There are only three points of contact for the human anatomy on a bicycle – and only one that spells the difference between a good day, and a not so good day. Pactimo’s Raptor bib shorts may be the difference between a good day, and a very good day.
Until recently, I’ve been a die-hard Castelli man. After discovering their Free Aero Race bibs I thought my quest for a happy tush had come to an end. Though comfortable, there have been a few durability issues unbecoming of this price point. Most irritating is that the Castelli logos begin to peel off after a few months – leaving an unsightly mottled white circular glue patch that attracts lint and hair. Everyone knows that sharp kit makes you go faster, and this resulted in a speed reduction of 2 Kph. On the more serious side, I’ve also had chamois seams blow out after only 3 months of use. But to give credit where it’s due, Castelli quickly replaced the garment NQA.
Enter Pactimo…a cycling clothing manufacturer based in the Denver metro area that offers both custom and retail lines. After campaigning to be one of their brand ambassadors Pactimo sent me a very generous 30% off coupon: which I used for my 2014 kit purchase.
FIT: Trying on the shorts for the first time I immediately noticed the compression: firm, but not restrictive. The XL size was perfect fit for my 6-4 and 228 lbs. [I know...10 more pounds to riding weight] The mesh shoulder straps were just long enough, and the garment moved with me as I squatted down and stood up again. Being rather tall, the compromise I’ve had to make for length has often resulted in bagginess around the navel. Not so with the Raptor bibs.
QUALITY: The construction is excellent, with flat seams – clean and precise stitching and finishing inside and out. I was unable to find a single stitch out of place. The fabric feels substantial, heavier than the above mentioned Castelli’s, and leads me to believe that durability won’t be an issue for this season’s scheduled 6000 miles. Will the heavier fabric be an issue in the summer heat? According to Pactimo it shouldn’t be. They claim that their flash technology efficiently pushes heat and moisture away from the skin. The chamois is firmer than most, and is Pactimo’s anatomic endurance model. I suspect that the firmer pad will be more comfortable and supportive over long distances than softer pads. The size of the chamois seemed a little large to me – time will tell if that’s still noticeable after several rides.
FIRST RIDES: I tried out my new bibs with 10 hours of riding on the indoor trainer. Since there’s not much variation when grinding out the miles indoors, the benefit for this evaluation was spending most of the time in the saddle. The chamois was firm and supportive. Though I ride a medium-firm saddle, I was still quite comfortable at the end of rides exceeding 2 hours…with zero nether region numbness. I also noted that I was dry: validating Pactimo’s hydrophobic fabric tech specs. The higher level compression was noticeable [and MUCH appreciated] when tackling big intervals with short recoveries.
The Pactimo Raptor bibs are a sublimely wonderful piece of gear – especially if you put in long miles. They bring comfort, durability and very cool tech features together in a reasonably priced product. Check them out on the Pactimo website.