The Huez Starman bib shorts focus on performance with a high quality pad, compression-inducing Lycra and a slim fit, and while they may be double the price than some of the road.cc favourites (and mine!), the build quality and attention to detail make them stand out.
First off, I really like the colour; it's not often you see a pair of cycling shorts in a dark blue. I think it gives a certain level of class, making them stand out without screaming 'look at me'.
The blue Lycra is Italian made, with plenty of stretch in all directions, and it gives a very supportive fit when you're on the bike. There is some compression there, which you can feel squeezing your muscles lightly as you pedal, and even if it isn't adding any measurable performance gain it certainly feels good.
The material itself is pretty thick, which adds to that feeling of durability, and looking at the seams and giving them a pull, I'd imagine these will stand up to some serious wear and tear. All of the seams are positioned sensibly, so there is no irritation when you're on the bike, although even if they weren't you'd probably barely notice them as there are practically flat against the fabric.
Keeping the legs in position is a very large band coated in small silicone dots, a solution that works very well, offering plenty of grip without requiring loads of pressure.
The back part of the bibs is made up of mesh to keep you feeling cool, and when paired with the matching Huez Bleed Print jersey (review here) it was a very impressive partnership in terms of breathability.
The straps themselves are strips of Lycra with a small unobtrusive seam top and bottom that you can barely feel, so excellent for comfort.
You get a couple of pockets: the radio pocket or, for those of us who aren't in constant contact with a following team car, somewhere to bung your mp3 player. It sits slightly off centre at the bottom of the bibs; the other is on the outside of the left leg and I wasn't quite sure what it was there for.
With the constant revolutions of your thigh, it's not somewhere I'd want to put something valuable and although many time triallists and triathletes stuff a gel up their skinsuit leg, I didn't think it was really relevant here as you'd no doubt be wearing a jersey with pockets.
Huez confirmed that it is indeed designed for such uses: "It's used for holding gels or disposing of old wrappers. It's an easy way to find your half eaten bar without having to search through your rear cargo pockets. We have found that a lot of our customers really like this feature." Fair enough.
Keeping the Italian theme going is the chamois pad, a SERIE 3.2.D/80 no less. It's quite thick in places with very firm foam shaped by heat-forming. It's quite simple compared with a lot of others on the market, with two sections created by the inclusion of a central channel to reduce pressure. Each sections is stepped to give a little extra support where needed, and I found it very comfortable indeed, supportive and shock absorbing without any noticeable bunching.
Which brings me to value... Are the Starmans twice as good as top scoring BTwin Aerofits or dhb's Aerons, another firm road.cc favourite? No, I'd say not, but in terms of performance the Starmans are easily a match for them, and the construction and finish for the price is very impressive. (They're currently reduced to £110.50, so even better.)
Overall, putting the Starmans on feels a bit special, like putting on your best kit that you save for special rides, and when you add the cost of Italian manufacturing compared to the Far East, you can see where some of that extra costing is going.
Italian-made top-end race shorts that shine in every aspect
road.cc test report
Make and model: Huez Starman Bibshorts
Size tested: 4, Blue
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?
Huez says, "Developed with technology borrowed straight from the pro-peloton, the Starman Bib Shorts are at the pinnacle of cycling performance-wear. The shorts are cut from an Italian Lycra specifically designed to stretch with your body whilst providing compression which improves blood flow and performance whilst reducing the risk of muscle injury. This coupled with seamless straps, ultrasonic seam edges, mesh ventilation and subtle reflective details produces a short perfect for the Sunday club ride whilst being comfortable enough for tackling the longest audax.
"The colourful radio pocket at the back, frees room in your jersey pockets and means no more scratched phone screens. The chamois is taken from Giro - winning team kit and promises all-day comfort.
"3M® Scotchlite® tabs on both the front and back leg adds visibility when the dark sets in."
I think the Starmans are top quality bib shorts; their construction and comfort justify their price tag.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Dark fabrics with Coldblack® technology have been proven to reflect more heat than lighter colours. This special finishing technology reduces heat build-up and provides reliable sun protection up to UPF 50, and typically keeps the fabrics 9°c cooler than non-treated black fabrics.
3M®'s brilliant reflective technology keeps you highly visible when darkness falls.
Our chamois is the SERIE 3.2.D/80 made in Italy. A heat-former pad with three different thicknesses and three different padding densities. Designed to lessen pressure on the perineal-postate area, it gives excellent support to the ischial bones. SERIE 3D CARBON, the fabric contains a carbon thread with bacteriostatic properties.
Ultra-grippy silicone keeps the garment firmly in place.
The sizing chart is spot on – I'd say they are a more realistic British sizing compared to Castelli and the like.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The usual 30 degree wash saw no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The compressive nature of the fabric means they feel like very high performing shorts, and also happen to be highly comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not sure the leg pocket is really needed.
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 Starmans are up against some big competition at this price point (and cheaper), but they are right up there in terms of performance, comfort and build quality.
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.