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Verdict: 
Great fit and comfort, but you can buy much better aero gains than this for your money
Weight: 
243g
POC Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts
6 10

Okay, so I'm pretty conflicted about the POC Contour Aerofoil bibs. On the one hand, they're a super-comfortable and beautifully made pair of shorts. On the other, the price is predicated on aero capabilities that are marginal at best, and I'm not convinced they offer any meaningful benefit against the clock.

Let's go over the good stuff first. The good stuff is mostly everything about the shorts in terms of construction, fit and on-the-bike comfort.

> Find your nearest dealer here

The Aerofoils are constructed from a warp-knitted Coolmax/elastane mix, with more elastane in the bibs for a bit of extra stretch to accommodate different torso lengths.

Poc Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts - straps

Poc Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts - straps

The leg grippers are a silicone filament that's woven into the leg cuffs; it's very nicely done and holds the shorts nicely, as well as gripping leg warmers effectively.

Poc Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts - cuff

Poc Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts - cuff

Looks-wise you'll take or leave the big POC logo depending on your tastes; I don't mind it. I do like the reflective panel on the rear, and the fabric itself has a nice finish that looks good too. Fit-wise they're on the large side of average but not excessively so, with an L fitting me fine; I'm normally an L or an XL depending on the brand.

Poc Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts - back

Poc Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts - back

The Contour pad is a 3D, seamless, multi-layer chamois with vibration-reducing silicone inserts under your sit bones. It feels fairly dense and it's not particularly thick, but I've found it really comfortable on both long and short rides, and the inserts do seem to do a good job of getting rid of road chatter through your backbone. It's well positioned and nicely made, among my favourites.

Poc Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts - pad

Poc Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts - pad

In fact the shorts are among my favourites to drag out of the drawer for general riding. There's very little about the fit and the comfort that I don't like. They've been through the wash a good number of times with no issues at all, and the material on the seat where it meets the saddle is wearing very well. The fabric isn't the most hardy when it comes to getting snagged, though, and I managed to rip the shorts catching them on the saddle, which necessitated digging the sewing kit out for a repair.

Poc Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts - riding

Poc Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts - riding

So they're lovely comfy shorts, for long rides or short. You can have the same pad in POC's Raceday shorts that are £80 less, so what's the draw here? Well, POC claims that the dimpled fabric on the legs offers an aero advantage over a normal pair of shorts. And that, I would suggest, is, well, optimistic.

I've asked POC if there are any numbers to back that claim up. In fact I've asked several times. But I haven't had any, and so I'm going to assume that there isn't any wind tunnel data knocking about to verify the aero claim. Should some appear, I'll make sure I append it here.

Could the dimpled surface make a difference? It's not inconceivable – we know golf balls use a similar methodology and various bikes and frames use trip profiles to create turbulent airflow. And we also know that, taken as a whole, the rider accounts for about 80 per cent of the drag of the bike-and-rider combo, so making gains on the airflow round your body is meaningful.

> Three things I learned in the wind tunnel

On the other hand, we're talking about a small band of fabric between your thigh and your crotch that spends half its time pointing directly into the wind, when your knee is bent. If you're going to make a bit of your body aero, it's low on the list for sure. And you're paying an £80 premium for that, on top of the fact that other POC shorts are already very expensive. These aren't the most expensive shorts you can buy, but they're not far off.

Assuming you want aero gains, let's look at what else you could buy for your £280. You could get a Rapha Aerosuit, some Castelli Aero Speed gloves and some Velotoze shoe covers. Or you could go for a Castelli Velocissimo Sanremo speedsuit and a Bontrager Ballista helmet. I'm confident that spending your money in either of those two ways would result in a vastly increased aero advantage over just changing your shorts.

Bottom line? If you've got plenty of money to throw at your next pair of shorts and you want something that's well made, comfortable and good looking, the POC Contour Aerofoil shorts are worth a look. If you've got £280 to spend on making yourself more aero, then this isn't the best way to spend it. You can do better. Ironically, I think I'd be inclined to score these shorts more highly if they'd made no aero claims at all. Okay they're expensive, but they're very, very comfortable and some people have plenty of money to spend. As it is, I can't help but mark them down for saying a thing and then not really backing it up.

Verdict

Great fit and comfort, but you can buy much better aero gains than this for your money

road.cc test report

Make and model: POC Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts

Size tested: Large, Navy 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?

