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Bontrager RL bib shorts – review

The RL shorts sit second from bottom in Bontrager’s range and come in at a very reasonable £59.99, just above the £50 Solstice shorts. They’re available in an amusing range of designs – the Rasta colourway we tested, visibility (bright yellow), Hero, Vintage and Black stripe – all of which are pretty sensible yet attractive.

Price point and fit are both good, although I found the inseam to be a little shorter than I’m used to thus revealing a bit of white skin rather than sticking to the carefully cultivated cyclists’ tan line. Out on the road I found them perfectly comfortable for a couple of hours’ riding, but on longer rides the inForm chamois started to feel a little flat and I experienced a degree of twist on the inner thighs which started to irritate. Oddly, despite being the same size as the RXL they felt smaller – the bibs were okay but the body and inseam seemed more compact.

I used the shorts on a variety of rides, but found them best suited to my commute which is around an hour, this is where the chamois felt best and the fit issues that revealed themselves on longer outings wouldn’t be a problem. They did wick moisture effectively and I like the smooth styling of the fabric which certainly makes you feel fast, if nothing else.

Fabric is Bontrager’s own Profila Power with Profila Cool mesh on the bibs which helps to keep things cool through the upper half. They also feature a clean cut leg gripper that adds a degree of compression and is really effectively without ever falling into the trap of being overly tight.

The bonus of this style is that there’s no hem and chunk of rolled fabric to create a hot spot or any possible friction – especially in those common areas of irritation around the back of the thigh above the knee. The coverage of fabric further up the back is good, ensuring a good overlap between jersey and shorts.

It’s fair to say that these are definitely more of a summer/warmer weather short as the lighter weight lycra blend doesn’t offer much in the way of warmth and little protection against the elements but that makes them very comfortable when the temperature ramps up.

Conclusion

Although the shorts are simpler and construction in panels, they do offer good performance for the price and have washed well/kept their shape despite heavy and frequent use during testing. They’re made of a more robust fabric which works well for commuting and should offer a longer lifespan.

Pros

– Stand up well to the rigours of frequent use and washing
– Comfortable on short to mid rides and ideal for commuting

Cons

– Fit comes up a little short, so check sizing
– Comfort isn’t quite there for long rides

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