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Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
The Primal Stirling Men's Helix 2.0 Bibshorts are impressively comfortable thanks to great race cut, a well-balanced pad and excellent materials. A hint of compression makes them an ideal choice for fast or hard rides.
Primal has used its race-specific pattern for the cut and layout of the various contoured panels. It works well, as I always felt that the shorts fitted absolutely perfectly no matter what position I was in on the bike. No unnecessary bunching of material anywhere, nor did they feel tight when standing.
The Vero fabric is soft to the touch and has just a small amount of compression that is noticeable enough to take the edge off muscle vibration on longer rides. The jury has been out for a long time on how much compression garments help, but I have always got on well with them during and after exercise so it's a welcome addition here.
There are a fair few seams going on around the Helix to get that race shape, but thankfully I found no irritation whatsoever. The flatlock stitching and positioning keeps them all out of the way of where they might rub, and on rides of four to five hours I had no issues with discomfort.
Another thing that bolsters that comfort is the HX8 Carbon Italian chamois. It is quite simple to look at, having just a single density of padding in a saddle shape, with slimmer foam around the outside. There are no channels or anything like that, and I certainly didn't suffer with any numbness. The padding is quite firm and supportive so it takes the edge off road buzz without it feeling too squidgy or soft, something I'm not a fan of.
As for the rest of the shorts, things are all good here too.
You get a back panel made of mesh that helps keep you cool when paired with a baselayer beneath and a jersey over the top, and the wide straps don't cause any pressure points on your shoulders like some thinner designs can.
Keeping the legs in place are a pair of grippers made from highly stretchable FlexPro material backed with what feels like little silicone dots. They do the job well without being too restrictive and becoming irritating on longer jaunts.
The overall quality and finish is very good, especially the neatness of the stitching overall.
There is a wide seam that runs around the chamois, which I'm glad to see. This is where I find some shorts can wear quickly, with the friction of the saddle during the pedalling movement damaging the stitching, but no such issues here.
Looking at value, you can get some very good bib shorts for less than a hundred quid, such as the dhb Aerons, but that doesn't mean the Primals are overpriced. They sit well alongside similar designs like the £139 Shutt Velo Rapide Sanremo shorts I was testing at the same time. The Shutt VRs feel just that little bit softer and the pad is very slightly better, but the Primals are pretty close.
Overall, the Helix bib shorts are hard to fault – my only real nit-pick is that I'm not a massive fan of the graphics. Even if you do like them, you're likely going to need to get the full outfit of jersey or gilet as it isn't an easy design to mix and match.
Very comfortable bib shorts thanks to a great choice of fabrics and pad
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Primal Stirling Men's Helix 2.0 Bibs
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Primal says, "Primal Custom race specific pattern of the Helix 2.0 Short features anatomically contoured panels designed to follow muscle movements through the entire pedal stroke and increase accuracy. This innovative pattern technology combined with elite Vero fabric creates compression around key muscle groups to promote optimal blood flow and ensure peak performance. An extended leg cuff constructed from FlexPro fabric aids with the overall compression and helps wick away moisture for a comfortable fit overall, whilst creating a smooth, seamless transition from skin to short. This reduces air surface tension and locks the cuff into position. No slippage or movement means laser sharp tan lines!"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Flatlock Stitching
* HX8 Carbon Chamois
* Laser Cut FlexPro Leg Band
* Pro Tour Fit
* Promesh Bib Upper
* Vero Fabric
No problems with the sizing. Primal has quite realistic sizing for the UK market I think.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues with washing at all. You'll find the instructions printed on the inside of the leg, much better than a sewn-in label.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A great fitting, comfortable pair of bib shorts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great pad for short or long rides.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm not a massive fan of the graphics.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
For the quality and comfort they sit well alongside brands like Shutt VR, Lusso and dhb who also generally deliver quality products at a decent price.
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
There are more technical shorts out there but Primal has delivered a simple design very well by way of using quality fabric, contoured panels and an excellent chamois. They're not the cheapest, but when you balance that against their performance, quality and comfort, they easily justify a score of 8.
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!