SUGOi recently released their newest bib shorts from the Evolution series, dropping Pro from the name. As with most gear updates, some trade-offs are functional for some users, while they may not work as well for others. The bibs come out $10 bucks more expensive but are still relatively affordable for bib shorts. They keep most of the old attributes, including the fabric mix, but improved a few aspects, like the chamois design and leg grippers. Overall, they are still excellent bib shorts and easily keep the top spot as our Editors' Choice winner. Read on to see the updated details and comparisons.
SUGOi Evolution Bibs Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Comfortable, dries quickly and wicks away moisture on rides, reduces saddle chafe, affordable
Cons: Pouch seams can chafe, threading might come undone
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We put the updated SUGOi Evolution bib shorts through the steps, or strokes in this case. We set them against other top shorts and bibs and found that they consistently outperformed most of the other products across many of the other categories. They had a few weaknesses, as in the case of durability where reports of threading degradation lowered the score. But overall, they were still extremely comfortable, very stylish, and did a great job of pulling moisture away from the skin to stay cool on hot rides. Read on to see the details for each of our measures.
Padding and Protection
The new SUGOi Evolution bibs still use the RC Pro insert, but it has also gone through some updates. The insert still uses 15mm of high-density foam, but now includes a cradle pouch in the front to reduce pressure and restriction - and we're grateful for it. The poron foam in the rear of the insert combines both density and thickness to dampen the gnawing vibrations from the road and mitigates foam compression. An update V-notch in the rear also helps the chamois to move with the body to reduce rub and chafe.
One of the great virtues of the chamois is its 3D construction, which prevents undue folding and really helped fit the anatomy to the saddle. This is quite a contrast to other major styles, such as that found in the padding of the Gore Power 3.0. The Gore used a pad that gradually narrowed from the ischial area through the perineal area to the other end of the pad, while the SUGOi used a targeted design that had broad padding and coverage through the ischial sitting area, then the padding greatly narrowed to only cover the high impact areas along the perineal region. It then quickly tapered off to a thin padding outside of the direct impact areas, including firm, pre-shaped folds that hug the anatomy.
You can see from the comparison that there is about a half to a quarter inch of extra, unfolded padding in the Gore padding on the left, compared to the SUGOi's folded, form-fitting pad on the right. The only other padding to come close to the long-range comfort of the SUGOi was the Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2, which won our Top Pick for Short Course award. The Louis Garneau was less firm than the SUGOi, but it used the same design technique of economical, targeted padding that quickly tapers off along the low-impact areas to cut down on chafe and bunching.
It is also worth mentioning our Best Budget Buy winner at the other extreme of padding, the Zoot Performance Tri short (top of the picture above), which features only a fleece pad. The key here is that it provides a sound barrier of fabric to reduce abrasion and chafing while delivering another layer of protection, albeit a thin layer.
Comfort and Fit
The SUGOi's 8-panel design allowed a great deal of form-fitting and freedom of movement - that is, when you stand up to attack, you don't feel the front of your thigh pulling on the back of your bibs. And their use of flat seams helped reduce abrasions from hours of sweaty, salty seam-sawing. We also liked that the bib straps were the right length so that they helped pull the rider into a good cycling position without being too restrictive when it came time to make that mid-ride pitstop.
When we reviewed the Evolution Pro bibs, we suggested that in addition to the wide leg grippers, SUGOi include something like elastic in future editions. Well, they did us one better by adding the MAB PowerBand silicone leg gripper to prevent slip without constricting the thighs. This is a huge step up from the earlier version, which especially rode up on those indoor spin classes and Zwift rides when the sweat completely drenched the shorts and caused shrinkage (of the shorts).
We gave the SUGOi a top score in this category. Just behind were the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Escape and Pearl Izumi Quest Splice alongside the Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2 shorts. Few of the other bibs were anywhere near the comfort of these products. Both used a comparatively high mix of spandex and polyester as well as high panel counts with smooth seam designs to help flex and fit the form. The boil-down is that riders looking to do more distance should go with the SUGOi and those looking for less distance who don't mind pull strings at the waist should go with the Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2.
The updated Evolution Bib shorts continue to use SUGOi's Evo Plus fabric. They have great breathability, assisted by its tight fit and high mix of polyester in its makeup. The hydrophobic polyester typically takes up part of what would otherwise be spandex, so it provides a good deal of stretch, but also tends to take up and give off moisture a bit better. The super thin material allows them to dry faster than most other products in our review, which can be a real morale-saver if you're on a multi-day tour or riding vacation and need to wash your shorts in a hotel sink and hang dry (you should all be doing this after your rides anyway). Quick dries also mean that there's less moisture to facilitate bacteria growth, which is notable.
