- Sizes: S, M, L, XL (see chart)
The state-of-art eXo™ skeletal pad delivers maximum performance for those who ride long and fast. >Pad and shorts' outer fabric are laminated as a single layer - providing increased precision with minimal movement between the fabrics and your saddle. >Near seamless interface between pad and shorts' body. >External and internal differential-density mouldings provide additional padding at pressure points without increased bulk. >3D anatomical shaping and seamless construction hug your body for a performance fit. >Polyester-knit face fabric against your skin disperses heat and moisture. >Anti-bacterial finish maintains hygiene. >Dries rapidly after washing.
Ringleaders — Bicycles.net.au, May 12
I'm a hairy-legged mountain biker and I have a dirty secret: I prefer bib knicks to mountain bike baggies. If the style police determine that baggies are a requirement, I'll wear MTB-specific over-shorts, but underneath you'll find me wearing bib knicks. They simply perform so much better in the comfort stakes.
So now that I've outed myself, let me tell you that if you're serious about comfort on the bike, the Ground Effect Ringleaders are the bib knicks you want to look at, regardless of your preferred mode of mischief.
My first impression as I pulled them out of the wrapper was that these knicks are designed to last. The attention to detail is excellent and unlike some other recent performance sportswear purchases I've made, few if any shortcuts appear to have been taken. Choosing the cheap way out, such as going light on the stitching around the outer edge of the chamois to avoid chafing, has been ditched in favour of the application of careful thought to the design, giving equal weight to durability.
The material used in the construction of the Ringleaders has a matte finish and is soft on the skin. Flat seams have been used throughout the leg and hip area, and are positioned away from problem areas to limit the opportunities for friction and chafing. The "warm machine wash 40C" care instructions are reassuring; "hand wash only" is a phrase I've learned to view with suspicion.
New from Ground Effect this year is the "eXo skeletal" pad. It uses 3D anatomical shaping and multiple levels of foam to maximise padding where it's needed, and remove bulk where it's not. The raised blue saddle-shaped section of the chamois panel is bonded around the edge instead of sewn to its backing, removing seams completely from a critical area closest to the most vulnerable and chafe-prone part of my inside leg.
In an interesting departure from the rest of the market, the Ringleaders omit the silicone bead leg gripper seen on most midrange-to-premium shorts. Instead they use a double layer of textured lycra that they've branded their "Bandolier cuff". I raised an eyebrow at this initially, however in use I found it moves up no more than my other bibs with silicone grippers, and it's less restrictive.
The 12-panel cut provides a snug and creaseless anatomical fit which felt reassuringly firm, although not as tight as compression bibs. While tight-ish around the crotch and shoulder area when worn for the first time, I found the sensation disappeared once on the bike.
Flat seams, snug fit, high-tech chamois and other bells and whistles aren't much use if it doesn't all stay in place. I'm pleased to report that after a number of wet rides, cold rides, warm rides and long four hour plus rides, there were no creases, no sliding out of position and no bunching up in uncomfortable places.
Initially I was concerned the matte finish on the blue centre padding might be a source of friction, but my fears were baseless. I never once wished I'd applied chamois cream at the start of a ride. In fact the most memorable thing about these bib knicks is that I completely failed to notice them. This is as it should be. Unfortunately it is not as common as it should be, unless you spend a lot of money.
One comment I sometimes hear from bib knicks sceptics is that the additional "singlet" layer on the upper body must make your ride hotter. Yes, there is an element of truth to this. On the other side, though, it's just not that noticeable and it has never been enough to change my decision to ride or race in bib knicks on a hot day. I'm of the view that on hotter days, with a higher perspiration load, it's more important than ever to ensure things stay put without sliding around out of position. The Ringleaders do the job perfectly.
As a guide to sizing, I'm a 185cm adult male of about 80kg, and a medium was a good snug fit. Admittedly, my high school nickname was "stick insect", but if you are a smaller build or female, your sizing options may be a bit limited.
Overall I'm quite impressed with how these shorts have performed. They are the equal of some much more expensive high-end Italian bib knicks I own, and they're made by our bro's over the ditch.
+ Solid and durable construction
+ Light enough to wear on a stinking hot day without boiling the radiator
+ Excellent value for money
+ Not available in white
- They only sent me one pair!
