17 December 2011

Review: Bellwether Axiom bike shorts

Today's review is of the bike shorts I've been using for a while now, the Bellwether Men's Axiom Short

First, I will start by saying that I now own two pairs of these shorts; since I bought the original pair in July 2010 I have lost a decent amount of weight and some thickness, in my legs and backside among other places, and so the XLs that I bought then don't quite fit right anymore. They still work, and are still serviceable, but I needed to get another pair anyway so I just pulled the trigger and got another pair of these, just in LG instead of XL.

So, the first piece of information about these shorts is that not only did I like them, I bought a second pair. And I will buy a third pair when I can afford another one.

Any pair of bike shorts with a built-in chamois will work to some more or less degree. I have an older pair of Pearl Izumi shorts with a basic synthetic chamois, and they work okay. But the Bellwether Axioms have a couple somethings extra: first, the chamois is anatomically padded with a stiff material, and has a breathable front panel designed to keep particularly sensitive parts cooler than otherwise would be true. The fit on the shorts is amazing, and I'm really impressed with the chamois.

Unfortunately, the way the chamois works means that the shorts cannot be tumbled dry, and must line dry. This might be true of any synthetic chamois (I always line dry the PI shorts but just as a preference and habit, not anything I've read that says it's required), but because of the padding of this particular chamois, it takes a while longer than my other shorts. Not that this is a HUGE con, just something to keep in mind.

The legs have a silicone gripper panel, which is not uncommon; what it has that seems to be uncommon is two thin grippers rather than one thick one, which means it hugs less tightly but still stays put. It feels better than the PI shorts. The outer material is a dimpled construction, which seems to work quite well, and the seams are all totally unnoticeable while wearing and riding. No chafing, no bunching in the chamois, and no ride up on the legs == winner.

The shorts are running about $75, and are not the top end of the Bellwether line (that would be the Chronos shorts, at around $115/pair), but are in my experience way better than the normal low-end shorts, shorts that a person just starting to cycle (for weight loss or aerobic fitness or whatever) would otherwise buy.

My recommendation: buy as many pairs of these as you can afford (within reason; if you're only going to cycle two days a week then two is probably your best bet!). They are excellent.

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