The Aeron bib-shorts from dhb are an entry-level budget option, with several excellent features and one niggling issue that may or may not put you off buying.
Other shorts in the dhb Aeron range - the medium-level Aeron Race and the top-end Aeron Pro - have already been tested and reviewed here on road.cc so I've got something to compare this basic Aeron (no epithet) against. As with most dhb products, these shorts are available in male and female versions. Just for the record, I'm testing the male version here.
The fabric is called Ceylon 190g - a stretchy 80:20% mix of Nylon and Elastane - making it a lighter weight than the fabrics used on the Race and Pro varieties. Despite the name, this fabric is made in Italy, as is the pad which comes from giant Italian manufacturer CyTech - also the supplier of pads to other brands such as Assos and Rapha.
The male version of these basic Aeron shorts gets a pad called Race LT (the female version gets a pad called Performance LT). As with most CyTech pads, the Race LT stretches in all directions, and consists of padded sections where your rear-end comes into contact with the saddle, with 'valleys' in between to improve airflow and dispel sweat.
The outside edge of the pad is not chamfered, so on first wearing I found the edge rubbed slightly against my lilly-white skin. But after an hour's riding (and 55 minutes of sweating) the pad fabric softened, and the edge was no longer noticeable. After a few washes, the edge stayed soft and the whole pad was comfortable from the get-go.
The Race LT pad is by no means the best of CyTech's pads - the Pro and Race shorts, as you might expect, use superior versions with more padding - but it's totally fine for rides of up to about four hours. In fact, one of my test rides in these basic Aeron bib-shorts was over six hours, and although a tad more padding would've been nice on the final miles I experienced no discomfort. As with all shorts, a lot also depends on the saddle you use, and how comfortable it is in the first place.
The style of these Aeron shorts is fairly close-fitting, and information on the Wiggle website (dhb is the in-house brand of this on-line cycle superstore) states that they provide an 'athletic fit' and 'positive compression which allows muscles to work effectively'. To be honest, many of us have been wearing 'athletic' shorts for years - because a close fit means no excess fabric, which means no rucks or creases and therefore better comfort - but if more recent discoveries about muscle compression are true then there's no harm in dhb claiming this additional benefit.
Having said that, the 'athletic' cut is definitely noticeable when compared to previous varieties of dhb cycling shorts such as Pace or Earnley. So an Aeron in size Small will feel tighter than earlier dhb styles in the same size. If you're happy with this close fit, and you've bought dhb shorts before, keep with your usual size. If you prefer a bit more give around the upper legs and nether regions, then consider going up a size.
As well as the benefits, the athletic cut seems to have a down-side as well. With the close fit, the fabric is under more stretch, and that puts a bit more strain on the stitching. On my test rides I could see the threads pulling apart very slightly on the main seam across the top of each thigh. Not enough to split or put a hole in the shorts or anything drastic like that, but not totslly ideal either, and possibly another reason to consider going up a size - although that comes close to defeating the whole purpose of the athletic cut.
To be fair, slightly loose stitching can be an issue on any brand of budget shorts where the seams are not flat-stitched (or 'flatlocked' to use the jargon). You're only going to eliminate the problem completely if you choose shorts with flatlocked seams, but that usually means a step up in price.
The bib is made from the same fabric as the rest of the shorts, which means in warm conditions you sweat underneath it a bit more than you might with the mesh bib on the Race and Pro varieties, but as the fabric itself is pretty light and thin, you hardly notice it.
Other features on these shorts include silicon grippers around the leg 'cuff' to stop the shorts riding up your thighs when you're pedalling. They work very well, with the shorts staying firmly in place.
There's a dhb logo on the right leg, plus another smaller logo on the back of the shorts. There's also a little orange tab on the back, but I'm not clear on its purpose.
When it comes to colours, the basic Aeron bib-shorts are available in black, red and blue, while the non-bib variety is available in black, blue, red and white.
These basic Aeron bib-shorts retail at £39.99 (the non-bib version is a tenner less and currently the bibs too are discounted to £29.99). They're very comfortable, and if it wasn't for the athletic cut seeming to strain the stitching they'd be excellent value at this price, better still for £30. As it is, they're still fair value compared to other entry-level shorts out there. But if you've got more cash to spare, it's well worth considering the Aeron Race shorts, which have flat stitched seams, thicker fabric and a better quality pad.
Comfortable entry-level shorts at a fair price, let down slightly by stitching quality.
road.cc test report
Make and model: DHB Aeron Bib short
Size tested: Large
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?
The Wiggle website says this about the basic Aeron shorts 'The all-new Aeron cycling shorts pack an amazing feature set at a competitive price: premium Italian stretch fabric, refined fit furnished with the 'Race LT' CyTech Elastic Interface cycle pad. An excellent value cycling bib short without compromise.' Features include: ''Ceylon 190g' performance stretch fabric (80%Nylon-20%Elastane) , CyTech Elastic Interface 'Race LT' chamois (cycling pad) , dhb branded elastic leg opening with silicone gripper, white dhb logo on right thigh and rear.'
There's nothing to disagree with in this description. The fabric, style and pad are all great. The only issue I have is with the stitching pulling slightly when the fabric is under pressure, but to be fair this can be an issue with entry-level shorts from other brands.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Wiggle website says: 'dhb has responded to the feedback of our riders and improved the staple garment for any cyclist's wardrobe. We have refined the dhb fit model to a more athletic fit giving greater comfort in the saddle. The Aeron shorts are built from Ceylon performance stretch fabric manufactured by the leading Italian fabric mill. The Nylon-Elastane composition provides positive compression, which allows muscles to work effectively whilst allowing excellent breathability. The Fabric is smooth to touch yet is durable and engineered to work hard. Elasticated leg openings with dhb silicone grippers help to prevent the short leg from rising up to the crotch. At the heart of the short is the Elastic Interface 'Race LT' cycling pad. The pad has a contoured foam construction, designed to keep the rider comfortable in the saddle.'
As mentioned in the review, construction is let down by the stitching pulling slightly when the fabric is under pressure, but to be fair this can be an issue with entry-level shorts from other brands.
With the light fabric and relatively basic pad, plus the stitching issue mentioned above, these shorts aren't going to last years, but look after them well and you'll get a couple of summer season out of them - more if you're not a mile-eater.
The fabric is light, and the pad is relatively thin, so these shorts are light - ideal for weight-weenies or anyone cycling in hot weather
The comfort provided by the pad is very good
These shorts are very comfortable, and if it wasn't for the athletic cut seeming to strain the stitching they'd be excellent value at this price. As it is, they're still fair value compared to other entry-level shorts out there.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, the shorts were comfortable,
Would you consider buying the product? No, the stitching is an issue for me - but may not concern some buyers
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not. I'd recommend forking out another 20 quid and getting a pair of the Aeron Race shorts
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
The niggle with the stitching prevents these shorts getting a higher score. Elsewhere, the design is nice, the fabric is good, and the pad is comfortable, making these shorts still above average - better still if you can get them for a tenner less then list price.
About the tester
Age: 50 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,