- More size options would suit smaller riders
The Ringleaders Bib Knicks are available online directly from Ground Effect for $179
Ringleaders — NZ Mountain Biker, Dec 10
Ground Effect's New Zealand made clobber includes the Ringleaders, which are touted as roadie attire, but work equally well under baggies (though Ground Effect also make a baggy specific separate liner with the same chamois, but made from a tighter mesh fabric and without the bib straps). The people's bib short - a classic 10-panel construction bib short that fits well, offers great comfort and has a chamois that despite, or because of, a distinct lack of bulk, is plenty comfortable over the long haul. A mesh back and shoulder straps help the Ringleaders to breathe and the simple exterior does away with colour matched seams or panels in favour of stealth black - apart from the reflective logo on the right leg. On top of the excellent fit and comfort, the price makes them an extremely attractive option and they take our pick for 'bang for buck' bib shorts.
Ringleaders — Ride On, Oct 10
Have you heard? Bib knicks are the next level of comfort above ordinary short-style knicks. There's no waistband to press your belly and never a need to hitch them up at the back. Ground Effect use the quality Softail chamois in all their knicks, which is an excellent performer though larger than most. The four-way stretch fabric is arranged in 10 panels for a structured fit and the back section is mesh to be as cool as possible. Despite the Ground Effect assertion that well-made knicks should sit just right, I found the legs gradually rode up and I would prefer they used gripper tape inside the leg cuffs. Bear in mind that bib knicks require you to take off your over-lapping layers for a toilet break.
Verdict: Quality knicks at an excellent price
By Simon Vincett, Editor
Ringleaders — Cycling Plus (UK), Apr 10
If you like your shorts less shiny then these are worth a look. These have narrower braces than most, and the comparatively high cut at the front wasn't always convenient, but the 10-panel construction ensures a good fit. Sadly, though, these had purely elastic grippers which offered less grip than those with stickier silicone material and they had a tendency to ride up slightly when riding. That's a shame because the brushed feel and subtle looks of these proved popular, as did the multilayered foam chamois.
Verdict: Decent quality shorts but the grippers could have been better. 7/10
Bib Mania — Customer Feedback, Dec 08
Have just received my new bibs, and OMG they would without a doubt be the most comfortable bib shorts I have ever tried on. I've been racing and riding for longer than I care to admit in mixed company, and must have worn nearly every brand available on the market. They're not flashy, but the quality and cut is sublime. I'm happily spreading word amongst the roadie fraternity.
Thanks heaps, Richard
Ground Effect customer and early adopter
Ringleaders — UnderGround, Dec 08
Craggy cyclists of yesteryear wore tightly knitted woollen shorts that were cut and shaped not to snag on the bike seat. Black didn't show the inevitable grease and grime from fixing chains and changing tyres. Folklore has it that Tour de France originals placed a hunk of steak between their saddle and posterior. This provided comfort during the day and tenderised the evening meal. Truth or myth, this morphed into a thin leather 'chamois' pad that was the precursor to today's sophisticated multi-level synthetic pads with anti-bacterial contact fabrics. Synthetic fibres developed in the post war era ushered new technology into cycling. Durable, quick-drying nylon replaced wool and the now ubiquitous lycra provided knitted fabrics with amazing 4-way stretch and recovery. Shorts gained greater performance through their body hugging stretch fit.
Ground Effect's range of stretch shorts has evolved through an accelerated list of options - from the cotton lycra Black Mambas in 1994 through various incarnations of the benchmark Sputniks, culminating in the premium Supersonics and Mojos of 2006 with their 10-panel design, Softail pad and ShockWave Lycra fabric.
Bibs have long been the favoured high performance option for elite competitive riders. Over the years we have been peppered with requests for a Ground Effect version. Finally, we responded with the Ringleaders. Grafted onto the proven Supersonics is a 5-panel bib with a lycra mesh back panel for cooling. The fit is even more precise and the absence of waist elastic enhances comfort around your midriff. The high quality, high stretch ShockWave Lycra along with s-shaped leg seams and contoured panel design means we don't have to resort to the discomfort of gripper elastic to stop the legs inching up your thighs.
Shift into the big ring and take the lead.
Ground Effect Product Designer.
4-way stretch nylon with a non-shiny finish. it's soft against your skin, yet is incredibly tough and dries quickly. Blended with 16% lycra to deliver body-hugging performance and durability.
- Composition: 84% nylon; 16% lycra.
