The Summer Bib Shorts from Italian brand La Passione appear relatively simple at first glance – with a relatively low panel count and a chamois that initially looks like nothing particularly fancy. However, they really surprised me – offering hours of comfort and a great fit. With La P's direct sales policy, they are pretty keenly priced too.
If you're prone to searching for bike-related things on the internet, and as you're reading this then I'm going to take a guess and say that you are, then there's a pretty good chance you'll have seen adverts for La Passione on places like Facebook – that's how I first became aware of it. Its products aren't available in stores and this allows it to offer quality Italian-made apparel at keen prices. There's some crap advertised on Facebook, let's be honest, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I got these bibs and the matching Summer Jersey (review to follow).
These are a medium, and I tend to be either a medium or a large in bib shorts. When I first put them on, they felt like quite a snug fit around my thighs, but with a good length. I'm 6ft 2in and I prefer bib shorts to come down close to my knee, and these did just that. The elastic grippers were perhaps slightly tighter than I'd want, but in use I didn't find any issue with comfort.
As you can see in the pictures, the grippers do give a bit of a sausage-leg effect – that's not me in the pictures, but it was similar when I wore them. There are small silicone dots inside the leg openings, but I suspect it's the tightness as much as the silicone that keeps them locked in position. In recent years, bib shorts are tending to use wider bands of lighter stretch fabrics, which spreads the compression better than here.
The general construction is of very good quality, using Italian fabrics and a chamois from market leader Elastic Interface (aka Cytech). Stitching is neat and flatlocked around the legs. The pad is pretty different from others that I've tried from Cytech – the first impression is that it is quite big, extending further out around the saddle than most. It seems of relatively simple design too, with constant thickness across and just a central cutout.
Looking at or even squeezing a chamois knowingly between finger and thumb is no real guide to how they'll fare out on a ride, and this was strikingly the case here. I really got on well with this chamois, finding it flawlessly comfortable for all-day rides. For me, at any rate, I'd say this is as comfortable as those in bib shorts I have that cost twice the price of these. You can see the chamois on La Passione's website.
The bibs are well designed too – wide enough to spread nicely across the shoulders and with enough stretch to fit a range of body shapes. At the rear is a 'radio pocket' for all you wannabe pros out there. I've been rude about these in the past, as anyone pro enough to be given a team radio will also be given team bibs, but my view has softened a little now and I've been known to bung a spare inner tube in there from time to time.
Other details are neat and well designed – I like the little Italian flag tag at the rear, and I'm always happy to see well-positioned reflectives, especially if – as here – they are sewn in and so won't peel off a few months down the line.
La Passione's initial modus operandi is to offer a relatively small number of distinct garments in quite a wide range of colours and graphic designs. These bibs are available in plain black or dark blue as well as with other colour highlights, including some very 2016 camouflage colours. Our blue test bibs match the white and navy check jersey that I'm also testing. The blue is fairly dark, such that onlookers don't get confronted with a great deal more detail than they would in black, which is a blessing.
At £81 these have no shortage of competition – this is the upper end of the dhb range and around the lower end of the Castelli range, for example. Being made in Italy isn't itself a guarantee that something will be good, but La Passione has obviously chosen its fabric suppliers, pads and factory carefully, and these are cracking bibs.
Based around a great pad, these are well made and super-comfy – highly recommended
road.cc test report
Make and model: La Passione Summer Bib Shorts Classic
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?
La Passione says:
A good pair of bib shorts is the single most important product in your wardrobe as a cyclist. Performance, fit and comfort are the three key characteristics when choosing the best available performance materials, and when combined with timeless, classic design our Summer Bib Shorts Classic are suitable for all your needs and is an elegant completion on any stylish rider's kit. Designed to worn over long days of training the Summer Bib Shorts Classic uses two types of Italian made performance Lycra. Externally we use a highly technical 44 Super Light Power Lycra guaranteeing exceptional compression and shape retention. Combined with the latest version of Lycra Lab fabric, in the middle section, this thicker, intensified structure of the weave will minimise saddle slide. The anti abrasive properties of Lycra Lab fabric provides an innovative solution to reduce saddle movement and enhances greater rider stability. Our Chamois, The Pad, is manufactured by leading market E.I.T. A top-of-the-range Chamois enabling you to remain comfortable for more than six hours in the saddle. With needle flat-stitched seams, non-slip silicone leg grippers and a race radio back pocket you are fully equipped with a high level bib short for racing or long rides. Available in classic Black and Blue.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Made in Italy
*Tailored Fit for an ideal position on the saddle
*Highly compressive main body fabric
*E.I.T. Italian Pad, naturally bacteriostatic with 4 way stretch
*Four needle flat-stitched seams
*Grip 400 4,5 cm leg grippers
*White La Passione logo on right leg
*Race radio back pocket
*3M Scotchlite rear reflective stripe
Main Body: 78% Polyamide / 22% Elastane
*Mesh: 82% Polyester / 18% Elastane
*Permanent wicking treatment
*SPF UV 50+ sun protection factor
Neat stitching, quality pad - a lot to like.
No issues - have washed fine and come out looking like new.
I like the longer legs but I'd be happier if the elastic leg openings were a touch less tight. It's possible that sizing up might have been a good option for me, although fit otherwise was excellent.
The size guide would suggest I'm borderline M or L and that's probably about right.
A normal sort of weight for summer bibs.
I was quite surprised by how comfortable I found the pad, given that it looked quite basic. Generally I found these very comfy.
They're well made and very comfortable so I think the price is pretty good.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well - I hadn't expected these to be all-day bibs but they served admirably as such.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd have liked slightly less compression around the leg openings.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Excellent bibs offering a great fit and hours of comfort at a pretty reasonable price given the quality.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite 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, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.