Café du Cycliste's Adèle thermal bib shorts are warm and comfortable with an excellent Elastic Interface seatpad, but they're very expensive.
These shorts are made from a thermal fleece fabric (49% polyamide, 35% polyester, 16% elastomer) that provides plenty of warmth in cold conditions. Worn with leg warmers, these will do the job right down to the point where you need to switch to something with windproof panels (that's about 4 or 5°C, although you might be entirely different). The material is breathable and stretchy but you don't get as many panels as with some options out there. On the plus side, that means there are few seams to affect comfort, but it also means the shaping and fit aren't exceptional.
The fabric has a DWR (durable water repellent) treatment that, for reasons best known to itself, Café du Cycliste doesn't advertise. I'm just back from a ride where the roads were wet and 'orrible and there was some mist in the air, but it wasn't actually raining. The water sprayed up from the road didn't soak through, it just beaded up and rolled off. Proper rain will get in, but you get a useful amount of water repellency here.
The legs are cut long, reaching down to just above my knees, so those hard working muscles are completely covered. The elasticated grippers are fairly narrow, the idea being not to compromise the shorts' thermal qualities, with a grippy silicone band inside to help them stick, and they work very well either on your skin or leg warmers.
The CyTech Elastic Interface seatpad puts in a great performance. Both the depth and density vary between different sections to give you effective cushioning without too much bulk, along with lots of flexibility and breathability. It kept me perfectly comfortable throughout even very long rides.
The lightweight mesh bib section is highly breathable too, and the straps hold everything in place without you ever really noticing them, which is exactly what you want.
Reflective tabs on the side of each leg flash brightly in car headlights while the Café du Cycliste branding is far less obvious, limited to just one logo printed on the front of the right leg.
As well as this cobalt blue version, the Adele shorts are available in khaki and dark aubergine.
Although these shorts have a lot going for them, I can't get on board with the price. Santini's Eureka thermal bib shorts have an RRP of £119.99, Castelli's Omloop thermal bib shorts are £120 and Lusso's 2-Zero thermal bib shorts are £69.99. Granted, Rapha's Classic thermal bib shorts are nearly as pricey at £170.
The Adèle shorts put in a good, solid performance and they feature a high-quality seatpad, but they don't do enough to convince me to pay £175.
Warm and stretchy winter shorts with added water repellency, but they don't do enough to justify the high price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cafe du Cycliste Adele Cobalt Blue Thermal Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Café du Cycliste says, "Designed for colder weather riding, Adèle provide exceptional performance when the temperature drops. The shorts are cut slightly longer for more protection while the reduced width gripper also allows the fleece lining to extend further down the leg. The top of the range chamois uses a blend of foam densities to ensure maximum comfort across a wide range of rides.
"The panel constructed shorts section strikes the optimum balance between stretch and support while the mesh bib section allows for additional ventilation to aid core temperature control during periods of increased effort. Adèle are styled in block colours and also feature reflective elements for added visibility in poor or murky light.
"When paired with our Lola warmers, Adèle will provide complete protection against the elements."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Café du Cycliste lists these technical features:
49% nylon | 35% polyester | 16% elastomer
Thermal Fleece Lining
Top of the Range CyTech Pad
Excellent Moisture Transportation
Premium Mesh Bib Section
Four Way Stretch
Made in Europe
The fit is good but I've used multi-panelled shorts that are less reliant on the stretch of the fabric to provide their shape.
The legs are cut long to provide plenty of coverage.
The fabric is warm and the seatpad is excellent.
To my mind, these shorts are good but they don't do enough to justify the price tag.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They wash in the machine at 30°C and you're not supposed to tumble dry them. They're still looking good a few washes in.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Adèle shorts provide plenty of warmth and comfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good level of warmth, good breathability, great seatpad.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price is too high, in my opinion.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No, too expensive.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? As above
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are good shorts, scoring mostly 7s, but the price is too high, in my opinion. The low value score doesn't quite knock the overall score down to a 6.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.