BTwin's 500 Cycling Bib Shorts are designed for regular riding and continue the French giant's reputation for dependable kit at favourable prices. Sandwiched between the 300 and 700 series, the 500 bibs are what I'd class as staples for everyday training and rides up to around the 50-mile mark. Much past 65 and I've found the otherwise compatible pad a little wanting; especially when riding my more upright tourer.
A penny shy of £25 buys you lightweight though reassuringly rugged six-panel polyamide/elastane mix shorts, while the mesh bibs are 100% polyester. Tactile elastic and silicone leg grippers do their job impeccably – better than some big brands' mid-range offerings – with no hint of discomfort or unsightly branding.
Three seasons' tog weight extends their horizons beyond spring and summer road riding when partnered with leg warmers, and ours are faring very well several weeks in, in spite of regular subjection to singletrack and forest detours. Despite some very cool, showery rides, drying times are favourable – 20 minutes, aided by a gentle breeze. Bargain on similar following tours de Zanussi.
The mesh straps are another plus. These feel a little thin but conform beautifully, holding everything in situ while still offering unrestricted movement. The mesh also contributes to efficient moisture eviction – at least, I've never felt unduly soggy following spirited turbo trainer sessions or longer outings in changeable temperatures, those days when it starts overcast and cool, calling for long-sleeve baselayer and gilet, roasting hot 20 minutes into the ride...
Padded inserts are deeply personal matters. For the most part, I reckon Decathlon has got the balance right here. It's a medium-density polyester with an anti-bacterial component which, in common with its 300 sibling (the non-bib version anyway, tested here), feels slightly loaf-like and less compliant than other mid-range pads but soon smooths out, inconspicuously.
I've found it comfortable for 40-50 road miles and the anti-bacterial component keeps odour well within socially acceptable limits. A couple of 70-mile outings on different, though very familiar, saddles left me feeling sore and chafed, which hasn't been the case with the brand's 700 series tested a couple of seasons back (and still rated highly in our latest test, read it here, though not as highly as the Aerofit Bib Shorts).
Summing up, I'd suggest serious mile munchers or those looking towards their first big ride should spend a good bit more, but for group rides and training, the 500 bibs offer a reliable performance.
Decent design for everyday training and 50-milers
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BTwin 500 Cycling Bib Shorts
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?
Decathlon describes these as for regular riding. I'd agree – certainly comfortable enough for 50-mile outings.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The bib on these men's cycling shorts ensures that they stay comfortably in place. The foam pad absorbs vibrations and reduces rubbing. Flat seams for added comfort.
Breathable, pre-formed, foam pad with antibacterial treatment
MOISTURE MANAGEMENT Perspiration is actively wicked away thanks to the fabric and the mesh bib.
STABILITY Double layer at the bottom of the thighs.
Mesh bib to reduce weight.
REDUCED CHAFING Large ventilated pad.
Mesh fabric is thinner, lighter, and more ventilated than cotton or polyester fabric.
This breathable fabric wicks away perspiration more quickly.
Seem durable and coped handsomely with my mixed terrain riding regime.
Very accurate – makes for easy online purchasing.
Generally excellent, although last season's pad seemed a notch better.
Much better bets than the 300 series for regular, distance riding. On par with several higher end models I use regularly.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washes very nicely at 30 degrees.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the BTwin 500 bib shorts are a decent benchmark for training and longer distance riding. The pad insert wasn't quite as comfortable as its predecessor, but nonetheless kept me happy and temperate for several hours. Bibs offer just the right level of support and fibres wick fairly efficiently too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Pretty much everything given their intended use.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Though good, pad isn't quite on par with its predecessors.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
At this price you don't get bells and whistles, but they're perfectly good everyday bib shorts.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)