It is worth mentioning two other top bib shorts, the Pearl Izumi Quest Splice and the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Escape Bib. Both have tight fits and do a good job of wicking away moisture, but overall do not score as well as the SUGOi. The only bibs that outperform SUGOi are the Pearl Izumi Elite In-R-Cool bibs. If breathability is the most important measure to you, take a look at these. Their intensely tight fit and technical materials created a very breathable product.
Efficiency and Pedal Friendliness
These bibs had such a great fit because they had the right mix of fibers to create a material with optimum flexibility and form-fitting tightness. This translates into efficiency and pedal friendliness as well. The nylon content is sufficient to provide good support and strength while its spandex and polyester help it stretch and flex and keep its shape so that it stays close to form instead of bunching or resisting. For this reason, we gave them the top spot in this category.
A few noteworthy contenders are the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Escape and Pearl Izumi Quest Splice, Top Pick for Short Course Award winner and Best Bang for the Buck winner, respectively. The key to these products are their comfortable, form-fit along with a non-restrictive tightness. There were no issues where excess fabric got caught on the saddle, or it felt like the bottoms were fighting against us. They fit like a supportive skin.
Durability was the weakest aspect of the SUGOi bibs. We think they will still last a few seasons and that their construction is better than average. We liked their flat seam design because it tends to help protect them from external friction, but the placement of the seams along the saddle of the crotch like we saw with the Performance Elite bibs, makes them vulnerable to wear and tear.
If durability is the most important category for you, there are a few other bibs that stand out and will do well for you. The Gore Power 3.0 had outstanding durability with its high nylon content and strong seams. The Best Bang for the Buck Award-winning Pearl Izumi Quest Splice was one of the top scorers in this category and absolutely merits your attention. Our highest scorer in durability was the Pearl Izumi Elite In-R-Cool bib. It also had a high nylon content, but also supplemented its stretchy material (the spandex) with strong polyester, creating a less stretchy, but stronger fabric. Taken together with their strong seam construction and good placement, these earned their top score in durability.
The Evolution bib shorts are fairly appealing. From our lineup, we rated them second highest in the style category because of their sleek layout and subtle lines and texture along with their popular and fashionable wide leg grippers with the attractive logo emblazoned across. We chose to go out in the standard black, but they also came in a pretty wild blue pattern and another style with red and white grippers, which can really complement a bike and/or kit - two-tone is nice, but tri-tone is flash.
We found the Evolution to be the most attractive bibs in our lineup, but the Aero Tech Designs Touring shorts had the same score, and the Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2 shorts were rated the most attractive overall. We really liked the Evolution, but they could have used options for a little more color. The Aero Tech shorts have a mesh pocket along the side, which when unoccupied, bring an added visual texture that look quite attractive, especially alongside the sleek black and bright yellow panels. The Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2 are even more stunning with their bold lines and smooth, colored panels set within panels designed after carbon fiber.
These shorts did well in everything from spin, where there was no road vibration, to the 3+ hour on road range. These are definitely meant for roadies - you probably wouldn't be happy swimming in these, though the chamois is low-profile enough that it might be okay to run in. If the other two activities are of interest, take a look at the Zoot Performance Tri shorts - they will serve you well. These bibs might be a bit much if you just want something for a quick spin class a few times a week, but they will certainly meet that need if asked. Really, these are mid- and long-distance cycling bibs and are best suited to that.
The Evolution bibs retail at $130, just a bit over their predecessor. We believe that the SUGOi might be underpriced. They have a great fit, give good padding and comfort on both long and short rides, breathe, dry quickly, and look good - what more could you want? We suggested that these might wear out over two or three seasons, but for the general performance they give outside of that, it might even be worth getting multiple pairs instead of looking for a more durable product like the Gore Power 3.0 that won't deliver the same comfort and performance as these - details that make a huge difference in the 2-3 hour ride range. But even at the hour range where the Top Pick for Short Course winners, the Louis Garneau CB Carbon 2, come into play, they retail at $149.99, yet lack the versatility in distance given by the SUGOi.
The new Evolution bib shorts are an overall improvement over the Evolution Pro bibs, though some issues need ironing out, like the weak chamois threading. They still use secure flatlock seams, the same number of panels, and a smart mix of 68% Nylon, 18% polyester, and 14% spandex to maximize comfort, flexibility, and moisture management without sacrificing strength and support. The fit seems to be a bit tighter, though that could relate to the reviewer's suppleness for this update. One of the best improvements is the addition of a MAB PowerBand leg gripper, which uses silicone for a firm, comfortable hold. There's also a new cradle pouch in the front of the chamois that greatly improves the undercarriage situation, but uses seams that might increase chafing for some riders. The updated RC Pro chamois is also much better; it uses 3D construction to improve form fit and 15mm of high-density PORON foam at the rear to reduce road noise and vibration. It's pretty awesome that SUGOi keeps these shorts at such an affordable price, given the quality, comfort, and comfort they bring. They earn every bit of their price tag and more. We emphatically reaffirm their place as the Editors' Choice Award winner.
— Ryan Baham