POC says: "Designed and engineered for maximum performance and comfort, POC's Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts are made from POC's Aerofoil fabric and incorporate the Contour chamois.

The breathable Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts have seamless and integrated leg gripper with a dimpled outer surface to reduce drag, which provides an aerodynamic and comfortable fit. The ergonomic design allows for maximum freedom of movement and the compact structure of the fabric supports your muscles, which helps circulation and recovery.

POC Contour is a 3D shaped and seamless chamois designed for maximum support and comfort. The 3D molded silicone based VPDS inserts are strategically tapered and shaped to reduce vibrations and optimize your position on the bike, while allowing for optimal airflow.

Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts have a pocket in the rear mesh and a reflective print on back for improved visibility."

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

Contour chamois with 3D molded silicone based VPDS inserts.

Dimpled surface for low drag.

Seamless and integrated leg grippers for a secure and comfortable fit.

Ergonomic design for comfort and freedom of movement.

Warp knitted stretch fabric with compression properties.

Highly breathable mesh bibs.

Reflective print on back for improved visibility.

Pocket in the rear mesh.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

They're beautifully made, for sure.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

If it was just on comfort on the bike, they'd score higher. But the aero claims mark them down.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

The fabric is super-comfy but it's not the strongest out there. I managed to rip the shorts snagging them on the saddle. Wearing well otherwise.

Rate the product for fit:
 
10/10

Couldn't be better.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
8/10

I'm wearing an L, and I'm normally either L or XL in shorts.

Rate the product for weight:
 
8/10

Just about right.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
10/10

Pretty much the comfiest bibs I've tried.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

Super-high-end price tag is predicated on the aero-ness, and I'm not convinced they deliver a meaningful benefit there.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Washed many times, good as new.

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

Judged on purely performance on the bike, extremely well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Fit, comfort.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Price, aero claims.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? No, not at RRP.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? No

Use this box to explain your score

They're excellent shorts, but the aero claims seem pretty spurious and for that reason they don't really live up to the price. Ironically, if they'd made no aero claims at all about the shorts they'd probably get a higher score.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 189cm  Weight: 92kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

18 comments

Avatar
bendertherobot [1520 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Really interesting area with all sorts of claims being made by, well, just about everyone. Rapha's claims of the Aero bibshort were interesting, though I can't find the reference on their site now to "taking what we learnt from the testing of our aerosuit."

I have to say that the lack of data on aero bibs is very telling. We know, I think, that golf balls do benefit. But do shorts? Do they benefit enough? If, combined with the other stuff, how marginal are those gains? 

And, finally, assuming they fit well, aren't most shorts pretty aero? (Have to say as well that that ridging at the front doesn't really scream aero)

Avatar
dave atkinson [6371 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

bendertherobot wrote:

assuming they fit well, aren't most shorts pretty aero? 

 

certainly i'd say there's less to be gained in the shorts area: the fabric is all completely form-fitting, there are no zips, and there are no pockets. aero-ing up a jersey makes a lot more sense to me.

Avatar
bendertherobot [1520 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
dave atkinson wrote:
bendertherobot wrote:

assuming they fit well, aren't most shorts pretty aero? 

 

certainly i'd say there's less to be gained in the shorts area: the fabric is all completely form-fitting, there are no zips, and there are no pockets. aero-ing up a jersey makes a lot more sense to me.

 

Thanks Dave, I'd agree with that. Indeed, I'd struggle to see how my old tech Assos Mille S5 wouldn't be as aero as these POC. 

Avatar
Bobbinogs [269 posts] 2 years ago
2 likes

Didn't Dr Hutch cover off the dimples effect in his last book in which (to the best of my knowledge) he debunked it all by stating that the dimples make a difference on a rotating surface as they help to break the smooth airflow, which is the problem for golf balls? With legs pumping up and down generating all kinds of complex air patterns, I would have thought proving the benefits of dimples on your shorts would be very difficult, hence the lack of science to back the claims up.

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RoboRider21 [29 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Im personally more interested in comfort than speed from bib shorts so I wont be investing £280 of my hard earned in these..

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fukawitribe [2385 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Using a roughened surface to redue skin drag works at any orientation - however i'd rather doubt you'd be able to detect much of a difference from the bottom half of a pair of bib-shorts however, even if they did have their textures and deformations just right.

