The Hincapie Sportswear Nitro bib-shorts are comfortable all over, neat and close-fitting. They're not cheap though, and some riders may baulk at the brand-name so prominently displayed.
There are five main clothing ranges under the Hincapie Sportsware umbrella, from the top-end Signature range down to the Performance range at the 'budget' end (although it's all relative). The Nitro range is one up from Performance. As well as these Nitro shorts, matching jerseys, caps, gloves, arm- and leg-warmers are also available.
In case you're wondering about the name, long-serving Grand Tour rider 'Big' George Hincapie and his family have been in the cycling clothing business for many years, mainly focused on custom-made team kit for the US market (as well as a few in the pro peloton). The company now makes off-the-peg clothing, available in the UK through Evans Cycles.
Comfortable and close
I've tested these Nitro shorts on a few rides, and first impressions are good. They're very comfortable with a close fit that's not too tight anywhere. At first, I thought the actual bib was a bit 'slack' and wouldn't hold up the shorts properly, but it was fine; the shorts stayed firmly in place around the rear end without any apparent pressure on the shoulders.
The main panels on the front and back of the shorts are made from a fabric called AT2 Lycra Power, which the Hincapie website says provides a 'supple yet durable fit that moves with your body while retaining shape and firmness ... the perfect blend of compressive support and performance.' It's a fair description. The side panels are a lighter fabric called AT2 Transition Lycra.
Compared to some bib shorts, the bib is fairly low at the front, which further adds to the comfort. The bib itself is made mainly from lightweight mesh to help breathability.
The insert (or chamois) is a single piece, stretchy and seam-free, with various pads separated by narrow channels for ventilation. The pads under the sit-bones are slightly thicker than the rest.
Compared to the chamois in other shorts, I'd class this as medium thickness. For some riders it will be fine for a day in the saddle, while others my want something a bit thicker for 100-mile sportives and other long-distance events.
The shorts are finished off with a large 'leg-band' around each thigh, made from a fabric called DimpleTek, which holds the shorts in place and also helps wick moisture away from the skin. It's not clear if, or why, this wicking feature is just on the leg band.
The Nitro shorts I'm testing are black, with wide white side panels and red stitching. They're also available in dark blue, light blue and white, and in yellow, black and white. There's a suitably big 'H' logo on the side panel, and the word 'Hincapie' is writ large around each leg-band.
It's not unusual for the manufacturers of cycle clothing to display their name so prominently, but because Hincapie was the lieutenant of a certain disgraced Texan, some riders may prefer not to be so overtly associated with this brand.
On price, the shorts retail at a penny less than £90. This is on a par with similar kit from some other brands, but it's still a lot of money for a pair of shorts, and can't be called good value. But of you want a light and comfortable pair of shorts for scooting around on those warm summer evenings we all love, then these Nitros might fit the bill.
One final note: These shorts will need to be washed carefully after use. All our test kit carried a warning: 'Inks may bleed slightly. Wash garments in cold water and line dry to remove any bleeding effects.' This might be too much hassle for riders who want to bung sweaty kit in the washing machine after a long hot ride. Other riders may feel that for the best part of 90 quid, the colours simply ought to stay put.
Comfortable, lightweight and close-fitting bib-shorts, ideal for warm-weather cycling. Not cheap though, with a well-displayed brand name that some may wish to avoid.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Hincapie Sportswear Nitro Bibshort
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?
The Hincapie Nitro bib shorts are suitable for warm-weather riding. The Hancapie website describes them as 'Perfect for the weekend races or a fast club ride', which is fair.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Hincapie website goes on to highlight the features of the various fabrics used to create the shorts:
* Durable, 225g AT2 Tour™ Lycra® Power provides compressive support to stabilize muscles and reduce fatigue
* Lightweight AT2 Transition™ Lycra® moves and conforms to the body for the perfect fit
* SPF 50+ by construction for superior UVA/UVB protection
* Soft, aerating power stretch Diamond Mesh™ upper dries quickly to help regulate temperature
* Sleek DimpleTek™ comfort leg band
* Seamless, anatomical, multi-density Pro Chamois with perforated foam inserts and center relief channel moves with the rider
Construction seems very good. These shorts are well made, with neat seems and no loose threads.
Performance is very good. The close fit means no rucks in the fabric, so no discomfort or loose fabric to flap in the breeze. There was no chaffing from internal seams or from the chamois.
The main panels on these shorts are made from 225g fabric which appears fairly durable, but the side panels are made from a lighter fabric, which will need a bit of care.
As mentioned in the main review, you may have to wash these shorts separately, which might be too much hassle for riders who want to bung sweaty kit in the washing machine after a long hot ride.
These shorts are fairly lightweight, so comfortable for hot conditions, without straying into the danger areas of skimpiness or near transparency.
I found these shorts very comfortable indeed. The close fit meant no rucks or loose fabric flapping in the breeze, but they were not too tight anywhere to pinch or chafe. The chamois was not too thick and not too thin. As Goldilocks might say, it was just right.
While similar shorts from other brands can cost twice or three times the price of these Nitro shorts, 90 quid is still a lot of money, so while this price is fair, it doesn't represent good value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, these shorts performed well when used for cycling in warm weather: they are comfortable, light and close-fitting.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfortable; close fit; light weight without being revealing.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Personally, no
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
On aspects such as comfort and fit, these shorts are excellent and would score 9. They can't be called good value though, so they get a point knocked off. in addition, the need for separate washing is a pain, which means another point docked, giving an overall score of 7.
About the tester
Age: 51 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
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, general fitness riding,