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The Craft Essence bib shorts are very breathable and have quite a relaxed fit, despite being made from a compressive fabric, and the lightweight pad is better suited to short to medium length rides – on longer outings it doesn't provide the support and comfort I'd like.
The pad – an Infinity C3 – feels light compared with those in other bib shorts I have tested recently. On my first few shorter rides I found it comfortable and breathable, but I also wore the shorts on a seven-hour epic on a very hot day and although the pad remained breathable, even when the temperature hit 35°C, after around three or four hours it started to lack the support and comfort I'd like.
The shorts are made from 78% recycled polyamide and 22% Lycra, so the green credentials are good, but they do feel more synthetic than some.
Craft claims the shorts are made with compressive fabric, but I found the fit quite relaxed, especially compared with other shorts I have tested recently such as the Santini Karma Kinetics. I was in the middle of the size guide range and tested a medium pair which I found more generous than some, though not so generous that I'd suggest sizing down.
They come up quite high at the front, but the material is stretchy enough that a mid-ride comfort break is easy enough.
The straps are made from a breathable mesh material and do a good job of balancing comfort and breathability, something I haven't always found to be the case with mesh straps.
The legs are on the shorter side, coming down to the mid-thigh on me, but a wide silicone gripper does a good job of keeping them in place. That large Craft logo on the leg is reflective, good for low light levels.
The shorts come in seven sizes from XS to XXL and cover a wide range so you should be able to find a size that suits you. They are only available in black, but I rarely consider any other colours.
While £80 is far from the most expensive shorts we test, you can get some equivalent quality shorts for less or better ones for around the same money.
The Galibier Équipe 2 Aero Bib Shorts were well rated, for example, and are £73, and the Sundried Drop Men's Training Bib Shorts were also well reviewed and are a budget-friendly £50, if you are happy with the colourful design.
I've also been testing the Van Rysel Racer 2 shorts, which are £59.99 and very good (you can read my review here). They are much more of a race fit, but even though they're £20 cheaper I prefer them to these Craft bibs.
I wouldn't say the Crafts are poor value for money, they're just not as good value as those.
If you are happy to spend a little bit more, the Nopinz Pro-1 Bib Shorts received a great review from Nick last year, and are now priced at £99.99.
Overall, the Craft Essence bib shorts are highly breathable with a pad that is comfortable for short to mid-length rides, they're not bad value, and they have good green credentials.
Lightweight and highly breathable, but quite a thin pad and the fabric doesn't feel very compressive
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Essence Bib Shorts M
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Craft says: "Essence Bib Shorts are stretchy and functional bib shorts that combine timeless design with recycled polyamide to add another green dimension to cycling. In addition, the bib shorts feature Lycra® Sport Energy compression fabric and offer great body control and efficient moisture transport for optimal comfort and performance. Wide, soft and elastic leg endings with silicone print keep the bib shorts in place. Infinity C3 Pad."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Soft, stretchy and durable fabric
* Efficient moisture transport
* Recycled polyamide
* Lycra® Sport Energy compression fabric with 4-way elasticity
* Wide, elastic leg endings with silicone print
* Reflective details
* Infinity C3 Pad
The so-called compressive fabric doesn't offer a compressive fit.
Slightly more generous than other brands but I wouldn't consider sizing down.
Comfortable on short to mid-length rides.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed at 30°C with the rest of my cycling kit with no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They were comfortable on short to medium length rides. Craft describes the material as compressive, but I didn't find that to be the case.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The relaxed fit was comfortable for short to mid-length rides; good breathability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The pad started to feel less comfortable as the rides got longer.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are reasonable value but there's a lot of competition in this price range: the Galibier Équipe 2 Aero Bib Shorts scored well and are priced at £73, while the Sundried Drop Men's Training Bib Shorts were also well reviewed and a budget-friendly £50.
The Nopinz Pro-1 Bib Shorts received a great review from Nick, but they're £20 more at £99.99.
I have also been testing the Van Rysel Racer 2 shorts at £59.99, which compare well to the Craft if you are looking for a more race fit.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes – apart from on long rides.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're quite good: breathable and comfortable on short to medium distance rides, but I found the pad lacking in comfort as the rides got longer.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Roubaix My best bike is: Cervelo S3
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Indoor