Long Term Review: Performance Bike Ultra Bibshorts & Jersey, Plus Technical Line Overview

2013 Performance Bike Ultra bibshorts and cycling jersey

First off, my apologies to Performance Bike and to all of you. Not because these items aren’t good. In fact, they’re fantastic. But because this post is long overdue. Earlier this year -as in, early spring- Performance’s merchandise manager Bill Heins and clothing designer and product development leader Alicia Landis paid us a visit to run through their new line. They were very excited about it as it marked the freshman batch of a renewed focus on premium clothing from a brand known more for value-centric, sometimes bland clothing.

Heins took over and about a year prior brought Alicia in to create a cohesive line that’s head and shoulders above the “here’s a short, here’s a jersey” items of yore. Their goal? To incorporate the same level of features of premium brands, but maintain the PB value paradigm.

After riding the Ultra bibshorts and jersey through the Trans Sylvania Epic and all summer long in heavy rotation, I’d say they succeeded. The feature set is top notch, as is the comfort and fit. And when they told me the MSRP, I actually chortled…

ULTRA REVIEW

2013 Performance Bike Ultra bibshorts and cycling jersey

The result of their efforts is a three-level line, with Ultra at the top, Elite in the upper middle of the range and Club for an everyday value offering. The upper two get PhysioDynamic Design, their melding of comfort, aerodynamics and muscle support, and the Ultra adds ColdBlack on the raglan shoulder/sleeve panels. All items have 360° reflectivity.

The men’s gets an aero banding on the arm cuffs that make it aero without being restrictive, women’s uses a more traditional sleeve cuff.

2013 Performance Bike Ultra bibshorts and cycling jersey

Bibs are all ColdBlack (save for the bib straps) with mesh side panels to improve wicking and cooling. The leg band is wide with a gripper material that’s more infused than stuck on, which makes it both effective and extremely comfortable. It also helps the hem lay completely flat around the thighs for a fast, pro look.

2013 Performance Bike Ultra bibshorts and cycling jersey

The pad is an Italian sourced multi density foam with shaved, smoothly chamfered edges so there are no hard transitions between segments.

2013 Performance Bike Ultra bibshorts and cycling jersey

The jersey has a very open knit pattern all the way around with silicone gripper hem to keep it in place. A similar mesh is used for the upper part of the bibs.

2013 Performance Bike Ultra bibshorts and cycling jersey

Overall the fit was very, very good. At 6’2″ / 185lbs, I wore XL in both pieces. The jersey could have been a bit more streamlined around the midsection, but it wasn’t floppy by any means. Maybe squeezing into a Large would have given it the total racer fit. Three rear pockets are wide and deep. Logo and graphic details all around the jersey are reflective. Even on the hottest summer days (I rode these from high western desert to the steamy East Coast, from PA to FL), they never felt like dark black clothing should when the sun’s beating down, meaning the ColdBlack and breezy mesh must’ve been doing their job.

Retail is $99 for bibs and $89 for shorts. Jersey is $69. And no, those prices are not missing a “1″ in front of them…which means you can about get two sets for the same prices as a single kit from others.

Also available are new Ultra socks, which are a bit thinner than what they’ve offered in the past (not shown). A women’s version of the jersey, shorts and bibshorts is virtually identical in look and features to the mens.

THE REST OF THE LINE

2013 Performance Bike Elite bibshorts and cycling jersey

The Elite bibshort also gets a multi-panel design with a compressive gripper band. The chamois has a ventilation section at the front tip that lets air in without revealing anything. The bib strap has a wide rear yoke but splits to help keep you cooler.

2013 Performance Bike Elite womens cycling shorts and jersey

Women’s shorts have a yoga-style comfort waistband, a really well thought out feature for improving comfort. They’re actually looking at ways of making a similarly comfortable waist band for men without, you know, making them look like yoga pants. Bibshorts are also available and use wide set straps to sit on the outside of the chest.

