The Northwave Blade Bib shorts are part of their mid-range line. With SuperRoubaix fabric, meshed straps and a variety of colours, they are only let down by a thin, unmalleable pad.
The shorts are a fairly traditional panelled construction with flat-locked stitching. Tradition isn't a bad thing; these shorts fit well. Leg length is good and held in place with silicone grippers which don't create any tightness. Back and side panels transition well to the '3D' meshed braces just above the hips.
Polyamide and Elastane form the material in a 80:20 ratio, otherwise known as SuperRoubaix. This is a tightly knit material, often found on tights for chillier temperatures - perfect for the British summer! There isn't any fleece like you'd find in tights so the idea is just to limit the air penetration. As I said, this is good for UK shores, as the continental top of the range shorts are often so breathable that staying warm enough at the beginning of a ride can be an issue; it is a nice change.
These shorts are extremely versatile - they can be worn in the summer and then paired with knee/leg warmers to extend their use - making them great value.
Onto the pad; one I couldn't get on with. It was like a piece of cardboard between my legs, and it bunched up rather than cup my...package. Labeled with 'man specific comfort project', well, I guess I need to grow a pair. The pad is apparently gel based but feels very thin and lacking to me. The middle - presumably where the gel resides - feels competent, so I think it is the more rigid sections around it that create the problem.
On the bike, the problem remained. The pad just wasn't comfortable for me. It was unforgettable as it rigidly moved with my pedal strokes. I thought it might bed in but it didn't. A groove down the centre of the pad does suggest it should mould correctly so perhaps the shorts were a little on the large size for me - although the rest of the fit was fine.
Iron-on logos look like they won't survive the wash but actually seemed to fare alright throughout my testing. Once they do crack though, logos like that can often make a decent piece of kit look older than it is, which can be a shame. There isn't any luminance in them either.
If you've already used a Northwave pad and know you get on with it then I can fully recommend them. Otherwise, best bet would be to try them somewhere first.
Decent, versatile shorts let down by a cardboardy chamois.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Blade bib short
Size tested: Large, blue/black
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?
A race short for spring/autumn rather the ultra breathable for summer heat.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pad: Race Sport
Vent inserts: Braces
Reflex inserts: Back piping and reflective logo
Composition: 80% Polyamide - 20% Elastan
Paneled design held together with flat-lock stitching.
The pad is a real let down and that plays a big part in performance for me.
Although the text survived the wash during test, I can see them looking worn in not too long.
For me, the pad was unbearable.
With a good pad in them, these would be a top pair of shorts. Give them a test first to see if you can get on with them.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good at being an all-round pair of shorts. Bad at making my gooch comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Not full of ultra lightweight, breathable material like a lot of summer shorts.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? No.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they tried them and found them to comfortable, yes.
About the tester
I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,