Northwave's Sonic bib shorts are a well designed, good value choice for commuting or club runs, though maybe not a 200k-plus audax...
Increasingly we are spoilt for choice in the mid-range bib shorts category, as material technology and fabrication methods improve. For less than £50 you can now get the performance and comfort that just a few years ago would have set you back £100 or more. Northwave's SS15 Sonics are one such example of getting good performance for not too much money.
The design is minimalist and modern, with Northwave branding on each thigh and a small Italian flag tab on the left hip. You get the same flag strip on the right bib strap, for viewing in the privacy of the clubhouse changing shed…
The build is multi-panel, a standout feature being the three-inch-wide leg cuff of double Lycra - no silicone grip tape here to snag leg hairs or indent a perfectly-shaved gun. In practice these work very well, flexing as you pedal whether in or out of the saddle and feeling firm yet comfortable. On the outside/rear of the leg band is an inch-wide strip of highly reflective silver, very noticeable in following vehicle lights according to clubmates. The shoulder strap/back section is made of a white mesh material for breathability, and flatlock seams at the waist and down the side panels are welcome at this price point.
The Hawker Air pad is stated by Northwave as providing "Comfort on long rides of around 4 hours", and the spec sheet says "Performance: 4h". I'm not sure if that means it's uncomfortable beyond four hours, but my experience over a few months of riding is that it sometimes feels a little 'bunchy' after 30 or so miles. Not uncomfortable, just 'noticeable'. Mind you, this is a £60 pair of bibs that can be found online for a lot less.
Breathability is good if not outstanding for typical UK summer warmth, less so when the temperature starts to soar into the high 20s (soon please?), and pairing with legwarmers makes for an effective early morning and spring/autumn outfit.
Overall the SS15 Sonics are a well priced, good looking set of bibs that will do you well for shorter rides.
Well designed, good value choice for commuting or club runs. Maybe not for a 200k audax though
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Make and model: NorthWave Sonic Bib Shorts SS15
Size tested: Black / Med Sonic bib shorts
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Sonic bibshorts come with tons of tech making them a comfortable and high performance alternative to more expensive bibshorts.
Hawker Air Pad - Comfort on long rides of around 4 hours, made with a double layer of comfort and performance foam that is perforated straight through to the fabric to ensure maximum breathability during your rides.
Miti-Tech Power Fabric - Engineered in Italy, a family of warp-knitted fabrics provide a compact structure to give first rate compression properties and good UV ray protection.
A double layer Lycra leg cuff that is 8cm long fits perfectly to the leg and moves with the body without the need for silicone grippers.
Reflective details on the leg cuff and the logo on the back provide visibility."
A good choice for all-round riding, and the price means you'd not be too upset if they got ripped or wore out.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The 3in leg bands grip firmly and flex with movement; no silicone will be welcomed by some. Breathability is good for temps in the low teens to mid-20s.
Flatlocked seams are a good touch at this price point.
Good for up to 4hrs is the claim, and it seems to bear out.
After a few months' worth of rides and washes, still looking like new.
Comfortable, but after a few hours can get a bit bunched, requiring - ahem - 'adjustment'.
For the price, good value. Even better with a discount.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For shorter rides in mild to medium temperatures, perfectly well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The styling, and the leg bands. They work well.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The pad could be better, but at this price that's being a bit optimistic.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes. But possibly not at RRP.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but being mindful of time in the saddle.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Could be improved with a better pad; the other features and design are pretty much on the money.
Age: 42 Height: 183cm Weight: 71KG
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, singlespeed and Dutch bike pootling