Howies Leadout bibshorts  £59.00

8/10

Comfortable and impressively tough bib shorts at a good price.

Weight 210g   Contact  www.howies.co.uk

by Jez Ash   June 27, 2013  

The Howies Leadout bibshorts are part of Howies' new technical cycling range; gear for riding, rather than just looking cool. And they're really pretty good - comfortable, impressively hard-wearing and sensibly priced.

There are a couple of similarly black jerseys in the range, the Slipstream short sleeve and Slipstream long sleeve, to complement the Leadout shorts. Continuing the all-black theme, the Leadout bibs eschew big logos and bright colours for a sober black look. All-black is a fairly standard colour for bibs, however, so it's not that radical here.

Construction

The Leadout bib shorts are made with a 'seamless circular knit technology'; seemingly (sorry) a technology that exists primarily in the marketing sphere, as there are still seams here. Not nearly as many as most bibs, it is true, but seams nevertheless. Those seams are flatlocked, so at least they're pretty unobtrusive. The fabric is matt rather than shiny, which I think looks good here.

The pad is a Professional CNB 90 from TMF in Italy, the same supplier used by Adidas and Chapeau in their bibs. It's a good'un. On the first test ride it felt a little on the wide side between the legs, but this didn't bother me again so I think it just needed to soften up. The pad is made of two different foam densities, varying between 4mm and 12mm thick, and has a particularly soft open-cell top layer which feels great against my fairly fussy undercarriage.

Comfortable and surprisingly crash-resistant

I had no noticeable discomfort in road rides of several hours in the Leadout bibs, but the toughest test was the recent Bristol Bikefest mountain bike enduro race. This was an eventful day by any standards, with more than my fair share of crashes and hot temperatures all race. On my final lap I found the bibs as comfortable as the first, even if the rest of me wasn't. Most impressively, they even survived a couple of heavy landings on rocks and dirt without tearing.

The fabric here is a little thicker than traditional Lycra and pretty stretchy, and this perhaps helps them shrug off things that would have left a gaping tear in other bibs. I'd expected them to feel a little warmer, something I noted in the short-sleeve Slipstream jersey, but they were fine.

The seamless weaving allows Howies to do without silicone grippers on the legs. The fabric is tighter for the bottom inch around your thighs which does a great job of holding them in place without grabbing leg hair (for those who don't shave). There is a subtle blue Howies logo at the bottom of the left leg.

At the top, between your shoulder blades, is a pocket for a race radio. You could probably fit your phone in there too, but it would be pretty hard to get it out during a ride, so for most people this is not a terribly useful feature.

Howies say they will soon be launching a women-specific version of this bib.

Conclusion

If you ride long miles, then there are two main things you need from your bibs: a good pad, and for that pad to stay in the right place. Both of these depend to some extent on the shape that you are; what works for one rider might not for another. Here, the the clever fabric engineering does an excellent job and these bibs fitted very well. They're stretchy enough that I suspect they would work for a fairly wide range of shapes too.

Add in a comfortable pad, an impressively rugged construction that shrugs off crashes that would ruin other lycra and an eminently fair price and you've got a real winner.

Verdict

Comfortable and impressively tough bib shorts at a good price.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Howies Leadout bibshorts

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?

Seamlessly knitted padded bib shorts, with contoured panelling and a second skin fit. Integrated breathable panels minimize the need for seams and helps avoid chaffing, as well as having a high density foam insert which means fewer sore bits on longer rides.

The 2-layer TMF Professional cycle pad is manufactured in Italy with a base construction of 40 density, 4mm thick foam bonded to a shock absorbent 90 density, 8mm foam in higher impact areas. Covered with an elastic open cell surround that moves with your body and an antibacterial finish.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Seamless circular knit design

- TMF® High density foam antibacterial cycle pad

- Integrated breathable panels

- Race radio pocket (in case you turn pro)

- Fast wicking

- Ribbed hem

- Flatlocked stitching

- 96% Polyamide / 4% Elastane

- Made in Portugal

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Made using the same clever technique as the jerseys. Good quality fabric, held together with a minimum number of seams. Extra half-star for crashworthiness.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

As comfy as any bibs I've used in this price range.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Crash-testing is not a mandatory part of a road.cc review process, but I can confirm that these are tough bibs.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

A good quality pad in just the right place. I particularly liked the super-soft top layer combined with variable density/thickness padding.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

All things considered, this is a great value bib.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

I got on well with the pad. I was very impressed with its ability to shrug off crashes.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Not a lot. I guess I'd trade that radio pocket for a thinner mesh section on the back, but that's no biggie.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yep

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 35  Height: 6  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute  My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

11 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I've been using them heavily- including commuting. They're ace. Totally agree about that silly radio pocket though, it is rather unnecessary.

posted by Al__S [552 posts]
27th June 2013 - 8:19

10 Likes

Thanks for the thorough review Jez. We hope crash testing doesn't become a permanent feature of a road.cc review.

