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Chapeau's Pave bib shorts have a comfy chamois and good materials, but the fine detail of the fit lets them down.
There are two versions of Chapeau's Pave bib shorts, the green and the red which thankfully corresponds to the colour of the chamois rather than the lycra. Basically if you're the type of rider who spends a lot of time in the drops or crouched over the hoods go for the red, if you spend more time on the tops this green test pair is for you.
The pad itself is from Italian company Elastic Interface and is actually designed for MTB racers whose upright position on the bike also translates to events on the road like sportives and audax. Two sections of 14mm thick padding sit towards the rear of the pad around the sit bone area with minimal padding running towards the front. Another nod towards the sportive rider is the pad is designed for endurance riding. The manufacturers recommend you can ride on it for up to about six hours.
In use the pad is very comfortable. The padding is where you need it with little elsewhere so there's no bunching or discomfort. The front of the pad is comfortable for short stints in the crouched position, descending or battling the wind for instance, but it's when you sit back up that you really do notice the benefit of the design.
The pad is perforated in a bid to keep things cool and it certainly didn't feel too warm in the recent heatwave.
The rest of the shorts are made up of varying panels and materials which are intended to provide muscle support, breathability and durability and the heaviness of the knit certainly gives them a robust feel. There is a slight feeling of compression around the thighs which does reduce muscle fatigue especially over long distance rides.
The bibs are mesh from the waist upwards which aids ventilation and the wide straps avoid any pressure points on your shoulders.
There are silicone grippers at the base of the leg to keep them in position and they do so with little in the way of pressure so you don't feel them as you are riding. They've got Chapeau's People's Bicycle Club moniker embossed on them which gives a classy touch.
Other neat touches are the reflective tabs, one of which is a little Chapeau logo. The label is attached to the outside of the shorts so it's not irritating and don't worry, your jersey will hide it.
Overall the Pave bibs are decently put together with the pad providing plenty of comfort as long as you ride in a more upright position. The price is £120 and while impressive I do think they lack just a little something compared to the Louis Garneau Superleggera shorts or RH+ O-Key bibs we've tested recently. The Pave shorts just don't quite feel like the whole package, lacking something in the comfort and fit stakes.
Both of those shorts aren't really designed for day in, day out riding though and the Paves are much more suited to this. Durability is top notch and I reckon these will still be in hung up in your wardrobe looking as good as new after thousands of miles and that goes a long way to justify the cost on a penny per mile basis.
Durable, classic looking shorts with a decent performing chamois. Just missing that X factor though.
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Make and model: Chapeau Pave Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium, 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?
Chapeau have done things a little differently by offering the same shorts but with a choice of pad. This is the green version which they say "if you prefer a more upright riding stance, then you would choose to wear the Green Carbonium Pad." The pad is much more comfortable when you are sat up but its a bit of a compromise if you vary your position quite a bit on the bike.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The pad comes from Elastic Interface whoi have done a lot of research into how riders sit for different riding positions. The padding positioning and depth is based on the body angles created by this.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Providing you stay sat up they have a decent amount of comfort and the overall quality and durability is very high.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
they are too position specific for my liking
Did you enjoy using the product? average
Would you consider buying the product? no
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd suggest them as an option
Age: 34 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Ribble Winter Trainer for commuting, Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Sarto Rovigo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!