The desire for a bib short with specific properties of the Salopette Elite had entered my mind, and featured in conversation, during the summer preceding its release. I have been a committed advocate of Q36.5 of cycling apparel for a number of years, and prior to the Elite, I was using either the Salopette L1 (no longer produced, but check out the Salopette Miles Gregarious Ultra for the current alternative) and Dottore L1, almost exclusively throughout the summer season.
The Salopette L1 being my “go to” bib short for the majority of training and everyday riding, and the Dottore L1 being the choice for the rides when additional performance and comfort is needed. I also simply enjoy experiencing the difference in fit and feel that higher level cycling equipment can bring.
Being UK based, in the Midlands, conditions generally enable riding outdoors throughout the year, but like many cyclists, I really look forward to the summer months. I love to be on the bike when the sun is out and the temperatures are high, ideally in the hills or mountains, either in the UK or abroad. Could Q36.5 offer a bib short that could potentially surpass their superb Dottore L1, for riding in these conditions? For me, the answer is “yes”, the Salopette Elite currently has the edge.
The performance of the Elite is created from a blend of technical features and fabrics. The bib short has a slightly different appearance, partly due to the use of Dyneema Yarn within certain panels. The Dyneema provides resilience, an efficient short-saddle contact area, and temperature control. The material also contributes to the Salopette Elite being very light in weight.
The Chamois Fusion Vented is a key component within the Salopette Elite. Q36.5 created this chamois to assist rider comfort when cycling in hot conditions. Other more subtle features are the lightweight, resilient mesh, tubular shoulder straps, and a lack of conventional leg grippers (more detail is given on this later).
Q36.5 equipment is shaped for an on-bike fit, and this is noticeable when you try for size, or dress to ride. As you pull on the Elite, the leg area feels close fitting, even though the traditional leg gripper has been taken out of the design. When riding, the benefit of these features becomes apparent.
The chamois and upper area of the short immediately feels very comfortable. The shoulder straps are easy to position, and they draw you slightly forward when in place. When riding, all of the features of the Elite function collectively to provide the rider with an extremely comfortable and efficient bib short.
The area of the short in contact with the saddle is very stable. This is complemented by lumbar support provided by the panel layout. This combination creates a sensation of stability, promoting increased efficiency whilst pedalling. The fabric used for the majority of the leg area is designed to provide a light compression. This also serves to increase pedalling efficiency, and reduce fatigue.
The level of compression within the Elite is slightly less than the Dottore L1, but the feature is still noticeable.
From a personal perspective, the compression creates the feel of the short being harmonious with the pedalling motion, assisting the movement. This is especially noticeable during the up-stroke, or when riding out of the saddle.
Q36.5 utilise the main fabric of the short to form the leg “gripper”. Their design does away with the traditional silicon gripper, replaced by a “raw cut” finish, which provides a comfortable level of fit and grip, without unnecessary pressure points.