The Le Col Women's Pro Seamless Cycling Bra has a stretchy build that delivers excellently on breathability thanks to its mesh panel back. With removable padded inserts, it is also a versatile option, but you may well need to size up for fit because of the tight shoulder straps, and that could result in less chest support.
Made in Italy from a 95% polyamide and 5% elastane blend, this sports bra has an impressive stretch to it that snaps back for a supportive feel.
The front has two layers of material, in order to house two removable cups. This design gives you flexibility in having the extra padded support with no need to worry about your nipples showing through, while also giving the option to remove them for added breathability when you crank up the pedals and heat.
In the wash these pads do distort, bend and fold inside the bra as they move about a lot, so it's better to remove them beforehand so they don't permanently adapt to a new shape. That said, it is a little tricky to get the pads back in and repositioned so they sit nicely back in place, particularly as the entry hole is quite small compared to the size and shape of the pads.
The back mesh section is lighter and made from a single knit for ventilation – it's a welcome choice, even though it's not as soft as the front, as it keeps your back cooler and sweat-free.
Size-wise, I'm a 32C in standard bras and a size small in Café du Cycliste's similar style Rosalie bra (but without padded cups), so I initially opted for a S/M in Le Col's offering – four sizes are available, with XS at one end, followed by S/M, L/XL and XXL rounding it out up top.
Although the bra holds the chest comfortably and isn't restrictive, I found the fit of the rest of the sports bra was too tight. The shoulder straps are designed to curve in so that they don't slip off your shoulders, but they were cut too narrow around the tops of my shoulders and into my neck, leaving significant red imprints.
Interested in finding out if it was the cut or the fit that was troubling me, I tried out the next size up, the L/XL. I'm not usually a large in anything, so for this size to fit around my shoulders perfectly and not overwhelm my boobs was surprising. While this larger size was ideal in its fit around my shoulders, with the lower band gripping tightly to my ribs, there was lots of stretch in the material left around my chest. Riding-wise, this balance meant the bra was comfy up top to wear for long rides, but less supportive around my chest on more aggressive efforts and on rough terrain. I'd say these bras do size up slightly small, but also the cut might not suit you.
It has a largely seam-free construction, apart from some excess material round the back where the mesh panel joins the lower band. There's no elastic within the lower band, which I much prefer, as it results in a comfy fit that doesn't run the risk of pinching.
Wash and care information is printed into the inside of the lower band at the back, so there's no irritation from labels.
The finish, available in a pure white alongside the black version I tested, is simple and smart.
Price-wise, £60 is expensive for a sports bra. Café du Cycliste's Rosalie option which delivers on seam-free comfort is cheaper at £43, but it doesn't have the same level of breathability on the back. I've also tried Oakley's Ellipse Racerback sports bra, which is even cheaper at £35, and this is lightweight as well as very breathable, although I didn't get on with its wide lower band.
Overall, Le Col's performance sports bra really impressed with its stretchy, breathable build and versatility with pads that can be removed. But for me, the cut didn't really suit – either it was too tight around the tops of my shoulders or, after sizing up, the support around the chest wasn't suitable for out-the-saddle efforts and off-road riding. For the high price tag of £60, which is considerably more expensive than other performance bras, the fit would need to be spot on and I couldn't find that. Maybe it's my specific shape, but I've not had such a problem with other sports bras.
Very breathable performance bra with removable pads, but check the sizing and fit
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Women's Pro Seamless Cycling Bra
Size tested: S/M
Tell us what the product is for
Le Col says: 'The Le Col Pro Seamless cycling bra is constructed from a single knit, lighter on the back for better ventilation, while offering support and full coverage in the front.
'Featuring removable cups that provide light padding, this a bra designed to go the distance and keep you comfortable in a riding position."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Le Col lists:
High level of stretch
Designed to vastly reduce irritation on your ride
Perforated materials on the back and straps allow air flow
Front remains 100% opaque for use with lightweight jerseys
Removable cups for personalised level of support and coverage level you prefer
Made in Italy.
A bit tight on me around the neck and shoulders.
Sizes up small, and there aren't many more larger sizes available to cater for all women.
Lighter when cups are removed.
Once I'd sized up, mostly very comfy for endurance road rides. The material used for the front and lower band is very soft against the skin, but the mesh back is a little scratchy.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The removable cups do move about a lot in the wash and distort. Best to remove beforehand. Other than that, all good washing at the recommended 30°C.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Provided excellent breathability and support for endurance rides, but I couldn't quite get an ideal fit: either the shoulder straps dug in or, after sizing up, the chest compression was lacking for more vigorous efforts and off-road riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Breathable mesh back and removable cups for versatility.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Narrow shoulder straps and scratchy mesh back. And the price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Very expensive, even compared to other premium brands such as Cafe du Cycliste.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, once I'd sized up.
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe, and if discounted.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but would recommend sizing up.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The materials used are durable and the design is well thought out, especially with the breathable mesh back and removable cups. You'll need to check the fit – I found the cut too narrow around the shoulders – and you might need to size up, plus the price is also steep.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Gravel riding, indoor turbo and rollers, track
Anna has been hooked on bikes ever since her youthful beginnings at Hillingdon Cycle Circuit. As an avid road and track racer, she reached the heady heights of a ProCyclingStats profile before leaving for university. Having now completed an MA in Multimedia Journalism, she’s hoping to add some (more successful) results. Although her greatest wish is for the broader acceptance of wearing funky cycling socks over the top of leg warmers.