The FreFlow bibs from UK outfit Ride are well-made and pretty comfortable for medium-length rides.
Ride make their gear in Italy and they say that their focus is on producing a range of high performance garments that not only represent excellent value for money but also push the boundaries of what can be done technically. I wouldn't necessarily say that there was anything ground-breaking on a technical level with these bibs, but they're certainly decent value for money.
Ride's 2014 range of bibs is limited to this FreFlow model and a Tech model, which is priced at £60. The FreFlow bibs are competitively priced at £40 (currently available for £35 online) and are pretty well-designed for everyday use. The use of a good quality CyTech pad is welcome at this price point - Ride say the pad used is the Endurance model, although CyTech's range is vast and includes several pads called similarly. In any case, the pad is of variable thickness with cutouts where you most likely want cutouts, and I found it comfortable for rides of 3-4 hours. Just as importantly, the pad is in the right place, and the fabric used for the rest of the bibs does a good job at keeping it there.
The fabric that covers the inside of the pad has a pattern which gives the illusion of a textured surface, but the foam underneath is smooth. On the outer side of the pad you can feel some texture in the foam - presumably there are some perforations to help the sweat escape. I'm more used to seeing this sort of texture on the inside of pads from the likes of Castelli and even dhb; to be honest, I'm not really sure a texture is as effective on the outside, and I would say that breathability is ok rather than great here.
On the other hand, the upper parts and straps are made from a fine mesh, which is pretty breathable. I liked the straps a lot, actually, especially as they are a bit wider than those on most bibs shorts, so they sat more comfortably on my shoulders and didn't tend to bunch up. Generally the cut is simple but well thought-out - there aren't an abundance of panels but the fit worked for me.
The FreFlow bibs are pretty discreet - a simple combination of white uppers (good for not being too visible under a lightweight summer jersey) and black lowers, enlivened only by the white stitching detail on the front and the rear. The benefit of black bibs is that you can pretty much wear them with any jersey.
There are reflective "r" decals on the outside of the thighs, slightly towards the rear. Inside the leg openings is a silicone gripper strip, with the silicone repeated in the shape of the word "ride" around the hem. These worked ok, although more and more bibs shorts are moving towards a wider band instead of the narrow strip of silicone. In any case, I didn't find the legs riding up. A final welcome detail is that there is no scratchy label between your shoulder blades - the branding is via heat transfer here.
In summary, then, these bibs from Ride are a decent option for affordable lycra. I preferred them to similarly-priced options from Decathlon's brand B'twin and from Madison, and they are probably on a par with dhb's offerings in this price band. And that is no bad thing.
Great value bibs with a reasonable pad and nice comfy straps - recommended.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Ride FreFlow Bibshorts
Size tested: Medium
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?
At RIDE we work tirelessly to develop clothing which incorporates unique features, contempeory designs, cutting edge materials and innovative ideas Each garment has been tried and tested by ourselves on the streets, trails and open roads of the UK and beyond.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
-Custom Silicone Gripper
-Memory Fabric Retains Fit
-CYTECH Endurance Pad
Good quality pad, comfortable fabric and a Cytech pad. Hard to fault at this price. Silicone grippers are nothing special but did their job.
Good for medium length riding - they saw a lot of use in warm commuting and did just fine.
No issues during the test period.
I had no particular issues in rides of 3-4 hours or so. The pad is well positioned and sufficiently padded for middle distance riding, if not as breathable as some.
You can get a pair of these bibs for £35 at the moment. That is about as good value as can be found anywhere - really impressive.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Decent everyday bibs that seem like they'll last well. I have other (rather more expensive) bibs that I'd reach for first if I was going on an all-dayer, but these are just fine for short to medium rides and commuting.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pad's not bad, but I think the wide mesh straps were the bit that I liked the best.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd have liked the legs a little longer. I could go up a size, but otherwise the fit suited me well.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,