Once again Manchester-based Lusso hits a home run in value, understated style and long-distance performance with the Carbon Bib Shorts. I like to think of Lusso as the Volvo estate of cycling apparel.
Last year Stu gave the previous incarnation 4.5 stars. For 2016 there are a few changes – now only the front thigh seams are flatlock stitched, and the leg grippers are black instead of grey, really improving the look. Other than that, it's steady as she goes.
In preparation for the 300km Mighty Corinthian ride, the choice of bib shorts loomed large in my mind. This was on a vintage bike with a Brooks saddle I was new to, there was nearly 5km of vertical gain, and I was going to be out there from dawn to dusk at midsummer. When the £80 Lusso Carbon bibs arrived for review I was sceptical that these could be the ones for the day – surely of the other brands kicking about in the bike kit draw, one closer to the £200 mark would be better?
Lusso doesn't even describe what the Carbon bib shorts are for beyond 'usage: long distance'. That's it. No hyperbole, no marketing waffle. Not even an explanation of what the 'Carbon' does. Branding is limited to a red 'L' roundel on each leg and a reflective one on the bum. Someone's going to have to look rather closely at your thigh to pick out the black-on-black 'Lusso' set in the generous leg grippers. All this means they pair pretty much perfectly with any jersey, leg warmers or jacket.
The bib section is made from a light mesh material that feels identical to Lusso's excellent Dryline Base Layer. They support the shorts section well, but aren't flatlocked at the top so you might notice them (I wear a baselayer all the time so didn't).
The pad feels thick initially, but unlike some others I never felt it pinch or bunch. As the pad-arse interface is such an individual issue, all I can say is that over a 300km ride on a not-broken-in Brooks saddle, I was perfectly comfy. On fast training runs aboard the carbon racer and modern saddle they were perfectly good as well.
The panel fit and the leg gripper did a great job holding everything in place, despite many, many out-of-the-saddle efforts to muscle a 52-year-old bike over Lake District climbs.
In temperatures ranging from 8 to 23 degrees the Carbon bibs stayed comfortable, never feeling too hot or that they were letting a breeze in to chill the legs. They held up well in pretty heavy rain, too, despite no water repellency to speak of.
All in all I cannot think of a reason – technically, sartorially or value-wise – not to make these your next pair of bibs. In fact, if you slapped a boutique brand logo on it and added a 1 to the front of the price tag, I reckon they'd still sell well.
And they're made in the UK. Paaaarp!
An excellent choice of bib shorts for all-day rides, and very good value
road.cc test report
Make and model: Lusso Carbon Bib Shorts
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?
Lusso lists the Carbon Bib Shorts for 'long distance'. It isn't wrong.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Fabric: Italian CoolTech
* Bib Fabric: AirTech Carbon
* Leg Grippers: 42mm SC-9 Carbon
* Seams: Flat and Overlock
* Antistatic & 50+ UV Ray Protection: Yes
* Machine Washable: Yes
* Made in UK: Yes
* Usage: Long Distance
* Thickness: 16mm
* Layers: x5
* Fabric: Microfibre Carbon
* Padding: H.D. Perf Foam
Very well put together. No flatlocked seams.
Very, very good indeed.
After a few months and a thousand or so miles, still looking great.
Can't really fault them.
Strangely, I felt they started comfy, felt a bit thick after 40 miles, then just faded into the background. Great.
For 80 quid they are very good value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very well indeed, 30 degrees no problem.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great. Can't fault them, really.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The minimalist branding and leg grippers.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
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
For the £80 price tag, the stylish look and the comfort across long rides and varying temperatures, these are an excellent choice.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling