Riding comfort and nature break convenience for less? Rodeo Adventure Labs Explorts 1.1 review

I’ve written before about bib shorts and their inherent incompatibility with the biological functions we humans need to perform, and that, over on the women’s side at least, cycling apparel manufacturers have started addressing this concern in a variety of ways. With the Pearl Izumi Expedition Pro bib shorts, we got a representative of the “highly elasticated drop tail” variety, and it was notable in bringing this same technology over to the men’s side. But what if, say, you wanted the same nature break convenience, but didn’t feel like spending $265?

Rodeo Adventure Labs – purveyors of gravel bikes and supporters of that lifestyle – may have a solution.


  • Meant for gravel riding and all-day rides
  • Drop-tail design for easier nature breaks
  • Quick release buckle system on bib straps
  • Bar tack stitch on rear bib straps for easier reattachment of buckles
  • Gender-specific “Ultra Distance” medium-density chamois pad by Elastic Interface rated for 10+ hours of riding
  • Choice of three fabrics
    • Dark Bronzite fabric has lighter weight and more compression for riding in warm climates
    • Black Tuxedo fabric has slightly more weight, softer feel, and less compression
    • Black Thermal fabric for riding in colder temperatures
  • Size options: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
  • Storage: One mesh pocket on each leg
  • Reflective tags
  • Price: US$148 (PhP8,325)


Out of the packaging, the Explorts cut a good impression. I got mine with the Dark Bronzite fabric, which definitely looks unique next to all my black bibs with its rich chocolate hue. It’s a nice dash of subtle, unexpected color, without attracting unwanted attention the way that, say, white bib shorts would.

My old phone, a 2017 Samsung Galaxy A5, stuffed into the right pocket.
My current phone, a Galaxy S20 FE, is slightly larger but fits about the same.

The mesh pockets on each leg are adorned by the “R-A-L” lattice graphic, giving away that these are version 1.1 of these shorts, with improvements over the original model which I have no experience with. The pockets have no problems swallowing my phone, a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE that measures 15.7 cm (6.2″) diagonally. If anything, they appear slightly longer than the equivalent pockets on the Pearl Izumi Expedition Pro shorts and hide the full length of my phone better. Each leg terminates in an impressively wide gripper band which I felt was well-judged when the shorts are actually on your person, although they can make putting on said shorts a bit of a challenge.

Those are some seriously beefy leg grippers.

In basic overall construction, the Explorts feel more like waist shorts that ditched the elastic waistband and grew a pair of slightly stiff-feeling bib straps. There is a distinct stop to the fabric a bit above the waist. From here go the wide, white bib straps that just so happened to also grow a pair of in-line buckles connecting them to the shorts for nature breaks. These buckles are impressively slim and unobtrusive; it’s easy to keep riding in these shorts and forget they’re even there. While the straps feel a little plasticky, they aren’t bothersome, and I think their construction also helps in avoiding any undesired bunching up within the loops of the buckles.

On my person, once I’ve finagled the leg grippers into their final position, these bibs feel…pretty racy. They are a little more compressive than most other pairs I’ve had, and that appears to have been designed into the Dark Bronzite material. The leg grippers’ width ensures no undesirable “sausage thigh” while keeping their position tenaciously. The cut of the waist is also rather high up front, similar to the abdomen-covering front panel of Le Col’s bibs.

Rodeo Labs makes a big deal of the Elastic Interface chamois pad being suitable for very long days on the bike. For the uninitiated, Elastic Interface is a firm that specializes in chamois pads, padded gloves, and other related applications of closed-cell and open-cell foam. While I don’t have any reason to doubt that claim, I got along with Pearl Izumi’s Levitate Pro “suspension” chamois a little better on the saddle despite its noticeably increased bulk. That, in particular, is just uncanny in how well it takes the sting off and goads you into riding longer.

In the Explorts’ defense, they’re about as good as a more traditional high-endurance chamois gets. It certainly doesn’t have the bulky diaper-like feel of the chamois on a brand-new pair of B’Twin bibs, which needs a half-dozen rides to break in and mold against one’s bum and taint. By contrast, this medium-density pad is something you could crank out the hours on right away, and it’s well-located within the shorts.

So – how well does the nature break drop-tail function work on these?

Undoing the buckles and dropping the tail is remarkably easy, and true to the claim that no removal of your jersey or upper garments is required. As slim as the buckles are, their generous width makes them an easy target for your fingers to squeeze, even through your jersey. With both undone, dropping the tail on the Explorts is almost as easy as taking off any normal pair of shorts. This is where they unequivocally win over the Expedition Pro bibs; because the straps are effectively disconnected, there is a lot less tension your neck and/or shoulders have to resist while you are jackknifed and seated on the toilet.

Reattaching these buckles, however, isn’t as easy or as quick. One improvement Rodeo Labs made with Explorts version 1.1 was to stitch the two straps together as they crisscrossed at the rear, in a bid to make it easier to consistently locate the buckles for reattachment – a welcome touch. However, I’m not sure they could do anything specifically to address the whole rear straps-and-buckles arrangement hiking up your back while on your nature break, so it takes some doing to pull down the straps so that they could mate with the buckles on the waist. It’s not ideal, and the less limber among us will struggle a bit, but I guess better to have this added complication of reattachment if it means easier, quicker dropping of the tail – especially if you encounter Tom Dumoulin levels of gastrointestinal distress that, uh, require immediate attention.


In terms of ultimate quality and ability, Rodeo Labs’ Explorts 1.1 definitely play second fiddle to Pearl Izumi’s Expedition Pro bibs. I return to the question at the beginning of this review, however: Are you willing to pay US$265 (PhP14,900) for those?

When you consider that the Explorts deliver many of the Pearl Izumi bibs’ benefits at a whopping US$120 (PhP6,750) less, they’re a lot more impressive. Fundamentally, they’re just great bib shorts. Rodeo Labs bakes a degree of customization into them with three different material choices, along with gender-specific tailoring and chamois, and the Explorts’ sizing is more accommodating of rider body types and sizes – something rare to see with most cycling apparel brands. You could comfortably ride in these and never even think about using their toilet break functionality, which doesn’t even exist yet on many a cycling bib short at this price level. While that feature isn’t quite the home run I was expecting it to be, I reckon it would be perfectly acceptable for most of us mortals who aren’t concerned about saving one or two seconds.

There’s still an early adopter tax with nature-break-friendly bibs like these, and the Explorts definitely still command a premium. However, Rodeo Labs’ offering is the most approachable of the lot I’ve seen yet, and it’s a pretty good one all things considered. That you can buy two of these Explorts – in different fabrics, even – for the price of one Expedition Pro bib is just icing on the cake.

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