The race radio pocket was an addition for those who might go Pro. However, we are looking at swapping it for a knitted breathable panel in the next development of the short. So all you Pro's will have to find somewhere else to keep your radio (or emergency £5 note).

Our ladies Breakaway bib shorts have arrived at howies HQ too, and should be turning up at road.cc Towers for testing any day now.

life is complicated, sport is simple

howies's picture

posted by howies [9 posts]
27th June 2013 - 10:30

13 Likes

HOWIES in reasonable price shocker. RAPHA next?

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [391 posts]
27th June 2013 - 14:36

12 Likes

I've had a pair of these for a couple of months now, and the review mirrors my experience. Extremely comfy on those longer rides, and for me the perfect thickness for British conditions.

posted by mireland [5 posts]
28th June 2013 - 9:05

13 Likes

Fruitlessly been through endless pairs of bib shorts trying to find a pair that fulfil my needs.
Finally got to these and glad to say bib short nirvana has been attained.
Good price, good fit, good quality, robust, look good, good service.
Hurrah for Howies

posted by Some Fella [767 posts]
29th June 2013 - 15:18

10 Likes

I love these, a couple of colour options could also be a next step. I actually thought that the radio pocket was just a bit of fabric to stop the label from becoming annoying and rubbing on your back. I really liked that little attention to detail. Oh well.

posted by bubbles_jonnybravo [12 posts]
29th June 2013 - 17:09

11 Likes

Thought I'd give some feedback. I've used these all summer. Heavily- commuting mainly. Unfortunately the pad failed. Fortunately, Howies offered excellent customer service, and replaced them with the updated version- I got the impression I wasn't the only one to have pad problems. The updated version has lost the pocket on the back (replaced with a smaller one on the front of the straps), and now has a lighter knit instead there- a big improvement. They also told me the way the pad is sewn in has been changed, to hopefully prevent the problems I saw.

Now tempted by the tights...

posted by Al__S [552 posts]
7th October 2013 - 9:36

10 Likes

That's a coincidence, Al. The pad in my review pair has become detached and actually folded in half while in the wash - I noticed that this morning and got in touch with Howies.

In use it's not yet really a problem, it actually stays in the right place, but it seems like it's "floating" in the pocket where it's attached.

Going to send them back for Howies to inspect, anyway.

Jez Ash's picture

posted by Jez Ash [107 posts]
7th October 2013 - 12:21

10 Likes

Jez, that's exactly what happened to mine. I was disappointed, but the customer service response was superb and the redesigned back does solve your niggle

posted by Al__S [552 posts]
8th October 2013 - 6:53

11 Likes

Al_S has it spot on - what a refreshing change it is to deal with a customer-service team like Howies'. A handwritten letter with a returns label might not be as quick as an automated returns email but it certainly gives the impression that someone's actually bothered by the fact that you've had a problem.

Just got the replacement bibs through yesterday so will put some miles into them and see how they compare. First impressions are that they are broadly similar to before, same good fit, same comfy pad (apparently now better held in place). The radio pocket has disappeared from the back (which is now a lighter-weave material), and they've added a slim pocket on the front of the shoulder strap on your chest. I'm not sure what this is for - it would be inside your jersey so wouldn't be that easy to reach on the bike. It would accommodate a pair of tyre levers nicely.

Jez Ash's picture

posted by Jez Ash [107 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 10:20

9 Likes

I've been using the replacements regularly for around 5 months now and everything is going fine. The pad is still where it should be, and they're as comfortable as ever. Looks (so far) as though Howies have sorted the only real issue with these excellent bibs.

jezzzer's picture

posted by jezzzer [339 posts]
17th March 2014 - 12:26

4 Likes

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