Designed for indoor training, the Primal eSport bib shorts have some clever tweaks to make them more suited to your garage rather than the outside world. Fewer seams, a decent pad and breathable materials make them ideal for going nowhere fast.
For some of us it's getting near that time of year when the turbo trainer will be getting a dusting off and the direct debits for the interactive training software packages will be resumed, and this is where Primal sees its eSport bibs coming into play. They are like a lighter, stripped down version of the shorts you'd normally ride out on the road.
First up, the fabric feels a lot thinner. The Vita material is soft and highly stretchable but with plenty of compression, ideal for those full-on interval sessions.
Unless you have one of the new fully immersive turbo trainers that allow the bike to move around beneath you, you're going to be sat in one position for a long time which can increase the likelihood of irritation. Primal has made the eSports from just four panels to cut down on the need for so many seams. This does mean they don't have such a contoured fit as a quality multi-panelled pair of shorts, but the compression in the fabric more than makes up for it, reducing any bunching of the material.
The only thing I would say about the cut is that I found the front very high, almost squashing my stomach at times because of the compression in the material, and a little uncomfortable when in the drops.
For those long efforts in the saddle you're also going to need a decent chamois to ward off numbness. Here, the E6 Carbon pad does a pretty decent job. There are various density layers and channels to promote blood flow, and on the whole it worked quite well. Even though it is relatively thick I didn't find it the most cushioning of pads – not a major concern when on the turbo but if you were to wear them on the road (this pad is used in some of Primal's road shorts) you'll notice that they don't damp surface imperfections that much.
On the turbo is the only place I don't wear a baselayer, so it's good to see that Primal has given some consideration to the bib straps. They are lazer cut for a start, which means no seams anywhere to rub against bare skin, and they are plenty wide enough to avoid hot spots. They have small ventilation holes, but you are still going to need a decent fan to keep you cool.
Value-wise it's tricky to rate the eSports, as it comes down to how much you are willing to spend on kit that you are going to use indoors only.
As I said earlier, they are just a little thin and don't quite have the right cut to be massively comfortable when riding outdoors, so £95 could be a little steep.
If you are an avid Zwifter, though, these might be the only shorts you wear for three to four months of the year.
For £75 you can get an excellent pair of dhb Aerons. I've worn these on the turbo many times in the past without any real issue.
Or there are the Lusso RS19 bibs, which are very slightly more than the eSports at £99.99.
You can obviously use both the dhb and Lusso shorts out on the road, but I have to say I did notice small improvements when using the Primals on the turbo over standard bib shorts, in both fit and comfort.
If you ride the turbo a lot then they make a lot of sense.
Well-thought-out and comfortable shorts for the indoor racer
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Primal Men's eSport Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Primal says, "The eSport Bib Short is comprised of a lightweight fabric with reduced seams and designed for those who want to push themselves during their indoor training sessions. Using four panels, with fewer seams to reduce irritation, the eSport Bib is a product that is designed to fit your body and not scrunch during a ride. This is achieved through the FlexBib straps which feature laser incisions, not only ensuring a tight fit, but also providing additional ventilation when the fabric is stretched. As a result, this perfectly finished fabric results in no hotspots or pressure points. The MARC woven leg bands additionally have strategically placed silicone to provide the perfect amount of grip which prevents the moving of the shorts. In addition to these excellent features, the Italian made E6 Carbon chamois is suited for comfort, allowing you to put in more hours during your training. "
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Race Fit
* Laser Perforated Venting
* MARC Woven Leg Bands
* E6 Carbon Chamois
* Flatlock Stitching
The fit works pretty well on the turbo but the untailored cut means they aren't as good as road shorts for the same money if you use them outside.
Sizing is spot on to Primal's chart.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
These got washed a lot considering how hot and sweaty turbo training is this time of the year, and I had no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
There are definite improvements on the turbo over normal road shorts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Bib straps are cleverly designed.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
High front can be restrictive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
We've seen very few indoor-specific shorts to make a really good comparison, but for the build quality and materials used I'd say the eSports aren't overpriced compared with other mid-level shorts from the likes of Lusso and dhb.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if I was a committed indoor trainer.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Quite a limited remit but they do exactly what they are designed for, working well on the turbo trainer.
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!