When Q36.5 launched, they made a huge splash in the cycling apparel world, releasing some of the most innovative and technical pieces the industry had ever scene. The highlight being their selection bib shorts. Starting with the Salopette L1 and continuing on with the Salopette Dottore, Salopette Vented, and eventually the Salopette Elite; Q continually pushed the limits of high performance cycle wear with new advancements in textiles and construction.
While the Salopette line was a huge success, it wasn't for everyone. The materials were unlike anything most had seen or worn before and had a fairly intense level of compression, especially in the Dottore model. There were many riders who still preferred a more relaxed feel of traditional lycra type fabric.
With that, they took on the challenge of creating a bib with a more familiar feel. Something a little less compressive and also a hit a more wallet friendly price point. The result was the Miles Gregarious, their take on a more traditional bib short. Super comfortable and built to the incredible standards of quality synonymous with the Q brand. They were a phenomenal piece of kit and more than satisfied riders who didn't take a liking to the ultra compression of the Salopette line. Over time though, they realized they could do it better and started over from the ground up. The result? The all new Gregarius Ultra.
Comparing with the original side by side, it's quite clear that it was not just a simple update, but a full on overhaul in design. While there are a few similarities, you can easily see every aspect has been reworked and reimagined into a completely new piece.
Slipping them on, it's undeniable that these are no ordinary bibs. The comfort is instantly noticeable, but after a little time having them on, all of the unique features and details begin to reveal themselves. You soon realize that every aspect of the design has been thoroughly considered.
One of the most notable features is the new gripper section. The old version used a compression band at the hem, similar to what you see in most other manufactures' shots. The new Ultra incorporates the high tech gripper textile found in their higher end bibs. It's quite unique with it's crepe paper like texture. It's super thin, and it manages to fit tighter against your skin while also feeling more flexible and relaxed than the previous material. It also helps make the shorts lighter. The old design did allow Q to offer some cool color pops with the gripper band, but I'm happy to settle for black to get the feel and quality of these.
Another welcome change is the redesigned front panel. Most other bib shorts run a seam right down the center of the shorts, making an indent through the crotch. While you might not have really noticed it before, the relief of the new design greatly improves comfort. Q has been doing this on their Dottore and Salopette Elite shorts, and I'm very happy to see the pattern make it's way to the Gregarius line.
A more subtle change is the addition of a Dyneema panel on the underside of the chamois where the shorts contact the saddle. Dyneema is an incredible strong textile that has an "Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene" fiber woven through the fabric, greatly improving durability in the wear section of the bibs. It's one of the most expensive textiles in the world, so the fact that it's featured in a piece at this price point really makes them an incredible value.
Now that I've gone on about all the tech specs and features, I'll get to answering the important stuff—How do they actually feel on the ride? To answer simply, they're amazing, but that's hardly a qualitative answer. The fit and feel is easily one of the most comfortable Q36.5 has ever delivered. I won't say they're compression less. There is a little bit, certainly less than in the Dottore bibs, but just enough to feel some support to your muscles and to give the shorts a feeling that they've got some substance to them.
The new chamois is quite impressive. In the older gregarious model, I always thought the pad felt really thick and that there was simply too much going on between saddle and sit bones. The new one feels thinner, and to me is significantly more comfortable. I've worn them on a few 4+ hour rides in a range of weather conditions (thank you Bay Area spring) and a range of types of riding (road, gravel, mtb). So far I've had no chafing or any saddle comfort issues at all. They've been the kind of piece you put on and don't ever think about them at all. In fact, there's only one pair of shorts I've found to have a better chamois, and that's Q36.5's flagship Salopette Elite bib. Being that they're nearly double the price, I'd say that they better be more comfortable!
In the week or two that I've had them, I've put somewhere between 150-200 miles in them (I'm not much of a Strava user anymore so I don't have an exact count), and they have been nothing short of pleasurable to wear. No binding or pinching, no poorly placed seams. Just comfort, all day long. From performance to aesthetics, they exude a level of performance and luxury that very few can match, regardless of price.
There are some brands who do have shorts with somewhat similar features and are indeed quite good, but they're top of the line models with prices at $350 and up. Coming in at just over $200, the Gregarius Ultra is not only one the best bib sorts on the market, but easily the best value too. But don't just take our work for it. Find out for yourself.