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Initial Take On The Baleaf 5″ 4D Chamois Padded Mesh Panels Cycling Bib Shorts
With these Baleaf Bib Shorts, let’s just agree that a simpler title might be more advantageous when trying to make a memorable impression with the cycling public. That aside, I was intrigued by their product line, and decided to hone in on one of the most critical pieces in cycling: the shorts. The Baleaf Bib Shorts as I will refer to during this review piece seemed to fit many of my needs in a cycling short. The padding seemed adequate, the length looked good, and the black with a touch of orange appeased me. And here is a very important piece to this company and it’s gear…It is really affordable! Cycling shorts can be really expensive.
Spending $179 for a pair seems common place these days. And depending on your take, that could totally be worth it. That said, many don’t have the funds for that, and for a beginner cyclist, the acquisition phase can be painful. $38.99 is really cheap for some bib shorts. I am a big advocate of “you pay for what you get”. I definitely have my opinions, so please read on.
- Made from: 80% Nylon, 20% Spandex
- 4-way-stretch, moisture-wicking, and breathable
- Ergonomic 4D chamois padding
- 4 pockets: 2 back pockets and 2 side pockets
- Back mesh construction
- Silicone grippers to thigh
- Reflective logo for low-light visibility
Lets talk about these technical features. The mix of spandex and nylon can be tricky, you need stretch to provide a clean fit, but comfort also plays a key role. The 4-way stretch is a definite help when determining how comfortable these shorts can be.
I am going to place these shorts in the slightly above average range for comfort. I went for hours on the trainer, and had no real complaints for the nether region. It was fine! A slight bunching of material where leg meets hip prevented me from bumping up the rating. All in all, not bad, but it is something that came up. The padding is obviously the carrier and protector of all that is sacred and needs to be cuddled. The padding thickness seemed about right. I’ve had some that were too thin, and some way too thick. All good in this case. I honestly don’t know what 4D means, but I presume a 4 chambered approach to allow for independent movement to prevent chafing is my guess.
There are pockets in the back and on the sides. Four in total. You may think that would be ideal for a power bar, goo, or banana. On the contrary, I fit two remote controls perfectly in the back pockets. This allowed me to switch from a Netflix binge (with the closed captioning on) to a re-run of some classic bike races to allow me to pedal along some of my heroes. Other than that, I doubt I will use these pockets for anything else when I do hit the road. Access with a jersey or jacket would be nearly impossible. Hence, I would maybe eliminate a couple of these if I were looking at the next phase of design.
The mesh on the upper part or the bib is a good touch. Sweat is a pre-requisite in a pain cave or on my eventual red zone group rides that wicking as much moisture away is a must.
I haven’t made up my mind on the Silicone grippers on the thighs. They are quite comfortable. These stayed put, but I question how they will hold up over time. The elasticity for some with larger quads could maybe push them to the max. Time will tell.
Reflective Logo is great and all, but unless you are bold, big, and bright, the visibility factor to a texting teenager in a car will not save your hide. Flashing lights are the way to go. All companies have some form of reflection, and it’s fine, but I do not count on that to make me visible.
The Baleaf Bib Shorts In Action
The first month after arrival has relegated these bib shorts to be used on the trainer. I am not a fan of indoor trainer rides. Even in this age of Peloton, Zwift, and Trainer Road, I will usually figure out a way to get outside. If it’s not on a bike, I will resort to cross training. My running, snowshoeing, hiking, and Nordic ski adventurous are a much better way to explore and get my adrenaline rush. That said, a hairline rib fracture and some really typical Colorado March and April weather forced me onto the hamster wheel to train for an upcoming 125 gravel race in the Utah Desert.
For one thing, I seem to burn through shorts, bib shorts, and cycling pants at an alarming rate. Therefore, I find a way to rip them, or heaven forbid, take a tumble to open up a gaping hole. Let’s face it, these lycra shorts weren’t made for heavy wear and tear. And if you know, you know. Over time, the wear and washing starts to break down the material in such a way that a transparency evolves in some very key areas. Let’s just say, too much visibility is not something you want to be showing off.
I survived 1.5 hour trainer rides really without issue. I had a little saddle soreness, but that is to be expected early in the season. Many cyclists don’t go past an hour, so that makes these Baleaf Bib Shorts a good fit for someone hoping to pass the time in front of a TV.
The fit is pretty good. I can’t go completely 5 stars on them, but a 3.5 is appropriate. There was a little bit of bunching at the hip which means the shorts did ride up slightly. I’d say, maybe an inch. This may be due to my body type or leg shape, but something to take note of if you going longer. Especially so if you don’t change positions much.
The Value Proposition
Ok. This is a really affordable pair of bib shorts. I would say they are cheap, but I don’t want it to come across that the shorts are cheaply made. They are not top notch. I am not going to lie. The padding was sufficient up to a point. In my case, about 20-30 miles. The stitching may not last for the long haul. I have tugged and pulled, but time will tell how the quality holds up. The fit is decent. I did have some bunching around the crotch and the hipline.
I am liking the look of these shorts! Four pockets, so plenty of storage. That worked for me, since I was mainly on my trainer, and I had 2 remotes and a phone stashed away. I ride enough to know that I won’t wear these on my big outings. I also know that biking is a very expensive sport to started in. Hence, you have to be your own advocate. Will these shorts work for you? Is the fit correct for you? Will you be happy wearing these for the foreseeable future? Only you can answer that.
Final Take On The Baleaf Bib Shorts
As an entry level Bib Short (from a pricing standpoint), these are a good option to get someone on the bike. For anyone who is starting out, or doesn’t bike too often, comfort is key. Subsequently, these Baleaf Bib Shorts will work for comfort (up to a certain mileage and ride time), style, and price. The value is definitely there! Time will tell how the fabric, stitching, and chamois will hold up, but my initial testing has proven them worthwhile. In conclusion, if you are truly on a limited budget, I’d say give these a shot.
For more info on these and other Baleaf products, visit www.amazon.com/baleaf.