An update on our innovative light weight, bib short offering excellent support and fit for serious training and racing. At home on high mountain passes and blistering hot days.
- Ergo 3D Pro Insert Chamois
- Ergo Grip SL elastic leg gripper
- Main Fabric – Sleek Power (86% nylon, 14% elastane)
- Bonded low profile bib construction
- Reflective highlights
- Tested size medium
- Weight – 169 g (6.0 oz)
- Inseam length – 24 cm (9.5 inches)
- Retail – $180
This review is in conjunction with the Helium Jersey review. Mavic, the iconic French cycling company branched into clothing back in 2008. Up until now, I did not have any experience with any of their soft goods. Fortunately, Mavic let me do a review of several of their products including the Plasma Helmet and Huez shoes which I already reviewed. Mavic may be best known for their wheels, but they are putting their technical expertise to clothing and goods. Thanks to Mavic for sending me these shorts to review.
I tested the Helium Bib Shorts with the Helium Jersey that I also reviewed. My testing was throughout the summer here in Bend so it was almost 100% dry weather testing. The temperatures ranged from 60 to 95 degrees with the mornings being the only cool time. My rides were 90% road and 10% trail ranging from 20 to 100 miles. I even through a race in there.
The Mavic Helium Bib Shorts are made to compliment the jersey and be a lightweight and breathable option for hot weather. It is part of their Hot ride + collection, which is soft goods designed for optimal thermo regulation in temperatures exceeding 28 degrees Celsius or 82 degree Fahrenheit. The shorts are made of several fabrics with the main one being Sleek Power, an 86% nylon and 14% elastane fabric that is thin and stretchy. It gives the shorts a compressive fit that sits close to the skin for better aerodynamics and excellent movement. The shorts section is made up of two fabrics; they are both varying mixes of Nylon and elastane for optimal stretch and durability. The torso section is also a mix of fabrics. The lower section is a polyester mesh for breathability while the straps are a nylon and elastane mix similar to the shorts and or the same durability and stretch reasons.
Like the jersey, the Helium Bib Shorts do not have flat locked seams. They have been made with a paneled construction for the best fit and using strategically placed fabrics. At the bottom of the leg is the Ergo Grip SL. This lightweight supports system is very interesting. It is about 2 ½ cm tall and has been designed with a unique extra light elastic with just enough grip to hold the shorts in place. It is very low profile and is supposed to improve blood flow as it does not constrict. The most important part of any cycling shorts has to be the chamois. The Helium Shorts uses the Ergo 3D Pro Insert. The Ergo 3D has a full three dimensional fit which better suits a rider and increases the comfort. It has a low profile construction with the use of high density foams for a less in more effect. The 3D Pro insert uses progressive cushioning that consists of three different densities and four different thicknesses. This combination has been derived to provide ultimate comfort. The chamois uses a moisture wicking antimicrobial cover against the skin for a smooth contact with the skin. It is important to note that the men’s and women’s inserts are different in shape as they have distinct needs.
As with the other items I have reviewed from Mavic, I was not able to find any information about the sustainability of the materials used in the jersey. Looking into the company as a whole, there is not much information about any corporate initiatives either. At least, Mavic is in the industry of endorsing a cleaner and healthier mode of transportation. For these reasons, I gave the bib shorts a one for sustainability.
Ease of Movement (25%)
Inseam Length (15%)
Leg Sizing (20%)
Strap Comfort (15%)
Just like in the Helium Jersey the sizes will vary by region. I ended up testing the International medium which is the US size small. My waist is 32 inches so the small is what would fit me according to the Mavic size chart. I was at first a bit hesitant as I am a medium in most companies but can say the small seems to be just right. The Bibs are made to be form fitting as they are both more aerodynamic and move moisture away from the skin when they are tight. These are, in fact, tight but not overly so. I have tested several other pairs of bib shorts and these fit very similarly to those in the amount of compression they give. I feel like the Mavic sizing chart was right on so if you do not have any experience with the brand just use that, and you should be good.
