Louis Garneau Airstream Bib Shorts Review


Say what you will about bib shorts but until you try them, don’t knock them.

I know that right now we’re focusing more on the mountain biking side of things, but if you’re going to try anything new this year when it comes to your race-day clothing, give a pair of high-end bib shorts a try. At $199 usd, the Louis Garneau Airstream Bib shorts are definitely on the top-end of the market, but you will not find a higher quality bib.

The good.

The Airstream Bibs are unbelievably comfortable. One of the things that usually makes lycra shorts annoying is the way your jersey slides up and lets your back and gut hang out. To me, this looks goofy and is uncomfortable. With bib shorts, the fabric extends up and over your shoulders to hold everything in place for as long as you ride. During a race, wearing only a thin layer of clothing allows your muscles to move easier and, unlike baggy shorts, you don’t have to worry about loose fabric snagging on your saddle.

So what makes the Airstream Bibs stand out? I’m not exaggerating when I say these are the most technology advanced shorts every made. The chamois inside the Airstreams looks like something from the NASA headquarters with air channels running from front to back in order to improve air flow and cooling off some important areas.

The material used in the 10-panel shorts is Garneau’s Alveo and Ergotex fabric, which basically means they’re breathable and offer excellent muscle support, something that helps with reducing muscle fatigue. The shorts come in sizes from extra small to XX-Large, and all of the sizes have a grippy material to hold them in place on your legs.

The bad.

Other than the price tag there aren’t many things to complain about with the Airstream Bib Shorts.

I guess that the one thing you need to be extremely careful about when it comes to delicate cycling clothing is washing. In order to keep shorts clean and free of bacteria you need to wash them after every ride but doing so can lead to damage. Take it from someone who has wrecked a pair of $160 bib shorts in the past, don’t ever wash expensive shorts together with anything that has zippers or Velcro. The tightly-woven fabric can snag and tear easily, so wash the shorts separately from your other cycling laundry and then hang them to dry.

Summary

. Give these shorts a try. Yes, they’re expensive and, no, they don’t look cool, but they’re extremely comfortable and they will make you faster while racing.

And just a piece of advice: If you do decide to buy a pair of bib shorts, keep them for race-day only. Trust me, your friends don’t need or want to see you that close up. Train with the baggies, race with the not-so-baggies.

Bonus review: Louis Garneau Triathlon Wheels gear bag

Louis Garneau makes a 49-litre Triathlon bag (MSRP $60 usd) and a 78-litre version called the Triathlon Wheels (MSRP $90 usd), making it almost as big as a hockey bag.

I’m currently testing the Triathlon Wheels, which is excellent for traveling because there’s room to carry enough gear for a few days of riding. With its extending handle and bottom-mounted wheels that are similar to those found on traditional luggage, the bag is clearly designed for use by long-distance travelers. The bag has got room for everything, with two spots for water bottles, a separate, removable bag for your wet gear and a fold-out mat that gives you something to stand on while you’re getting ready to ride.

Everyone needs a good gear bag, but not everyone needs a bag this big. If you’re looking for a bag to throw in your car and carry your gear for a single ride, stick with the smaller Triathlon bag or something similar. But if you spend any time in airports, spend the extra money and get the bigger version. If you do opt for the larger bag, you’ll likely find that you still need a smaller bag for day-use.

Manufacturer’s websitewww.louisgarneau.com

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