Excellent racer-appropriate cut, ultra-comfy chamois and outstanding ventilation in hot temperatures, plus ‘made in Italy’ quality, but very expensive and laminated grippers don’t take well to machine drying
Panache Cyclewear’s Eleven bib shorts are purpose-built for scorching summer heat. They feature a Lycra Power body and mesh side panels with additional perforated panels down by the leg openings and for the bib section.
Out in the heat, the combination allows a considerable amount of cooling air to flow right through and the mesh construction lends a decidedly light feel – just what you want when the sweat starts to flow.
On the flipside, this is definitely a hot-weather-only garment. Unlike most other shorts on the market, the Panache Eleven bibs are so meshy and airy that additional layers are an absolute requirement for temperatures significantly below ‘Africa hot’.
The Elevens fall squarely in the premium end of the pricing spectrum – well into Assos territory, in fact – and will likely be a tough sell given Panache’s newcomer status and unproven label, and the somewhat derivative styling.
But that price buys you true ‘made in Italy’ quality plus some particularly well thought-out details. For example, rather than sew a separate layer of gripper tape on the leg openings, Panache owner and designer Don Powell simply stitches it onto the end of the panel to minimise overall thickness on the front half.
In addition, the grippers are little more than a sparse array of extra-shallow silicone dots for a feel that is noticeably freer than most conventional banded construction.
On the back of the leg, a paper-thin layer of silicone is laminated onto the panel and the whole thing is cut clean for the utmost in minimalism.
About the only downside we’ve discovered over nearly half a year of testing is that the laminated gripper section is best left to line- rather than machine-drying lest you run the risk of peeling at the edges.
Long-term comfort is superb as well thanks to a Cytech EIT (Elastic Interface Technology) stretch chamois with just the right amount of padding and coverage.
Powell admits that he chooses one of Cytech’s mid-range inserts, preferring the supposed extra elasticity that comes with stitched – rather than laminated – construction. We couldn’t notice the difference, but we’re not about to argue after logging countless hours without a single saddle sore.