By Joshua Cohen
When shopping for cycling shorts, you can find thin, flexible “chamois” liners or thicker versions that provide more padding but make you feel like you’re wearing a diaper.
Campagnolo has developed a new type of liner that attempts to deliver the cushioning of thick pads but with the low weight and flexibility of thinner pads. As the name AirProPad suggests, this is done with air chambers, analogous to putting air in the soles of shoes.
I expected to see thick air compartments in the pad, but it’s actually very flexible and not significantly thicker than the average foam liner. The thin air chambers fuse well with the rest of the pad and do not have any strange-feeling seams. In fact, the only seam is the flat one around the edge of the pad to attach it to the shorts.
Two round air pads go under the sit bones. A third chamber adds cushioning for the perineal area when you lean forward in a low aero position.
I tested the $220 racing version of these bib shorts, dubbed C644. The pad is designed for riders who tend to crouch in a low posture that puts more weight through the perineum than on the sit bones. The rear of the pad is 170-mm wide, measured between the side edge seams. The air compartments for the sit bones are 70 mm in diameter and 80 mm apart (center to center). If your sit bones are 135 mm apart or more (center to center), this pad might be narrow. Campy makes AirProPad versions for women, training and endurance riding that are meant for sitting more upright.
The wide, high-back shoulder straps provide a secure fit without any sagging. Two rear pockets are large enough to carry an ID, a trim phone, gel packs — but because the pockets are directly against your back, whatever you carry will likely get wet with sweat. So think twice about what you put in them. The pockets are difficult to reach under a jersey and whatever else you may be wearing, so they are best for items you won’t need to grab while rolling.
Sizing runs large. I usually wear medium shorts but Campy’s small fit me perfectly. Actually, a medium pair fit my proportions well but the AirProPadlined up poorly with my sit bones. The small was on target. (The pad is the same dimension in all shorts sizes.)
Campy’s “Atlanta Lycra techno fabric” is form-fitting, as you’d expect, and also features elastic mesh panels on the back and inside each leg for ventilation and sweat evaporation. I could feel an air-flow advantage compared to regular shorts.
The AirProPad was comfortable during multi-hour rides and is thin enough to prevent the dreaded diaper effect. It’s showing no signs of flattening as foam can. This pad is a successful innovation that hopefully will find its way into lower-price shorts in Campy’s lineup.
This $170 jersey is made of a supple spandex material Campy calls Atlanta. It claims UV protection and antibacterial properties. Mesh side panels increase ventilation.
The mesh, along with the lightweight material, make this jersey great for hot-weather rides. I noticed a significant improvement in ventilation compared to my regular jerseys.
The rear pockets fit very closely. This may be a positive if you demand total security for the things you carry. However, the tight fit and soft material make retrieving items from the pockets more tedious than with jerseys I normally wear. Ironically, the above photo above (lifted from Campy’s online catalog) seems to confirm the difficulty.
In fact, the overall fit of this jersey is snug and form fitting. it’s not the style that will cover up any ???endurance calories in reserve.???
I washed this Campy apparel as carefully as I do my own cycling clothes — gentle cycle in cold water, then line dry.
Even with this attention, most of the surface detailing on the bib shorts (the red lines around the thighs) had come off before the fifth washing. The elastic bands around the thighs showed signs of fraying, although the silicone leg grippers on the inside were fine. Around the same time, I noticed fraying on the jersey’s mesh side panels.
The AirProPad is a positive development in pad technology, and the stylish, form-fitting (maybe excessively so) jersey provides excellent ventilation. For their prices, however, durability and pocket accessibility are disappointments.
Joshua Cohen is a physical therapist and designer of the Kontact Saddle. He wrote his graduate thesis on male ergonomic bicycle seat design. Then, distilling his voluminous scholarly research, he wrote Finding the Perfect Bicycle Seat and, more recently, The Illustrated Guide to Bicycle Seats. Both eBooks are available in the RBR eBookstore.
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