New for the 2016 season, the Club Bibshorts from Chapeau are really rather good. Designed for the all-rounder with a comfortable pad, soft fabrics, plus a keen eye for detailing and quality control, the Clubs sit comfortably within their price range.
Chapeau hasn't scrimped when it comes to fitting a decent pad, choosing a Bastogne HP from Elastic Interface, the company that supplies the majority of pads to the world's shorts manufacturers.
The Bastogne HP is designed primarily for long distance usage, offering plenty of padding for absorbing road bumps without being too soft or causing any bunching. The pad is completely flat; where others have sections of varying density foam separated by channels, the Bastogne HP runs seamlessly – or channel-lessly – from one section to the next, undetectable by eye, but you can feel it. Whether this is why the shorts are so comfortable is hard to tell, but the whole pad just feels 'right'. There is a central channel to promote blood supply and reduce numbness, but that's it.
Thanks to the supportive padding the Clubs are just as happy on short, hard blasts of an hour or so as longer rides. With minimal padding at the front, again you get no bunching or excess material when crouched low in the saddle. It certainly seems a well thought out design.
With the majority of bib shorts being laser cut these days, the number of panels has increased dramatically to create a fit and shape contoured to the rider. The Clubs take full advantage of this, along with a stretchy, borderline-compressive Lycra material which gives a very close fit, moving with you as you pedal, in or out of the saddle.
The bibs use varying degrees of mesh for breathability and it is noticeable how cool they are on a hot day when paired with a mesh baselayer and a summer jersey. The bibs aren't as restrictive as the lower part of the shorts, so the straps never feel tight when sitting up in the saddle or stretching out in a racing tuck.
The leg grippers are covered with very tiny silicone dots and once they are in position they stay put. The bottom of both legs use contrasting black and white patterns to match the opposing logos on each thigh; it's a nice touch, which gives the Clubs a more expensive look.
When you are laying out £100 on a pair of shorts, attention to detail and finish has to be pretty much spot on, and the Chapeaus don't disappoint. The stitching looks neat and tidy throughout, with just the odd stray thread end here – it would be nice to see them trimmed at the point of quality control but it's far from a deal breaker.
Neat little reflective tags and logos are a nice touch, as is the label sewn into the outside of the bib strap where it isn't going to irritate.
The material is said to be pilling and abrasion-resistant, and it's showing strong signs of this in use so far, so durability shouldn't be an issue.
Value? Well, it depends how much you can justify laying out on a pair of shorts, but I reckon the Clubs are right on the money for what I'd expect at this price. When you add up the build quality, comfort and fit, there isn't really a lot to count against them.
Overall Chapeau has designed a very good pair of bib shorts that suit a range of riding styles. They deliver in fit and comfort, plus tick all the boxes in the style stakes too.
Excellent bib shorts for long distance rides, and they have that classic, boutique brand look about them
road.cc test report
Make and model: Chapeau Club 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?
Chapeau says: "New for this season, the Club bib-shorts are for the all rounder who demands comfort and quality in every ride. With ultra-high density foams concentrated on the sit bones and the Club is designed to perform on sportives and withstand the rigours of daily use.
"Featuring a multi-panel design and a full mesh back, the Club's snug fit provides stability and essential ventilation. Designed and tested on our famously rough British roads"
I am a big fan of the Club bib shorts, very comfortable indeed while still working if you want to push on a bit.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Chapeau's website:
UV Protection (UPF 50+)
Muscle Control Reduces Lactic Acid Formation
Pilling and Abrasion Resistant
Xtralife Lycra Provides Optimum Shape Retention
Excellent Breathability and Moisture Wicking
With a wide elasticated cuff with subtle silicone printing you have all the grip you need without cutting your circulation off.
Down to the finest details, we've created a bib short that will provide you with the utmost comfort. Where most brands use flatlock stitching which doesn't allow the fabric to stretch, we use a zig-zag stitching for the ulitmate flexibility. External labels and a reflective Chapeau! label add up bib short that you'll appreciate on every ride, from commuting to competing and anything in between.
They look and feel like a £100 pair of shorts. Very well finished.
A great fit for performance riding and they are well suited to long jaunts.
Standing up very well.
Tailored very well for life in the saddle.
Spot on to the size guide.
Not the lightest shorts I've tested, but will you really notice?
An impressive pad and well cut panels means these shorts are extremely comfortable.
A tough one here; 100 quid is a lot of money for some Lycra shorts, but if you can afford the Clubs then you won't be disappointed.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
A 40 degree wash cleans them up no worries.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A really good pair of bib shorts that are ideal for long distance rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort levels.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing really, they really are that good.
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
The Chapeau Club bib shorts are very good, and great for the non-racer. The comfort level is high and they have that kind of niche brand look about them.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.