The Crossfire bib shorts from Sweet Protection are very well made and feel unbelievably light; the pad ain't bad either, but I've tested some really good shorts lately for around half the price.
- Pros: Excellent construction, durable material
- Cons: Pricey, pad better for shorter rides
You're probably only talking 20-30g less than the opposition, but the Crossfires feel unbelievably light when you hold them up and that continues when you put them on.
You know you are wearing them as the slightly compressive feel from the fabric gives your muscles a squeeze, plus the fact that they come up a little smaller than most brands means you notice the bib straps when you are stood up off the bike, but that's it. There is plenty of stretch in the material, so they never feel restrictive.
The legs are held in place by simple leg grippers that don't use any form of silicone or elastic, but as the material is so taut it doesn't really need it. The good thing is that you don't get any pressure on your thighs on longer rides.
The bibs use a mesh fabric for sweat wicking at the rear before they turn to Lycra at the front, which gives them loads of stretch for a comfortable fit. The straps are wide enough that they don't ever dig in either.
The heart of any shorts is the pad, and the Crossfire's is a pretty good one, although Sweet Protection doesn't really go into a lot of detail of who it's made by or any other info.
I like the minimalistic approach to the shape and padding, with just two saddle shaped areas of denser foam compared to the rest, and a simple channel running down the middle. There is no bunching of any fabric or anything although its thinness works better for shorter, faster rides as when the hours started adding up it didn't quite have the same level of plushness as some I've tried.
Just like the Crossfire jersey I also tested, the quality of the stitching is absolutely spot on. It is very well put together and feels to be very durable. That goes some way to justify the £129.99 price tag, although the Lusso Lead Out shorts I've also tested recently, which cost £65, and the Caratti Sports at just £40 both offered just as good comfort levels as the Crossfires.
Overall, I like the Sweet Protection bibs, they are comfortable and very well made, but you can get the same ride qualities for a lot less – though they are currently reduced to £105.99.
Brilliant build quality and decent levels of comfort, though that comes at a price
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sweet Protection Crossfire Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Sweet Protection says, "The Crossfire bib is your go to road-racer bottoms, mesh suspenders, medium high waist and race orientated bike pad. Everything made from moisture wicking and quick drying materials with stretch for flexibility and a snug fit without compromising flexibility."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Sweet Protection:
Wide grippers at the bottom legs
Anatomically tailored for bike riding
Medium high waist
In medium they are smaller than most brands so I'd say size up. I couldn't find a size guide on Sweet Protection's website to clarify the sizing.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
A 30 degree wash kept both the shorts and pad clean after some wet and muddy rides.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They feel unbelievably light and the fabric is very comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Other brands like Caratti, dhb and Lusso produce quality shorts for a lot less money, although the build quality of the Crossfires is very good.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? There are cheaper alternatives.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly
Use this box to explain your overall score
Really decent bibs that are comfortable to ride but they are on the pricey side compared to some of the opposition.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.