2013 Performance Bike Elite bibshorts and cycling jersey

Jersey gets a semi-form fitting cut, mesh underarms and back with deeper pockets and a nifty blinky light loop on the rear. It’s full zip with a cover at the neck. Comes in red, black and yellow. Women’s comes in sleeveless and sleeves in pink and yellow with matching color accents on the Elite shorts. The white rear center panel is an extremely light mesh…as in, you should wear sunscreen under it.

2013 Performance Bike Elite bibshorts and cycling jersey

2013 Performance Bike Elite bibshorts and cycling jersey

Elite jersey is $49, bibs/shorts are $69/59.

Beneath the Elite is the Club jersey, which is a pretty basic piece with minimal seams and raglan sleeves to keep it comfortable. One-third length zip and non-banded sleeves. Definitely for the casual cyclist. Club shorts have silicone grippers on the leg and silicone gel inserts in the pads under the sit bones. Both really nice touches for the price point. Both are $39.99 each.

2013-Performance-Bike-Lyric-womens-cycling-jersey

Another surprise from the collection is the women’s Lyric Jersey. The style and fabrics mimic the LuluLemon/Athletica aesthetic, giving them a really attractive look and feel without being overly feminine. They’re performance oriented without being too form fitting, so you could easily stroll into the grocery story after the ride without looking out of place. $39, sleeves or sleeveless.

2013-Performance-Bike-Alto-womens-cycling-jersey

The women’s Alto gets a slightly looser fit with a 1/3 front zip and a floral pattern. Also $39.99, and also available sleeveless and in pink.

2013-Performance-Bike-mountain-bike-jersey-shell-shorts

For mountain bikers, there’s a basic Mountain Jersey available in short and long sleeve. It gets a silver ion thread to prevent funk and an envelope pocket on the rear right side. Simple and basic, but pretty soft and actually a nice technical piece for the money if you tend to trash your jerseys on a regular basis. Just size up if you’re planning on putting armor on underneath. Retail is $39, and it comes in lime, gray, light or dark blue and orange.

The Nevado mountain bike shorts come with a lightweight CoolMax padded liner. The outer is a five-pocket shell with a very light stretch nylon material. Meant to be an easy wearing shell for XC or just commuting. Snap and zipper closure and elastized waist sections. Retail is just $59 and they come in olive, gray and black.

So, why do I apologize to all of you? Because you could have been rockin’ these bits all summer had I been more timely in my post. The good news is I’ve actually worn most of this stuff now (the mens, anyway), and it’s solid. The Ultra kit is one of my current faves and sees a lot of use. The other good news? They’re now out of season, and we all know what Performance does with their clothing when it’s out of season, right? Yes, you should look for your sizes now. One tip: when searching PerformanceBike.com, I had to type in the whole model name to find them. Ex: “2013 Performance Ultra Bibshort”.

Comments

David - 10/08/13 - 1:35pm

I have two sets of the ultra bibs and jerseys and I love them. They are really amazing. They fit really well and have tons of features. My favorite is that the leg and arm bands offer a lot of compression. It really helps fight away fatigue. If you wait for a 20% sale, you can easily get the bib and jersey for under $100

Landoobi - 10/08/13 - 1:58pm

I’m rocking medium in Ultra jersey (2013) and the ultra bib(2012). I’m 5’7 and about 145lbs…

Best bang for your buck. performance always has sales, and if you’re a member it’s even better. I got the 2013 jersey for $40 and bib for $60. It’s a nice jersey overall, but like the article stated, the mid sections a little wide, and for my arms, the sleeves are a bit too tight, and long. Great job though Performance.

dave - 10/08/13 - 2:34pm

performance shorts have been great value for years.

jerseys are very meh, in my experience.

I don’t know how you can say the fit is good, your own pics show otherwise. On a road bike that jersey will be flapping all over the place.

If you are 5’10 and 180, a medium performance jersey will fit you perfectly. Given the customer base, this makes sense. I’ll look elsewhere.

