Pas Normal Studios' Women's Escapism bib shorts are very comfortable and very practical, with more pockets than you can shake a stick at. This, plus their high quality construction, makes them a great choice from road to trail. I did find there were some minor signs of wear in the test period, though – and you do want them to last at this high price.
As you might have guessed from the name, these bibs – part of a whole Escapism range – are built for touring, with exploring beyond the lines of the road in mind. This means there is more of a focus on versatility and practicality than with usual bike kit – in this case there are four handy pockets integrated into the thighs and back straps, 'a requirement for today's adventure rides and bikepacking adventures' according to Pas Normal Studios.
The shorts are constructed in Italy from nylon and elastane and are stretchy and soft, with a substantial feel and classy matt finish. Pas Normal Studios says they're also durable and abrasion-resistant, but they have picked up some signs of wear on the bum area during the test period.
With their four-way stretch, pulling the shorts on is really easy, but once on they provide a close fit and contained feel, and move really well with me on the bike. There's a big range of sizes, from XXS to XXL. I tested a size small, my usual size for bibs, and although they're on the snugger side – the only seam not flatlock stitched leaving a bit of an imprint on me after a few hours – overall they fit really comfortably with no tight spots or sagging, wrinkling or excess material anywhere.
The tight-knit nylon material is also designed to repel water and protect from the wind, and is topped off with a C0 durable water repellent (DWR) treatment, which is more environmentally friendly than the old C8 process. When tested in the wet, water did bead off the shorts, although the material also retained some moisture.
Up top, the low-profile bib straps have a seam-free finish and are very stretchy and so soft that I didn't notice them. I have a long torso so I often find bib straps too short, but that wasn't the case here. They attach to the front of the shorts section well above navel height for a warm, protected feel.
At the rear you get one mesh panel, which provides good breathability, and just below where this joins the rear of the shorts you'll find two roomy (7in long at the innermost end) pockets sewn in.
These are made of a highly elastic fabric, finished with a diagonal opening. The pockets are super discreet – you might easily miss them if you didn't know they were there.
There are a further two cargo pockets sewn into the thigh panels, again made of the same stretchy material. Spanning the width of the thigh, the pockets are very roomy and handy for mid-ride snacking.
The legs – a nice medium length – are finished with very wide, low-profile cuffs backed with effective silicone grippers: not too tight, but no movement while riding either.
The pad is a slimline, four-layer design, covered with antimicrobial fabric. It's a good all-rounder: comfy from front to back, and still doing a great job towards the end of tough rides.
The bib shorts wash and dry fast, which is great for multi-day adventures and bikepacking, but the material has snagged during testing and there is also some minor bobbling, all in the bum area. That's a pretty important consideration for an expensive bit of kit that's designed for use off-road.
If you're not keen on the Classic Blue colour tested, the shorts are also available in standard black or Dark Stone (brown).
At £225 these bib shorts are more than double the price of many we've tested over the last few years, but you can find more expensive options from the likes of Cafe du Cycliste with its Mathilde Audax shorts, also designed for long distances, which come in at £252, and MAAP with its Alt_Road Cargo bibs at £235.
Like these Escapism shorts, both impressed on long distance comfort but also failed to integrate an easy-pee system.
I tested 7mesh's WK3 Bib Short last year and thought they were excellent with their 'Pull2P' easy-pee system, and you can get these in a Cargo version for 'just' £180.
> Read more road.cc reviews of women’s cycling shorts here
One easy way to solve the easy-pee problem is to go for waist shorts – and save money at the same time: Rapha's Core Cargo Shorts, which Sarah tested in 2019, still come in at under £100.
Although even Rapha's Cargo bib shorts are cheaper than the Escapisms, at £215.
In use, these bib shorts are up there with the best I've tested – comfortable, well made and practical, though the lack of comfort break integration, which brands like 7Mesh are doing really well now, is an obvious downside. The signs of early wear are disappointing, too, considering the price.
Mega pricey but feel great on and very comfy, though early signs of wear are disappointing considering the price
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Make and model: Pas Normal Studios Women's Escapism Bibs
Tell us what the product is for
Pas Normal Studios says: "Designed as our most durable, abrasion-resistant bibs ever, the Escapism Bib Shorts are built for the world of touring. The four-way stretch achieved from the structured-nylon fabric gives these bibs the freedom to move with you wherever you go. A requirement for today's adventure rides and bikepacking adventures, four pockets have been integrated into the design on the thighs and back straps, providing easy-access storage solutions for your on-the-go essentials."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pas Normal Studios lists:
Integrated pockets on the thighs and back straps
Four-way stretch nylon
C0-rated DWR treatment
Fabric: 53% Nylon, 47% Elastane
Made in Italy
Rate the product for quality of construction:
A very high quality finish that feels great.
Rate the product for performance:
Excellent on the road – ultimate comfort and practicality.
Rate the product for durability:
The quality of construction is high, so no doubts there, but the fabric itself is already showing some signs of wear.
Rate the product for fit:
Rate the product for sizing:
Rate the product for weight:
Rate the product for comfort:
One of the comfiest pairs of bib shorts I have tested.
Rate the product for value:
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They wash and dry easily, but it'd be wise to take care when washing with abrasive things as I can't tell where the snag was picked up.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pockets and colour.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of comfort break system.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Similar to top-end premium stuff (and slightly cheaper than some) but still way more expensive than lots of options.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The obvious downsides of these shorts make it tricky to score for the simple reason that they are borderline exceptional in terms of comfort, but they are mega expensive and are already showing signs of wear and tear. It's also hard to overlook the lack of easy-pee functionality these days.
Age: 38 Height: 172cm Weight: 60kg
I usually ride: My Scott Foil My best bike is: Oldie but the goldie, CAAD 8
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Triathlon, Audax
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