The Black Shorts: The Review That Reveals All
Looking for a budget pair of cycling shorts? So was I. Here are some early thoughts on the Black Shorts brought to you by the Black Bibs people.
Black Shorts At a Glance
- Decent price of $40.
- The chamois reminds me of an old pair of Castellis I had 15 years ago.
- The Black Shorts seem a bit itchy at first, with a more relaxed fit than my Assos and Bontrager shorts.
- The first ride was OK, some chafing but nothing terrible.
- Time will tell. Watch for updates!
UPDATED JULY 13, 2021 (SEE END)
I’ve needed new bike shorts for a long time. Like, months.
Since the pandemic started, I’ve rendered a pair of Louis Garneaus and Primal Wears completely useless. There’s an ancient set of Pearl Izumi shorts around that not even a masochist would ride in, along with a pair of Fox baggies that I just don’t like at all.
So really, I only have two go-to pairs of shorts, which are made by Assos and Bontrager. Both are pricey – about $130 each.
My wife, who also rides and understands the value of good gear, discovered that these are pretty much the only shorts I wear. She low-key lectured me about not having enough shorts and not practicing what I preach about not being a cheapskate.
Enter the Black Shorts, made by the Black Bib people.
Huh? The Black Shorts?
It’s hard for me to buy bike shorts. I hate ordering shorts without seeing them unless they’re a brand I’m familiar with. But COVID has created quite a crunch for anything cycling related. And too many of my local stores focus too much on baggy stuff.
I did some online homework to find brands I hadn’t heard of before to see what’s new. I found the Black Shorts in some listicle. I ignored any article that mentioned the crotch-grater horror that is Bellwether (aka Ballwither) or Canari — you’re seriously better off riding in a Borat mankini.
The price seemed worth a shot, so I ordered a pair and waited. A few days later, they were here and ready to ride.
Are the Black Shorts Any Good?
So to a guy who relies on $130 shorts, can a $40 short be any good?
Well, the first impressions are that they’re OK. I’m planning to update this post as I continue riding the Black Shorts.
But let’s at least give a snapshot of where we are right now.
First, Here’s How I Ride
I split my time between an all-road bike and a singlespeed mountain bike. I rarely ride less than 30 miles, and I logged more than 3,600 miles in 2020.
I do the occasional long event or race, when COVID isn’t screwing the works up.
In the summer, I’ll use some sort of chamois cream to protect my goolies. Those long road rides and hot weather are a prescription for chapping your choad!
Back in Black Shorts
My first impression of the Black Shorts is that they looked a lot like Castellis I rode about 15 years ago, minus the graphics. That’s not a bad thing.
The chamois appears to be a decent quality, but nothing to stand against my Bontrager or Assos shorts. Definitely better than the Fox chamois, though.
When I put the Black Shorts on for my first ride, the material felt a bit prickly, almost a bit wooly. The sensation went away after a few moments, fortunately (I really, really, really hate wool).
They felt a little less constricting around the meat whistle than my other shorts. The cuffs at the bottom of each leg are smaller, as is the waistband. The overall effect was that their fit is either more relaxed, or the material is stretchier.
My First Ride
I figured a quick 30-miler would give me an idea about these shorts.
For the most part of the ride, I forgot about them. That’s a pretty solid vote of confidence if it holds up.
By the end of the 30 miles, my undercarriage felt a bit more like I’d ridden at least 60 miles. There were definitely some abrasions forming, especially on the left side right where the leg turns into the crotch.
I also noticed that, when I first put the Black Shorts on, the chamois was much less flexible than the ones in my other shorts. There seemed to be a ridge right along the center that was a bit proctological for my tastes.
I still think these are a better low-budget short than many. I’m going to keep trying these, both with and without chamois cream to see how they hold up.
I’ll be back with my evaluation of whether YOU should buy the Black Shorts.
UPDATE: JULY 13, 2021
OK, it’s time to give the final evaluation.
Since the initial review, I’ve used the Black Shorts twice a week for shorter pre-work rides. These rides ranged from 22-35 miles.
The good news is that the itchy feeling of the Lycra subsided. Now, they don’t feel that much different from my pricier shorts. At least, not in that respect.
Unfortunately, the lower-quality chamois is not very comfortable much past 25 miles. That distance in The Black Shorts feels like a much longer distance in my other shorts. On every ride that goes past 25 miles, my ass starts to notice the difference in these shorts.
I wore my Bontrager shorts for a 24-mile ride this morning, and the quality of the chamois is beyond obvious. That’s significant because I I also consider Bontrager a rung or two down from my Assos shorts.
My advice: Skip the Black Shorts. Go for a more-premium brand.
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