If you fancy a little bit of Italian flair without the associated price tag Northwave's Sonic collection could be just what you are after. As part of the Sport range they are aimed at the middle of the market in both price and performance yet still manage to look the business.
The main shorts are manufactured from Response fabric which Northwave describe as a bi-elastic material that is soft to the touch. It's got plenty of stretch in it so moves well with the body as you pedal and shift in the saddle although it does lack some of the second skin snug feel you get with more expensive shorts.
Being part of the Sport range, which is aimed at the more recreational rider, the cut is relaxed especially round the waist, these aren't as contoured as a pair of race shorts. The straps are plenty long enough for them to be comfortable when walking off the bike too. Size wise Northwaves do always come in a good size bigger than most European clothing, basically if you take a large in DHB or Altura say, you'll be a large in Northwave stuff.
The SRM-13 pad is made from an antibacterial foam with the raised padded sections at 11mm thick. There are some channels to aid perineal relief and on the whole it's pretty comfortable. Its thin size means you don't get any bunching of the pad and although Northwave state a ride time of one to three hours I didn't find an issue with going longer.
There is a whole range of Sonic kit with long sleeve and short sleeve jerseys, gilets and so on, so you can get some decent colour coordination going on. These bibshorts come in plain black or black with fluoro orange, fluoro green, red or white highlights though the strap mesh is white on all models. The 4XL size will fit up to a 42in waist so finding a pair to fit shouldn't be a problem.
Overall the Sonic bibshorts are really good all rounders and the £60 asking price is bang on for the quality of construction and fit. The pad isn't as comfortable as some of the multi density ones available but it does a good job taking the shock out of the roads and I didn't suffer from any chafing or rubbing over the test period. Northwave have really upped their game on the styling front over the last couple of seasons and the Sonic range does look smart, especially in the white coloured stuff we've tested.
Performance and quality on par with the price tag bolstered by Italian styling.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Sonic Bibshorts
Size tested: Medium, Black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Sonics are from Northwave's Sport range for the recreational rider. The cut is a little more relaxed and you get a pretty basic pad but they do perform well and are both comfortable and well built.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
MAIN FABRIC: Response
REFLEX INSERTS: Reflective logo on back + reflective flags
SIZES: Small - 4XL
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They work well at the mid level performance that they are designed for.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The pad isn't as comfortable as variable density options.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No, but purely because I prefer a closer fit.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 35 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Whatever needs testing or Genesis Flyer, fixed of course! My best bike is: Kinesis T2 with full Centaur Red
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.