One Year in Review: Shimano S-Phyre Bib Shorts and Jersey
A year of consistent partnership can tell you a lot about a person, but a year of consistent use with a pair of bib shorts and jersey means you know everything about the kit short of their social security number. After a year of wearing the recently-released second generation Shimano S-Phyre bib shorts and jersey, I feel that I have more than a simple working relationship with Shimano's crown jewel of cycling apparel. The kit shows what the company does at their best, and what they need to continue to strive toward. A year of consistent partnership can tell you a lot about a person, but a year of consistent use with a pair of bib shorts and jersey means you know everything about the kit short of their social security number. Let's start at from the top with the jersey. The Shimano S-Phyre short sleeve jersey uses a 75% polyester-25% elastane blend that allows the jersey to be nearly as stretchy as a skinsuit, and stretchier than a large majority of cycling jerseys already on the market. This is a major update compared to the previous S-Phyre jersey, parting from the aero focus of the first generation and moving toward lighter fabrics with a bit more stretch. The front panel is way stretchier than before, with much better ventilation compared to the super tight stitch of the original jersey. Out back, the fabric has a dimpled vector surface pattern that improves airflow over the shoulders for better ventilation and aerodynamics. Like the front, the fabric is on the lighter side, with the area around the shoulder being the stretchiest bit. You’ll also find a gripper in the rear hem, three pockets, and reflective vector detailing alongside the center pocket. Similar to the jersey, the Shimano S-Phyre bib shorts have seen some updates to make them more versatile than before. Like a standard pair of bib shorts, they compress and offer long-distance comfort. The waist itself is redesigned to offer more support than before, while the rest of the fabric is redesigned to be more resistant to sweat, particularly around the leg hem ensure proper grip at the beginning and end of the ride. The chamois also sees small changes; while the basic shape and profiling do not change, the materials do. Shimano claims that the chamois absorbs 33% less moisture than before, and it dries 61% faster than before as well. It still features a chamois with a wing-like profile that is separated along the second half of the bib and is remarkably stretchy. Their engineers are also very proud of the chamois's padding, which eschews the multiple layered covering of a lesser chamois with a single thin backing fabric and the multi-density pad. These things combined lends the bib short a feel of truly fitting around your body as opposed to being a simple layer. The first iteration of the S-Phyre kit had a reputation for growing in length as the kit went up in size, but it didn’t necessarily become any wider. That led to a jersey that felt great for riders in a size extra small, but a size large felt slimmer than just about anything else on the market. The bibs were similarly narrow, with sizes side by side not feeling particularly different than one another. Fit issues are absolutely rectified here, whether or not the cut actually changed. I’m a sucker for rad fabrics if that was not immediately clear from my Q36.5 review, and the S-Phyre jersey and bibs don’t disappoint. The cut isn’t as constrictive as before, and overall I would compare the fit to that of Assos or Giordana’s racier models. Despite the jersey being black, it was typically what I would choose for my hottest rides this past summer. Moisture-wicking capability is as good or better than anything else I’ve tried, and its really light on the body without feeling unsubstantial like other summer-specific jerseys. It does what a jersey should do, just with a level of refinement and attention to detail that few companies can think to match. On to the shorts: I usually forget about them in the heat of a ride. Maybe that's the best compliment I can pay them, as I've had shorts that gradually feel worse the longer I ride, to the point of being a distraction from focusing on the ride at hand. The fabric and the bib straps are soft, like Egyptian cotton sheets soft. The downside to this is that the short doesn’t compress a ton, but that means you have a fair bit more freedom of movement. The short really conforms to the rider without the stuffed sausage sensation better than anything else I've used, without the creasing that can come from more compressive shorts. One thing I did notice was the lower back to the bib straps had mesh that was nearly as thick as the back of the jersey, and thicker than just about any other bib we have in the shop. The mesh is placed where you sweat the most, offering more wicking capability and cooling to your lower back. Neat idea. I've watched Shimano from afar, and in using Shimano components and accessories at the shop, I've come to find that while everything they do works well, they tend to stick to what they know rather than putting stuff out and seeing what sticks. S-Phyre has been a different experience. If there is anything to complain about, it is that this is the kit they should've released two years ago. Shimano's come out with a less-than-ideal first generation, only to perfect it with an update that makes their kit a better overall package. The bibs and jersey are typical Shimano: polished, with great attention to detail and quality. But the fact that they've even updated it as quickly as they have is a testament to how serious they are about S-Phyre and meeting the needs of the consumer. I’ve had this bib and jersey for nearly a year, wearing them in triple-digit temperatures and sub-freezing cold alike. They weren’t my first choice when it got cold, but in the heat of the summer, there are few pieces of apparel that work as well as the Shimano S-Phyre kit. And after a year of regular riding all year long, I feel like I've come to learn more about what Shimano is all about, a close friendship it seems like the kit is just now starting to wear in for the long haul. Have any questions about Shimano S-Phyre bib shorts, jerseys, socks, or apparel? Give us a call during business hours, or send us an email any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.