ShuttVR Pro Bib Coolmax Shorts Comparative Review

I’ve always enjoyed following new companies and products enter the marketplace. In 2010 one of the new companies that I think has made a good impact into the British cycling marketplace is Shutt Velo Rapide or ShuttVR for short (http://www.shuttvr.com/). 

They first caught my attention earlier this year on the Bikeradar forums ( http://www.bikeradar.com/forum/index.php?c=4) where members started waxing lyrical about the products and then Shutt themselves jumped in and took care of a small number of complaints in a manner that could possibly be considered almost a case study of how to fix customer problems using social media. For me it was the excellent way they handled themselves in the forum that really made me take notice – so many companies have no idea how to use these platforms and there was Shutt doing a great job from day one. 

Like many cyclists as each year has passed my cycling kit has got more and more expensive as I’ve simply enjoyed riding in nicer kit. Each time I’ve upgraded – it’s always been better and this year (so far) has been all about better bibshorts, where I’ve been looking for high quality shorts that are really comfortable up to and over 100km that offer good value rather than at a low price per se. So it was with great interest that I read some glowing reports from customers (I always believe them more than the magazine reviews) about the Shutt Pro Bib Coolmax shorts that retail for £79. It’s an interesting price point – comfortably under the prices of the”uber” brands like Assos or Rapha but also generally well above the price of say your mid-range DHB clothiing. It’s also a fairly competitive segment as there are quite a few brands and products in the £60-£90 price range. 

With forum members suggesting the Shutt’s were better than the lower end Assos shorts – I decided I had to have some and duly placed my order. The ordering and delivery etc worked perfectly and my medium sized Shutt’s arrived very promptly after I ordered them. 

When they arrived I opened the package and gave them a close examination. First impressions were very good – the lycra felt and looked very high quality, nicer in fact than any other shorts I’ve owned. I like the combination of white and black and liked the white mesh section as well, which has been especially welcome on warmer rides. The stitching was good as were the leg grippers and the whole short just felt like a well made, high quality piece of kit. I then turned them inside out, saw the blue gel pad and thought oh no. The pad was exactly the same as my Lusso Pro Gel shorts that I a) bought for much less than the Shutt’s and b) are my least favourite bib shorts as I really don’t like the ride quality of the pad. So I instantly went from feeling like the Shutt’s were a 9 out of 10 to about a 5 out of 10. I was nervous also because I was hoping to write this review and I was starting to think I might not be writing such a positive one. Even though I felt a bit deflated, as I said the quality of the product is high and so I got out on the road to compare the Shutt’s to my other shorts. One thing I noticed and liked straight away is that they are a little shorter on the thigh than my other shorts and I liked that as it extended my “cycling tan” further up my legs.  
For comparative purposes, my other bib shorts that I regularly ride in are: DHB Finchdean (http://www.wiggle.co.uk/dhb-finchdean-bib-cycling-shorts/), Lusso Pro Gel (http://www.lusso-clothing.co.uk/viewdetail.php?target=60185) , Gore Power III (http://www.wiggle.co.uk/gore-bike-wear-power-iii-bib-tight-shorts/) and now the Shutt Pro Coolmax (http://www.shuttvr.com/shop/productdetail.php?id=Pro_Bib). 

In riding the Shutt’s it was quickly apparent that despite my misgivings about the pad they were clearly much nicer to ride in than the Lusso’s – so that was good. The quality of the materials makes a tangible difference to riding on what is seemingly the identical pad. It’s a pad I just feel that the comfort deteriorates during the course of a ride – fine up to about 60km, then it’s almost like the pad stiffens up – I also have found it to get worse (less comfortable) over time after going through the washing machine lots of times. Frankly the Lusso shorts feel a bit budget/cheap in comparison to the Shutts – the materials are harsher and they don’t feel nearly as nice on, but they have been hard wearing. So the Lusso’s remain my least favourite bibs that I ride on days when I think my gear will take a hammering (e.g. in the rain/mud) and for that they do a good job. Most of the rest of the time they stay in my bike kit bag.

Now compared to my Gore and DHB shorts during my summer’s riding I found that in terms of quality of materials and feel of the construction the Shutt’s are my clear favourite. The DHB Finchdeans are well made but feel a more budget product than the Shutt’s and the Gore’s are a step down again. The Gore’s lycra feels thin and in fact my thigh hair pokes through the lycra in places as I’m riding – not good. In terms of comfort the DHBs are by far more comfortable – but that’s because they have a large thick pad that feels like a nappy whenever you’re not sitting on your saddle. It’s also at least twice as thick as they others – so that’s why it feels so comfy. The Gore pad is marginally more comfortable than the Shutt one. 

At this point in my test I felt that the Shutt’s were a good 7.5 out of 10 even with my misgivings about the pad – they are a really well made piece of kit that are a pleasure to wear and own especially over shorter distances. At longer distances, I would probably choose my DHB’s first and perhaps the Gore’s second equal with the Shutts as I found them to be slightly more comfortable if not as well made. 

At the recent London bike show I stopped by to see the guys at Shutt and told them that I thought the Pro Bib Coolmax short was a great product …. except for the pad which I felt let it down as it’s quality didn’t quite match the rest of the product. We talked about the pad and when I said it was a blue gel one, they said “actually we’ve changed the pad in those shorts to a different model, it’s now a grey pad not a blue pad”. After a bit more of a discussion about the shorts they said – “here go and ride the new version and see what you think”. I said “thank you very much” and off I went to do just that. 
So for the last month I’ve mostly been riding the “new” Pro Bib Coolmax and I honestly feel the change in pad has made these shorts much better. In my opinion the pad now does match the quality of the rest of short. I’ve done rides over 100km in them they are now my first choice out of my bike bag every time I go out for a ride (I’ve even crashed in them too: http://girodilento.com/crash – they’re fine in case you are wondering). The new pad is definitely more comfortable over any distance than the old and they are now clearly my favourite shorts. I’ve been riding the blue and grey versions back to back and I really do think there is a comfort improvement of 10-20% – even if those numbers aren’t right it’s definitely enough to be noticeable.  

I now rate them 8.5 out of 10 and happily recommend that anyone looking at Bib Shorts in the £60-£90 price range has these on their shortlist (sic) of contenders. The ShuttVR are high quality, comfortable, well made bib shorts for riding in any conditions. They’re a slim fit with a slim pad that is comfortable and they feel great to wear. I’d quite happily buy them again and I hope you’ve found this review useful. 
You can find them and buy them here:

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