Bib shorts should be black, so says the Velominati rule to which Rule#XIV gives its name, but there's plenty to like about these #C Series models other than the traditional colour and relatively subtle branding.
The #C bib shorts are Rule#XIV's lower-priced bib shorts, coming in at £135, but the features read like a wishlist of super high-end models. Mike tested the £180 #M shorts recently – you can read his review here.
As with the #M shorts, you get a pad from Cytech that itself features many of the Italian manufacturer's premium technologies you'll find in the likes of Rapha's Pro Team bib shorts, compressive leg panels that fit ergonomically to the skin, breathable fabrics, branded grippers, as well as flatlock stitching throughout to reduce the chances of chafing on long rides.
In essence, the #C bib shorts are as feature-packed as many options costing a whole lot more, and on the whole they perform well.
The pad isn't the bulky model you used to find with the likes of Rapha's bib shorts, but a slimmed down version for a smaller profile on your behind, and while not as plush, the high density foam does a great job of protecting you where it matters most. For century rides I'd personally need a little more padding than you get there, but for 100km spins it's up to the task.
Look closely and you'll spot perforations in the pad fabric for breathability – effective breathability, too – but the breathability that's claimed in the legs isn't quite as airy as I'd hoped. With the #Cs, the fabric is described as 'mid-weight', which Rule#XIV claims makes them a more versatile, potentially three-season garment.
I have to say, though, they were completely outdone by the heat in the recent warm spell we experienced in the UK, so although good for mid-teen temperatures, anything into the 20s really does challenge them. I do tend to run hot, though.
However, the fit and cut is excellent, with a very comfortable compressive element that really lends itself to the performance ethos of the brand. In cooler conditions it's a real boon, with the mediums on test feeling tight without being restrictive. That's not to say they come up small – just that the legs have a performance flavour.
In terms of length, Rule#XIV has gone with a slightly classical medium leg, although the elasticated bands at the end (under which are branded silicone grippers) are sizeable. This adds a little extra length to bring them between old-school mid leg and the more recent trend to finishing atop the knee – a good compromise, if a little unusual feeling around the bottom of the quads and hamstrings.
Up top, the #C bib section is constructed of a lightweight branded mesh, with flat seams for comfortable tensioning across the shoulders. I've come across stretchier bib sections, but I never felt uncomfortable in these, with good shaping when in a tuck position on the bike. Having the breathable mesh cover the central portion of the back again hints towards them being ready to ride in three seasons given mild conditions.
Elsewhere, quality is excellent, with all seams holding up well under washing and the compressive nature of the legs as impressive as it was when I first modelled them. Rule#XIV has also sewn in a flat fabric washing tag, so no potential for irritation if, like me, you prefer to leave the labels in rather than cut them out.
In terms of value their £135 RRP is a bit more acceptable than the #M Series, though a quick glance at recent bib shorts we've reviewed shows plenty of competition from the likes of the 'supremely comfortble' Endura M90 Graphics at £85, Kalf's Flux Chevrons, also £85, the £100 Assos T.MilleShorts_s7, and the 'serious contender for my favourites of the year' Santini Magos at £105. And if you wanted to go against 'rule 14', there's always the Huez Starmans to consider, at £130...
Overall, while I can't recommend the Rule#XIV #C bib shorts for particularly warm weather, they're very good quality and with the compressive element really lend themselves to tempo riding in 'normal' UK summer conditions, as well as the cooler seasons surrounding it. At £135, they're expensive but worth consideration.
Good quality bib shorts for three season-ish use – just not the height of summer
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rule #XIV Mens #C Series 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?
Rule #XIV says:
"These bib shorts have been designed with long rides in mind, so the pad is high density and will offer support as the hours tick away. It's also covered with a carbon infused fabric that offers great moisture management & comfort.
"We've used a breathable, moisture wicking, mid weight compression level fabric for the main part of the garment, to give you the chance to enjoy these bib shorts for as much of the year as possible, and offer a high level of muscle support
"The mesh brace is lightweight and breathable, with our # contrast print for that extra bit of individuality, whilst the Italian made silicone gripper is going to keep everything in place no matter how hard you turn those pedals!"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Male specific high density chamois pad from Cytech (EIT) in Italy, with bacteriostatic, soft, ultra-fast drying, carbon infused fabric covering – suitable for mid-long rides
- Compression level fabric to offer support & comfort over long rides
- Moisture wicking, mid-weight fabric to be suitable for multiple seasons – get the most out of your bib shorts!
- Ergonomic panel construction gives the perfect fit whilst in the riding position
- Breathable mesh brace section, with # print design
- Reflective visibility details
- Soft flat locked stitching on all seams for comfort
- RULE#XIV Italian made silicone gripper at cuffs for a secure fit
- No scratchy labels – care label is made from a soft fabric and sewn flat to the outside of the garment
They're proved solid and dependable.
The compressive fabric is excellent, although the mid weight means they're a little warm despite breathability claims.
The mid weight adds an air of sturdiness.
I found them a bit tight around the hip area, but that's a legacy of the compressive nature of the legs.
A medium comes up just about perfect on me.
Considering the mid weight construction, 204g is still light.
They're comfortable, as long as you don't overheat in them. Seams and shoulders are fine.
An RRP of £135 isn't cheap, but they're well made, with a quality Cytech pad, and should have good life in spring and autumn as well as cooler summer days. There are a lot of very comfortable bib shorts out there for quite a bit less though.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine, no worries with them.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, just a little on the warm side in recent weather compared with others I've worn.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The compressive nature of the legs, and tasteful branding to go with the black.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Too warm for me, but that's about it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Mostly
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, depending on their circumstances.
Use this box to explain your score
The #C bibs are good shorts, just bear in mind they're not the coolest in hot weather.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding