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Craft's Puncheur Bib Shorts are subtly-styled, comfortable and do the job. At around £80 they're a no-nonsense performer.
Craft are from Sweden - masters of subtle, useful design - and the Puncheurs are almost apologetically branded, with only one Craft logo down the left thigh and their trademark six dots on the left hip. The fine white stitching complements the understated look.
The Lycra fabric is definitely summer-weight - no Roubaix fluff here - and there's plenty of airflow to keep you cool. The stitches on the Lycra parts are all flatlocked for comfort apart from where the shorts attach to the bib strap portion, but this wasn't a noticeable issue when on. The straps are a lightweight mesh that's yoked across the back of the shoulder, with a hole down the spine to further improve hot weather performance.
Silicone leg grippers in all-black complete the package. Underneath they are a grey-on-white with Craft's logo again, if you fancy rolling them back to keep the tan lines perfect.
Fit-wise they seem to err more to the Italian than the Scandinavian. The turkey shoot that is bib short sizing continues unabated: Craft saying I should be a Small, but the Medium feeling slightly too snug. Meanwhile I'm an XL in Castelli...
With a svelte 18in lower thigh circumference, the gripper bands did feel a bit tight when first pulled on, but this sensation passed after a bit. Craft claim some compression benefit from the fabrics and design, but your legs don't end up looking like gastric-banded sausages by any means. Let's call it 'Compression Lite'.
The pad comprises three different densities of foam, with various scientific claims made as to density, torques and possibly hectopascal-watts of incline as well. What I found was that on the bike the pad felt firmer than most, but not in a bad way. Like a good car seat, the best thing it can be is not noticed after four hours in the saddle, which was the case. The external Lycra was quite grippy on my Charge saddle so shifts in position were notable, but not in a way that you couldn't get the position just right.
Over a very hilly, fast 60 miles the Puncheurs didn't really make their presence felt. I wasn't either uncomfortable, distracted or blissfully happy. (The happiness vibe might have to do with trying to keep a 25kph average over 1700m of climbing, so I shouldn't in any way imply it were the shorts wot done it.) They kept my bum happy, which after four hours is all you can ask. Over a few spring months of twice-weekly club run wear they performed perfectly well, whether paired with leg warmers or just on their own.
For £80 (possibly more, or a lot less) with decent styling, that's no bad result. If you were to put an invertebrate on it and add £20, most people probably wouldn't notice the difference.
Subtly-styled, comfortable warm-weather bib shorts that do the job
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Make and model: Craft Puncheur Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium, 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?
Aimed at the enthusiast rider, perfectly good for a day's sportive action or for commuting.
- Ergonomic design for a perfect riding-position fit
- Body-control compression fabric with 4-way elasticity reduces muscle vibration and focuses power
- Wide, soft and elastic leg endings with silicone print keep the bib shorts in place
- Coldblack® fabric reduces the absorption of heat rays and protects against UV rays
- Bib construction for great support and fit with hexachannel fabric for active cooling
- Special-knit construction enhances moisture transport and ventilation
- Ergonomic, smooth and durable flatlock seams move with the working muscles
- Sublimated leg endings
- Reflective logos
- Craft Performance Pad
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Apparently it's a compression design. If that means 'comes up tight/small if you follow the size guide', that's spot on. Pretty breathable fabric, so good for warmer days.
Well put together. Not premium, but more than good enough.
After hours of riding they weren't a pain in the arse. That's good enough.
Over a few months and many washes, no signs of wear.
Not featherweight, but no nappy either.
For the size guide they came up short/tightish. That said, after four hours going hard they were still comfy. Not bad.
At RRP I'd probably be inclined towards one of the premium Italian or UK brands. At lower online prices, it's a good deal.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well. You probably wouldn't rave about them, but there's nothing to poke a stick at.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The styling. I like noir, me.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The eternal sizing BS that this industry just cannot get right.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, but probably not at RRP
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but probably not at RRP
Use this box to explain your score
If you put an invertebrate on it and added £20, most people probably would not notice the difference.
Age: 42 Height: 183cm Weight: 71KG
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, singlespeed and Dutch bike pootling