Fizik Link R3
Material, construction, and fit are excellent, and having three different chamois options makes this an appealing choice.
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The cycling apparel marketplace is more crowded than ever, so it takes a really unique product to stand out, especially if your brand is a newcomer to the bib shorts game like Fizik is. But the Italian company has jumped in with a fresh spin on the chamois, and we like it.
The Link bib short line is predicated on Fizik’s Spine Concept fit system, which first was implemented to help riders choose the proper saddle based on their spine flexibility. You can read more about how this translated into the Link lineup in our Link R1 review. Briefly, Fizik is offering three different fits (Snake, Chameleon, and Bull) for both the R1 and R3 bibs. This means different shaped pads and a tailored bib design — essentially like three unique bibs within a given line.
The R1 is Fizik’s $300 top-of-the line model. We rode it, and we liked it. It’s a beautiful piece, and at that price, it should be.
Here’s the good news: in some ways, we actually liked the Link R3 a little better than its more expensive brother. And at $199, this bib is comparable to competitors like Rapha’s $150 Core bib or the S7 bibs from Assos, priced at $250.
Right away, having three different fit options sets the Link R3 apart. For our test, we had the Chameleon fit, which felt just right. The chamois has a 120 kg/m3, 8mm core foam, which is the same spec as the R1. But unlike the high-end option, the R3 pad is stitched, not bonded. Happily, we never noticed the stitches, although the simpler pad did feel slightly less supportive than that in the R1.
All things equal, the pad is the most essential component in a pair of bibs, but right away, we noticed the R3’s fabric more than any difference in chamois construction. Rather than the woven fabric in the R1, the R3 has a polyamide/elastan fabric, like a traditional lycra short. Though this fabric isn’t as light or fast-drying as the woven fabric, it is more stretchy, which could be more comfortable, depending on what you prefer.
The straps were snug and designed for a riding position, and the short length comfortably reached the middle of our quads.
Overall, the Link R3 is an impressive first offering from Fizik. Material and construction are both excellent, and the fit is spot on. But best of all, you’ve got three different chamois designs to choose from, depending on your physiology. Fizik says it is also working to develop a women’s Link.