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The Specialized Women's Prime Bib Shorts are designed to be 'the perfect apparel for the perfect ride'. I'd say they come pretty close to achieving that lofty aim, offering incredible comfort and a superb chamois for a very good price considering the excellent quality. The only issue is that the nifty pee-stop strap solution isn't actually quite as nifty as it could be.
Straight off, it's obvious that these are high-quality bib shorts. The fabric is a dense and opaque but supple 46% polyamide, 38% polyester, 16% elastane mix, with low-key silicone leg grippers at the cuffs.
The shorts fitted me beautifully (XLs for my size 14/16 pear-shaped body), with the stretchy but supportive fabric feeling like a supple second skin.
The bib section is higher at the front and back than many, and uses straightline (around the bust) stretchy straps. It fitted comfortably without any unnecessary squeezing, and the straps sat well around my bust. The straps have plenty of stretch, and the shorts felt a good length in total for my 5ft 5in height.
The legs are a fairly standard length, perhaps a fraction shorter than some, with an inseam of around 22cm. They didn't over-squeeze my sporty thighs, despite the grippers.
In fact, out on the bike there was no bulk or discomfort of any kind. The fabric moves moisture quickly and effectively too, despite its slightly denser weave.
This super-comfy fit is echoed by the comfort and support of the pad, a triple-density foam Women's Body Geometry Contour 3D Chamois. It conformed exceptionally well to the body, but retained its cushioning without undue compression, remaining comfortable no matter the effort or length of ride. I rode energetic hilly rides and longer relaxed rides and it stayed comfortable and supportive throughout.
While the magnetic buckle at the rear is designed to make comfort breaks easier to deal with, so you don't have to remove various items of clothing just to go to the loo like you do with standard women's bibs, the slightly higher front and back – which result in excellent on-bike comfort – do make for some interesting contortions when trying to refasten the buckle.
It releases easily and quickly, but isn't quite so easy to do up again. I'm relatively short in the body and the straps weren't under a huge amount of tension, and yet I still had to pull up on the front to allow the rear to slacken enough to re-attach the magnetic buckle.
After a few rides, I did master it, but it isn't straightforward and did require me to unzip my jersey, which isn't really ideal. Riders with longer bodies or more fulsome busts may find it trickier still.
This is a shame given how truly outstanding the shorts are in every other way. It wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me, as the shorts are just so comfortable, but a small tweak to the strap/buckle positioning could make these shorts pretty close to perfect.
Something else I'd like to see is a wider range of sizes than XS to XL.
You can get cheaper shorts, even with comfort-break tech, such as the excellent value Madison Sportives at just £49.99, and the Lusso Comfort Break Bib Shorts at £100, but most bib shorts with easy-pee solutions cost more.
Even with the issues the Specialized Primes have in terms of ease of use of the buckle, the problem is not insurmountable, and otherwise they offer exceptional performance for their price. They're well made and extremely comfortable, and within a bib strap's stretch of genuine perfection.
Well made and extremely comfortable, just a tweak of the buckle and these could be perfect
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Women's Prime Bib Shorts
Size tested: XL
Tell us what the product is for
These are performance bib shorts with a comfort break solution for female riders.
Specialized says: "The perfect apparel for the perfect ride, that's what our Prime Series apparel is all about...the open suspender design keeps the bibs right where you want them, without constricting any upper body movements. The suspender fabric is also extremely soft and plush, eliminating any shoulder discomfort or irritation, yet we've still built in a HookUp magnetic bib connection making nature breaks much easier.
The pre-molded, triple-density foam Women's Body Geometry Contour 3D Chamois is contoured to perfectly match the curvature of your body, all while being soft and supportive in all the right places.
With the Prime Bib Shorts, you're sure to embrace the "chamois time is training time" motto as they're so comfortable, you won't want to take them off."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
HookUp magnetic bib connection at the lower back for comfort breaks.
Open strap construction keeps bibs in place
Stretchy elastic straps designed to be soft next to skin
Silicone-infused fabric cuff provides a gentle, secure hold on the legs to ensure a shift-free fit.
Fabric Content: MAIN: Knit 46% Polyamide, 38% Polyester, 16% Elastane - UPPER: 90% Polyester, 10% Elastane
Pre-molded, triple-density foam Women's Body Geometry Contour 3D Chamois
Available in sizes XS to XL
Machine washable at 30
Superb quality fabric, pad and components, and excellent overall build quality.
These fitted exceptionally well, and were outstandingly comfortable in every way, but the magnetic closure is a little tricky to reattach, post pee-break.
These are well made, with no reason to suspect they won't last very well.
I'm 5ft 5in with a proportionally slightly shorter body and these fit me well.
Spot on with the sizing chart.
A nice balance of low weight with dense opaque yet supple fabric.
Probably the most comfortable bib shorts I've ever worn.
Good value compared with most – a premium-feeling and high-performance pair of bib shorts delivering a good, if not perfect, comfort-break solution.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed very well, and fabric is durable and not fragile.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, aside from the slight niggles with reattaching the magnetic clasp on the straps.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The densely woven yet supple and comfortable fabric, the superb comfort of the pad, overall fit and fabric, and the quality. The comfort-break solution is a good idea and very effective, but needs some tweaks to overcome issues with reattaching it after use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Only the slight issues with reattaching the magnetic buckle.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Cheaper options, even with comfort-break tech, are available, such as the Madison Sportive Women's Bib Shorts at just £49.99 and Lusso Comfort Break Bib Shorts at £100, but most bib shorts with comfort break solutions sit at a higher price point: the Iris Signature Bib Short III are now £135, Assos' Women's UMA GTV Bib Shorts C2 are £210 and Rapha's Detachable Bib Shorts are £215.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are amongst the most comfortable bib shorts I've ever worn. The performance of both fabric and pad are exceptional, but while the comfort break solution works, it could do with some slight tweaks. They're exceptional, and close to perfect.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.