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According to the blurb, B'Twin 700 bib shorts are 'perfect for long and intensive road cycling' and for the most part, I'm inclined to agree. However, the variably padded insert, shared with B'Twin's flagship 900 shorts, works best in stretched and tucked racing and fast-sportive riding positions, rather than more upright touring stances.
These shorts cost £20 more than B'Twin's 500 model, and the difference doesn't simply boil down to buttock-defending gel-filled, variable density padding. Just as seemingly identical chromoly tubesets can have different personalities, the same applies to six-panel polyester/Lycra shorts. These are noticeably stockier than the retail giant's 500 series, which bodes better for longevity, tangles with terra firma etc, while the seams and stitching are that bit flatter.
The bib and braces sections were for me, the biggest improvements, affording one's vital organs much better defence against chill, while the supple, perforated mesh offers superior support and is much easier to slip on/off.
Now let's take a closer look at that insert. Made from polyurethane, polyethylene and polyester with 3% Nylon and Lycra, it's best described as islands of raised padding with a series of comfort channels/groves running in between.
Each section has its own specific density: buttocks and groin areas thickest, minimal on the inner thighs to avoid chafing. Between the fingers, their texture's closer to light, airy foam than squidgy gel and resumes its original shape in seconds while our old friend silver chloride maintains a hygienic environment.
Standards of performance have largely lived up to expectations but with a few surprises along the way. Fast blasts and longer road outings have been delightful, the fabric allowing unrestricted movement and optimal cadence while the pad was akin to a good house guest - pleasant company without being remotely obtrusive.
Mild clamminess around the crotch is pretty much inevitable, even with the best fibres and cutaway perches, though this never became unpleasant. Similarly aggressive cross country mountain bike set-ups proved similarly harmonious but more relaxed touring configurations (most notably the Univega) resulted in an unexpectedly raw buttock after only twenty-five miles.
Swapping the saddles from a Swift to B17 pattern made little difference and slightly disappointing since I've always been able to alternate between my fleet without giving shorts, tights or three quarter lengths a second thought.
Performance road shorts with a very modest price tag but pad seems less versatile than their 500 siblings
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Make and model: BTwin Black/Red Cycling Shorts 700
Size tested: Medium, Black White Red
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Perfect for long and intensive road cycling. Pre-shaped pad with gel insert and three different thicknesses". Broadly agree, although pad not quite so well suited to touring/more upright configurations.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
1. User comfort
Pre-shaped pad with gel insert
The position of the seams ensures good support
Good perspiration wicking.
4. Reduced chafing
Shape of pad reduces chafing
5. Anatomic design
Stretch composition and perfectly placed seams
Guarantee : 2 Years
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, these are excellent bib shorts, highly suited to most forms of race orientated road riding. However, the pad wasn't quite so comfortable on more upright, tour/rough-stuff typical configurations, which took me by surprise.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good fit, nice materials, all day comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing per se, although the pad lacked the outright comfort of its less glamorous 500 sibling when riding less race-orientated machines.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, for the most part.
Age: 40 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)