I know when the UPS guy comes because I'll be sitting in the office at the back of my house and suddenly the dogs will go completely richter in the front room. I've learned to make sure they are outside at 4:00 in the afternoon so the mailman doesn't get the same treatment EVERY DAY, but the UPS guy comes early and infrequently enough where I'm always caught off guard.
So when they both went crazy last Thursday afternoon at about 2:15 just because a tall dude dressed in brown made the mistake of coming within 15 feet of the driveway, I ran out the side door to try and mitigate his annoyance.
He handed me a box, and inside was a pair of CEP triathlon shorts.
Though there are a lot of compression products out in the market, CEP clearly takes the concept further than the rest. Except for the uniqueness of the fabric, the outside of the shorts don't look any different than most tri-shorts. But the liner is where the magic is. I've examined many performance athletic products over the years, and these shorts are by far the best designed and detail specific I have ever seen. There is no doubt some serious science behind these puppies.
The liner. Just look at those panels...
That said, it's not science at the expense of function. Essentially, the shorts are two garments in one. The lower section provides plenty of support for the quads and hamstrings, but the upper section is a bit more relaxed to allow for a full range of motion of the hips. The chamois is of a good size, shape and thickness to successfully bridge the compromise needed for both cycling and running. And it's all sewn together with flat seams which minimize the chances of chaffing - extra important with a garment that fits this tight. They are well ventilated. And there are no leg grippers - the fit is so good they are not needed.
There is a point to yet another picture of my leg. No grippers, and the fit is great.
Between Friday and today, I tested them out on a 7 mile run, a 1 mile open water swim and a 20 mile bike ride. Here are my thoughts -
The Run - On Friday I did a quad busting 7 miles of steep up and down trail running. I can't say that the shorts kept me from thrashing up my muscles - especially on the descents, but the support I got from the shorts was great and actually a bit of a confidence booster to run a bit more aggressively. I can be somewhat sensitive to running with a chamois pad, as there have definitely been times when the pads have annoyed the heck out of me. But I quickly forgot these shorts even had the pad, and had no problems at all during the run.
The Swim - On Saturday I headed down to Belmont Shores for my regular Saturday swim. To me, good tri-clothing is clothing you don't feel under your wetsuit. The CEP shorts fit the bill. And they dried out really fast as well, which is nice. Enough said.
The Bike - Today I went out at lunch for a 20 mile ride on my TT bike. But before I talk about the ride, I need to disclose that I prefer bib shorts or one piece tri-suits when it comes to cycling**. I've never been comfortable in basic cycling or tri-shorts. Unfortunately, wearing the CEP shorts today didn't change my mind. But if your preference IS shorts, I can practically guarantee you'll love these. Again, it's the compression - It feels great on your legs and works better than anything else I've ever tried. On the bike, the relaxed construction on the upper section is especially key. I had zero range of motion or other restrictive issues while riding down in the aero position or up on the pursuit bars.
Buy If: You are a tri-short person and don't mind dropping some serious coin on the best (currently $149.99 at trisports.com).
Don't Buy: If you prefer cycling bibs or one piece triathlon suits. The compression gains won't outweigh the comfort preferences, especially in shorter races.
** Because of this preference I originally asked CEP for their standard compression shorts, which are exactly like the tri-shorts except with no chamois pad. But for whatever reason, they sent me the tri-shorts. Please note that CEP also makes a one piece tri-suit.
(Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge from CEP. Other than receiving promotional product I did not receive any encouragement or compensation for this review. Aside from some research I did on the CEP website, the opinions are my own.)