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.
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.
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.
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
Newly improved Total Comfort seat pad
Mesh insert at lower back
Made in Italy
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.
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.