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Milltag's Sector Men Bib Shorts are well made and comfortable, but not as supportive as I'd like. The price isn't bad for the quality, especially the pad, and the leg grippers work well and comfortably too, but I did have some niggles with the fit – not helped by the eight-panel construction.
Milltag's Sector range is a premium race collection where each product has been created for the high-tempo demands of competition. The graphics on the ends of the legs match the pattern on the rest of the Sector wardrobe of jersey, gilet and jacket.
The main body of the bibs is constructed from four-way stretch Lycra and Milltag says it has made the shorts with fewer panels (eight, in fact) for comfort, which goes against conventional wisdom that suggests more panels make for a better fit and thus more comfort. But what the shorts lack in panels they more than make up for in fabric technology, with Eschler mesh-backed Lycra supposedly increasing airflow and Coldblack treatment added to the material to reduce the heat absorbed by black clothing by reflecting those nasty UV rays – both designed to give your thighs a more pleasurable experience in the sunniest and hottest conditions.
The patterned sections at the hem, or Power Cuffs as they're called, have an integrated silicone gripper, meaning the skin side of the fabric is covered in tiny tacky dots to keep the shorts tight to your legs. In practice it's less noticeable and more comfortable than the concentrated band of silicone some other shorts use as it's a broad swathe of slightly sticky material and you can't noticeably feel the silicone sticking on your leg, but the cuffs do still keep a nice firm grip to the thigh.
The bibs are a mesh construction, or 'body-netting' if you will, of three parts, the front being a fine mesh, and the rear a more holey fabric with a central Lycra panel that extends up to the mid back.
The heart of any shorts is the pad and the one in the bottom of the Milltag Sectors comes from Cytech, a company that produces a range of pads used by far more famous names than Milltag and included in far more expensive shorts than the Sectors. The Road Performance chamois is extensively patterned with all sorts of contours, ridges and bumps to form an incredibly complex pad. It's thick as well, with three levels of anti-bacterial impact foam for shock absorption and memory foam for maximum comfort and rapid sweat-wicking. The pad is only attached to the shorts around the edges, the 'No Sew' system around the centre allowing the pad a small amount of independent movement to the shorts for easier saddle shuffling. The pad is noticeably thick under cheek, maybe even too padded for some, which keeps things more than happy down there whether you're racing or going further afield, and there hasn't been any foam compression yet.
The low panel construction of the shorts does make them feel less fitted than others, and they do feel a bit vague in parts and wrinkle a bit more in places, especially at the front around the join between top of leg and torso. This isn't helped by the relative light weight of the material, though the four-way stretch of the Lycra does do its best to keep everything together. You can feel how elastic that stretch is and how much it gives compared with other shorts when you pull them on, but although they might not feel the most supportive of shorts in critical areas, they remain comfortable for the duration of any ride.
The Eschler mesh-backed Lycra technology and Coldblack treatment are harder to quantify as regards their efficacy but the material is lightweight which makes them pleasant to ride in when the going gets hot, be that when riding with a sweat on through effort or through higher ambient temperatures.
Fit and comfort of a pair of shorts is always very personal, but these Milltag Sectors fall into the acceptably okay for me rather than all-day favourites or the first shorts out the drawer before heading out on a ride. There's nothing necessarily bad about them at all, and they do have some features of note, especially for the price: the chamois is well padded and shaped for all-day comfort, the Lycra is light and nice against the skin, and the thigh grippers work really well. The pattern at the end of the legs looks smart, too, especially if you pair them up with the matching top, if that sort of thing matters to you.
But sadly, the low panel count and lightweight Lycra make them just the tiniest bit baggy when you might want snug; it's not going to ruin your ride but it just feels a little disconnected in important places where things should be happily at one with each other. I'm usually a stock medium in most shorts and these were a little loose in the lap; admittedly, I'm probably at the thin end of the size after a long summer of riding so if you're a more medium medium then this might be less of an issue for you.
Price-wise they're pretty good, though there's plenty of competition out there. Jack rated dhb's 'most technical shorts to date', the £80 Aeron Speeds, very highly, and Sportful's Gruppetto bib shorts are worth considering too, at £85.
Good looking shorts with some nice features that are more than comfortable enough, but may lack support for some
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Milltag Sector Men Bibs
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?
Milltag says: "The Sector Men Bibs are a part of Sector, the Milltag premium race collection where each product has been created for racing. A perfect blend of lightweight elastic fabrics and aerodynamic contours provide exceptional comfort whilst the high contrast mono graphic guarantees you will be seen. Maximum performance when riding at your limits. Fewer panels and a top of the range chamois means these are the bibs for comfortable long days in the saddle."
Whether you use them for racing or longer possibly slower rides they're a good pair of shorts with a quality chamois, the low panel count has its niggles though.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Milltag lists these features:
Designed in London, handmade in Europe
Four way stretch
Eschler mesh backed lycra fabric for increased air flow
Coldblack to reflect UV rays for maximum comfort in the hottest conditions
Elastane compression fabric in the centre
Cytech Road Performance chamois with three levels of anti-bacterial impact foam for shock absorption, with memory foam for maximum comfort and rapid sweat wicking
'No Sew' system around the centre for increased comfort
Deep mesh 'Power Cuffs' with integrated silicone gripper
Black body-netting braces
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Thrown in with everything else cycling, doing fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As bib shorts go they did their job very well, but the low panel count and lightweight Lycra led to fit issues.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The good quality chamois, the patterned leg ends and silicone band of the leg grippers.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They felt a bit vague as to their level of support in certain areas.
Did you enjoy using the product? Mostly, they weren't unwearably uncomfortable at all, just not quite right for me.
Would you consider buying the product? I'd need something more fitted, to be honest.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Like any pair of cycling shorts I'd encourage them to try them on first if possible.
Use this box to explain your score
These aren't the worst cycling shorts I've tried, but they're not the best. There's an awful lot in their favour making them overall pretty comfortable; the pad is good, as are the leg grippers, but they were just a little too vague in their level of support for me.
About the tester
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I'm on at the time
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: road racing, cyclo-cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.