Like this site? Help us to make it better.


Northwave Blade bib short



Decent, versatile shorts let down by a cardboardy chamois

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

What the scores mean

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

  • Exceptional
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
  • Poor
  • Bad
  • Appalling

The Northwave Blade Bib shorts are part of their mid-range line. With SuperRoubaix fabric, meshed straps and a variety of colours, they are only let down by a thin, unmalleable pad.

The shorts are a fairly traditional panelled construction with flat-locked stitching. Tradition isn't a bad thing; these shorts fit well. Leg length is good and held in place with silicone grippers which don't create any tightness. Back and side panels transition well to the '3D' meshed braces just above the hips.

Polyamide and Elastane form the material in a 80:20 ratio, otherwise known as SuperRoubaix. This is a tightly knit material, often found on tights for chillier temperatures - perfect for the British summer! There isn't any fleece like you'd find in tights so the idea is just to limit the air penetration. As I said, this is good for UK shores, as the continental top of the range shorts are often so breathable that staying warm enough at the beginning of a ride can be an issue; it is a nice change.

These shorts are extremely versatile - they can be worn in the summer and then paired with knee/leg warmers to extend their use - making them great value.

Onto the pad; one I couldn't get on with. It was like a piece of cardboard between my legs, and it bunched up rather than cup my...package. Labeled with 'man specific comfort project', well, I guess I need to grow a pair. The pad is apparently gel based but feels very thin and lacking to me. The middle - presumably where the gel resides - feels competent, so I think it is the more rigid sections around it that create the problem.

On the bike, the problem remained. The pad just wasn't comfortable for me. It was unforgettable as it rigidly moved with my pedal strokes. I thought it might bed in but it didn't. A groove down the centre of the pad does suggest it should mould correctly so perhaps the shorts were a little on the large size for me - although the rest of the fit was fine.

Iron-on logos look like they won't survive the wash but actually seemed to fare alright throughout my testing. Once they do crack though, logos like that can often make a decent piece of kit look older than it is, which can be a shame. There isn't any luminance in them either.

If you've already used a Northwave pad and know you get on with it then I can fully recommend them. Otherwise, best bet would be to try them somewhere first.


Decent, versatile shorts let down by a cardboardy chamois.

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website test report

Make and model: Northwave Blade bib short

Size tested: Large, blue/black

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?

A race short for spring/autumn rather the ultra breathable for summer heat.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Pad: Race Sport

Braces: Mesh

Vent inserts: Braces

Elastic: Silicon

Reflex inserts: Back piping and reflective logo

Composition: 80% Polyamide - 20% Elastan

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Paneled design held together with flat-lock stitching.

Rate the product for performance:

The pad is a real let down and that plays a big part in performance for me.

Rate the product for durability:

Although the text survived the wash during test, I can see them looking worn in not too long.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

For me, the pad was unbearable.

Rate the product for value:

With a good pad in them, these would be a top pair of shorts. Give them a test first to see if you can get on with them.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Good at being an all-round pair of shorts. Bad at making my gooch comfortable.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Not full of ultra lightweight, breathable material like a lot of summer shorts.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The pad...

Did you enjoy using the product? No.

Would you consider buying the product? No.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they tried them and found them to comfortable, yes.

Overall rating: 4/10

About the tester

Age: 23  Height: 184cm  Weight: 66kg

I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter  My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10

I've been riding for: Under 5 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Semi pro

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,


Latest Comments