One of the most important things in cycling is getting the gear right (and sure, being able to skillfully ride a bike hard and fast for a few hours helps too). The most fundamental piece of gear is the padded bike short. The Canari Cyclewear Velo shorts technically meet that definition. These shorts are your boilerplate bike shorts: nothing too fancy, but no skimping. They didn't win any awards, but they are a great, affordable baseline for bike shorts. For each of the measures we analyze, style, breathability, padding, fit and comfort, pedal friendliness and efficiency, and durability, there are shorts or bibs that outperform the Velo shorts. These shorts actually came up last in every measure, but the big caveat here is that they still do as good as or better than the average bike shorts on the market and they do it at a steep discount to every other product in our review. These were strong contenders for the Best Budget Buy award, but that award went to the Zoot Active Tri shorts, which simply offered a greater range of uses and higher quality across all of the categories we analyzed. But just because these shorts earned the lantern rouge, it doesn't mean they're not still worth your time. They are functional shorts that come in at only $50 and will do the job of padding your butt on a bike ride without emptying your wallet, but don't expect any fireworks.
Canari Cyclewear Velo ReviewPrice: $50 List | $39.99 at Amazon Pros: Simple design, light, comfortable and form-fitting, breathable
Cons: Plain, gel pad feels slippery, pad bunches up
Bottom line: These are affordable shorts that will get you through rides with some padding, but there are better products on the market if you are willing to pay more.
Inseam Measurement (inches): 8"
Number of panels: 8 (Canari indicates only 6)
Manufacturer: Canari Cyclewear
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Canari Cyclewear Velo shorts should be seen as the entry point for road bike shorts. Really, anything offering less padding, support, flex, durability, and breathability than the Velo shorts should not be used for anything more than a spin class here and there. If you're even a regular spin class rider, you should not be riding in something less than the elo shorts. Their great virtue is that they do well for spin class and feel fine on the road for at least an hour.
The Velo shorts are very basic, utilitarian shorts with a single, subtle Canari logo on the side of each leg. Even its simple 6-panel design 6-panel reduces the visual complexity for a very plain pair of cycling shorts. These could not be accused of being overwhelmingly stylish. If style is your driving force, consider the Aero Tech Designs shorts for a more appealing, but still modest choice. To go straight to the top, our top scorer in style for shorts was the Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2, a visually stunning pair of shorts with a very high tech appearance, but at a pro price.
Their MT Pro fabric creates breathability just about average for our field, but at least as good as any other shorts we've worn in the past. The MT Pro fabric creates stronger shorts with a tighter fit, which can help to wick moisture from the skin, but the thickness of the fabric seems to also retain some degree of moisture. The shorts all had comparable breathability, but if breathability is an important measure for you, take a look at the top scoring product in breathability, the Pearl Izumi In-R-Cool Bibs. Their polyester blend, ELITE Transfer In-R-Cool fabric, and tight fit made for a very breathable product. Other high scorers in breathability are Gore Power 3.0 Bibs, which also won our Best Bang for the Buck award and the SUGOi Evolution Pro Bibs, which won our Editors' Choice award. Both pairs offered very good breathability and dried quickly compared to the rest of the field, with the exception of the ELITE In-R-Cool, which fared much better than them.
Padding and Protection
The Velo shorts include a green gel pad which offers acceptable padding and protection, but nothing spectacular. These shorts were fine on shorter rides under an hour - spin classes were a good use for them. Any ride longer than 90 minutes is a real pain just to stay in the saddle. One of the problems was that the padding was simply too large, so it folded up and became uncomfortable to sit on. For longer rides, we suggest the SUGOi Evolution Pro Bibs. For short rides, we suggest taking a look at the Zoot Active Tri shorts, which have only a fleece cloth for padding - trust us! But if you insist on padding for short rides and insist on shorts, take a look at the high-performing Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2 shorts, but be ready to pay a premium.
Despite their 8" inseam, they felt a bit too small, but that could have been the shorts being pulled up too high and the silicone leg gripper being slightly too tight for that part of the thigh. Overall, they felt good - the elastic waist band did a good job of keeping the shorts up, though it probably didn't need to go through the extra effort to add an extra tall back to help support (read: cover) the back. Then again, that might be appreciated by those looking to keep concealed any embarrassing stamps embossing their sacrum. Some of the more comfortable items were the Louis Garnea CB Carbon 2 shorts and SUGOi Evolution Pro Bibs.
Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness
Their high nylon content of 82% and relatively low mix of spandex (18%) made for more restriction than flexibility in these shorts. The good thing about them was that there was no excess fabric to get caught on the saddle, but that might not be the experience of riders with thinner legs. We liked bibs and shorts with higher mixes of spandex, including the Zoot Active Tri shorts, Gore Power 3.0, and SUGOi Evolution Pro shorts, all of which had better degrees of flex and support.
Their MT PRO fabric, with its high nylon mix, proves to be very durable itself, but there have been complaints about quick wear from abrasion. Making matters worse, its seams are placed along the high abrasion areas traversing the saddle, which can lead to faster breakdown. The Zoot Active Tri shorts are a better option for shorter rides while the Gore Power 3.0 are decent for long distances, but have great durability.
These are best for riders just starting out who won't be out for much longer than an hour for the first year or so that they ride. These are also great for the occasional spin class. Once rides get to be much longer in duration, riders will probably be happier with other products.
These are the cheapest shorts in our lineup and we think their price fits their actual worth. $50 is just about right for these and if you find them for a discount, they are great for getting through spin classes without wearing your more expensive riding clothes out. But if you have limited funds for riding clothes and want to make sure you get something you're happy with, we suggest taking a look at the Zoot Active Tri shorts for short rides. For longer rides, consider spending the extra for the SUGOi Evolution Pro Bibs.
It's true the Canari Velo shorts didn't win any of our awards and were the lowest scorers in each of our categories. It's also true that they retail at a huge discount to each of the other shorts and bibs in our review and will work just fine for any occasional rider looking for functional bike shorts. We should note, however, that we chose not to give these our Best Budget Buy award because their performance will matter more with frequent use and we felt that the better long-term performance will pay for itself over the long run, even on a budget. In the end, these are still better than the average shorts and will do the job of providing some cushion while you ride.
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Most recent review: May 28, 2017
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