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The dhb Women's Bib Shorts are its entry-level option and are comfortable and supportive, with a decent quality finish, but the pad lacks the protection of pricier options, so it won't suit everyone.
dhb offers a wide range of bib shorts to suit a variety of pockets, from these £35 budget options up to its top-end £150 Aeron Lab Raceline 2.0s. These entry-level shorts sit in dhb's active range, aimed at the beginner cyclist or those who prefer a more relaxed fit.
While dhb is known for offering great value for money, there's no hiding the value aspect of these shorts at first look. They're shinier in appearance than pricier options (perhaps more swimming cozzie than bib short?) while the material hangs off the pad in a cheap-looking way. But bib shorts are made for wearing, and once on, they impress in a few ways.
First up, they're almost entirely constructed from a stretch fabric (82% polyester and 18% elastane) made by Italian fabric brand Miti, which instantly gives a supportive feel. I tested a size 10, which is my usual size, so I was surprised to find them a little on the roomy side. Checking the size guide, I'm more like a dhb 8 – so stick to the tape measure if you want a tighter fit.
The bib straps are nice and long, yet have plenty of stretch so feel secure. They're wide, too, and finished with a neat, robust-looking seam. The straps could do with sitting a little further to the side, though; some riders might find their position uncomfortable atop the chest.
The bib section sits quite high, giving decent coverage to the chest and back. While this feels snug and will look neat with any jersey, I found it a bit on the warm side for summer kit, heating up too quickly on test rides – and the material felt damp in only the first few miles in some cases. But while they won't keep you cool on summer climbs, they will keep you protected from the elements on fresher summer days.
The shorts themselves are a bit on the short side for my liking, though once pulled into position they sit mid-thigh and didn't budge on my rides. In action, the material wrinkles a little to the rear of the shorts around the pad when sat upright, and around the legs in general, but this would likely be less apparent if I sized down.
An issue with some cheaper shorts can be a semi-opaque view to the rear – we've all seen it and cringed – but this didn't seem to be the case here. The shinier fabric does give rise to serious VPL, though, but that won't be an issue if/when you ride without pants. The reflective logos on the thighs (and rear) offer a nice extra touch on an otherwise all-black aesthetic.
Each time I've pulled these bib shorts on, the leg seams peel outwards – probably thanks to a meaty hem and grippers applied to thinner material – but once fettled into place they sit flush to the thigh for the duration of wear. The leg openings are finished with a continuous silicone gripper that's really effective, although it did leave a nice imprint on my thigh to prove how well it works.
The chamois pad is Elastic Interface's Veloce, a product dhb has been using in its shorts for around seven years. It's one of EI's less-padded options – aimed at rides of up to three hours – but the lack of density was evident even on my shorter rides with a bit more pressure than I'm used to (in pricier shorts), especially when in a forward riding position. The pad is devoid of any cooling features and seemed to build up heat in only a short space of time. It also spectacularly failed my water test – spraying water on this and a few other pads – by displaying zero water-repelling properties and remaining damper for longer. On the plus side, it moves well with the body, offers some protection, and doesn't feel bulky when walking around.
There aren't many shorts on the market to compare the dhb Women's Bib Shorts to, given that 'cheaper' shorts these days can easily be around the 60 quid mark. The best comparison is possibly Decathlon's now-£34.99 Van Rysels, which arguably look fancier, but dhb wins on the pad – Decathlon's was firmly in nappy-smuggling territory.
After a few machine washes there was no sign of wear and tear, and those seams look built to last.
Overall, while these bib shorts won't win any prizes on ventilation or soft tissue protection, they still have a fair amount going for them at this price. They're marketed as an upgrade from 'your old sports kit', and for a basic, new pair of bib shorts, they could well do the trick.
Supportive, comfortable entry-level bib shorts with excellent grippers and a smart aesthetic, if you get on with the pad
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Womens Bib Shorts
Size tested: Size 10
Tell us what the product is for
dhb says: 'If your rides are getting longer and your old sports kit isn't doing the job, the Women's Bib Shorts are a great upgrade.
'For those riders who are seeking excellent performance and amazing value from their kit, the dhb Women's Bib Shorts could well be the perfect choice. Combining a high-quality Italian Miti stretch fabric for a supportive fit, with a CyTech Elastic Interface 'Veloce' chamois pad, you get a pair of shorts that will see you riding in comfort for two or three hours of fun. Whether it's for commuting, leisure riding or maybe dipping the toe in the water of sportives, these shorts have got you covered.
'The Elastic Interface Veloce pad is ideal for touring and leisure riding thanks to the way the foam padding is moulded to offer comfort and protection for up to 2-3 hours in the saddle. The pad's designed to prevent chafing and allow freedom of movement so you don't feel restricted whilst you're riding.
'Functional and comfortable, the dhb Women's Bib Shorts also feature silicone grippers in the leg hems, holding them in place to stop any risk of slipping or moving during your ride.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
-Italian Miti performance stretch fabric
-Elastic Interface 'Veloce' chamois (cycling pad)
-Reflective dhb logo on the thighs and the rear
Very good construction for budget shorts, with neatly stitched hems.
Perfect against the tape measure, less so against my usual size.
Good overall comfort; the pad lets them down for me but this is very individual.
They're cheaper than most, but that pad won't work for everyone.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For entry-level bib shorts they look good and feel nice on, but I can't help but wonder if they'd have put me off riding given the lack of saddle comfort when I was a newbie.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The overall feel, supportive and smart.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There aren't many women's bib shorts to compare at this price. They're the same price and compare similarly in performance to Decathlon's Van Rysel 900s.
Did you enjoy using the product? Fairly
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they can try them first. I'd recommend spending a bit more, though, for greater comfort and versatility.
Use this box to explain your overall score
For the low price, these bib shorts pack in a lot of pluses. While the pad was a let-down for me, it won't be an issue for all.
About the tester
I usually ride: My Scott Foil My best bike is: Oldie but the goldie, CAAD 8
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Triathlon, Audax