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Though the brand doesn’t seem to get the respect that its high-end products deserve, I’ve long been a fan of Louis Garneau’s shorts. Always well made and in my opinion quite comfortable, Garneau’s shorts show excellent attention to detail. A 12 panel short (also available in a bib short verison) that makes use of the company’s antibacterial “most comfortable,” “all day on the saddle” Airgel Chamois, the Carbon Lazer seemed like it would be a great choice for 24 hour training and racing.
I’m someone who really likes the recent trend toward minimalist leg grippers. With fabrics doing a better job than ever before of keeping shorts in place, there is less and less of a need for aggressive grippers that can be constrictive or silicone prints that pull at leg hair or cause allergic reactions. That said, I was completely unprepared for the ‘barely there’ feel of the Carbon Lazers’ nearly 5in tall (outside, 3in at the inseam) Aero Lazer band. A single layer of Lazer Rev fabric without so much as binding at the laser cut hem, the Aero Lazer band is strikingly comfortable and makes the Garneaus feel much shorter than they are- which is really pleasant on hot days.
At the waist, Garneau use their similarly unobtrusive HuggFit waist. Though the wide band looks a bit like it was borrowed from a pair of ladies’ shorts- and with good reason. The fact is that it makes for one of the most comfortable waistbands I’ve worn- one that I have to think could convince bib fans to make an exception (at least in hot weather). The 3D-weave Carbon Ion Lycra used for the balance of the shorts does a very good job at pulling moisture away from the skin and is claimed to be more odor-resistant than more standard polyesters. Contrasting flat seams and a handful of reflective logos round out the $150 package.
The Airgel chamois’ name is a bit misleading- designed for distance riding, it doesn’t feel squidgey or gel-like at all when on the bike. The channeled multi-thickness pad’s density is on the medium-to-soft end of things and is well-shaped. For a pad billed as being designed for long days in the saddle, I find the pad a bit too soft after a few hours on the mountain bike- but understand that I have an unusually bony backside. On tarmac, the Airgel chamois does fare better: for 2-3 hour road rides and when paired with moderately padded saddles, the Airgel Chamois is comfortable, breathable, and unobtrusive.
Really, my main wish for the Carbon Lazers is for a bit more compression through the thighs. With large thighs, long legs, and a 31in waist, I land between an XS and Small in Louis Garneau’s sizing chart. I have to think that going down to an XS, rather than up to a Small, would have provideed a bit more fatigue-fighting muscle support.
Louis Garneau really are on to something with the Carbon Lazers. The Aero Lazer band makes the shorts some of the most free-feeling I’ve ridden and the Carbon Lazer fabric stays dry and comfortable during hard efforts: I’m looking forward to spending more time in them in truly hot weather. If I had it to do again, I’d go with the XS- anyone else who likes their shorts compressive would probably also do well to size down. I find the Airgel Chamois to be at its best when combined with moderately padded saddles than out-and-out race models. If that’s how you roll, then the Carbon Lazers should make for a great warm-weather choice.
all photos courtesy Kip Malone, Photographer.