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The Cafe Du Cycliste Cecile Men's Thermal Bib Shorts are incredibly expensive, but in return for your significant investment you get a very good quality garment for the shoulder seasons: warmth, an extremely comfortable pad, a fantastic (if snug) fit, good length and great looks. There's no wind or waterproofing, though, so they're better suited to 'nicer' days.
Not sure how to stay comfy on the bike at this time of year? Read our guide on what to wear for autumn cycling.
Cafe Du Cycliste says its Cecile Thermal Bib Shorts are suited to 'high tempo training and racing conditions'. They're designed in the south of France, made in Albania, and thanks to their otherworldly price tag of £265, you get free shipping, so that's something (you can also get 10% off your first order if you sign up).
These bib shorts are ideal for those months of the year when you still want to get your legs out, but you need to keep your parts warm enough. The brushed inner does just that – it's fairly light, but works down to about 10 degrees without issue. There's no windproofing or waterproofing, so these are for dry days only, but I prefer the feel of regular bibs, and I avoid rain like the plague, so this works for me.
Even if you're working hard, there's enough breathability to deal with any excess heat from the body, and I comfortably wore these on warmer October days up to around 15-16°C. A thin mesh is used for a large section of material on the back of the straps, and a smaller one at the top of the front, two areas that tend to get very sweaty when I ride.
Naturally, you can pair these bib shorts with some leg or knee warmers, to extend their usability. Though the elasticated leg grippers (they feature the Cafe logo in small silicone sections around the inside) are tight, I managed to get a fairly thick knee warmer underneath without issue.
Given their racing intentions, you might expect a racing fit, and that's definitely what you get. The fit is snug, but not overly so. It's just enough to offer a little compression to keep the blood flowing. I don't have huge quads, though (I tested a large), so bigger folk might want to try the Adèle thermal version which won't cling to your skin quite as much. The leg length is also very generous.
Each leg consists of two panels stitched together in only a couple of places to minimise the appearance of lines on the outer fabric. There's plenty of stretch in the outer material, giving you plenty of freedom of movement while riding. Unusually, given its price tag, the Ceciles feature overlock seams rather than flatlock seams. Overlock is usually avoided on bib shorts to minimise chafing, although I didn't notice anything unusual until I reversed the shorts, so for me it wasn't an issue.
The straps are also very comfortable on the shoulders, long enough for me and with plenty of stretch. I often find this an issue with bib shorts, so I was pleased that Cafe Du Cycliste has nailed the fit. Obviously, everyone differs in their body shape, but for me (long legs, shorter torso) it was perfect.
As well as being warm enough for the cooler months of the year, the Cecile bib shorts are good for use in low light thanks to a small strip of reflectivity on the back of each leg.
There's nothing reflective on the front, but the large block highlight Cafe Du Cycliste logo certainly catches your attention. Subtle it isn't (but I quite like it).
There's also a logo on the back of the bibs, and along the front of the straps, but given this is hidden by upper layers it doesn't really make any difference to the garment, other than looking quite cool when you're getting changed.
Elastic Interface pads are my favourites; I find them minimal enough to be unintrusive, with zero chafing, and also extremely comfortable. Though Cafe Du Cycliste doesn't specific the model of pad used, looking at the Elastic Interface site it appears to be a match for the 'Paris Men'.
This is a dual-density pad, with a multidirectional curvature and a smooth surface, which is said to increase saddle stability. The signature perforations at the front are meant to improve breathability too. It's certainly good enough for long distance work. I have very pronounced sit bones, and no natural padding to speak of, and I can happily ride all day long with this pad.
The Cecile bib shorts do a lot of things really well and they feel like a quality garment, though the lack of resistance to wind and water might limit how often you might use them. That makes the £265 price tag even harder to justify, though as I mentioned you can get them for a bit less with the 10% promotion (or perhaps a Black Friday or pre-Christmas deal).
Cheaper still are the GripGrab AquaRepel Water-Resistant Bib Shorts that Stu was impressed with. They have softshell panels that are waterproof and windproof, with a fleece face on the inside. They have an Elastic Interface pad (Liege HP), too, and cost £124.95.
If you're feeling flush and want some bib shorts for nicer days in autumn and spring, there's probably no better option out there. If you want more versatility, though – and for less money – I'd suggest looking elsewhere.
High-end thermal bib shorts for sunny training or race days, but that price...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cafe Du Cycliste Cecile Men's Thermal Bib Shorts
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
Cafe Du Cycliste says, "Cold-weather bib shorts for high tempo training and racing conditions. Engineered using a newly developed material with a brushed inner with excellent compression and multi-way stretch at the leg panels, Cecile are designed to provide a balance of insulation and breathability while going fast in cool temperatures."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Elastic Interface Paris Men pad
Blend of nylon, polyester and elastane
Made in Albania
High-quality garment, though overlock seams rather than flatlock.
They feel great on the bike.
Slight bobbling on some areas of the lining, but otherwise they still look fresh after several mucky rides and subsequent washes.
Good leg length, mild compression and comfortable straps. Might be too tight for some, though.
I normally wear a large, and these felt just right to me.
About right for this kind of bib short.
Very comfortable pad for long distances, and an overall high level of comfort.
High-end bib shorts, but very expensive compared with others. At this price you might expect some kind of wind or waterproofing (or magic fairy dust).
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues at 30 degrees.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good fit, decent level of warmth in the shoulder seasons, feel great against the skin with a comfortable pad.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
They immediately feel great to wear.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing bar the price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
About £100 more than Gore's Transition Bib Shorts and £150 more than GripGrab's AquaRepel Water-Resistant Bib Shorts. Both feature some protection against the elements, making them more versatile, and both feature an Elastic Interface pad.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
Top-end thermal bib shorts at a top-end price, but you might expect a little more versatility for your money.
About the tester
I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom build 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: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,