Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2 Bib Review
Cons: Limited support, small front chamois panel, tighter groin compartment
Manufacturer: Louis Garneau
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Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2 Bib
|Price||$159.95 at Backcountry||$130 List|
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|$114.00 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Great flexibility, second-skin feel, don’t strangle your legs, highly breathable||Comfortable, dries quickly and wicks away moisture on rides, reduces saddle chafe, affordable||Affordable, supportive, durable, breathable||Cost-effective, durable, breathable, flexible, form-fitting||Very affordable, low chafe, tough material, supportive|
|Cons||Limited support, small front chamois panel, tighter groin compartment||Pouch seams can chafe, threading might come undone||Limited padding, fabric can be restrictive||Limited padding, less supportive||Lose comfort after a few hours, waist slips down, can be loose for some riders|
|Bottom Line||These thin, second-skin shorts are ideal for crits and short hammer sessions on the trainer||Awesome comfort and performance delivered at an easily accessible price||These are the right shorts for quick, hard-hitting rides||Affordable, dependable intro bibs that will last||It’s hard to find a better pair of starter shorts for the price|
|Rating Categories||Louis Garneau CB Ca...||SUGOi Evolution Bibs||Gore Wear C5 Bib||Pearl Izumi Quest S...||Pearl Izumi Quest|
|Padding And Protection (25%)|
|Comfort And Fit (20%)|
|Efficiency And Pedal Friendliness (15%)|
|Specs||Louis Garneau CB Ca...||SUGOi Evolution Bibs||Gore Wear C5 Bib||Pearl Izumi Quest S...||Pearl Izumi Quest|
|Main Fabric||CB Carbon+, Endurexx, Highlander Mesh, Carbon X-Mesh||Evo Plus (polyester/spandex blend)||80% polyamide 20% elastane||88% nylon, 12% LYCRA elastane||88% nylon, 12% Lycra elastane|
|Number of panels||11||8||5||6||4|
|Chamois||4 Motion||RC Pro||Yes||Yes||SELECT Escape 1:1|
|Weight||7.72 oz||7.08 oz||6.42 oz||6.49 oz||5.57 oz|
|Other Features||Coldblack fabric - UV reflective, reflective accents, pressure relief zone in back of leg||Compressive EvoPlus fabric, Powerband leg cuffs||Advanced Road insert with Windstopper Cup, reflective logo, flat hem||Reflective elements, silicone print holds short in position||BioViz reflective accents, silicone grips|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The LG Carbon CB 2s are what we grabbed when we went off for the Thursday crit rides. They're light, second-skin shorts with just enough padding to protect without encumbering for about 90 minutes. Still, we tested them across pursuits and compared them against the other top shorts in our lineup.
Padding and Protection
Padding is an area where the CB Carbons earn their short course award. They use LG's 4Motion chamois. It uses variable density foam padding to maximize protection under the hard contact points and tapers off under the softer bits. This goes a long way to dampening the road noise too. Its 3D pre-shaped wings and split at the rear do a lot to let the assembly conform to your body and reduce friction. Ventilation also goes a long way to improving the ride, especially on the short, hard rides. The caveat is that chilly rides are ever so slightly less pleasant with a cool stream of air whipping through your rear vent.
The result is a fairly comfortable ride for a good 75-90 minutes. The padding is exactly protective enough for a hard crit without getting in the way like a thicker, more robust chamois might be for longer days.
There were two complaints that stuck out. One was that the crotch was a little tight, so adjusting the bits wasn't as easy as in shorts with a little more room to roam. Another was the coverage of the front padding or covering. Some shorts go pretty far on this and create something like a flattering codpiece. The LGs take the opposite tact, letting you fill the space yourself, covering tackle with only the super thin lycra, which can make cafe stops very personal affairs indeed.
Comfort and Fit
One of the things we really like about the LGs is their use of panels. 11 panels, including ischial relief zones running along the back of the thighs and a tough panel along the side of each leg and at the cuff, which use EndureXX, with superior stretchability, allowing it to conform to the leg better. The body is primarily CB Carbon+, which uses a high mix of Lycra for flexibility, with a comparatively low mix of nylon (toughness) and a small mix of polyester (typically for breathability). All this and you get something like a second skin. Few folds or wrinkles, and a close, natural fit.The cut is tight and a little short. With an inseam of 9.25", all you tall fellas with the long femurs are going to be migrating your tan lines a little north, but at least there's no squeezing the life out of your thighs or cutting off circulation.
