Bontrager Classique bib shorts - review - Road Cycling UK

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Bontrager Classique bib shorts – review

Retro styling and modern performance, but room for a couple of tweaks here and there

Here we have the Bontrager Classique bib shorts – a good example of a pair of shorts with real attention to detail, coupled with a great chamois and a stylish, understated look, but they’re best suited to mild weather rather than really warm rides.

Bontrager’s Classique range is designed to combine an old-school look with modern tech and the level of performance you’d expect from a piece of kit in 2016. It includes the excellent Classique shoes we reviewed last year, as well as two jerseys, short and long finger gloves and these bib shorts.

Pick the shorts up and they feel fairly robust in hand, and certainly not as lightweight as more race-focussed kit, thanks in parts to the nylon and wool mix. It’s a pretty dense fabric which covers the skin totally and certainly removes any fear of those see-through lycra moments.

The Classique bib shorts are part of Bontrager’s range of retro-inspired clothing
  • Specification

  • Price: £129.99
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Size tested: M
  • Website: Bontrager

The shorts are constructed from six shaped panels and the fit reflects the positioning of the Classique range. That’s to say it’s not a compressive, race cut, but not overly generous either – right in the middle. They’re comfortable both on and off the bike, and feel good on all-day rides, as well on more casual jaunts to the coffee shop.

The top half of the shorts are made from what’s called Profila Cool mesh which as the name suggests, helps with ventilation and wicking away excess moisture, doing a good job at both. The bib straps are also made from a lightweight fabric and are a sensible width, ensuring they lie flat – and comfortably – against the chest, back and shoulders. They’re finished with the same tricolore styling you’ll find elsewhere across the Classique range.

That tricolore is also on the inside of the leg grippers. The grippers are also elasticated and do a good job at staying in place. While they’re comfortable enough, they do feel a little chunky compared to the kind of svelte, low profile grippers you’ll find on other shorts, including Bontrager’s superb (and racier) Ballista shorts.

The left leg gripper also has a metallic Bontrager logo and a fabric band once again in the Classique tricolore, another example of stylistic attention to detail on otherwise understated shorts.

The leg grippers are smartly finished with tricolore detailing but are a little chunky

The pad – the Arcus inForm BioDynamic Chamois to give it its full name – is constructed from Aircell – essentially a foam of varying thickness designed to reduce pressure in the right areas, and with perforations which help it compress in use while also helping with ventilation. It works well and is well-suited to long rides thanks to the plush construction, though some riders may find it feels a little overbuilt at first.

In use, the shorts are most at home within an approximate temperature range of 12 to 18 degrees (though that will differ for some riders), which is a fair amount of the year here in the UK, really. While the fabric does a fair job at wicking, the fact it is thicker than most (particularly at this price point) mean that if the temperature’s higher, a thinner, lighter fabric would probably be more appropriate.

The plush ‘Arcus’  chamois is well-suited to long rides

While certainly not specifically designed for wet weather, the shorts do a decent job in road spray and light rain, and so handle changeable weather well as long it’s nothing too dramatic. That said, during testing they did take a soaking in a heavy, prolonged shower, and subsequently took longer to try than other synthetic fabrics.

Conclusion

The Bontrager Classique shorts are well-suited to long endurance rides, thanks to the sensible cut and comfortable chamois, plus the classic styling gives the shorts a timeless look for riders who are demand quality but are put off by racier designs. The attention to detailing is also good, with smart but subtle details, but the slightly thicker fabric means the Classique shorts are better suited to spring and autumn rides, or cooler summer days, and the leg grippers could be better for the money.

Pros

  • Classy, timeless styling
  •  Attention to detail
  •  Comfortable chamois for long rides

Cons

  •  Better suited to spring, autumn or cool summer rides
  •  Chunky leg grippers

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