One thing about bib shorts that can be totally polarizing is the inseam length. There are those that are more traditional and like the shorter inseam and then those who would like a little more coverage. I fall on the coverage side of things and have found that shorts with an 11-inch inseam are my favorites thus far. Maybe I am a bit self-conscious, but I figure that since I am already in skintight clothing. Why do I need to show more leg too? Plus for a majority of people I figure less exposed the better. The Helium’s have a 9 ½ inch inseam which is okay in my book. Nine inches is as short as I will go comfortably, anything else, and it just feels too short on me. I wish they could be a bit longer, but that is just my preference. At 9 ½ inches I will not complain, I guess it is just a good common ground between long and short.
After plenty of miles in the bib shorts, I have found them to be very comfortable. Enough so that I ended up using them in my last race, which called for a ride of 138 miles. The fabric is nice and comfortable against the skin while providing plenty of stretch to pedal. The legs are especially comfortable with the low profile but effective leg gripper. They feel the same as any other part of the shorts even with the elastic gripper built in. Really cool what they have done here. The other part of the bibs that I find can alter comfort on a ride is in the bib straps. If they are too narrow, they have a tendency to dig in over time. Well, the Helium has wider straps that spread the pressure over a larger area and therefore have been plenty comfortable. On my long rides, I did not feel any discomfort from the straps. I was a bit worried since I am 5’11” and wearing a small but the stretch of the straps could adjust and worked well for me.
Moisture Transport (15%)
If you just finished the “fit” section you probably thought I missed the chamois. I am not sure where to best talk about it, so I decided to put it in this section instead. The Helium uses a 3D shaped chamois that has multiple layers of foam at different densities to add padding and reduce vibration when you ride. Of course, the overall goal of the chamois is to improve comfort on the saddle. So on top of just adding extra padding the chamois also has to reduce friction and move moisture away. Now it is important to note that chamois are very subjective just like a saddle is so my experience may be different from yours. All in all, I felt like the chamois was very comfortable. Like I said before I had several rides up near 100 miles and for the most part my butt was happy. I had no chafing or hot spots, just a little soreness from being in the saddle so long. This is even with some of the roads around here being chip sealed or forest service roads. Could my butt have been happier? Sure. Have I found a chamois that is much better than this one? No, there are plenty of good ones that I would rate this right up there with. It pads well and moves moisture away from the skin; it does what it is supposed to.
The fabric is definitely thicker than the jersey was and that is a good thing. No one wants to wear see through bib shorts. The thicker fabric still does breathe well and kept me comfortable on all my rides. I do not find that I sweat as much on my lower body as I do my upper body so breathability and moisture management is not quite as important to me on bib shorts. The one spot that does always get sweaty is my lower back, and that was again the case with these. I do not think there is much I can do there as the jersey and bibs overlap there, and it is out of the wind. Apart from the lower back the shorts kept me completely comfortable. I have also found them to be plenty durable in my testing. They have held up to the vigor of my riding with little to no wear. Even in the inner thighs where some piling can occur the shorts still look great. I think the use of different fabrics helps put a more durable fabric in the appropriate locations. At least, that is what I am going with.
The last thing worth noting is the addition of the reflective elements to the shorts. While they are smaller, you can see in the pictures that they do reflect quite well. I was happy to see them on there too as it might seem like a little addition but one that can make a big difference.
Overall, I was very pleased with the Mavic Helium Bib Shorts. I found them to be well-made and very comfortable on all my rides. Even pushing the distance up to 100 miles, they felt good. Yes, my butt would get a little sore but that is just due to me getting used to being in the saddle for so long, not the shorts themselves. While I did like the Helium Jersey I tested, I must say I liked the bibs more. They fit good, breathed well, and did not have any glaring weaknesses in my book. I especially liked the leg grippers and wider shoulder straps. If you are in the market for a hot weather kit, take a look at the Helium Jersey and Bib Shorts. They are a solid option. The Mavic Helium Bib Shorts retail for $180, which is similar to other high end shorts. I would definitely recommend them. As always, your mileage may vary.
Pros [field name=iFrame]
- Great leg gripper hem
- Comfortable pre-shaped chamois
- Wide shoulder straps
- Durable fabric
- Wish the inseams were slightly longer (personal preference)
- Cost on the higher end, but they are high end bibs
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