X-Bionic are a brand that are all about technical features - they're not afraid to be a bit different in their approach, resulting in some gear we love and some kit we're a bit unsure on. Their sports bra certainly fits into the first category and performed excellently in many situations, but won't be perfect for every rider.
Before we look in detail at X-Bionic's offering, we'll outline what we actually look for in a sports bra.
Number one is support. A sports bra is there to keep breast tissue from bouncing around and being stretched in a way that is both uncomfortable and damaging. Fit is integral to that - the bra needs to fit to provide support, but if the band around your chest is too tight that can make breathing feel restricted (worst, thing, ever). The amount of support you needs depends on activity (mountain bikers need more than roadies) and breast size.
Number two is wicking. Many brands put tireless efforts into creating base layers that wick sweat, but all that can be undone if you wear a sports bra that soaks it up first, leaving you cold as soon as you stop at the top of a hill or for a coffee.
Number three is fastening. The more straps, adjusters and fasteners there are, the more items that can rub and chafe. That, and after a long hard ride, you just don't want to be faffing around messing with clasps and sliding adjusters and all that.
The ideal sports bra ticks all three boxes.
There are two very distinct styles of sports bra. Heavily constructed 'proper' ones, and 'sports crop tops'.
Any woman will get the most help from a very 'constructed' bra, with traditional bra hooks, adjustable straps and a tough band - something from a specialist brand like Shock Absorber or Panache. My complaint with these is that the band can at times feel restrictive, straps can rub and sometimes I want a nice soft layer I can just pull on easily.
Most alternatives to the traditional bra option are stretchy crop tops - often just sized 'S', 'M', 'L' - not that specific or all that supportive. I can't wear one of these alone - I have tried - but rough ground and uneven roads become my enemy and I can't imagine how I'd cope on a mountain bike.
The X-Bionic bra is a bit of a hybrid - it's got a support structure, but is very stretchy and has no fastening system, it just goes on and off over your head.
Which boxes did the X-Bionic Energizer tick?
Support needed will depends on the size of your breasts - a woman who wears an A cup bra will obviously not need as much help as someone in a DD. Personally, I measure up as a 28E (according to the nice lady in Bravissimo), so I need a good sports bra.
The X-Bionic Energizer Sports bra is highly elasticated, highly stretchy, much like the crop top styles available. However, it's much more technically constructed and uses an x-shaped structure to stabalise breast tissue and counteract vibrations. It's sized in chest inches and cup size, though only goes up to a D cup which I actually found fitted fine.
Unlike most stretchy crop top options, this sports bra provided plenty of support on the road. I wore it with a base layer and a loose fitting jersey on slow easy rides and intense sessions with plenty of climbing out the saddle. I felt no vibrations or discomfort whilst the stretchy band meant I could totally forget about it - fantastic!
However, when it came to turbo sessions where I was bobbing around out the saddle, and the all important 'jump around in the changing room test', the bra didn't perform as well. I was definitely aware of some movement and I'd expect any woman wearing a C+ cup size would want something more supportive for intense turbo/spin sessions and definitely mountain bike rides.
When it comes to wicking, X-Bionic have reached perfection. The brand take temperature management incredibly seriously, getting it right is basically their party trick.
X-Bionic use sweat, rather than discouraging it. When it's cold, they allow the body to sweat and then use that moisture to keep you warm as your temperature increases. When it's hot, the '3D Bionic Sphere' reduces body temperature by storing fresh, cooling air in the ducts formed in the fabric.
Having worn the bra on cold days and indoors when sweating on the turbo, I was comfortable in both cases and though I was sweating away, the bra felt dry (even so much so that I wore it the rest of the day after a ride - but shh!).
The stretchy nature of the fabric means that there is no fastening system. No scratchy wire clasps, no plastic bits digging in, and with all the washing instructions and information printed in white on the fabric, no itchy labels.
So, the overall verdict?
This sports bra was supportive enough for a DD+ rider to wear on road rides, but we could have done with a bit more for any activity such as mountain biking or spinning when there's more bouncing around. The key highlights for us were the excellent wicking properties and ability to stay bone dry, even when we were pushing hard, as well as the stretchy construction that meant we could totally forget we were wearing it.
The X-Bionic Energizer Sports Bra will set you back £52 and is available in a range of sizes. See it here.
Looking for a sports bra? Here are our tips for finding the perfect companion.