Avatar
dave atkinson [6371 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

RoboRider21 wrote:

Im personally more interested in comfort than speed from bib shorts so I wont be investing £280 of my hard earned in these..

they're supremely comfy, among the best.

Avatar
notfastenough [3729 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Listen, I like my Rapha and Castelli, I admit it.  £280 shorts though, is officially crackers.

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Duncann [1320 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

If you've £280 to spend on shorts and you're not on the cusp of winning major titles (in which case you'd probably be getting such stuff thrown at you for free anyway) give a big chunk of it to charity.

Apart from your money going to a far better cause, the psychological benefits of being a bit less selfish will probably translate into more of a difference to your cycling than the damned shorts anyway.

Avatar
Bobbinogs [269 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

OK, from some science paper:

"Dimples on a golf ball create a thin turbulent boundary layer of air that clings to the ball's surface. This allows the smoothly flowing air to follow the ball's surface a little farther around the back side of the ball, thereby decreasing the size of the wake. A dimpled ball thus has about half the drag of a smooth ball."

Can't see how a pair of shorts worn by a cyclist, with legs flapping up and down at various angles are going to have the same benefit with dimples applied?? Perhaps POC can enlighten me??

 

For those interested:

"Dimples also affect lift. A smooth ball with backspin creates lift by warping the airflow such that the ball acts like an airplane's wing. The spinning action makes the air pressure on the bottom of the ball higher than the air pressure on the top; this imbalance creates an upward force on the ball. Ball spin contributes about one half of a golf ball's lift. The other half is provided by the dimples, which allow for optimization of the lift force."

Avatar
fukawitribe [2385 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

The effect really isn't restricted to golf balls, honestly. Google 'rough surface skin drag reduction', 'dimple surface skin drag' - maybe add in 'Reynolds number' - and similar and have a look, e.g. 'A Study Of Shark Skin And Its Drag Reducing Mechanism' by Friedmann, Portl and Richter - there are millions of the buggers though.

Theoretically drag reduction will happen both as the leg goes up and down, and as air passes over it due to the forward travel even when you're not pedalling (e.g. on a descent) - but i'm sceptical that it amounts to much with half a leg of bib-shorts. However the mechanism is quite general.

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Podc [97 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Reckon my arse must be pretty aero then 

Avatar
bendertherobot [1520 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
fukawitribe wrote:

The effect really isn't restricted to golf balls, honestly. Google 'rough surface skin drag reduction', 'dimple surface skin drag' - maybe add in 'Reynolds number' - and similar and have a look, e.g. 'A Study Of Shark Skin And Its Drag Reducing Mechanism' by Friedmann, Portl and Richter - there are millions of the buggers though. Theoretically drag reduction will happen both as the leg goes up and down, and as air passes over it due to the forward travel even when you're not pedalling (e.g. on a descent) - but i'm sceptical that it amounts to much with half a leg of bib-shorts. However the mechanism is quite general.

It's certainly interesting. But I wonder what the twice as long smooth surface between the bib and ankle does to mitigate any positive effect?

Avatar
fukawitribe [2385 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes
bendertherobot wrote:

It's certainly interesting. But I wonder what the twice as long smooth surface between the bib and ankle does to mitigate any positive effect?

Well those bits are going to have the same drag regardless of the shorts, so the "benefit" would still be an improvement I guess... if it existed.. and were large enough that we could reliably measure it, which i'm highly doubtful of... but hey, I don't shave my legs so they be doubly screwed with me anyway  1

Avatar
bendertherobot [1520 posts] 2 years ago
3 likes
fukawitribe wrote:
bendertherobot wrote:

It's certainly interesting. But I wonder what the twice as long smooth surface between the bib and ankle does to mitigate any positive effect?

Well those bits are going to have the same drag regardless of the shorts, so the "benefit" would still be an improvement I guess... if it existed.. and were large enough that we could reliably measure it, which i'm highly doubtful of... but hey, I don't shave my legs so they be doubly screwed with me anyway  1

The answer, quite clearly, is a onesie in this material. 

Avatar
fukawitribe [2385 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

That, Sir, is clearly a genius suggestion.

Avatar
mylesrants [404 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

watts,

whats watts when watts wain

£280 down the drain.

 

 

here all week

 

Avatar
Dr_Lex [469 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

^^
As haiku, maybe?
What's Watts, when Watts wain?
Two hundred and eighty quid
Down the chuffing drain.

Next up: Shaved legs - One day's stubble better than Immac-smooth?