-pad width technology, supported by our 90 day comfort guarantee. Movistar Team favourite.
"The Pro SL Lite Bibshort applies our award-winning multi-width pad fit system to a lightweight summer bibshort."
Of the vented design, Endura claims it's been "tried and tested in the cut and thrust of the World Tour's hottest races, in both men's and women's variants, by our pro Teams Movistar and Cervélo Bigla."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The feature list includes:
High quality Italian Power Lycra® fabric
Coldblack® technology dramatically reduces heat build-up
Strategically-positioned perforated Lycra® panels for improved breathability
700 series lite pad, computer cut 'Continuously Variable Profile' (CVP) with a more open cell reticulated foam, antibacterial finish and 3 width options
Ergonomic, pre-shaped multi panel construction
Laser cut rear pocket
Raw edge hem with inner silicone print
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Strongly and neatly put together.
Rate the product for performance:
Comfy and very resistant to sweaty heat build-up on hot days, without being excessively chilly on cooler days.
Rate the product for durability:
No signs of any wear, snagging, unraveling or the silicone unpeeling despite the many miles and washes of the test period.
Rate the product for fit:
Tight, racy fit could be just a tiny bit longer in the body, but otherwise the fit is spot-on for comfort, aerodynamics and staying in place. 'Pre-curved' cut is perfect on the bike, if a little tight in the crotch when standing.
Rate the product for sizing:
As claimed. The recommended size (based on chest size) fitted me just right.
Rate the product for weight:
At almost 200g, they're around 30g heavier than most.
Rate the product for comfort:
The hotter it gets, the greater the benefits from the excellent heat management. The only niggle is the slight lack of support towards the front of the pad.
Rate the product for value:
The extra cooling is rarely vital in the UK, yet frequently a benefit – and if you spend any serious time in high heat, consider the value higher.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Can manage multiple rides before they demand washing, and come out of the machine looking good as new. The elastic edging of the bib discolours rapidly to a creamier white, though, and it's not a skin-contact thing – it's a uniform colour change.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Noticeably less sweaty and 'boil in the bag' than some shorts on hot, intense rides, yet not limited to extreme use – they're surprisingly good on cooler days too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Excellent cooling and good fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slight lack of pad support ahead of the sit bones; the slightly deviant look of mesh-fronted shorts...
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Shorts that fit this well and avoid that nasty, slimy feeling of overheating Lycra deserve a 9, but the price is a little steep and the pad, while comfortable under the sit bones (and available in three widths), is a bit too thin to avoid pressure towards the front.
Age: 45 Height: 183cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: GT GTR Series 3 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mountain biking
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