In the world of cycling the standard expectation is that we are people who spend hours and hours grinding into uncomfortable saddles and any extra padding between the sit bones and the saddle is welcome. But as most experienced riders understand, there's a limit to padding and there's a midpoint where padding means more - usually somewhere after the 90-minute mark. But every now and then you find something that changes your mind entirely - like forgetting to put an entire jar of menthol chamois cream on before a ride and realizing that you were fine the entire ride.
This was the experience with the Zoot Performance Tri shorts. We were pretty hesitant to go out on the road bike because they only have a thin fleece pad, but after a 60-minute spin class (their bikes have big padded seats), we were fine and lost all inhibitions for the road. In fact, they were fine on the road too, but there was obviously a limit to how long we were fine. That was about an hour. That timepiece is partly what went into our reasoning for awarding these our Best Buy Award.
On the whole, cycling clothes are not cheap, so when one needs to buy on a budget, it's important to get something that will last long, do the job, and have enough versatility to be comfortable across activities. These shorts retail at $80, roughly the same price as the Aero Tech Designs touring shorts and Performance Elite bibs, both of which have shown signs of deteriorating seams in our testing - which means a risky investment for a budget buyer. The other big price competitor is the Canari Cyclewear Velo short, which also has inferior durability, but also has oversized padding that bunches up and causes discomfort early on in a ride. While they will function and will do if $50 and tax is the extent of your budget, we think the Zoot will be the better long-term low budget buy.
Our testing and analysis detailed below examine these shorts alongside the rest of the field, pointing out inherent strengths as well as design flaws and drawbacks. We believe this product earned the designation of Best Budget Buy, but we also hope that you take our analysis and draw your own conclusion and use the information we present to make the best decision about the products we review.