The use of compression in cycling shorts and bibs offers muscle and circulation benefits that can aid performance, recovery, and reduce injury. The balance is compression versus cycling functionality, overall fit and comfort, and anatomic consideration. Louis Garneau has integrated compression with many short/bib designs, with a strong emphasis on specific muscular benefits and cycling ergonomics.
The Neo Power Motion Bibshort is a performance-oriented piece that uses compression to favor long days in the saddle featuring hard effort and energy output. By seeking to support active and passive muscular zones, the design increases blood circulation to improve performance. Some testing shows 10-20% improvement in performance. Compressive materials also reduce the effects of road vibration and rough surfaces, which can be especially wasteful of muscular energy over a long day on the bike. Of course, the piece also has to breathe to reduce moisture and heat build-up, as well as fit properly from top to bottom. The Neo Power Motion series offer these capabilities, as well as a chamois that matches the performance level and intended use.
The key material that provides the compression is Power+ Lycra. This polyester fabric blend can be woven in 2 or 4-way stretch for specific ergonomic purpose. It has a high-level of very strong stretch that is very resilient to repeated use. Combined with the less compressive, though still stretchy and breathable Endurexx fabric, the Power+ Lycra is sewn into directional panels that optimize for compression along with the natural ergonomic movement and body position of the active cyclist. The Powerband cuff on the leg is much larger than most leg grip zones, and is also shaped to react to pedaling action and the pull of the other panels. It offers great compression and hold without feeling restrictive. At the other end of the bibshort, Power Mesh is used for the bib upper. This lighter weight, but still supportive material, breathes exceptionally well. The wide flat shoulder straps feature finished edges to complete the comfort you require from the fit.
Garneau develops its own chamois pads, and uses the Motion Air Gel model in the Neo Power Motion. This pre-formed, ergonomic pad features multi-thickness, perforated, high-density memory foam that employs Beveled Edge Molding. This technology eliminates drastic transitions from one thickness to another, resulting in a smooth feel without pinching points to eliminate chafing. Perforated gel padding adds more comfort from impact, while still allowing moisture transfer, and ventilation at the front of the pad encourages air flow. There is a relief zone in the most sensitive area for me, encouraging blood flow. Along with expected antibacterial properties, Garneau uses a copper technology, called Cupron, which can reduce skin irritation and provides antimicrobial properties. It is also has an anti-allergen capability and can help promote wound healing. As a complete visual package, the chamois seems simple, but when you understand just how much has gone into it's development, you understand and appreciate the commitment to rider health and comfort.
Compression technology feels odd when trying on garments that feature substantial levels. Remember the shape and cut of the pieces are intended for the cycling position while pedaling, so when standing around, everything feels too tight. The best designed and actualized compression shorts or bibs almost disappear once you mount up and ride. Then the compression feels natural, supportive. The Neo Power Bibshort feels great on the bike and while riding. As you get used to it, you tend notice more afterwards. Muscles feel fresher and free, and when combined with proper hydration, nutrition, and coverage, your legs recover faster. And after a long ride on Saturday, the Sunday morning group ride feels less daunting.
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