The ashmei Women's Cycle Bib Shorts have a great chamois and a very comfortable bib, and the fabric does protect against the elements as ashmei claims. However, the lack of leg grippers can cause issues, and they're pretty pricey.
The first thing you are likely to notice is the fabric that these shorts are made of; it basically rustles and feels like a waterproof jacket. ashmei claims that the 60% polyamide, 40% elastane combination (excluding the bib and trims) provides excellent levels of wind and water resistance. It has less stretch than most shorts fabrics, so offers some decent compression. Ensure that you get the correct size to fully benefit here: my shorts sizing was a bracket down on my jersey, and down on what I invariably take with other manufacturers.
The bib straps are well designed – wide, well positioned and stretchy. They do exactly what they should without you knowing that they are there. A big thumbs up here.
The chamois is also brilliant. It's a high-density, well-positioned foam pad with a soft covering. It's perfect for long hours in the saddle – I had no issues with it at all. The sewn edges are a little haphazard in places – not really what you'd expect for this amount of money – but they didn't cause irritation and there's no sign of fraying. Despite its thickness, I never felt uncomfortably hot or sweaty in the saddle.
While the sensation of the material takes some getting used to, it's not restrictive and flows with body movement, albeit with a faint rustle.
There are no leg grippers – the shorts rely on compression to remain in place – and this was an issue for me. Worn with and without leg warmers, the shorts rode up slightly, resulting in folds of material around the groin. It didn't cause irritation, but because the fabric isn't as soft as most shorts fabric it's noticeable and not so comfortable.
Judging shorts on hip size is all well and good, but without grippers, maybe 'thigh girth' comes into play. While it remains my biggest gripe with the shorts, it's not guaranteed to be the same for everyone and could well depend on your body shape.
The unique material performs as ashmei claims – it protects the body against cold air and light rain. They aren't waterproof and won't stand up to anything other than light drizzle, but they do repel light wheel spray well, and without doubt keep the chill off far better than most conventional Lycra-heavy synthetic shorts.
I genuinely expected to overheat in them: the material has an 'impenetrable feel', and they'd been doing such a good job of keeping me warmer prior to the unseasonably mild weather we've just had. They proved me wrong: breathability is as good as most shorts I've tested over the last 12 months. I never sensed heat build-up or excessive sweating, even where the material was gathering around the groin.
Care instructions are simple – cool cycle, no conditioner or two-in-one detergents. The material seems to have stood up to wash and wear aesthetically and in terms of performance, although I have managed to catch them somehow, as you can see in the photo below.
The £176 price tag puts these in the same league as Rapha and PEdAL ED, but I'd say Liv's Signature shorts, for £125, are just as comfortable. If a lack of leg grippers is no issue for you then Liv even has something for under £100 in the shape of its Race Day bib shorts. And if you're on the hunt for element protection, Sportful's Fiandre NoRain shorts may be worth considering – for around half the price of the ashmei shorts.
That said, the ashemi shorts are significantly better than most shorts I've worn with regards to protecting you in cooler conditions, and the chamois is comfortable for hours. If you are forking out this much money, though, everything needs to be spot on and unfortunately this wasn't the case for me. Check out the sizing, and if they suit your shape then they're a good, if expensive, pair of bib shorts for changeable days.
Good three-season shorts with a brilliant pad, but the fit and lack of gripper won't suit everyone
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road.cc test report
Make and model: ashmei Womens Cycle Bib Short
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
ashmei says, 'The ultra stretch woven microfibre fabric provides incredible levels of wind and water resistance, while our high-density foam chamois designed for the female form provides ultimate comfort for long distance riders.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
*Race fit, water and wind-resistant microfibre fabric
*Bespoke high density foam chamois
*Precision laser cut leg cuff
*Signature, reflective ashmei front print for high visibility
*Microfibre ultra stretch fabric- 53% Polyamide, 47% Elastane
*Lightweight, high performance – 155g
*Durable Water Repellent finish
*Compressive, aerodynamic fit
Fabric performance is excellent; overall performance is hampered by the fit.
Check the chart – you may need a different size to what you normally get with other brands.
Lack of leg grippers caused bunching of the material for me.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They've stood up to wash and wear aesthetically and in terms of performance.
Typical sports wash instructions:
Machine wash cool 30°C
Cool tumble dry
Do not use fabric softeners
Do not dry clean
Do not iron
Do not bleach
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Windproof with excellent temperature-regulating fabric and an outstanding chamois, but gathering at groin is irritating.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Supportive, comfortable chamois.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of leg grippers causing material to gather at the groin.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Did you enjoy using the product? No, for me the lack of grippers spoilt what could have been a great pair of shorts.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Unlikely
Use this box to explain your overall score
They have a top notch chamois and a fabric that offers exceptional protection against the elements without causing overheating in warmer temperatures, but they're expensive, and the lack of leg grippers could cause issues.
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…