Endura PRO SL Bibshorts: Long Review – by Guitar Ted
Cycling shorts can run the gamut from budget to ‘ultra-spendy,’ just like bicycles and other components. These Endura PRO SL Bibshorts, while not the most expensive bib shorts you can buy, are certainly not in the ‘budget’ category. So, what do you get when you upgrade to this sort of kit? The liner probably is better, but how much better? What about fit and comfort? These are the kinds of questions I had going in as I took a long look at the PRO SL bibs.
What It Is: The Pro SL Bibshorts sit in the second from the top position in the Endura bib short range and they come in two versions- The regular leg length version (tested) and the Long Leg version. Both have an MSRP of $194.99 Endura has the following to say about them on their webpage:
“Overhauled for 2020, this game changing road bibshort with award-winning multiple pad width technology now boasts a ‘perfect fit’ with lumbar support and power straps.“
Of course, any cycling short is only as good as the pad insert they come with. Endura claims to have the most comfortable insert they have ever offered in the PRO SL. Interestingly, the PRO SL is offered in three different insert widths to accommodate different pelvic structures, kind of similar to saddle widths. Endura even has a page on their site to help with choosing the correct width for yourself. My recommendation was for the medium width pad insert, so that is what I tested.
Endura PRO SL Bibshorts also feature their computer cut,”Continously Variable Profile” (CVP), in an updated 700 series pad with improved foam construction and a micro-polyester face fabric for the best comfort.
The rest of the short’s construction is no less impressive with Endura using “Italian power Lycra®” featuring Endura’s coldblock® technology to dramatically reduce heat build-up and which also has a sunblock rating of UPF 50. Endura also has an anatomically shaped lower lumbar panel which is tailored to hug the lower back which is claimed to reduce pressure on the bib straps for better comfort. Endura offers a “no-quibble”, 90 day satisfaction guarantee on the PRO SL Bibshorts, so the investment in them can be taken with a little bit less risk on the part of the buyer. That’s impressive.
First Impressions: My out-of-the-box impression of the PRO SL bibs was that they are really thin and very lightweight! The bib straps looked thin and are very stretchy and elastic. I noted the nice gripper area on the lower legs and wondered how that might work with my decidedly non-shaven gams. The pad insert, for all the hype, didn’t look all that impressive, but of course, looks don’t really matter in terms of comfort in bib shorts, so while they may not pass the eye test, that doesn’t really matter.
Putting the PRO SL bibs on for the first time revealed that the fabric is indeed cooling and thin feeling. Second skin-like here folks. The pad insert felt snug, but accommodating and not at all bunched up or needing to be positioned ‘just so’ after putting the bibs on. The straps felt just fine, by the way, and I could discern the lumbar-hugging back panel as well.
Ride Performance: I received these bibs at the tail end of Winter going into Spring here. It was far too cold to be wearing these bibs alone! I did match them with tights over the bibs and with some baggies as it got warmer to start out with. During these rides it was very apparent to me that the pad insert Endura put in the PRO SL bibs is a top-notch product. Comfortable, dry, and chaff-free were the operative words I would use to describe that insert. But what about a longer ride and how would the PRO SL’s do in warmer weather?
Obviously, I had to wait until later on into Spring to answer those questions, but the opportunity to do a century arose in early June and I called up the PRO SL bibs for duty. After a grueling 100 plus miles of gravel I had zero complaints about my comfort as it related to the bib shorts. I stayed very comfortable on a day where the temperatures ranged from the 50’s to the mid-80’s, for the bulk of the ride, and that fancy pad? Perfect.
Bonus Quick Review: Endura Translite Base Layer- I also wanted to put in a quick word about the Translite Base layer I was sent to go along with these PRO SL Bibshorts from Endura. The base layer is made up from a extra fine gauge, rapid wicking fabric, in a cut that resembles a t-shirt with the sleeves missing more than a typical tank top affair. It was immediately my favorite base layer that I had on hand and was really good at wicking my perspiration while remaining pretty much invisible when worn.
The Translite Base Layer has flat stitched seams and a Sun protection rating of UPF 25. The piece goes for $34.95 USD and you can check it out here on Endura’s site.
At The Finish: Okay, so these bib shorts are really quite nice. Impressive fit and feel, even for someone like me, who is shaped more like a football player than a Pro level Road Racer. But that’s how good these are. And, of course, they are ‘pro level kit’. One expects to get high performing materials and Pro level fit and feel at nearly 200 bucks for a pair of these bibs.
My questions at the beginning were all answered. Yes- the pad insert is that much better. The best pad insert I have ever used, as it has never been pinchy, hot, bunched up, or even noticeable while in use. My saddles on the other hand….. I gotta change that outdated one on my single speed! But the pad width choices are a brilliant idea. One of those things that sets the light bulb off when you think about it, and for me, it was a game changer.
What else do you get when you upgrade? Well, a Sun block rating, which not all bib shorts have, and that lumbar panel? Yes. More of that please. That was something that not only made the straps more comfy, but I never once felt the need to pull up these bibs or felt like the body of them was creeping down. They never hit me in a way that was uncomfortable. The straps, being as elastic and thin as they are, were barely noticeable, unlike some other bib shorts where I feel like the strap is moving around during my ride, or uncomfortable across my more bony parts.
The fit was never an issue for me. Spot on for this XL guy. I also was worried about those grippers on the lower legs bugging me- never noticed anything there. So, was there anything I found I didn’t like? I guess the only hurdle for me here would be the price. Are the PRO SL Bibshorts worth nearly 200 bucks? I really think so- Yes. But do you need such kit? That’s the question, and if you’ve made it this far into this review, I would venture to say “Yes- you need these.” They do make a very noticeable difference in ride performance and comfort. They keep you cooler and they keep your mind off niggles which some other bib shorts might inflict upon your mind and body, especially on multi-hour rides.
Now, if you are merely doing short, recreational rides and trying to keep things fun and low key? No, these probably are not for you then. I like to ride in street clothes as much as anyone else, and if all I ever did was fun, adventure based, shorter rides, I would take a pass, most likely, on these Endura shorts. But I will tell you this: If a long ride in hot weather with a lot of gravel is on my radar to tackle, these will be the first shorts out of my drawer to ride in. They are really good. Paired up with the Translite Base Layer top I have a great foundation for clothing that I know will never get in my way. And that is worth a lot in my opinion.
Note: Endura sent over the PRO SL Bibshorts and Translite Base Layer for test and review to Riding Gravel at no charge. We were not paid nor bribed for this post and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.