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HOY Vulpine El Toro bib shorts – review

El Toro means ‘the bull’ in Spanish, although the El Toro in question here is actually a town on Majorca, matching the HOY Vulpine Valldemossa jersey, which is another bit of kit named after a town on the Spanish island.

Like the Valldemossa jersey – reviewed here – fit on the El Toro shorts is designed to be close, but in a relaxed way. If that sounds like contradiction what I mean is that they still fit against your skin, but there’s none of that skin tight, compressive feeling that has been sneaking into the bike world over the last year or so. It makes them very easy to put on but you definitely need to take note of the sizing. I usually wear medium in shorts (and in Italian brands occasionally a large), but tested the small version here and even then they were right on the borderline of being too big. If you’re slimmer through the thighs you may find that even a small leaves a bit too much room for movement.

The fabric on the legs offers plenty of stretch, and you definitely stay cool in these confirming Vulpine’s claims that they can be used between 12-30 degrees. In fact, if anything, we’d say they’re good enough at keeping you cool that the lower end of that range might prove a little chilly.

Leg gripping is handled by 2cm wide elastic bands with U-shaped silicone grips. They do a decent job and are by no means inadequate, but did require a couple of rearranging pulls down on long rides. I personally find the wider grippers tend to be a bit harder to shift, especially those where the grip is consistent around the whole of the leg, rather than spaced out like they are here. Definitely something to be considered for version two.

The foundation – and unquestioned star feature – of these shorts is a CyTech chamois. You may not have heard of CyTech themselves, but they’ve made pads for the likes of Rapha and Assos and so know a few things about comfort. All CyTech’s pads use their elastic interface fabrics, which were specifically designed for cycling chamois. And those fabrics are made from polyamide microfibres to make sure that they feel comfortable and soft against the skin. If you’re ever curious as to the amount of technology that goes into producing a pad, check out the Elastic Interface website, it’s very impressive.

Construction-wise, the pad here is simple. High-density padding on the sections that need it (ischial, perenal), a centre channel to relieve unwanted pressure on the most sensitive areas, and low density padding around the edges. It might look bulky, but part of the reason for that is the contrast between the different densities, and it’s very comfortable when riding, so much so that I can definitely believe Vulpine’s claim that this pad is only used elsewhere on top line shorts. You hear potentially apocryphal tales about pros cutting out their favoured pads to replace those in shorts made by their official sponsor, and this is the sort of chamois I’d love to have in every set of shorts I own.

The bib straps are made from Coolmax fabric, which is designed to remove sweat quickly from the surface of the skin, or work in conjunction with your base layer to make sure you stay dry and cool. The extra bonus is that they’re super soft and thus highly comfortable, and the elastic strikes a good balance between keeping them in place and never becoming uncomfortable.

Looks-wise there’s nothing to fault these on. Black has been the go-to colour for cycling shorts almost as long as there’s been competitive cycling, and the black-on-black logos are subtle and classy. The great thing about black shorts, too, is that they go with almost any jersey (if you’re concerned about that sort of thing, that is), so you’re not just buying shorts designed to go with their paired jersey, you can use them with almost anything.

Conclusion

There are a couple of little things I’d change, but overall the El Toros are a solid set of bib shorts with a very strong look. They’re great in warm weather and comfortable, but anyone interested should check the sizing as these come up larger than many brands.

Pros

– Superb chamois
– Strong, classic, understated black look

Cons

– Grippers are just so-so
– Sizing may mean slender riders struggle for a good fit

 

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