One of the common issues in cycling is trying to pin price to performance. The adage is that you get what you pay for. Our review has revealed that to be about half true. It turns out the most expensive shorts, the CB Carbon 2, developed a hole early on in our testing, while the cheapest, the Canari Velo performed almost as well as the Performance Elite bibs. We generally found that those bibs in the upper mid-range of price performed the best. The Performance Elite bibs were at the lower end of the price range and offered lower performance.These shorts certainly weren't our favorite, but what they had going for them is that they were enough to get you out on the bike with a pad under your butt and get the job done. In terms of the general affordability of cycling clothes, their price tag makes them pretty accessible and they're the most affordable of the bibs we reviewed. We think these bibs will do, but a lot of the other shorts and bibs we reviewed have advantages over these.
Performance Elite Bibs Review
Cons: Plain look, chamois thin and infirm, weak threading, seam location vulnerable to wear
Manufacturer: Performance Bicycle
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Performance Elite bib shorts were overall above the industry average, but they have some work to do to meet the likes of the Editors' Choice SUGOi Evolution Pro. What they have going for them is that they're affordable bibs that will get you out on the road and keep you padded for at least 90 minutes. We break them down measure by measure below. Read on to see if you're happy with them or think you might find a better option in one of the other pairs our review.
The Performance Elite bibs feature white shoulder straps and black shorts. It has two color options: shimmery black and dull black, which it calls "matte black." The shimmery black gives the rider a sleek, pro look to contrast with the cotton shorts worn by the local freds with their hairy leg. And again with the solid black: this is a good look for the no-fuss, no-nonsense rider who doesn't care to go around in red and white polka dots. The cut of the bib is closer to the bold European cut, high up on the thigh instead of the modest American style just above the knee.
The inseam is 9.5", but it seems to ride higher. Given the visual simplicity of these bibs, we rated them as average. If you are looking for more stylish bibs, we suggest looking at the Editors' Choice SUGOi Evolution Pro bibs, which also come in a variety of colors.
These bibs had a high degree of spandex and had a tight fit, which made for a breathable product. We also appreciated the opening in the lower back of the bibs that prevented the mesh uppers from doubling up with the jersey or workout shirt. We scored these as above average compared to average cycling shorts and bibs, but our entire group of bibs and shorts did very well in breathability, meaning these bibs did as well as four other pairs, leaving three outstanding pairs with higher scores. If you are incredibly concerned with breathable shorts, we suggest you look at our Editors' Choice, the SUGOi Evolution Pro bib.
Padding and Protection
The high-density TMF 3 layer chamois gives about average padding for this lineup. We wouldn't want to be in these for much longer than a 90-minute ride, but we considered them to give better than average cushion for a quick 30 miler around the superblock and back. Understandingly, you might be looking for a little more padding for a longer ride, in which case we suggest the SUGOi Evolution Pro, whose RC Pro chamois has 15mm of high-density foam, which both dampens the road noise and cuts down on the problem of foam compression and long-term wear. It's also worth noting that the Zoot Tri shorts, which only had a fleece insert, were surprisingly comfortable for longer than an hour and could suit most riders looking for shorts to get them through rides less than an hour.
One of the aspects we really liked about these was their flatlock seam, which really helped, given that their 8-panel design meant lots of seams. As we discuss later on under durability, the location of the seams make them more vulnerable to wear, but that doesn't detract from their feel. These were more comfortable than the average product on the market, but we were happier in the Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2 shorts for shorter rides and SUGOi Evolution Pro 2 bibs on longer rides. Both of those had lower ratios of nylon and higher mixes of softer fibers in their fabric.
We rated these pretty highly in this category, which was pretty easy given their 8-panel design and high mix of flexible spandex to tough nylon, which helped give the stretch a firmness to prevent bunching and loose fabric. We rated these alongside the Top Pick for Short Course, the Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2 shorts, which have high spandex content, which gives them the right combination of stretch and tightness to both hug and support movement without fighting or getting in the way.
The design of these bibs was pretty simple. There was limited use of exotic materials and special functional structures, which cuts down on the potential for those features to wear out like elastic leg grippers. The 78/22 nylon/spandex mix makes for a very durable product, but the exposed stitching looks to be a weak point. The seams of the Performance Elite bibs we tested were already starting to fray and come undone after just a few hours of riding, as shown below. This is partly due to exposed stitching and partly due to poor seam location.
We also found quite a few user reviews complaining of stitching problem including holes and padding coming loose. This is something the company should address.
These are mid-distance shorts that we consider fairly utilitarian: they will do the job of covering your butt and giving enough padding to make cycling an enjoyable activity for a good 30 miles. Much beyond 30 miles and the lack of firmness in its padding becomes apparent.
These bibs had one of the lowest prices (of the bibs) we reviewed. We felt this was a good price for them and might even be a bit of a bargain price for what you get. We gave the Best Budget buy to the Zoot Performance Tri shorts, whose versatility across sports while bettering the performance of the Performance Elite shorts earned them the award. Despite its drawbacks, the Performance Elite bibs are still a very good product at an attractive price for those looking for cheap bibs.
The Performance Elite bibs are a good product compared to the market average, but they were really in the back of the pack compared to most of the other products in our review. Perhaps its most redeeming feature is its price, about $40 cheaper than most good bib shorts. We were particularly worried about the durability risks with these bibs. No one wants to drop dollars on a pair of shorts only to have to replace them after a few months, something that had apparently happened to quite a few angry folks out on the internet. We think for the money spent on these, you would be better off looking at other products, even if it means losing the shoulder straps or even ponying up some extra cash.
— Ryan Baham