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Giordana FR-C Pro Review

Among the best shorts-only on the market
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $190 List | $189.00 at Amazon
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Pros:  Good body fit, compressive, improves form, comfortable padding
Cons:  Pricey, can feel too tight, waist can slip
Manufacturer:   Giordana
By Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 12, 2020
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 11
  • Padding and Protection - 25% 8
  • Comfort and Fit - 20% 7
  • Breathability - 15% 7
  • Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness - 15% 7
  • Durability - 15% 8
  • Style - 10% 7

Our Verdict

With the FR-C Pro Shorts, Giordana has put out some of the highest performing bike shorts. Even without the shoulder straps, they end up being reasonably stable and quite supportive. For some reason, some riders seem not to be in love with the suspender straps of bibs, despite the comfort and fit advantages. If that's you, you'll appreciate not having to give those things up with these. Of course, commuters, spinners, and riders just looking for a quick pair of shorts to throw on or use for uncomplicated pit-stops will get a lot out of these as well.

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Our Analysis and Test Results

We had a good time in these shorts. They're high-performers that deserve a lot of praise despite a handful of drawbacks. We spent weeks riding in them and doing our research so that we could break them down across our metrics. We spend the rest of this review doing just that.

Performance Comparison


The Giordana FR-Cs were among our favorite just to throw on for a quick trainer session or rides around the block.
The Giordana FR-Cs were among our favorite just to throw on for a quick trainer session or rides around the block.

Padding and Protection


The FR-C Pro shorts use Giordana's premium Cirro S chamois. It boasts all sorts of innovations and advancements to improve its performance. We'll skip the full run-down and just give you the boil-down. It uses an upper layer of microfiber with Aloe Vera infusion meant to cool, soothe, and protect against bacteria. We weren't able to culture any bacteria to test this, but the chamois seems to retain less odor, and we haven't noticed any sort of irritation after riding that would indicate bacteria colonizing in the shorts.

The padding is a little wider and thicker than is ideal. It's still a great pair of shorts but tends to become a little uncomfortable over time. The chamois does a good job of covering any bit of your body that comes in contact with the saddle in padding, but at its thickest, you get 14mm of foam, so you get that sitting on a brick effect after a good 90 minutes or longer, especially if you've been in the saddle grinding away. Lighter or wider-set riders may do better in these shorts.

One of the nicest things about these shorts is that they don't leave you with the droopy diaper butt.
One of the nicest things about these shorts is that they don't leave you with the droopy diaper butt.

The thing we did like was the Copa Mondiale (World Cup…nothing aggrandizing about that name) at the front of the shorts. Hilarious name aside, the design does what it's meant to do: provides a nice, sculpted cubby to keep the bits sorted and safe, so you have less adjusting to do on the road. It's nice…

Comfort and Fit


The first thing to be discussed with any shorts is securing the waist. The shorts have two ways to do that. The first is the band that wraps around just the rear portion of the shorts. It connects to the Ametista Carbon waist panel in the front, with most of the fastening happening along the back.

The Ametista Carbon waist panel meets the rear band to give your lil' tum-tum slightly gentler support.
The Ametista Carbon waist panel meets the rear band to give your lil' tum-tum slightly gentler support.

To a lesser extent, the Ametista Carbon waist panel acts as a double-up in the back. It's more to improve your form, in our opinion. It sort of helps you keep your core tight (suck it in). But it's also a lot more compressed contact area to keep the shorts appended to your body.

To get their superior compression and second-skin-feel, they use the new HC50 High Compression Power Lycra. It's still the standard mix of 80/20 nylon to Lycra, but the Lycra has a unique 50 thread count. The result is a softer feel against the skin while maintaining firm, compressive support to make you feel a little harder, faster.

The fit is close to seamless  but not quite.
The fit is close to seamless, but not quite.

Similar attention went into the cuffs. They're 190 E woven elastic cuffs with a nice wide arrangement of silicone grippers. It's compressive, but gentle, making them among the most comfortable out there, without losing efficacy. We got very little slippage, even on longer rides.

