I've had a mixed relationship with Bontrager bib shorts but the Velocis, they're like my new best friend ever. They've been a pain to review, mind – I'll explain why in a minute. Comfort is an investment, and while in any other walk of life 100 quid on a pair of shorts would make you baulk, I'm convinced here that it's justified.
So I mentioned they were difficult to review. Why? Well it goes like this:
'I'll chuck those Bontrager bibs on for a ride and make some notes when I get back.'
Get home to write notes and realise I haven't noticed anything about the shorts for the entire ride because they are just so comfortable... bugger!
This is how it goes, until I have to use them on the turbo so I can force myself to concentrate and make notes as I go.
My thighs are 24in in circumference, so some shorts can feel a little tight, but the Velocis have a bit of expansion in the leg by way of the equivalent of the elasticated waist for your legs. Basically, the legs are two-thirds traditional style Lycra, with gripper at the bottom, but the final third is made up of a more expansive material to allow some give without feeling restrictive.
To be honest, the snugness of most shorts around my legs is always there, so I don't really notice it that much anymore; take it away, though, and the Velocis feel just like a second skin.
Continuing the comfy theme is the Bontrager Arcus pad, part of its Inform Biodynamics range. It's a simple one, as in it's saddle shaped with the tiniest of channels running down through the middle, but it is very effective. The padding is quite thick at the rear, about 10mm I'd say, with a much thinner 2mm outer pad. None of it bunches or rucks between you and the saddle no matter what position you're riding in, whether you're head down in the drops or sitting up for a more relaxed pace.
Above the waist the Bontragers use two different mesh styles, with the side panels having more give than the front and back to aid movement. The bibs use a central rear section which runs right up to the shoulders before switching to the braces, which are simple pieces of wide elastic. Again, all of this means that they fit closely without being overly restrictive or tight.
I mentioned at the start of the review that the £100 price tag is justified and I stand by that. The fit and comfort is top notch – in fact I'd go so far as to say brilliant. The quality of construction feels great and durability isn't going to be an issue by the look and feel of things.
Against the competition the Bontragers stand up well – even against the BTwin Aerofits I tested a few months back, which use a very similar design on the legs. The Aerofits are half the price, though, so even though the Velocis just take the edge on overall comfort, they can't knock the BTwins off my top spot.
As for all-out comfort, the Bontragers are virtually there with the latest pair of Assos bib shorts I've worn; I said those were the most comfortable shorts I've worn to date, but at half the price the Velocis are the ones I'd take on a bang for buck calculation.
Overall, the Velocis aren't quite the best shorts I've worn to date, but they're right up there.
Excellent bib shorts offering superb comfort and performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager Velocis Bib Short
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?
Bontrager says, "Sustain hard efforts and dole out daily doses of pain to the rest of the group in the Velocis bib short. A sleek sihouette surrounds the plush Arcus inForm BioDynamic chamois that allows you to drop the hammer all week long.
"The Bib Bridge, mesh back, no-sew bib straps and dual-density chamois present a short with unmatched comfort and performance."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Arcus inForm BioDynamic Chamois - Italian made, OverEasy constructed Aircell pad
Profila Power main material with strategically placed Profila Cool mesh bib back
Lightweight, low-profile, no-sew bib straps offer great support and comfort
PinchLess leg construction design is more comfortable and flattering
Clean cut compression leg gripper
Reflective elements enhance visibility for maximum safety
9.5" (24cm) inseam
Fitted cut provides streamlined body fit for enhanced performance
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I'm becoming an expert in washing labels – 30-degree wash, nowt else.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Sooooooo comfortable and with a great fit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
You don't notice them at all when you wear them.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Bontrager quotes the reflective detailing but these are just token gestures.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Absolutely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Bontrager Velocis are truly excellent bib shorts, from the fit to the comfort and the price for such excellence. Oh yeah, I really like them, just in case you haven't noticed.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
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.