31 July 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Endura FS260 Fieldsensor shorts (2007)

It was while living in and working at a bike shop in the UK six or seven years ago that I was first introduced to Scottish company Endura's cycling clothing. The jerseys were a bit odd, but nearly everyone I knew swore by their shorts, knickers and waterproofs. I picked up a couple of pair of their FS260 shorts at the time and was impressed- they remained some of my favorites for several years until wear, tear, and hammered chamois forced them into retirement.

Back in the US, I didn't see much of the company's no-nonsense, well thought out clothing until recently. It seems like the company whose clothing is designed and particularly well suited to Scotland's damp and cold climate is well represented in the Southwest and I picked up a pair of the updated FS260s at a local shop last fall.

Far from flashy, the FS260 is a pretty basic looking 8-panel short made of fairly dense Fieldsensor fabric. The big attraction here is a very nice looking segmented stretch pad, which is suspiciously similar to one used by Craft in their Master shorts. There are silicone leg grippers under which the company's logo is printed and the shorts are black. That's it.

While the FS260s use a heavier fabric than some other shorts I've used lately, it's probably not a bad thing. One of bike shorts' main functions is to support the leg muscles and in doing so reduce fatigue, and heavy fabric does a very good job at supporting my thighs. It's warmer than some, but seems to breathe well and the fabric shows no signs of wear after several months' regular use. The "400-series" pad is simply fantastic- it's dense without being bulky and is supportive and unobtrusive- certainly one of my favorites lately.

Unfortunately, I don't wear the FS260s much. While the waistband seems unusually high, it's the short shorts. It's the Nair theme song that haunts me when I wear them. You know- Who wears short shorts? Nair for short shorts. Yup. These are short shorts. They really don't look too bad in photos, but when I pull them on, I have a very pale inch band of skin showing where the Enduras end and everything else I own covers. See that scar on my right leg (earned by passing an Expert woman during a race and promptly crashing in front of her)? Many of my shorts cover it completely. Now, at this point, I'm more than comfortable wearing Lycra (on the bike, mind), but I feel awfully exposed in the FS260s.

Which is a shame. They're very well built, comfortable shorts. If Endura could take an inch off the waist and put it on the legs, they'd have a winner in my book. I am tall for a medium, but have friends in the same boat, with the same shorts and same complaint. Also, Endura's stuff may fall victim to the falling dollar- for $75, they'd bee a great deal: they sell for 40GBP at home- $80 at today's exchange rates (and that includes a 17.5% VAT), meaning that Britons pay about $70 plus tax for the same thing. Unfortunately, there are a lot of attractive options at their $100 suggested US retail price. If you're a shorter guy or are looking to gradate that tan line a bit, they're certainly worth a look. I'll continue to wear them, but they have a way of creeping to the bottom of the shorts drawer- I don't need to be teased any more than I already am.



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