Breathability


The HC50 High Compression Power Lycra is very good on pulling moisture out, and the tight fit helps that. Even stuck inside on the trainer sans fans, we didn't find them to be too terribly bad. The chamois has quite a few attributes that improve its moisture management as well. The padding has multiple layers, including two open cell memory foam layers near the top that improve ventilation. There's even a final layer of non-absorbent memory foam to help move the moisture out. It's effective. We didn't get that sitting on a sponge effect that tends to happen with these bigger pads. You should be able to stay reasonably dry in these shorts and get them air-dried fairly quickly.

Big and dense though it is  the FR-C's chamois doesn't hold too much moisture.
Big and dense though it is, the FR-C's chamois doesn't hold too much moisture.

Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness


The shorts are designed to fit the body's curve as you're riding. That means while you're hunched over, the shorts are not pulling off your body or slipping down obnoxiously. They fit like a second skin with just a little more support to keep you feeling fast and strong.

The unique HC50 High Compression Power Lycra does a lot of the heavy lifting here. It has a high concentration of nylon, keeping it tough and compressive while its Lycra component is 50 thread count, so it's flexible and soft. The result is excellent performance out on the road. It feels clean and tight. That's aided by the 190 E woven elastic leg cuffs and their silicone grippers. There's very little slippage with just enough compression to feel nice.

The wide compression band with lots of articulated real estate for grippers make this an excellent design.
The wide compression band with lots of articulated real estate for grippers make this an excellent design.

Durability


They use their new HC50 High Compression Power Lycra to get a good mix of compression and flexible fit. Its makeup is 80% polyamide and 20% elastane, so the fabric is a little tougher than average with the higher polyamide (nylon) content. It also uses an anti-abrasion seat panel to save you from wearing holes in your bottom with the saddle.

The biggest area for concern is in the exposed seams. Even after just 4 or 5 hours of riding, the threading started failing all around the lower section of the Ametista Carbon waist panel. In time this will also become a problem where the inner thighs rub against the saddle, and the threads holding the chamois in place will begin to wear. Otherwise, we weren't able to find too terribly much that would slow these shorts down. Just be sure to take care of them and buy the right size.

Exposed seams throughout the shorts tend to tear and come undone.
Exposed seams throughout the shorts tend to tear and come undone.

Style


We like that they're more form-fit than a lot of shorts. That's at least partially owing to their HC50 High Compression Power Lycra, which compresses and complements the body like a second skin. The overall design is meant to perfectly cover your working parts and remove every single crease or fold in the fabric, which it does quite well.

On the point of form-fit is the Ametista Carbon waist panel. It basically helps you suck in that gut so your riding paunch doesn't precede you in that unflattering way cycling position has about it for most of us.t improves your appearance of being a trim, athletic guy, whether or not that's accurate.

Call it machismo or fay, but the only real stylistic sticking point we had here was that the legs were a little long. At the very least, it established a much lower tan line just above the knee. In our view, there's a nice middle way between the Europeans and the Freds somewhere between the second and lower third of the thigh that keeps you looking serious and athletic without going overboard.

Value


Sure, you get a lot with the FR-C Pro shorts, but we feel they're really going at something of a premium for the shorts. Riders ought to look for them at a discount before jumping.

Conclusion


The Giordana FR-C Pro Shorts were our go-to for trainer rides and shorter real-world rides. The padding is supple enough to get you through a good 90 minutes of saddle grinding inside or a 2+ hours of forgiving riding out on the road. The HC50 fabric is also quite nice. It's compressive and supportive without feeling too restrictive, and you don't get too much bunching. It's not perfect though. You'll get some slippage of the waist at some point in your ride, especially if you're in and out of the saddle. But that's just the way it goes with shorts-only. The silicone-studded cuffs aren't too bad either. They hold for most of the ride, but start to slip after 75-90 minutes. All said, they're really solid shorts that most riders would be happy wearing.

The FR-Cs are among the best shorts for short  tough rides.
The FR-Cs are among the best shorts for short, tough rides.

Ryan Baham