The Primal Dawn Men's Bib Knickers are a real masterclass in how to create a simple, quality product at a very good price. Multiple panels for a great fit, high quality fabric and a highly comfortable pad make for a pair of 3/4-length tights that can be worn for hours.
The Dawns use a material called Traverso, a brushed-back fabric that is composed of 90% polyester and 10% spandex. It's warm, very warm... even in the 3-4°C early morning temperatures I've been riding in. Primal gives a range of use from -7°C to 24°C which is plausible at the bottom end, though I reckon you'll be pretty uncomfortable with anything above about 17-18°C – that's shorts weather!
The fabric has a decent weight to it and offers a close fit without being compressive, just sitting nicely balanced between the two. It is very soft against the skin, especially with that brushed finish on the inside.
There are multiple panels of fabric sewn together to create the tights below the waist, and this really does give you a full range of movement. When you are sat in the saddle there is no bunching anywhere thanks to little details like the small panel behind each knee.
Helping the calf grippers stay in place are silicone strips and they do a really good job – I never felt them ride up.
The bibs are made from a lighter weight mesh fabric with the straps being nice and wide to avoid any kind of pressure points. You get a full back panel for warmth and the front sits quite high up towards your stomach to keep your vital organs out of any chilly winter breezes.
On first glimpse I was expecting the APX pad to be a little bulky as it looks quite thick in places, I prefer a slim pad over a thick one. The APX uses a triple density design but cleverly, the thicker sections are exactly where you need them, with minimal material where you don't. This way you get all of the shock absorption needed without any bulky bunching up of the material.
I rode anything from 90-minute smashfest efforts through to a four-hour ride and never once found the Primals to be uncomfortable.
Priced at an impressive £75, it's a lot of bib knicker for your money. The build quality looks to be excellent, and thanks to the thickness of the fabric durability isn't likely to be an issue.
They sit well against other brands known for offering very good clothing at a sensible price. Lusso, for example, has its three-quarter Thermal Roubaix for £79.50 (we tested the tight version here), and the non-Roubaix version is the same money.
The Primals might be up against some top opposition from the likes of these two, but that doesn't take away their amazing comfort and performance, regardless of the price.
Absolutely brilliant pair of 3/4s in all aspects, especially comfort
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Primal Dawn Men's Bib Knickers
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Primal says, "Classic Design which will match all of our lovely tops! We all need some warmth. With an innovative multi-panel design and thermal brushed back fabric, Primal Bib Knickers are designed to optimize performance and keep you comfortable in cool weather. These knickers also have a top of the line APX chamois with 3 density foam layers to ensure your comfort and remove the need to wear additional layers."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Optimized for damage-free use in warmers and tights while in conditions that are tougher than Calculus, Traverso is constructed with a mechanically brushed back fabric, and traverses excellently between a span of 20-75 degrees F. Reduction of 'grin-through' is thoroughly maintained by a dyed black back that covers the white base once the material is stretched. Many folks may confuse grin through with the face they put on during another one of their friend's tragic attempts at slam-poetry-not the same.
Technical Specs: 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex | 245 gsm
The APX chamois is ideal for teams and competitive road cyclists. Three layers of density foam, 4-way stretch and an anatomical shape allow for optimum comfort while maintaining a free range of motion. Antibacterial Silver Ion and Visigrid fabrics offer superior moisture transport and will not break down over time.
* APX Chamois
* Silicone Leg Gripper
* Sport Fit
* Traverso Fabric
ABOUT THE FIT
Primal Knickers are built using Traverso fabric: optimized for damage-free use when paired with tights during freezing temperatures yet versatile enough for up to 75 degrees F. The APX chamois has three layers of density foam, a 4-way stretch, and an anatomical shape that provides optimum comfort while maintaining a free range of motion. Antibacterial Silver Ion and Visigrid fabrics offer superior moisture transport and will not break down over time.
Absolutely spot on to the sizing guide. On the whole Primal's products are cut realistically to the general UK sizing.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems in the washing machine at all. They came up clean no matter how muddy they were, plus there were no issues with shrinkage.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great for the type of temperatures you're likely to find in the spring and autumn, and the pad works for all types of riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There really is very little to dislike. One rider who I was with said he'd prefer a smaller logo on the leg, but it wasn't really an issue for me.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There is quite a bit of opposition out there at this price point, like the brands I mention in the review, but the Dawns are right up there with the best of them – and even those more expensive.
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
These are great bib knickers; they feel absolutely brilliant from the moment you pull them on and are backed up by some great build quality, at a really good price.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!