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Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts



A great fit, lovely stitching and a decent pad at a price that shouldn't especially raise an eyebrow
Quality stitching
Comfortable pad
All-day comfort
Wide, secure grippers
'Band of Climbers' logo may be a misleading

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.

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The Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts are really well put together with a decent enough pad for six hours of riding. If you're unconcerned that the logo on your thighs might amount to false advertising, chances are you'll be very happy with them.

> Buy now: Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts for £115 from Band of Climbers

Looking for a new pair of bib shorts? Check out our best cycling bib shorts buyer's guide.

Donning the Empire bibs for the first time, my immediate thought was that Band of Climbers wasn't just a brand name and these shorts had been specifically designed for spindly mountain goats. It took a bit of hoicking and manoeuvring to get them into position and I blamed this on an unusually tight fit in the legs.

2023 Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts - cuff back.jpg

I quite quicky revised this view, however, because it is not narrow leg holes that provide the resistance, it's 65mm deep panels of silicone. These sizeable leg grippers don't exactly slide up your thighs when you're putting the shorts on... but then they don't exactly slide down your thighs once they're in position either.

2023 Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts - gripper.jpg

That, I would say, is the greatest strength of the Empire bib shorts. You get them into position and they stay there. The legs don't shuffle up or down at all. The pad doesn't move about. Everything feels very solid – which is very reassuring if you're heading out for five or six hours during which even a slight bit of fabric rub can do actual physical damage.

2023 Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts - cuff.jpg

So, despite knee-jerk reservations, I would actually say the sizing is as per Band of Climbers' guide and in keeping with most other brands. I pretty much always wear large bibs and I wouldn't have wanted or expected these to be any larger or smaller.

2023 Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts - back.jpg

The key element for any road cycling bib shorts that are billed as being for rides of up to six hours is of course the pad. This one, from Elastic Interface, does the job, I'd say. It's 13mm thick at the sit bones and decently firm.

2023 Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts - chamois.jpg

I've pads that feel as if they would give you more support when assessed off the bike between thumb and forefinger, but none where I've really been struck by some great step-change in comfort level. If anything, in most cases, the shape, structure and (really very) neat stitching of the Empire shorts gives them the edge.

2023 Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts - logo.jpg

They're comfortable shorts. I wouldn't say I was unaware I'd been on a bike after five-and-a-half hours, but I also wouldn't say that my saddle ranked all that high on my list of discomforts by that point – which I'd take as a win.

2023 Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts - leg logo.jpg

Other than that, everything feels unremarkable but very sensible. The front is low enough that toilet stops aren't a faff and the upper half is a light, stretch mesh, including the straps.

2023 Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts - legs front.jpg

There's nothing wacky or objectionable, unless you for some reason take issue with the two small reflective tabs on the backs of the legs.

2023 Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts - straps back.jpg


At £115, the Empire bib shorts are not cheap, but it's a fairly typical price if you're after gear for longer rides.

Of those we've scored highly in recent times, Stef really rated the £135 Albion ABR1 Bib Shorts Albion ABR1 Bib Shorts, which feature a large proportion of recycled materials.

Ben found the £125 Santini Karma Kinetic Bib Shorts were a great option for summer rides, as well as having a compressive fit and an excellent pad.

Coming in at the same price are the Assos Mille GT Bib Shorts G2 that Ben also liked, though he thought some might find the legs a little short.

Hollis rated the £99 Gore Wear Torrent Bib Shorts+ Mens bib shorts, but he felt they were more suited to milder weather rather than full-on summer days.


The pad is very good and the fit – for this rider at least – is exceptional. If this is your price bracket, it's hard to imagine you'll be disappointed.


A great fit, lovely stitching and a decent pad at a price that shouldn't especially raise an eyebrow

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Make and model: Band of Climbers Empire Bib Shorts

Size tested: Large

Tell us what the product is for

Road cycling bibs for training or racing for up to six hours.

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

80% Polyamide - Nylon / 20% Elasthane. Elastic Interface multi-density Italian chamois pad. Bonded seams in high-pressure areas. Silicone leg gripper. Reflective Graphics on each outer leg.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Really neat, low-profile stitching throughout.

Rate the product for performance:

A good pad, but not an absolutely top-of-the-line one.

Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for fit:

I had to cajole them on a bit, but once they're in position they're hard to fault.

Rate the product for sizing:
Rate the product for weight:

Plenty of lightweight mesh and also relatively thin elsewhere.

Rate the product for comfort:

We're not all the same shape, but the pad is the only thing that could be improved for me.

Rate the product for value:

A good investment, but decent quality shorts are available for less.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

No issues resulting from going through the wash in a general load.

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

Perfectly viable for six-hour rides.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The fit.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Having 'BAND OF CLIMBERS' emblazoned on my thigh. Nothing against the brand. It just came across as a promise I probably couldn't keep!

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

Decently. The price appears to be below average for this level of short without qualifying as an outright bargain.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

The price and pad are perhaps good rather than great, but otherwise these shorts are hard to fault.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 185  Weight: 78

I usually ride: Giant Defy Advanced Pro 3  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, E-bike/utility

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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