Endura recently launched their FS260-Pro SL Bibshort. So I thought I’d better do an Endura PadFit review. Why is this being looked at on this site? Simply because this is the most advanced, bib I’ve heard of! The concept of a piece of cycling apparel where there is a computer, and an electroninc pressure sensor involved just to determining which size and width you need really piqued my geeky interest – read of for the most oddest clothing review ever!
What is so special about the Endura FS260-Pro SL Bibs? – Which from now on I’ll refer to as the the Pro SL for brevity. There are MANY different companies working and designing in the cycling apparel market. The raft of innovations in this area is staggering, with something newer and lighter seeming to be released every season. Heck from a buzz word perspective, many bibs and suits, such as the Skins Trisuit, have carbon fibre incorporated into their construction, which certainly sounds high tech, although I’m not sure exactly the benefit. However against all of this, the size you opt for is still determined in the same way as you buy your jeans – leg length and waist measurement – which as Endura has demonstrated is sooooo 19th Century!
In terms of rider comfort, I would argue the three most important factors are – frame size, seat comfort and bib comfort. Everything else is secondary. Frame size like seat comfort, it’s certainly not a one sizes fits all approach. You have different geometries for frame shapes depending on a riders flexibility. Similarly seats are selected based on width and shape, as determined, again, by flexibility but also on physical measurements – the greater the distance between a riders ischial tuberosity (your sit bones), the wider you need a saddle. Its for that reason, that women, with their child bearing, wider pelvis’ classically have wider saddles than us men.
Even so, just buying the right components and frame isn’t enough, many people opt to get the position of those cycling touch points, position perfect through a bike fit. With regard to bike fits, the Guru Bike Fit system even allows you to try a myriad of different bike frames and geometries before you by the actual bike!
A lot of research goes into the various seat pads, or chamois, from the different manufacturers. The likes of Castelli, Gore and Rapha are normally held up by riders as the best place to rest your butt, but why is this?
A good chamois is ultimately something a pad that fits well and makes you comfortable on the bike.
The usual approaches used involve:
- Good padding – note that I’m not saying lots of padding, as too much padding causes bunching and folds, in turn allowing rubbing
- Multiple densities to the foam, given that there are lots both sensitive, and hard areas around where you sit on the bike
- Construction material – having the ability for the pad to wick away moisture is crucial to preventing friction over a long ride.
- Size of the pad…here is where it begins to get personal, with a larger pad you tend to get areas of bunching, and the pad can move around when cycling, but this means looking between different manufacturers so far.
Endura FS260-Pro SL Bibs review
So given that pads have existed for a long time, what are Endura bringing to the party? Surely by now, you’d have thought that with the pace of technology in terms of materials, textiles and medical knowledge there are not really any areas left to give major revolutions in the world of chamois pad technology.
So Endura, partnered with gebioMized a biomechanics company developed as an off-shoot from School of Sports Science of Münster University, to go right back to the basics of pad fit design, and crucially how the rider interacts with the bike through the saddle.
The major breakthrough with this completely back to basics approach was the realisation that one pad does not fit all. You can design a pad that fits both the 65kg hill climber and the 105kg sportive rider, but it will not be the best pad for either of them.
gebioMized developed a saddle sensor that is stretched over your own saddle, preferable on your own bike. By why not just use the usual gel pads that have been a staple of saddle fits for years?
The issue with gel impressions is they are characteristically done on a seat, in a seated position, which as gebioMized found out would only be applicable if the saddle were lower than the handlebars – which isn’t often see on road bikes!
The best way to illustrate this is by looking at one rider in two different positions – riding first on the hoods, and then in the tri-postion
This effectively throws out the current gel pad approach to saddles. But doesnt explain much about the bibs.
Using the same technology the gebioMized can measure the ischial tuberosity distance when in the riding position, with the pelvis rotated forwards, showing exactly where the riders pressure points through the saddle are. In turn allowing for selecting a pad that looks specifically to cushion those points.
Greater comfort through greater choice
This Endura FS260-Pro SL Bibs review will focus as much on the way a cyclist is measured to find the right pad for them, as much as the physical Endura FS260-Pro SL Bibs themselves.
As mentioned above, the vital measurement for saddle width is the riders ischial tuberosity distance. Using this as a starting point, gebioMized have developed a patent-registered saddle-pressure measurement system, based on the work of Dr. Claus Oehler
Endura PadFit Review
When Endura FS260-Pro SL Bibs are fitted, you are asked to ideally bring your own bike along, as this will include not only your saddle, but the positions that you have the saddle in. An electronic pressure pad is placed on to your saddle, you then proceeded to ride for a few minutes on a turbo trainer.
