Okay, so I'm pretty conflicted about the POC Contour Aerofoil bibs. On the one hand, they're a super-comfortable and beautifully made pair of shorts. On the other, the price is predicated on aero capabilities that are marginal at best, and I'm not convinced they offer any meaningful benefit against the clock.
Let's go over the good stuff first. The good stuff is mostly everything about the shorts in terms of construction, fit and on-the-bike comfort.
The Aerofoils are constructed from a warp-knitted Coolmax/elastane mix, with more elastane in the bibs for a bit of extra stretch to accommodate different torso lengths.
The leg grippers are a silicone filament that's woven into the leg cuffs; it's very nicely done and holds the shorts nicely, as well as gripping leg warmers effectively.
Looks-wise you'll take or leave the big POC logo depending on your tastes; I don't mind it. I do like the reflective panel on the rear, and the fabric itself has a nice finish that looks good too. Fit-wise they're on the large side of average but not excessively so, with an L fitting me fine; I'm normally an L or an XL depending on the brand.
The Contour pad is a 3D, seamless, multi-layer chamois with vibration-reducing silicone inserts under your sit bones. It feels fairly dense and it's not particularly thick, but I've found it really comfortable on both long and short rides, and the inserts do seem to do a good job of getting rid of road chatter through your backbone. It's well positioned and nicely made, among my favourites.
In fact the shorts are among my favourites to drag out of the drawer for general riding. There's very little about the fit and the comfort that I don't like. They've been through the wash a good number of times with no issues at all, and the material on the seat where it meets the saddle is wearing very well. The fabric isn't the most hardy when it comes to getting snagged, though, and I managed to rip the shorts catching them on the saddle, which necessitated digging the sewing kit out for a repair.
So they're lovely comfy shorts, for long rides or short. You can have the same pad in POC's Raceday shorts that are £80 less, so what's the draw here? Well, POC claims that the dimpled fabric on the legs offers an aero advantage over a normal pair of shorts. And that, I would suggest, is, well, optimistic.
I've asked POC if there are any numbers to back that claim up. In fact I've asked several times. But I haven't had any, and so I'm going to assume that there isn't any wind tunnel data knocking about to verify the aero claim. Should some appear, I'll make sure I append it here.
Could the dimpled surface make a difference? It's not inconceivable – we know golf balls use a similar methodology and various bikes and frames use trip profiles to create turbulent airflow. And we also know that, taken as a whole, the rider accounts for about 80 per cent of the drag of the bike-and-rider combo, so making gains on the airflow round your body is meaningful.
On the other hand, we're talking about a small band of fabric between your thigh and your crotch that spends half its time pointing directly into the wind, when your knee is bent. If you're going to make a bit of your body aero, it's low on the list for sure. And you're paying an £80 premium for that, on top of the fact that other POC shorts are already very expensive. These aren't the most expensive shorts you can buy, but they're not far off.
Assuming you want aero gains, let's look at what else you could buy for your £280. You could get a Rapha Aerosuit, some Castelli Aero Speed gloves and some Velotoze shoe covers. Or you could go for a Castelli Velocissimo Sanremo speedsuit and a Bontrager Ballista helmet. I'm confident that spending your money in either of those two ways would result in a vastly increased aero advantage over just changing your shorts.
Bottom line? If you've got plenty of money to throw at your next pair of shorts and you want something that's well made, comfortable and good looking, the POC Contour Aerofoil shorts are worth a look. If you've got £280 to spend on making yourself more aero, then this isn't the best way to spend it. You can do better. Ironically, I think I'd be inclined to score these shorts more highly if they'd made no aero claims at all. Okay they're expensive, but they're very, very comfortable and some people have plenty of money to spend. As it is, I can't help but mark them down for saying a thing and then not really backing it up.
Great fit and comfort, but you can buy much better aero gains than this for your money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: POC Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts
Size tested: Large, Navy 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?
POC says: "Designed and engineered for maximum performance and comfort, POC's Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts are made from POC's Aerofoil fabric and incorporate the Contour chamois.
The breathable Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts have seamless and integrated leg gripper with a dimpled outer surface to reduce drag, which provides an aerodynamic and comfortable fit. The ergonomic design allows for maximum freedom of movement and the compact structure of the fabric supports your muscles, which helps circulation and recovery.
POC Contour is a 3D shaped and seamless chamois designed for maximum support and comfort. The 3D molded silicone based VPDS inserts are strategically tapered and shaped to reduce vibrations and optimize your position on the bike, while allowing for optimal airflow.
Contour Aerofoil Bib Shorts have a pocket in the rear mesh and a reflective print on back for improved visibility."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Contour chamois with 3D molded silicone based VPDS inserts.
Dimpled surface for low drag.
Seamless and integrated leg grippers for a secure and comfortable fit.
Ergonomic design for comfort and freedom of movement.
Warp knitted stretch fabric with compression properties.
Highly breathable mesh bibs.
Reflective print on back for improved visibility.
Pocket in the rear mesh.
They're beautifully made, for sure.
If it was just on comfort on the bike, they'd score higher. But the aero claims mark them down.
The fabric is super-comfy but it's not the strongest out there. I managed to rip the shorts snagging them on the saddle. Wearing well otherwise.
Couldn't be better.
I'm wearing an L, and I'm normally either L or XL in shorts.
Just about right.
Pretty much the comfiest bibs I've tried.
Super-high-end price tag is predicated on the aero-ness, and I'm not convinced they deliver a meaningful benefit there.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed many times, good as new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Judged on purely performance on the bike, extremely well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Price, aero claims.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No, not at RRP.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
They're excellent shorts, but the aero claims seem pretty spurious and for that reason they don't really live up to the price. Ironically, if they'd made no aero claims at all about the shorts they'd probably get a higher score.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.