With a gripper-free design and the hauling capacity of a 3/4 ton pickup truck, the Cuore Pioneer shorts offer on-bike comfort that rivals your fanciest road bibs. Should you find your self hike-a-biking up a steep climb, the chamois does provide a light pinch which is an area for improvement.
Available off the rack or as part of custom program
Hard-edge of padding on MB2 chamois pinches during hike-a-bike
By Colin Levitch published
Cargo bib shorts are becoming more popular as gravel riders snuff traditional jerseys with pockets for technical jerseys that don't have the capacity to carry anything.
It means that the rider needs space somewhere on their body to store a few essentials, and cargo bib shorts - a mainstay in mountain biking for quite some times - are being spotted more and more by gravel riders.
The Cuore Pioneer bibs are the Swiss clothing manufacturer's response to the need for increased carrying capacity, taking inspiration from military cargo pants.
The Pioneer bibs are an amalgamation of a few of the brand's other models, tying together the best bits from each to create the cargo bibs.
The shorts' lower panels borrow the gripper-free laser cut helm from the brand’s flagship Gold X1 road bibs. Cuore worked with a fabric mill to design an entirely new textile that offers stretch and moves with your legs as they pedal without shifting, offering pleasant compression in the process.
The bib straps are borrowed from the brand’s silver level shorts and has mesh paneling that manages moisture well and doesn’t chafe.
On the back of the bib straps are two mesh pockets that are more or less the size of jersey pockets and provide ample room for snacks or tools — their layout is comparable to those found on the brand's Two-in-One skinsuit.
Cuore says it has designed the back of the shorts so that even with the rear pockets full loaded, it doesn’t pull on the shoulders. The left leg features a pouch made from the same mesh, while the right thigh has a pocket made from the same lycra as the shorts.
Most of the seams throughout the six-panel bibs are flat-lock stitched for improved durability and to prevent irritation. However, the seam on the inside of the thigh is thermobonded instead of sewn so that it lays entirely flat, as this is a common place for chaffing to occur.
While all manner of pockets, bells and other whistles are great, if the chamois is no good, you’re not going to want to ride in them for long. My test sample of the Pioneer bibs has the brand's MB2 silver level chamois; however, Cuore tells me they intend to spec these bibs with the MS2 gold level pad, which is better suited to the endurance focus of these bibs.
That said, the MB2 pad is articulated and sees multi-density padding that’s generously thick through the high-pressure zones.
Branding is minimal: a logo under the mesh pocket, a black logo on the butt, and 'Cuore' written on the right leg pocket.
This particular pair of Pioneer bibs is one of the brand's off-the-rack garments; however, they can also be fully customized - everything from full sublimation, upgrading the chamois to custom tailoring, like shortening or lengthening leg length.
Through Cuore’s custom program, you can also order a single custom item — though it’s a bit more expensive to go this route.
Over the years, Cuore have become a favorite of mine in terms of fit and comfort in the saddle, and the Pioneer bibs live up to the lofty standards.
Even without a leg gripper, they stay perfectly in place, and there is no silicon over overly-tight ribbon tape digging into your legs. It doesn’t roll at the edge, nor is there any undo bunching; the shorts are tailored to fit snug.
The pockets are larger than they appear - I certainly struggled to fill their capacity. The lower back pockets are well-supported, holding the load secure and close to your body, so it doesn’t bounce or swing as your ride.
Given that these pockets compress whatever you’re carrying up against your body, anything in them will be exposed to sweat, so pack wisely.
This is less of an issue with the leg pockets, as they see quite a bit more airflow. They're large enough for a smartphone and sit close enough to the leg to prevent swinging around as you pedal.
THE Embody MB2 chamois is comfortable for many hours of riding on rough roads. However, when it comes time to hike a bike, I noticed a bit of pinching as I trudged up steep inclines with my bike.
The base of the padding that cushions your sit bones has a hard outer edge, and when you drive your knee as your hike, this stiff edge digs into the soft spot on your inner thigh — but it’s only something I experienced tramping up something that was too steep to ride.
However, this is a bit of a moot issue, as the MS2 pad that you will find Cuore plans to spec in these bibs has no such edge. Having ridden in the Cuore Silver bibs and the Gold X1, both of which feature this chamois, I can say with authority it will keep you sitting pretty over many hours and moves well with no pinching or biting while running, hiking, and walking off the bike.
Priced at $190 / €185.00 / AU$190 for the off the rack version, the Cuore Pioneer bibs are in the realm of what you would expect premium bib short. The bulk of these bibs borrow from two of Cuore's best shorts, including the gripper free design and of Gold X1 bib, which are nearly $100 more expensive, and you get pockets; so there is quite a lot of performance on offer here.
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