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Cycling shorts: what your money gets you

Cycling Blog

Cycling shorts: what your money gets you

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July 18th, 2016

With most cycling purchases it can be hard to distinguish whether you’re paying for genuine quality (like when you buy a Ride25 holiday 😉 ), or whether you’re paying for a brand name (no names mentioned!).

Often the reality is somewhere in the middle, but there are certain products that really reward the cyclist who’s prepared to chuck a few extra quid at their purchase.

One of these items is cycling shorts and, if you’re a discerning cyclist, we have some recommendations for you.

ASSOS T Cento S7 Bib Shorts

A solid investment

If this is your first time seeing the brand name, it’s not a typo – ASSOS is the cycling brand; ASOS sell trendy garments that young people like to wear.

ASSOS cycling shorts (and their price tag) are designed with top level cyclists in mind: people who want optimum comfort while riding and who are happy to pay for the privilege.

According to the product photos on Sigma Sport, they also make you look like a cycling Terminator:


At just shy of £200 (£199.49 at time of writing) you want to know you’re getting your money’s worth. ASSOS’ features list delivers on this side of things:

  • ‘Armchair comfort’ (not an exageration!)
  • Light, breathable, stretchy
  • iceColor treatment, reducing heat build up, reflecting sun beams
  • abrasionProtec comfort, reducing chafing
  • odourControl for a more hygienic garment
  • Y-Shaped bibTech keeps supreme fit in place
  • KuKuPenthouse section to keep lower regions protected and comfortable

If you’re wondering what a KuKuPenthouse is, ASSOS’ website says it best: “a “nest” into which the male’s genitals are properly “stored” [which] also keeps them “cooler””

We spoke to a couple of riders on the recent Rome to Bari Pioneers tour about their experience with the shorts. The praise speaks for itself:

These shorts are so much more comfortable than the ones I had before. I never felt particularly ‘uncomfortable’ when riding in other shorts, but I won’t be able to go back to them after feeling what the ASSOS bib shorts can offer.

Just fantastic – definitely recommended.

Bontrager Ballista Bib Shorts

Still a strong contender, although it didn’t win a jersey

These shorts are a little less pricey at around £140, depending on the store you buy from. They come recommended by a couple of our riders, so we think they deserve #2 spot in our list.

Among their features is a Nimbus inForm BioDynamix chamois which, as the name very loosely implies, is comfortable padding for the parts of you that particularly need padding.

Another feature that receive praise is the radio pocket on the back, whose existence sums up nicely: “okay, so not a lot of us need to speak to our following team car, but it’s the perfect size for an mp3 player”.

A criticism of the shorts is that their jazzy colours make it hard to match them with any jerseys except the ones from the same range. We can see what they mean:

Bontrager BallistaFrom Cycling Weekly

dhb Professional ASV Roubaix Bibshort

They’ll do nicely

These shorts ring in at under £100 – the first pair in this list to do so. At the lower end of the price range you’ll begin to notice your shorts getting slightly less comfortable, but by no means will they be unpleasant to ride in.

We’ve picked this pair in particular as our mid-range shorts because they were founded in lovely Hampshire, and we want to give a shout out to some UK brands! (ASSOS and Bontrager are from Switzerland and the US respectively).

This specific pair are also designed to favour riding in late autumn, and use thermal brushed fleece fabrics to keep you insulated (but not overheating) when riding in these months.

The chamois is well designed too – it feautres Air-Flow perforations and an Endurance seatpad to keep you comfortable and relieve the pressure associated with long rides.

A universally black colour scheme gets rid of any clashing issues, too.

Roubaix shorts

Sports Direct shorts

‘Entry level’ is generous: make sure to learn how to pronounce ‘chamois cream’

If at the last minute you realise you’ve inexplicably forgotten to buy shorts, nip to your nearest high street and pick up a pair of these (and for your groin’s sake, a couple of tubes of this).

The phrase “cheap and cheerful” partially sums up these shorts – we can’t guarantee you’ll feel cheerful! Although sometimes you’ll find a good deal. At the time of writing this they have several pairs that are over 50% off.

They’re not the best, but they’ll do. And hopefully they won’t rub too much.

If you’re forced to wear a pair of these it’s best to remember that the only way is up when choosing your next pair!

Shorts Direct

Sports Direct’s selection

The Imposters

Rock up in these and you’ll draw all sorts of attention

Baggy, no padding, and audaciously coloured in an undefinable mix of red, salmon and pink. These shorts made an appearance on one of our rides and were controversial, to say the least.

Cargo shorts

We definitely recommend wearing something padded when coming on a Ride25 trip, and, if you aren’t going to be saddled* with debt when you decide to buy, the ASSOS bib shorts will serve you well 😉

*Excuse the pun… we couldn’t resist.

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