The daddy of the Louis Garneau range, the Course Race bib shorts come in at a cool £160 so they’d better be pretty impressive. The good news is, they are very impressive indeed.
Comfort and aerodynamics are what the Course Race range is all about and pairing these bibs up with the matching jersey and gloves will see you in a full aero outfit costing three hundred and twenty smackers. Pro level kit then.
How do you make a pair of shorts more aero? Well Louis Garneau have removed as many seams as they can to keep the profile smoother. They achieve this by using a material called Lazer Rev which contains more Lycra than normal. That means better shape retention so the panels can be larger. The legs have just a single minimal seam that runs up the front of the thigh. Another by-product of the Lazer Rev fabric is that it has a very good compressive effect thanks to that higher Lycra content.
Also the leg hems are laser cut, removing the need for grippers or seams and providing a smooth transition between thigh and leg. It’s a small detail, but marginal gains and all that. They look a bit unfinished but it works and the legs stay put.
There are two colour versions, white or black. The latter has had Coldblack treatment which reflects heat rather than absorbing it. Wearing these on the hottest day of the year so far (24°C) the benefits were noticeable. Hanging around mid-ride, the sun was beating down and my shoulders, in the sleeves of the road.cc regulation jersey, were feeling hot but my thighs weren’t anywhere near as warm. It’s less noticeable on the bike due to the cooling effect of the wind but every little helps, especially into the wind.
The pad: bang on
The 5Motion pad is bang on the money in terms of both comfort and fit. The padding varies in depth across the pad with the thickest being at the rear, split by a channel that relieves pressure. It has just the right amount of cushion to absorb the road vibration and bumps from the saddle without being obtrusive, especially on a narrow saddle where thicker chamois can bunch. Two mesh areas keep the air moving about as well.
The straps are a decent width which reduces any pressure points on the shoulders as you’re riding. The mesh panels cover most of your upper back to aid heat transfer. The matching Course Race jersey is designed to be worn without a base layer so having as much wicking material as possible in the bibs is ideal.
As with the rest of the range there are eight sizes to choose from, XXS (28in) to XXXL (42in) and the sizes are normal rather than that tiny European stuff.
It can be a bit of a struggle to get the Louis Garneau Course Race bib shorts on in the first place because the fabric is so stretchy but once you’re sorted the Course Race shorts fit like a second skin.
The compressive fabric ensures they stay in position for the whole ride and definitely reduces muscle fatigue. The pad is so comfortable and you just don’t feel it or notice it at all. I did a couple of seven-hour rides and plenty between one and three and each time I got off the bike with nothing in the way of discomfort or chaffing.
For such a lightweight, top end bit of kit they are very robust so won’t need to be kept specifically for race day. The lack of huge logos and colours means they also look pretty classy.
The Louis Garneau Course Race bib shorts are worth the £160 investment, simple as that. I’ve never worn a pair of shorts that offer the same level of comfort and performance whether you’re in the saddle for an hour or for seven, and whether the pace is flat out or recovery. They look great and the fit is fantastic from the legs to the shoulder straps.
Fantastic performance and fit which justifies the investment.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Louis Garneau Course Race Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
These are top end bibs that are designed with aerodynamics and speed at the forefront. They are part of LG's Road Elite range which they describe as "The coveted essential elements of any cyclist whose passion fringes lunacy. A cohesive blend of second skin fit, new era styling, versatile materials, and focused technology." You're going to take your cycling pretty seriously if you're in the market for £160 shorts.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
*CB LAZER REV: MAXIMIZES MUSCULAR PERFORMANCE
*POWER MESH: BREATHABILITY, COMFORT, FLEXIBILITY
*CARBON X-MESH: MAXIMIZES MUSCULAR PERFORMANCE
*Inseam: 10.5"/26.5 cm
*One-piece technology: Minimum number of seams to enhance aerodynamics and minimize risks of irritation
*Lazer-finished hem at thigh: Designed for improved aerodynamics
*Seamless inner leg: Reduces bulkiness and excess material ?that causes saddle bunching for more comfort
*Nature calls panel: "For fast and easy pit stops"
*Back and bottom reflective accents: Enhance visibility
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Absolutely faultless in terms of comfort. Performance was pretty much spot on as well with the beefits of both compression and aerodynamics.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort and the way they fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They are a bit of a pain to get on.
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.