This chart is a guide only – if you fall in-between sizes, the right size for you will depend on your body shape and how loose or tight you like to wear your clothes. It's no hassle to swap it, if your first choice is not the best fit.
169 - 178 cm
175 - 185 cm
183 - 191 cm
98 - 104 cm
105 - 111 cm
112 - 118 cm
73 - 79 cm
80 - 86 cm
87 - 93 cm
94 - 100 cm
87 - 95 cm
96 - 103 cm
104 - 111 cm
112 - 120 cm
Unisex vs Women's Sizes
Most Ground Effect designs are unisex. The jackets, tights and baggy tops generally fit both men and women equally well. Fitted garments like cycle shorts and some tops are more gender specific so there is generally a women's version in the Outskirts range.
Some Ground Effect designs have an additional 'fit' description to help guide your sizing choice.
Closer fitting tops and jackets with less flap. Typically favoured by disciples of the tarmac, intent on travelling hard and fast. Size up if you need more room.
Also describes the Snug-as-a-Bug fit of Heatwave™ Merino bodywear. These tops are intended to hug your body, ensuring the fabric sits against your skin to wick sweat away — keeping you dry and not chilling out.
Middle-of-the-road comfort for all-purpose riding. Not too tight or too loose — just right for most cyclists in most conditions.
Big and breezy to match your attitude. Lets the breeze blow up your kilt and helps ease the transition from singletrack to café. The default choice when matching with baggy shorts.
Race-ready bib shorts for conjuring tricks under the big top and marshalling the peloton. 12-panel cut with Bandolier™ cuffs and s-shaped seams ensures an exact fit, while no elastic at your waist means no pressure around the pancetta.
> eXo™ skeletal pad - 3D anatomical shaping, multi-level foam, rapid drying, seamless synthetic 'chamois' pad with anti-bacterial finish.
> 'Contour fit' with s-shaped seams.
> 12-panel construction.
> Full flat seaming for enhanced comfort.
> Lycra mesh diamond-shaped back panel and wide shoulder straps for maximum comfort and cooling.
> No-elastic waist means zero pressure around your midriff.
> Bandolier textured-lycra cuffs glue these shorts to your thighs.
> Weight: 230 gm.
> Made by us in New Zealand.
Tell me about the pad in these shorts.
> The state-of-art eXo skeletal pad delivers maximum performance for those who ride long and fast. The pad and nylon lycra outer fabric are laminated as a single layer and sewn in as a separate panel - offering a near-seamless interface between the pad and body of the shorts and increased precision with direct contact between the pad and your saddle.
> Combined with variable density foams, 3D anatomical shaping, 4-way stretch and seamless construction, the eXo pad packs one helluva punch.
> There are two main differences between the women's-specific and men's-unisex versions of the eXo pad. While the moulded part of the pad remains the same, the pad is shorter at the front in the women's version. The position of the pad in the short is also gender specific, with differently shaped panels in the short's gusset supporting the pad.
Should I wear underwear with these shorts?
> Hell no. You want to have as smooth an interface as possible between your bum and the saddle. The seams on your underwear will inevitably be in the wrong place - causing rubbing and saddle sores. Also underwear is generally cotton - nice for everyday use but damp skin below is more susceptible to chaffing.
> Hand washing is sometimes the only option on tour, but a washing machine rinses more thoroughly and is preferable if you have the choice.
> With shorts in particular, cold-water detergents and those with bleach can cause 'nappy-rash' so if you're experiencing issues in that department try a warm wash and a change of cleaning brew. As a rule of thumb, product that is easy on the planet is also easy on your body. Select a mild plant-based soap like Ecover, Ecostore, Earthwise or Aware.
> Most Ground Effect gear dries super-fast so drying on the line or hanging over the bedpost does the trick. Or use a dryer on a warm (not hot) cycle.
> UV rays accelerate the decay of lycra. Our fabric is knitted so the lycra component lies on the inside of the fabric - shielding it from the sun when you're out riding. Consequently you should avoid drying these shorts inside-out. It's not a bad idea to do so occasionally as the sun does help keep the pad hygienic - although it is treated with an anti-bacterial finish anyway. But drying in this manner is a trade-off with the damage done to the lycra.
> It's common practice to not wear underwear with your riding shorts so you need to wash your shorts daily. And it's recommended to give your shorts an initial wash when they're new - the eXo and Softail pads in particular become less stiff after the first wash.