Fancy a pair of RH+ bibs but don't want to pay £160 for the PW Revo's that Mat recently tested? Well these similar looking O-Key ones are half that and still tick plenty of boxes when it comes to performance and fit.
The panels are made from RH+'s Firedry fabric which is designed to work well in warm temperatures. Thankfully we've had a couple of hot days to intersperse the coldest Spring for 50 years to test it out. The material is quite lightweight and thin feeling very similar to Castelli's upper end models and once the temperature starts to creep up to the twenties it is very breathable.
Accompanying the Firedry is a stretchable mesh which covers your lumbar region and travels up your back before meeting the straps. Obviously being a mesh this is also plenty breathable and no signs of sweaty back syndrome. The straps themselves are a decent width meaning no pressure points over the shoulders and the fact they are a more elastic material than the rest of the shorts means they move around with you as you change position on the bike without pulling at the legs or base of the spine. As far as the fit goes think race style. Form Fit as RH+ call it adheres to your body and moves with it offering decent support and movement.
Silicone grippers keep things in place at the thigh end while applying very little in the way of pressure meaning plenty of comfort here to. All the seams are flat to so there is nothing to irritate while you're pedalling away for hours on end.
The pad uses a range of differing densities depending on where your anatomy is likely to be perched on the saddle. There's wings and channels and pockets of foam but does it all work? The simple answer is it must do because regardless of distance and effort I didn't even notice the pad at all. There is no movement from it, it doesn't ruck up, or move about underneath you chafing or irritating. After six hours on one particular ride I felt the same on it as I did in the first half hour. The one thing I will say though is that it is quite thin so on continual rough sections of road you do notice quite a lot of vibration and road buzz coming through from the saddle.
Sizes range from S to 3XL and bear in mind these are Italian sizes so probably best to go up one size. There is also a choice of four colours as well, pretty much all the same with black and white being the dominant but with splashes of red, yellow or grey.
I didn't actually know the price of the O-Key's until it came to putting fingertips to keyboard. I was guessing around the £100-110 mark and to be honest I'd happily pay that for them, at eighty quid though they are pretty much benchmark setting in terms of performance and as always with RH+ kit the quality is top notch. There is plenty of other stuff from their range still going strong in my wardrobe so longevity isn't going to be an issue.
Overall then a great pair of race ready shorts with the only real issue being the thin pad.
Comfortable high performance bibs at a cracking price, minimal padding though on rough roads
road.cc test report
Make and model: RH+ O-Key bib shorts
Size tested: Black/white, 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 O-Key's are at the lower end of RH+'s performance range but with the form fit, multi density pad and silicone grippers they are punching well above their weight with regards to price.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Firedry fabric is a lightweight breathable fabric perfect for warmer temperatures. Its designed to be quick drying by allowing air to travel through keeping the rider cool.
The pad is multi density with channels and wings and stuff to remove pressure points while in the saddle.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed, the O-Key's punch well above their weight in terms of performance versus price
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The looks and the fit
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The slightly thin pad didn't quite work so well with a harsh saddle on rough roads.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 34 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Ribble Winter Trainer for commuting, Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Sarto Rovigo
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.