With a name like Super Total Comfort, these bib shorts from Italian company Sportful promise much. I'm happy to report that they are indeed very comfortable – as comfortable as practically any other bib shorts I've worn, even those costing considerably more.
The heart of the shorts is a thickly padded chamois, with 16mm high-density foam padding used where your sit bones contact the saddle, tapering down to 8mm at the front. The foam is perforated which helps with sweat management and also gives the shorts a nice level of vibration damping.
Despite that generous foam padding, they don't feel at all bulky. It makes them an excellent choice if you want guaranteed comfort for any long rides you have planned this summer, evening racing or weekend training runs. There's absolutely no degradation in comfort as the miles and hours tick away, as you can get with some bib shorts that seem to have a definite limit to their comfort provision.
It's a comfortable pad next to the skin as well, with no rough edges or nasty stitching to cause irritation. Flatlock stitching is used throughout the construction of the shorts as well, to further improve comfort, and they're very well made too, with excellent durability that helps to justify the price tag. You should be able to rely on these shorts lasting many hours of riding.
The shorts are made from a stretch weave fabric with a 29% Lycra content, and it's soft next to the skin and to the touch, and provides a compressive fit. The shorts do have a tight fit, but it's not restrictive, instead it's supportive. The cut of the panels and the slight stretch of the fabric ensures they are perfectly contoured to your body, with no excessive ripples or bunching of fabric in areas that could lead to discomfort.
The wide elasticated leg bands have a dotted silicone pattern that grips your legs without any undue pressure, and they stay perfectly in place with no slippage. My only tiny gripe is that the ends of the leg openings can sometimes roll up a small amount.
The bib straps are similarly wide and made from a ventilated mesh material. They spread the pressure over your shoulders well, and the mesh back panel doesn't get in the way of a baselayer and jersey working together to remove sweat from your back. I didn't find the bib straps that comfortable next to the skin, but I always wear a baselayer so it wasn't a problem.
Comfort regarding shorts and saddles is subjective, but I'd challenge anyone not to find these shorts comfortable, whether it's a short blast or an all-day epic of a ride. I've worn them on the mountain bike where their durability in the rough and bramble-strewn countryside has been fine. I've also found them a good choice for cyclo-cross and adventure bike riding, with the chunky padded insert providing welcome cushioning when bouncing around on the saddle.
At £140 these shorts aren't cheap, but they offer everything you want at this price – and also compare very well to shorts costing significantly more. They're a simple design but Sportful gets the details right, and their understated appearance will go well with any jersey. Shop around and find them discounted and you're onto a bargain. They certainly live up to their name.
Super-comfortable bib shorts and totally worth the money
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Super Total Comfort Bibshort
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?
Sportful says: "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."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Stretch woven fabric throughout
Mesh insert at lower back
2to1 flat woven bib straps
Total Comfort seat pad with up to 18mm of padding
Integrated radio or cell phone pocket
Silicone dot pattern flat leg gripper
Made in Italy
Top notch construction and made in Italy.
If you want the absolute best comfort from a bib short, and who doesn't, these are a prime choice.
No issues with durability at all, tough and reliable.
The fit is snug but it's not restrictive.
Sportful offers a wide range of sizes, and these do come up a bit smaller than some brands.
Slight niggle from bib straps, otherwise they're excellent.
Not cheap, but what price excellent comfort? And you can pay a lot more. As ever, shop around and they're even better value for money.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, they go through a regular wash just fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Provide comfort for the longest rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort with a great fit, and understated style goes with any jersey.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The bib straps aren't that comfortable next to the skin.
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
A very comfortable pair of bib shorts. They're not exactly cheap, but you can certainly pay a lot more money for not a lot more comfort.
About the tester
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.