Spending £119.99 on bib shorts from a new and relatively unknown manufacturer represents something of a risk but the Chapeau Pave bib shorts are on a par with many I’ve tested from better-known brands.
First, some background on the Chapeau range. There are two bib shorts in the range: the less expensive, Classic bib shorts, which cost £59.99, and these premium Pave bib shorts.
The Pave shorts, however, are available in two models, each with a different pad from Italian chamois manufacturer, Elastic Interface. The Red shorts use a pad designed for more aggressive riding, while the Green shorts use a chamois better suited to a more upright riding style.
Both chamois come from Elastic Interface’s premium Carbonium range and are ‘endurance’ pads designed for long-distance riding. Both have a triple-density construction, but the difference lies in where the foam is placed. For instance, the Red chamois has more padding in the perineal area (in the middle of the chamois), while the Green chamois has more padding around the sit bone area (at the rear of the chamois), giving it a plusher feel. My favourite long-distance shorts are certainly well-padded but I found the red chamois plenty comfortable enough on rides of three hours-plus.
It’s an innovative approach and one which allows a rider to select a chamois accordingly, safe in the knowledge that the shorts themselves are of a good quality.
Because that’s what they are. From the outside the shorts look exactly the same, except for a coloured tag (red or green) on the rear. The main body of the short is made from a lycra which Chapeau describe as hardwearing and supportive. It’s certainly the latter, helped by an excellent cut, and while time will provide the greatest test of the former, we’ve not experienced any durability issues during our test.
While the bottom half of the shorts are made from a lycra fabric, the top half (not just the straps themselves) is made from a mesh fabric which means the shorts are plenty breathable. The bib straps themselves are wide (nearly two inches wide, in fact), comfortable and provide plenty of support.
At the other end, each leg is finished with a thick, Chapeau-branded elastic gripper – a nice touch – which in itself is lined with silicone dots, so there’s no chance of the shorts riding up. Other details include a hint of reflective piping on either side of each leg, and a reflective Chapeau badge on the rear. As for styling, the shorts are black and (aside from the reflective detail and the red tag) black only – just as they should be.
All that makes for an excellent pair of shorts – well-made, supportive, breathable and with a choice of pads – which justify their three-figure price tag.