MissedThePoint - 10/08/13 - 2:53pm

I don’t know why, but those silicone grippers turn me off. I think they make my skin breakout if I wear it too long. Not sure, since flipping it so it is on the outside doesn’t solve the issue. Not too hard to see the breakout, put it on (maybe under casual clothes), drive hours out to trail, ride for hours, drive to some place for grub, drive back, peel it off. Wake up and find you got this itchy band of skin where the silicone grippers were.

Mindless - 10/08/13 - 5:57pm

Really good bib-shorts. Best deal out there.

Mindless - 10/08/13 - 5:58pm

Shirt does not fit me though, as I actually have upper body muscles

Mindless - 10/08/13 - 5:59pm

…talking about Ultra, of course. No reason to buy lower level at the price they have..

xoffender - 10/08/13 - 7:13pm

i never shop performance. kinda like the wal mart of bike shops. plus i applied for a job with performance. the starting salary if barely a livable wage, that’s why there are so many young inexperienced employees working there, they just don’t know any better. same ole story, retail hacks get the shaft while the execs and owners get even richer. vive le revolution! its coming

brian - 10/08/13 - 7:47pm

Been riding the ultra bibs for a few months now. Found them on a store opening sale for $59 so I bought 2. If I had know how good they were, I would have bought 4.

ve - 10/08/13 - 8:50pm

They’re $56 ($69.99 “sale price” and an extra 20% off) for the rest of today if you order them online.

filibuster cash - 10/08/13 - 9:39pm

It pains me to admit I worked for the Perf for over three years. I was one of the young, inexperienced workers who didn’t know better. Low wages, yes, and definitely Walmart-y business practices. While i was employed, they had a 100% company-wide (over 60 stores at that point) management (not just manager, but the top three in each store) turnover rate. There was no training; I remember telling a customer that a unicycle seat was the only “saddle” I could find, for the simple fact that no one told me “saddle” is bike terminology for “seat”. I was once chosen as a trend-maker or some other BS and as such tested a then-new version of the Ultra short. I had worn, at the time, precisely ZERO lycra. I knew as much about how a short should feel and fit and perform as the pavement in the strip mall parking lot outside, and yet they actively solicited my feedback on their most “advanced” short. Quality in design, right there. The list could go on, but there’s no room or reason. Buying from Performance makes sense only if you are willing to compromise on durability and ethics. They are one of the original LBS killers, along with Nashbar, their eventual subsidiary. I understand if any of you are okay with this, but I am not.

Mindless - 10/09/13 - 5:20am

I am OK with all of it. It is a fine bib for a good price. The betterment of civilization does not matter.

CA - 10/09/13 - 3:38pm

I’ve got the 2013 and 2012 Elite Bibs and they are both super comfy and great for long rides. The straps of the 2013 are slightly shorter than the 2012s and could be a problem for folks with a longer torso.

My wife rides in the Elite shorts from 2012 and has a Lyric sleeveless from 2013 and LOVES the fit and simplicity of it.

quickgeezer - 10/09/13 - 6:28pm

Thanks for the insight, filibuster cash. I consider this kind of information when I buy anything — but only if I *have* the information, of course.

tri_california - 10/10/13 - 12:38am

I have every short/brand know to man kind.
My second favorite: last years Performance Ultra
My first favorite: this years Performance Ultra

Alex - 10/10/13 - 6:03pm

I got my Ultra bibshorts for about 60 bucks. I also happened to get the Louis Garneau Pro Power bibshorts for 55 dollars ;). I like the Louis Garneau fabric just a little bit better, but the compression on the Ultra is awesome. I take the Ultra for 60% of the time, just because the chammois is great and it feels fantastic at the end of a long ride. Both are ridiculously comfortable, really can’t go wrong. The LG has a better quality construction, but they’re about even on ventilation

Steve - 10/10/13 - 10:03pm

I’d agree with the above review. But. The quality is crap. I’ve purchased and returned two different pairs of bibs. Both were because the chamois either developed a whole or separated from the Lycra all together.

IMHO go with a better quality. Giordana have been top notch and got them at a similar price point.

yuri1982 - 11/12/13 - 5:11pm

I don’t agree that http://noveltycyclinggear.com/jerseys/arizona-cycling/
– Yuri

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