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Verdict: 
Extremely comfortable shorts for long rides but rather a high price
Weight: 
175g
Sportful Super Total Comfort Bib Shorts
8 10

Brand new for 2015, the Sportful Super Total Comfort Bib Shorts live up to their name and offer stupendous comfort for the longest rides, with a generously padded insert and a fabric that is light and breathable. A nice amount of compression also provides good muscle support.

The shorts are constructed from Sportful's Dry Pro-Lite Fabric. Rather than a knit fabric Sportful use a dimpled 43% Lycra stretch woven fabric, which they claim is lighter, offers better muscle support and moisture management.

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It's certainly a light and thin fabric and also offer a high degree of compression. Whether that makes you faster or not is another matter, but they do feel very supportive and comfortable. The various panels are well shaped and the cut is good, with no restriction of movement when pedalling. During hot rides the fabric does certainly appear to cope with a high quantity of sweat.

The most important part of any bib short is the padded insert, and here Sportful stick with the same Total Comfort chamois used in the previous Total Comfort shorts. That's a good thing: it's one of the most comfortable inserts on the market. A continuously variable urethane foam with four different densities, up to 18mm at its thickest, provides ample comfort for any ride distance, from short blasts to your biggest epics. And it manages that comfort without you feeling like you're wearing a nappy.

Wide bib straps distribute pressure evenly across the top of the shoulders and there's enough stretch in the straps that they don't pull down on your shoulders excessively. The straps are full of ventilating holes and the back of the shorts is filled in with a mesh panel to keep you cool. It's quite a coarse fabric, though, and feels a bit rough when worn right next to the skin, so you're best to wear a base layer.

Sportful use what they call 'Press-to-Zero' leg openings, which follow the current trend for a wide, elasticated hem. There's a band of silicone dots as well to stop the shorts riding up. Comfort around the legs is excellent and there's no irritation when pedalling.

The shorts are held together with flatlock stitching throughout, and durability has been excellent. These are shorts built to not only go the distance, but last a long time too. There are few graphics to peel off, so they should still look good in years to come. The simple black finish with understated graphics means they go well with any jersey too.

There's no shortage of choice if you've got £160 to spend on a pair of bib shorts, and these are definitely up there with the best. We've become used to Sportful offering really well designed products at really good prices, but these are quite a bit more expensive than other bib shorts of theirs we've tested in the past, approaching Castelli and Rapha levels.

They are definitely more comfortable than Sportful's cheaper offerings, though, and for the most demanding and longest rides that comfort is appreciated, but taking the price into matters might be tricky to justify. It's worth shopping around as I've seen them for a good deal less, at which point the price is a bit easier to stomach.

Verdict

Extremely comfortable shorts for long rides but rather a high price

road.cc test report

Make and model: Sportful Super Total Comfort Bib Shorts

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?

Sportful say: 'New for 2015 we take comfort up a notch. Our Total Comfort Bibshort has been a runaway success, but we wanted to make an even more comfortable short. It starts with our 29% Lycra® stretch woven fabric. By using a woven rather than knit fabric we can provide increased muscle support and better moisture management. The fabric is thin, but it actually provides better coverage and weighs 30% less than a comparable knit fabric.

'The Total Comfort seat pad stays the same, but we round it out with updated flat bib straps, a new silicone dot flat leg gripper fabric, and flat-lock stitching throughout.'

Total Comfort Seat Pad

Sportful's most padded seat pad ever uses continuously variable closed cell urethane foam padding with up to 18mm thickness. Every detail has been created to increase comfort, eliminate chafing, and keep it dry. For any cyclist who needs maximum padding, this is the seat pad.

Anatomic fit

Multi density foam – 4 differing densities strategically placed to maximise comfort

Press-to-Zero finished edge elimnates chafing

Dimpled surface for comfort and wicking

Closed cell urethane foam

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

2 to 1 flat woven bib straps

Integrated radio or cell phone pocket

Stretch woven fabric throughout

Silicone dot pattern flat leg gripper

Flat-lock stitching

Newly improved Total Comfort seat pad

Mesh insert at lower back

Made in Italy

Weight 168g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Extremely comfortable insert and shorts with a good fit.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The generously padded insert.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The bib straps can irritate the skin if worn without a base layer.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

Really comfortable padded bib shorts ideal for cyclists wanting the most comfort, whether for short or long rides. The price puts them squarely against Castelli and Rapha.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67

I usually ride:   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, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

 

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

7 comments

Avatar
stevie63 [74 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

As per quote:
"The most important part of any bib short is the padded insert"
So how come hardly any of your reviews feature a photo of the insert.

Avatar
Barry Fry-up [187 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
stevie63 wrote:

As per quote:
"The most important part of any bib short is the padded insert"
So how come hardly any of your reviews feature a photo of the insert.

because its job isn't to look pretty?

Avatar
Matt_S [291 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I bought a pair of these last week for £100 as Wiggle matched the BikeInn price. Sadly I returned them as they're very short in the leg compared to other Sportful bibs, and quite snug fitting (relatively given the same size).

Avatar
Matt_S [291 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Is that the R&D Ultralight Jersey in the pics?  26

Is there a review pending for it?

Avatar
stevie63 [74 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Barry Fry-up wrote:
stevie63 wrote:

As per quote:
"The most important part of any bib short is the padded insert"
So how come hardly any of your reviews feature a photo of the insert.

because its job isn't to look pretty?

No But without seeing what it looks like, I would have no idea if it is suitable for my butt. For example if it is all lumpy and bumpy like the DHB Aeron Pro then that would be a no no, but if it is the Flatter simpler shape of the Rapha pad then that might make it suitable. I just don't understand why reviews don't show a photo. It would be like reviewing and describing the comfort of a saddle but not bothering to have a picture.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1297 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
stevie63 wrote:

I just don't understand why reviews don't show a photo. It would be like reviewing and describing the comfort of a saddle but not bothering to have a picture.

I would argue these are totally different things: For many, saddles are as much about aesthetics as they are about comfort. No, the two are not in any way related, but the look could cancel out the comfort and vice-versa.

No such issue with the pad. And having tested a fair selection, I can confidently say there's SFA correlation between how they look and how they feel after a hundred miles.

What you *can* see is if it looks like a nappy on the model.

Avatar
sethpistol [87 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
Matt_S wrote:

Is that the R&D Ultralight Jersey in the pics?  26

Is there a review pending for it?

Yep - here it is! http://road.cc/content/review/155914-sportful-rd-ultralight-jersey