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Featuring breathable mesh panels, the Le Col Women's Pro Lightweight Bib Shorts work really well on the hottest days on the bike. They have an excellent fit and are very comfortable, though you do pay a bit of a premium for all this.
For more – and cheaper – options, check out our guide to the best cycling shorts.
Though designed for hot summer rides, the Pro Lightweight Bib Shorts also make an excellent choice for typical summer cycling in the UK. They were comfortable during the late summer heatwave when temperatures reached around 25°C, but were also suitable for temperatures around 18-20°C when worn with a standard cycling jersey.
The bib shorts come in five sizes from XS-XL and they feature a lower waist than other bib shorts I've worn. Despite having a long body, I found the waist high enough, covering my belly button.
I usually wear a size small in cycling kit, and that was the case here, based on Le Col's size guide. Like a lot of pro cycling clothing, the shorts fit snuggly, but I still found them very comfortable. They give a reasonable level of compression without feeling restrictive, and there's no loose material. They didn't chafe or pinch anywhere.
The shorts are made from lightweight fabrics and feature mesh panels on the side for enhanced cooling. These did a great job of wicking sweat away quickly so there was no uncomfortable build-up.
The leg ends are also mesh but feature silicone woven into the mesh. This sticks to your legs when you're trying to put them on, but once in place, they fit comfortably without being too tight and didn't ride up at all when I was pedalling.
One thing to note is that the legs are on the long side, finishing just above the knee, which you might like, but personally I prefer them a bit shorter.
The mesh is a little bit see-through, but they don't stretch so much that it compromises your privacy by becoming entirely see-through.
They come in two colour choices – black with a white bib section, as tested, or all black, top and bottom.
The pad is Le Col's Premium Pro Chamois which is said to provide dual-density comfort and shock absorption. It's quite a thick pad, which some might find a bit bulky, but I found it to be flexible and I really liked it. Chamois comfort is a very personal thing, though – there isn't a single seat pad that works best for everyone.
I used the shorts for rides of around three hours without giving them a second thought – they're very comfortable.
Up top, the mesh and elasticated bib straps sit comfortably in place. At the rear there’s a large mesh panel rather than two separate straps, but I didn’t find the additional material any warmer than a traditional design.
Many women's bib shorts, such as the Assos UMA GTV C2s, offer easy-pee designs to make mid-ride pit-stops easier for women. These Le Cols don't have this feature, which might bother you; personally, I don't consider it to be a problem.
At £180 these shorts are not cheap, but they are pitched against some of the highest quality shorts available – and still represent quite a saving against some.
The MAAP Women's Short Team Bib Evos, for example, which Suvi found to be great quality and good in hot weather, cost £225.
The Assos Women's UMA GTV C2s I mentioned above are also more expensive at £215, though they do have that easy-pee design feature.
You can get some comfy and stylish shorts for less, though. Stolen Goat's Women's Black Ibex Bodyline Bib Shorts cost £100 (and at the time of writing are just £60), and Emma found these to be just as well made as some upper-end shorts, and equally as comfortable.
Overall, these shorts are very comfortable and feature a great chamois. The combination of lightweight materials and breathable mesh side panels makes them a great choice for hot riding, although not everyone will get on with the leg length.
Light, comfortable and breathable, ideal for hot weather rides
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Women's Pro Lightweight Bib Shorts
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Le Col says: "The Women's Pro Lightweight Bib Shorts are all about building breathability into your ride, designed to help you go faster and further on the hottest days on the bike.
Soft and exceptionally lightweight fabrics deliver freedom of movement, while perforated mesh side panels allow for increased airflow and moisture wicking. The low-bulk, lightweight upper material further aids ventilation and works to keep you cool on hotter and humid rides.
Making use of elastic bib straps and a leg gripper that sees silicone woven into an open-mesh for greater airflow, the secure fit of the Pro Lightweight Bibs doesn't come with a performance or comfort penalty.
Stable in and out of the saddle, and resting on a Premium Pro Chamois for dual density comfort and shock absorption, these bib shorts deliver on the hottest days and on the roughest of mountain roads."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Le Col lists:
Developed and optimised for the hottest rides
High level compression
Mesh side panels on the leg for ventilation
Mesh bib straps increase airflow
Flat locked seams to minimise bulk
Lightweight silicone leg grippers for a precision fit
Made in Ita
Machine Wash at 30°C / 86°F
Well made from good materials.
Very comfortable for summer riding and wicked sweat away quickly.
No issues so far but the mesh side panels and leg grippers are likely to be less durable than standard bib shorts.
The bib shorts fit well, offering light compression without being restrictive, though the legs are on the long side.
The size guide was accurate and they fitted me as expected.
At 177g, these are light for bib shorts.
Very comfortable shorts and the chamois is great too.
Not cheap, particularly for the amount of wear we'd get out of them in the UK, but you can spend more.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Wash at 30°C like most cycling kit and dry quickly thanks to the lightweight fabric.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Designed for hot summer days, they proved to be breathable and sweat wicking at temperatures above 25°C but I found they were also suitable for any summer riding at temperatures from around 18-20°C.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
They were very comfortable with a great chamois, and lightweight and breathable on hot summer rides.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price and the length of the shorts.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They aren't cheap, but you can spend more: the Assos Women's UMA GTV Bib Shorts C2 are £215 and the MAAP Women's Short Team Bib Evos are £225.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, on sale.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall I'd say they're very good. They're extremely comfortable with their high-quality chamois, and the combination of lightweight fabrics and breathable mesh side panels makes them an excellent option for summer cycling. Nonetheless, they do come with a premium price, and the length won't suit all, being on the long side.
About the tester
I usually ride: specialised tarmac sl6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.
Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…