The gebioMized system communicates wirelessly with the system giving a map of where you are placing the most pressure through the saddle. Your ischial tuberosity distance will have a significant barring on this pressure map, but will not be the only factor as show above
But what about when you are riding, sure the cycling shorts you are wearing would throw off any readings? I hear you cry – Endura get round that with a unpadded test shorts, and a pair for rather unflattering disposable liners – I thought it better for everyones digestion if I didnt model the liners for you!
As you ride on the electronic saddle you can see on the computer screen next to you, your “heat map” indicating the areas of greatest pressure on the saddle
On my initial fit, we were very surprised, to see that I am putting almost all of the pressure through the front and LEFT side of the saddle. This was rather odd, and then we attributed it to the way I hold the handlebars currently following my fracture olecranon. A moment or two later adjusting the pressure I was putting through the handlebars and things are a lot more central. From that reading, the computer than advises on the bib you need.
My bike fit has taken quite a bit of effort to get just right. I normally ride a nice comfy pair of Castelli Bibs, with a Progetto X2 pad, its soft, and crucially wide enough for me. I’ve always felt that at 144mm distance, my ischial tuberosity distance was quite wide. I ride a very pleasant Fizik TriTone saddle, largely as its great for triathlons (shock I know) but also is ridiculously comfortable – to the degree I’ve been known to ride to clinics before, in my work clothes with no major issues given I didnt have a chamois for that extra cushioning. Which is equally surprising given I think this saddle is just a teenie amount too narrow for me
So I approached the whole pad fit with the expectation that I was going to come away the advise suggesting the need for a wide and dense pad, just like my current Castelli’s.
Given that I thought I’d pretty much got my bike gear sorted, heck I’ve been riding for years, I wasn’t entirely convinced when the system initially said I needed a narrow pad. So in addition to adjusting my arm position, we also fiddled slightly with the saddle, thinking maybe it was at the wrong angle – it felt relatively flat, and I tend to ride 1degree nose dose. This had come about as regrettably I’d been unable to get my bike in the car, and had resorted to bringing my shoes and saddle to the test facility instead. So we dropped the nose a degree, reran the test, only to get the same results! So a narrow pad, short legged, medium bib was selected.
Endura FS260-Pro SL Bibs
So I’ve talked about how I was fitted, and the basics of the bibs, but lets take a quick look at the Pro SL bibs before I, or should I say let my buttocks give you the verdict on the effectiveness of the pad.
The bibs are black, which goes with everything. Although in this case coated with Schoellers ColdBlack to reflect UV rays and keep the shorts from absorbing heat as well – I can’t comment about how effective or not this is, as I currently can’t ride outside. But then again, I’ve never really had issues with black shorts getting too hot anyway!
A nice pair of wide, soft and ventilated straps pass over the shoulders.
On the front of the bib is a little reinforced area to allow for…toilet access. There are many little reinforced areas on these bibs, showing they are clearly designed to last
On the inside, the bib is flipped inside out compared to many other bids. Compared here with a pair of Curore bib shorts, the 3D nature of the sponge is immediately visible and rests against the rider. On the Endura FS260-Pro SL bibs, the flat of the chamois is placed against the rider, whilst the 3D moudlings are against the saddle. The actual chamois itself has almost a brushes feeling too it, its very soft, and rather pleasant
Another surprised comes around the back where there is a small external pocket, suitable for a team radio, or a gel pouch. Personally I think this is great, as a lot of the time, when I’m riding indoors on Zwift, I’ll just be using a base layer and bib, so this still gives me the opportunity to store a gel in a handy location.
Since the fitting I’ve put in nearly 300km in these bibs. I’m still on Zwift, riding in side, I’ve two more weeks of sitting on the bench before I’m allowed back on the road again.
They have certainly been a very comfortable pair of bibs, the shoulder straps particularly so. Its always difficult when a reviewer says, “they are my new favourites etc” let me put it like this, I have a pair if Curore Strava bibs – that I was wearing when I fractured my elbow – regardless of the crash, I hate them by comparison. There is plenty of padding, its just uncomfortable.
Compared to my Castelli’s which are still supremely comfortable, there is less padding, yet as said above in this Endura FS260-Pro SL Bibs review, Endura have still made an very comfortable bib.
I think the most telling point is when you are getting ready for a ride, looking for your kit and you find something is waiting to be washed, and you are disappointed you can’t wear what ever. I’m planning on buying another pair of the Endura FS260-Pro SL Bibs just to try and overcome the wash-basket problem ? and I think thats the best indicator you’ll find as to whether something is comfortable!