The shoulder straps are also worth mentioning. They use Polartec® Highlander Mesh, which is a 4-way stretchable material that makes for a great fit, improving conformance and reducing chafe. It's one of the more comfortable straps.
It's worth pointing out here that the Carbon+ material reduces bacterial buildup too (and there's an antibacterial topsheet on the chamois), so smell and hygiene are pretty solid in these. The value of this feature will become apparent as the number of rides and time in the saddle tick up.
We mentioned in a previous section that the ischial relief zones are separate panels that reduce pressure at the back of the thighs. What we didn't do is evaluate the efficacy of the zones. And we still won't do it here. We were hard-pressed to find any difference and we're not able to devise a test or way to measure the relief outside of long rides, which yielded no detectable difference. In that same vein, we can't measure or validate the claim of the Aero Lazer band running along the front of the thigh, which is expected to improve aerodynamics. It very well could, but gains will be marginal indeed.
One of the fancier features used is the UV-reflection coldblack® treatment, which has been spreading across higher-end cycling fabrics over the past few years. Again, this is a somewhat marginal improvement, but it doesn't hurt.
We actually found that the body of the CB Carbon 2 bibs hang onto a little more moisture than we expected. The dimpled surface of CB Carbon+ lycra could be the cause here, but either way, they don't dry quite as quickly as the competitors with less supple fabric. We found ourselves pressing the fabric to wring moisture out on super sweaty rides, especially when there was no sun out to help. Happily, the chamois didn't seem to hang onto more moisture than expected.
The bib straps and back are made of mesh, so they're more breathable by default. The difference comes out on the hot, sunny days when you notice there's not a river running down your back, pooling into the back mesh. That's likely helped along by the Polartec Highlander fabric. It's treated to improve drying and dried faster than most uppers when we set them out in the sun.
Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness
It might seem a small thing, but the higher number of panels improve the shorts' ability to meld to your body and its movements, improving flexibility and tailoring support and freedom of movement to maximized comfort and performance. That said, they're less supportive and more malleable, so you're not going to get a serious squeeze. That makes for a much more comfortable ride. The thing we like about them here is that they still don't bunch up, which often happens with higher mixes of lycra. At the least you'll have the problem of your inner thigh getting caught on the nose of the saddle, but we didn't have that issue with these.
The biggest complain we had for efficiency was with the grippers. There are no real grippers to speak of. They use an EndureXX legband, which is basically a doubling-up of a slightly more compressive fabric. It avoids squeezing your legs into sausage links, but of course once you get a good sweat going you'll find them sliding up. It's a balancing act that most shorts can't perform, so we don't knock them a ton here. We'd prefer that they didn't slide up, but it's not a make-or-break.
The higher mix of lycra and especially thin material can lead to tears in the fabric, so you might see a shorter lifespan for these than other shorts with higher mixes of nylon and polyester. Mesh also tends to burn hotter and faster, so its life might also be shorter than full bands. That said, you should expect a few good, hard seasons out of these bib shorts.
- Solid black can be a hard template to make especially stylish, at least from the perspective of standing apart from other shorts since it's the default for most bike shorts. Yes, somehow, LG has done exactly that.
The dimpled CB Carbon+ short body has a full, supple look and adds just enough visual texture to make the shorts look like a natural skin, accentuated with EndureXX inserts along the thighs to add just a little more aesthetic complexity to the assembly. The result is a good-looking pair of cycling shorts.
The one thing to keep in mind with the CB Carbon 2s is that they ride a little higher on the thigh, so the cut might look a little more European or risqué than most shorts with less athletic cuts.
The real value for the Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2 bibs is found on the short, hard rides like spin, trainer sessions, and hard crits. Lighter riders might get a little more purchase on longer rides, but our view is that the lean padding is best suited to saddle-grinding for about an hour or hour and a half and will outperform the bigger pads that might grate or grind when you're in the drops trying to hammer up at the front of the group.
Finding ourselves reaching for the LG CB Carbon 2 bibs for trainer sessions and the weekly crit rides, it's no wonder they picked up our first choice for short course. They're great for just going out and smashing for an hour or so. No restrictive feel, no squeezing, no pad getting in the way when you're in an aggressive forward position. They're ideal for short, hard efforts. We feel that they start to lose their charm compared to other shorts when you're sitting up on the hoods putting in slow miles on long days, but if you're out there doing hard circuits, you'll probably appreciate them as much as we did.
— Ryan Baham