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Van Rysel's Women's Quick-Zip Cycling Bib Shorts are a cheap and pee-stop-friendly option. But while the concept is a good one, the execution and fit are letdowns.
These shorts are a intended as a step up from Van Rysel's 900 bibs, and while the zip and full mesh upper might appear a sound solution for faff-free pee-stops, the design is not well executed. Unfortunately, you may just be left feeling a little disappointed you forked out the extra £15.
I started out testing a medium, the right size for me according to Decathlon's size chart. It gave me a good fit around the legs and hips, but the mesh upper was way too generous, both in length and girth. There is no real elasticity to it either, so excess material just gathers at the groin – not a good look.
So I sized down and tested a small. This reduced excess material at the groin, but didn't eliminate it – and what was there was now much tighter, so dug in even more. For these shorts, I definitely recommend trying before you buy (note this is the small pair...).
The leg ends are raw cut, and one of the few things I can be positive about; there's no squeezing or bulging. However, even the quality of finishing here is questionable (see photo), so there's potential for fraying at the edges. The second pair I tested had a flaw in the cuts too, which could well end up as a point of failure.
Getting these on isn't the easiest. The front zip naturally prevents stretch, and combined with the full upper body, getting them over your hips takes a bit of a wriggle. If the zip was a little longer, it's possible they would be easier to get on.
The mediums were manageable, but I was a little concerned about pulling the small pair on – I was nervous about overstretching the stitching around the zips. I've not heard any snapping to date though.
The bunching at the groin is at its worst on a road bike. I found it marginally less irritating on my ebike – the upright position alleviated it a little. Also, the zip has no guard, and sits directly on the skin. I found it particularly uncomfortable where it sits on the hip as you are pedalling.
The small pair really cut in here and left a mark (see photo), though with the 'correct' mediums, it was just lots of excess material.
The zip itself isn't the finest, though it seems quite robust. And you need reliability with this design – it would be awful to be caught out with a mid-ride failure in these...
I didn't have any real issues with the geometry of the pad, but it offers minimal support. Decathlon claims it's good for over three hours, but the gel cushioning is immediately flattened in the saddle, and has little to no spring. The channels don't really do anything to improve support either, though at least the seams are flat. I had no irritation here.
The mesh upper is supposedly designed anatomically – 'the chest part is fully designed to fit the female figure,' as Van Rysel rather tweely puts it. Unsurprisingly, everyone's bust is different, and I simply didn't fill the upper of the mediums at all. There isn't enough tension in the fabric to cling to my torso.
The small was better here, particularly around the shoulders, though there was still an excess around my stomach, which sagged down to the groin.
The mesh fabric is breathable, but I frequently ditched an undervest to prevent overheating anyway.
I did find a long-tailed base layer prevented rub from the zip at the rear – a problem particularly when your pockets are loaded – but then you do risk a very sweaty lower back as away from the mesh, the fabric isn't so breathable.
The breathability overall isn't great, and the chamois is not designed for working up a sweat, for sure. Even in the small pair with less airflow-restricting bunching, I found myself getting excessively sweaty around the groin – not a great look, or pleasant feel either.
Toilet stops are made exceptionally easy thanks to the extent of the two-way zip; it runs from mid-thigh on one leg all the way across the upper back to the other thigh.
The flap then drops (make sure you hold it out of the way) to use the toilet without removing any other layers. It's not the easiest to zip back up again, though; you need to hold the two parts close together to coerce the zipper into motion. What starts out as a very quick pee-stop actually becomes rather time consuming. Base layers are easily caught in the zip too.
£50 for shorts with a quick pee-stop design is cheap. If you can tolerate the poor breathability, unsupportive pad and you have the right body shape for these, they are at least great value.
You won't find many others for less than £100. Anna recently tested the Sport Bibshort Pure Woman from Tactic at £117 but didn't rave about the comfort break system; evidence, perhaps, that companies are still searching for the best solution. Endura's latest Women's Pro SL Bibshorts will set you back £129.99, and have a similar mesh upper to Van Rysel's. Anna got on with comfort break system much better, and indeed I know others who find Endura's version effective.
There are slightly cheaper options out there, such as Velocio's Foundation Bibs for £101, but Anna didn't think the pad was great for long rides, though liked the comfort break system.
I really didn't get on with these. The inconsistent fit and poor breathability are overriding negatives, though the pad isn't the best either. If you favour fairly short, gentle rides on relatively upright bikes and your body shape matches the rather unstretchy cut, you are at least onto a potential winner for value. If not, these will most likely disappoint.
Poorly executed comfort-break design, sweaty and a strange cut that will suit only a few women
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Van Rysel EDR Women's Quick-Zip Cycling Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Decathlon tells us, "These women's cycling shorts were created by our design team for frequent rides of up to 3 hours or more. Finally! Bib shorts designed especially for women, with zips at the pelvis so you can take technical breaks without having to take your jersey off."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Easy opening / closing: Double zip at the pelvis to make technical breaks easy.
Anatomic design: Chest part of the tights (bib) designed to fit the bust.
Sitting comfort: Ergonomic pad with gel insert recommended for longer rides (3 hours or more).
Stability: Upper bib made of material that supports and highlights the bust.
Reduced chafing: Large pad and flat seams.
Reasonably well finished, but not the best quality at the leg ends.
Pad is not the most supportive for longer rides. Breathability is not great.
The raw cut leg ends are questionable.
Good around the legs, not great around the torso, leading to bunching on the bike. Overall fit will be heavily be dependent on your upper body shape.
I'd say it's a must to try before you buy here, sizing down being my recommendation.
Bunching at groin not comfortable. The pad is satisfactory, but doesn't offer the cushioning some might want for longer rides.
Yes, they are cheap, but with so many flaws, I can't really say they are good value for money.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine. Washes well at 30 degrees.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Disappointingly. Though they're quick to get open for a pee, they're not so quick to zip up – and they're uncomfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfy leg ends.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Pretty much everything except the above.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are very cheap. Anything else with a quick-pee system tends to be in the region of £100 – Endura's offering is £129.99, Tactic's are £117 and Velocio's are £101, for instance.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Friends with a much fuller upper body shape, perhaps
Use this box to explain your overall score
Flawed design and inconsistent fit makes for an uncomfortable pair of shorts.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…