These stylish RR 900 bib shorts from Decathlon’s new race focused Van Rysel range offer a winning combination of comfort and performance at a wallet friendly price. They’re not without their quirks, but they definitely merit a place on your shortlist if you’re in the market for budget friendly performance shorts.
The overall look of these Polyamide-meets-Elastane bib shorts is classy and sleek; though there's a definite hint of budget in the unhemmed finish, particularly around the straps. But at £39.99, they are indeed budget; in the same ballpark as dhb's Blok women's bib shorts – and it's not all about the hemming.
The fit of the RR 900 bib shorts pretty feels pretty true to size (I tested a small). If pushed though, they are perhaps a tad generous – so if you're between sizes, opting for one down might be a good idea.
The all-important chamois is the first thing of real note with these bibs, and not just because the interior is printed with no less than eight technical markers, pointing out various density and thickness – quite a lot of reading for a pad. What sets this pad apart is the fact that it's long, thick and quite a bit firmer than others. 'Comfort,' says Decathlon, 'is assured thanks to the triple-density ergonomic padding with gel inserts.' Three layers plus gel explains why it feels a bit like smuggling a nappy – so does this level of thickness really equate to comfort out on the road? On the first ride out, no not really. I felt like I was sat on top of something other than just the saddle, and my bum agreed – there was discomfort even after a 25-mile spin. After a few washes, the pad calmed down a bit and settled into my body shape. It's quick drying too, staying remarkably dry on even the warmest ride. The chamois is attached with stitching, which is rough and ready in places with the interior peeping through a touch, but it's pleasing to see that, as a budget pair of shorts, it's not just glued on.
The bibs' construction – a great many stretchy panels – provides ease of movement and a visually pleasing aesthetic, too. While they're stitched with flat seams, a few joins are a little on the rough side with the potential to be a bit scratchy. But overall they make for a really comfortable pair of shorts – and this is particularly true around the torso and back. While some bibs can stop just north of your belly button creating a peeping midriff effect at the café stop, the Van Rysel shorts have an additional panel above the waist, which flows into the straps. The result here is one of snug protection, especially when twinned with the full coverage centre back strap which employs mesh for moisture management. And sweat-wicking was good – an accolade from a tester who proves that women definitely do not merely glow.
The elasticated straps are mega stretchy, so they'd accommodate far beyond my 5'6 height. Due to this stretch, the thin cut doesn't dig into skin and they're easy to whip on and off for comfort breaks. However, the straps sit very far to the side – skimming armpits in action. This is presumably to avoid the chest area in order to accommodate different sizes, but the result is the feeling that they're going to slip (they didn't, though).
The leg material comes up a little on the short side, more so than others we've tested recently like this pair from Cycology. When pedalling, while the silicone bands feature a gripper pattern, they crept up a little – so they needed to be pulled back down a few times. They'd be great, though, for anyone that prefers a bib short that sits higher on the thigh.
With close examination, there are a few things to point out about these bib shorts – yes, they do look a little rushed around the seams, yes, the straps rumple a little due to their length and interesting placement – and yes, the chamois needs some bedding in. But in action, they perform much better than their budget price might suggest. This is only heightened in my opinion by a sleek aesthetic that looks like it means business. Which is good news for a pair of shorts that's designed for the peloton.
Super-comfortable budget option that performs, but the pad might not suit everyone
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Van Rysel RR 900 Women's Cycling Bib Shorts - Black
Size tested: 94-96
Tell us what the product is for
Decathlon says these bib shorts have been designed for intensive cycling on rides of up to and over three hours.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Ergonomic pad with gel inserts and 3 levels of density for added comfort.
Elasticated bibs for support. Wide silicone bands on the lower part of the legs.
Breathable technical fabric actively wicks away perspiration.
Large pad and flat seams. Quick drying.
If you look closely, it is finished roughly in places. But the overall performance and feel of the panel construction / design is above average.
Performance (sweat-wicking, overall comfort) is good. But as the chamois is potentially divisive, I can't score it 'very good'.
After a few washes the seams bobbled a bit, and the straps are quite thin. So far, it is fine, but it will be interesting to see how many seasons they can be worn for. So I am scoring it 'average'.
Fit is really good. Really comfy design. But I took a point off because the legs are short. If you like your shorts shorter put it back on again.
Accommodating, comfy. Possibly size down if you're not sure.
Chamois felt a little heavier than other bib shorts I have worn.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Really easy, quick drying. But a bit bobbly around the seams after a few washes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall it was above average on comfort, construction and sweat-wicking, but as is the case with shorts, it comes down to the chamois which is crucial. I didn't find the pad as comfy as other shorts I have.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The panel construction, especially around stomach, and the look.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The chamois was a little too firm and thick for me.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's in the dhb budget ballpark, otherwise – it's quite a lot cheaper.
Did you enjoy using the product? Eventually, yes
Would you consider buying the product? No, because the chamois didn't work for me
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I would suggest they try it, yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Van Rysel RR 900 Women's Cycling Bib Shorts have a lot to offer on a budget. The super stretchy panelled design provides unrestricted movement and comfort, and while pad is a little thick and the legs a bit short, if you get on well with them, they're an absolute bargain.
About the tester
I usually ride: My Scott Foil My best bike is: Oldie but the goldie, CAAD 8
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, general fitness riding, Triathlon , Audax