Canari Pro Gel Review
Cons: No-frills design, awkward chamois positioning, not built for long efforts
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Comfort and Fit
The straight-cut eight-panel design, a chamois that feels too long, and shorter leg length on the short make this one a difficult fit. Granted, it works well for up to two hours in the saddle, but then the Pro Gel gets plain uncomfortable. If you are looking for something for a ride over 50 miles, we recommend you try a few other options first and save the Canari for shorter efforts or spin classes. Other options offer better comfort and fit due to the increased quality of the fabric and more thoughtful construction to get you through the miles.
Padding and Protection
Our testers were intrigued by the idea of a "gel" chamois. It is, in fact, very different than other chamois composed mostly of 3D (or 2D, depending on quality) layered foam. Despite the novelty, the gel becomes squished out of place by a rider's sit bones, offering minimal protection against bumps (or cracks) in the road.
In fact, for any ride over two hours, the chamois didn't offer sufficient protection and resulted in a sore backside after getting out of the saddle. Other testers remarked that the seams holding the chamois in place are oddly positioned and lead to the chamois "riding up" (rather than staying put) over the course of a ride.
The most important takeaway from our months of testing, however, is that the gel chamois doesn't offer sufficient coverage to keep road-chatter at bay. Granted, the chamois is better than riding naked, but that's a low bar. We tested this claim - which seemed unduly harsh - by riding the hard saddle of a race bike in these shorts and a pair of yoga pants. The Canari chamois made a HUGE difference to zero padding — which is why you need to invest in a pair of cycling-specific shorts before you head out for any road ride at all. Your backside will thank us.
The Nylon/Spandex blend has a "heavy" feel to it, much little a swimsuit or a low-end tri short. However, it was soft enough not to chafe our testers on two-hour rides.
In a soak-test, the Canari short performed reasonably well: the nylon/spandex outer shed most water within an hour. An added bonus: the gel chamois was the driest of all the shorts in this review after an hour.
With a lifetime guarantee on their products, the Canari short comes with some confidence. Reinforced seams (even around the chamois) guarantee that these shorts are built for longevity. The problem might actually be that the shorts will last longer than you will, especially on rough roads or longer rides when the gel chamois and the cut of the short deprive it of its potential.
This basic black short isn't fancy: it's basic. And by basic, we mean exactly that: the eight-panel design is cut to the shape of a short with functionality—not fashion—in mind. And yet, for the price, if you don't want to spend a lot (and you don't ride a lot) this short is the fish in the sea you've been waiting to land and stuff into your gym bag. This short uses the most fabric panels, the most durable yet palatable fabric, and the most appropriate fit for road cycling of shorts in this price bracket. These are functional shorts that keep you covered and riding for those spin classes, short group rides, and beginner races.
The Pro Gel short is your go-to training partner on short efforts — rides you sneak into your lunch break from work or the shorts you should buy when you're exploring this strange, wonderful world of road cycling and you aren't sure you're ready to dive into it…yet.
This pair is also a valuable companion to the gym when you plan to do a spin class followed by weight training, stretching, or yoga, which requires a short without too much bulk, but a lot of versatility.
Sometimes consumers get stuck on the "less is more" mentality. We encourage you to consider value not only the amount you spend on the short but the number of enjoyable moments you experience on the bike. This short costs significantly less than others in our line up: but, for the reduced price, what does it accomplish?
If you ride an hour a day, this is one of the highest value shorts you can purchase. However, if you want to ride more than that, then this short will pose this question to you between miles 35 and 40: "do you know you paid a dollar per mile -or more - for these shorts?"
And that is where every cyclist has to create a cost-benefit analysis: what do you want to do versus what can you afford? For the price, these shorts will take you through spin classes, 20-mile rides, hour-long interval sessions, a 90-minute brick workout (with an hour bike component), or a trip across town. If your time in the saddle exceeds those demands, we recommend looking into other models that are not that much more expensive, or even a few at the same price point.
The Canari Pro Gel short is ideal for the rider who wants to do twenty-mile rides and hour-long spin sessions, or a busy cyclist who is tired of doing laundry every night to have their high-quality shorts ready for every single workout. If you are in the saddle for over two hours, however, we recommend spending a little more for a short that will offer more padding, protection and overall comfort than this one.
— Rebecca Eckland