Supremely comfortable bib shorts ideal for long summer rides; some of the best we've tested
The Sportful BodyFit Pro Ltd bib shorts are top-notch shorts for long summer rides which fully justify their £110 price tag – they’re lightweight, with a supportive fit and a plush, comfortable chamois.
Sportful’s BodyFit range is based on the same kit used by Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan’s Tinkoff team, but these shorts step things up a notch from the BodyFit Classic bib shorts with the addition of the Italian firm’s superb TotalComfort Pro pad and wide, perforated bib straps to give the shorts their Ltd moniker.
The shorts use a fabric called AeroFlow Compress on the legs. There’s no prize for guessing Sportful’s intention with this fabric – it designed to be both aerodynamic and compressive. Aerodynamic because of the close fit and dimpled texture, and compressive because, well, it’s exactly that.
Sportful say the dimpled surface reduces turbulent airflow over the shorts (the flat-lock stitching has also been placed out of direct airflow), and while we can’t necessarily vouch for that, we can comment on the compressive fit. In short, it’s very good. The Airflow Compress fabric is backed up by a 220g Lycra and that combination provides a supportive fit which strikes a balance between being supportive, without being too tight. The compressive fabric does mean the shorts take a little more manoeuvring to pull on before a ride, but I stuck with my normal size (medium) without any problems.
The legs are finished with a wide (5.5cm, if you want to be precise), seamless leg band covered in silicone dots on the inside. The band itself has plenty of stretch so comfortably wraps itself around the thigh and sits flush with the leg, while the silicone dots hold it in place without tugging on the skin. It’s an excellent design and helps the shorts feel almost invisible when you’re wearing them, which is just about the biggest compliment you can pay a pair of bib shorts.
That’s helped by the bib straps, too, which use the same design as Sportful’s Total Comfort shorts. They’re wide, and so sit flat against your chest, shoulders and back, spreading the load and ensuring there’s no bunching. The fact they’re perforated helps a little with ventilation on warm days.
Speaking of which, the BodyFit Pro Ltd bib shorts are an excellent option when the temperature rises. I wore these shorts in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, with the temperature nudging above 35 degrees, and they performed superbly. They’re reasonably lightweight and the superb comfort really comes into its own on an 80-mile ride with 10,000 feet of climbing.
The excellent chamois really helps in that regard. The shorts use Sportful’s TC Pro pad, which is an evolution of the original Total Comfort pad. Whereas that chamois has up to 18mm of padding, making it extremely plush, the TC Pro trims things down a little, with a maximum thickness of 14mm, around the seat bones and tapers down to 7mm at the front. It’s still a fairly thick pad but provides support in all the right places and is not overly bulky. The surface of the pad is dimpled which helps a little with ventilation and also helps the pad deform when seated in the saddle. It’s superbly comfortable and an ideal companion for long days in the saddle, just a little more inconspicuous than the regular Total Comfort pad.
The shorts also have a discreet radio pocket, which is a nod to the pro DNA of the BodyFit range. Discreet really means discreet, with the pocket within the mesh fabric at the rear of the shorts. In reality, it’s not much use for anything but a race radio.
Finally, the shorts are available in three colours: black/blue (with fluoro highlights), black/red and black/grey, and can be matched – if you like that kind of thing – with the excellent, lightweight BodyFit Pro Race jersey you can see in the photo gallery below.
The Sportful BodyFit Pro Ltd take the best bits from the Fonzaso-based company’s pro-proven BodyFit shorts but up the ante with upgraded bib straps and a plusher pad, making these shorts a superb option for riders seeking comfort and a close, supportive fit for long rides. These are now the shorts I’ll dig out when I know I’m going to be spending a long time in the saddle.
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