Shimano's Evolve bib shorts are a solid pair of bibs, although for me they didn't do enough to justify their price tag given the competition.
- Pros: Well made, useful hidden pocket
- Cons: Expensive, pad positioning not quite right
These bib shorts are 'engineered to ride further and faster with features to maximize vibration absorption, breathability, and comfort', says Shimano. They're nicely put together, too. The fabric (they're available in this navy blue and also black) is quite thick and feels good against the skin, as do the flat and seamless shoulder straps.
There's some reflective detailing on the legs, and a discreet little pocket on one leg big enough for a gel or two. It's so discreet that I didn't even notice it until I'd read the description of the shorts on the Shimano website, so it's not obvious if you don't need it.
The reflective material on the legs means that they're not quite as elastic as some, so you won't want to size up too much or they might feel a bit flappy. I found that they stayed in place just fine though.
Shimano has developed its own Evolve chamois for these bibs, which is based on its top-end S-Phyre chamois but with 'increased vibration absorption and all-day comfort during Gran Fondos and extended hours in the saddle'. So Shimano is aiming these bibs at longer distances, and the material comfort and build quality are there for longer rides.
The chamois I found comfortable enough, but for me it was positioned a bit far back, so my sit bones weren't directly over the thickest bit when in a road riding position (although another tester who tried them found the pad too far forward). I knocked out a few long rides wearing them, and found them to be good for 4-5 hours in the saddle.
The front panel is quite high and the material feels gently compressive, which gives you the feeling of a bit of core support when you're out on a long one. Should nature call, they're not the easiest for comfort breaks thanks to the high front, but they're not too bad.
At £149 RRP these are fairly expensive shorts, and for me they're not doing enough to justify that outlay. In terms of overall comfort I didn't find them as comfortable as the dhb Aeron Speed bibs I recently tested, and those are 80 quid. My current favourite long-distance bibs are either the Le Col HC shorts, which are reassuringly expensive at £180 but great as the hours tick by into epic territory, or the £140 Castelli Free Aero Race bibs (https://road.cc/content/review/241540-castelli-free-aero-race-bibshort) with the excellent Progetto X2 pad.
The dhb shorts are very nearly as comfortable as either, though, and if I was going to recommend a pair of shorts for endurance riding, they'd get the vote right now purely on value.
The Evolve bib shorts have some good features – the hidden pocket is a nice touch, the straps are comfy and they're very well made – but overall they're decent at this price, rather than great.
Likeable bib shorts with a high quality build, but don't excel given the price tag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Shimano Evolve Bib Shorts
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for
Engineered to ride further and faster with features to maximize vibration absorption, breathability, and comfort
New evolve chamois for comfort, vibration damping, and moisture management on extended rides. Integrated supplement storage pocket on the leg. Discreet reflectivity elements on lower legs for low-light visibility. Soft and comfortable fabric provides quality feel and performance. Open-mesh bib fabric with dimple surface quickly wicks moisture. Bonded seam construction for added comfort and clean look.
The Evolve Chamois design is based on Shimano's benchmark S-PHYRE Chamois, but is engineered for increased vibration absorption and all-day comfort during Gran Fondos and extended hours in the saddle.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Shimano lists these features:
main fabric: 59% polyamide, 41% elastane
details: 94% polyamide, 6% elastane
Very nicely made.
They're good. But overall, not £150 good.
Material is thick, they wash well.
Good overall, though legs aren't as stretchy due to reflective coating.
I had XL bibs, they fitted fine.
Nice weighty fabric.
Good, but pad isn't quite right position-wise and they're not as comfy as others I've tried over longer distances.
At £150 they feel a bit overpriced, to be honest.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed at 40° several times, no issues at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They're decent shorts but not exceptional.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfy fabric, hidden pocket works well.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Price, pad doesn't feel quite right.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Nearer the top of the market than the bottom. Comparing comfort like for like, you can get comfier shorts for not much more than half the price of these, and they're not as good as the Castelli Free Aero Race bibs at about the same money.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall performance is decent for the money rather than good.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.