Sportful's Fiandre NoRain Pro Bib Shorts are excellent when you're cycling in cold and damp weather, with superb comfort backed up by impressive fit and durability. They are a good three-season, possibly four-season, choice for UK cyclists. Wear them on their own or pair with knee or leg warmers and you have a versatile and solid bib short.
- Pros: Pad comfort, rain-repellency, excellent fit
- Cons: Not cheap
The Italian company has been successfully rolling out its rain-repellent NoRain fabric to an increasing range of clothing under its Fiandre label over the years. I've been impressed with the various jackets and jerseys I've reviewed that make use of this material, but these bib shorts are my personal pick of the range.
The shorts are made from Sportful's NoRain Thermal material, and have a brushed fleece lining as well as a nanotechnology water-repellent coating, a TC Pro pad, flat seams throughout plus minimal seaming for extra water resistance, and raw-cut elastic leg bands.
The fit of the shorts is perfect really. The longer leg length provides more coverage and warmth, and the soft lining adds a luxurious feeling that definitely makes you feel a bit better prepared when stepping out with the bike in the morning when you might rather be tucked up under the duvet.
The TC Pro padded insert exists in numerous Sportful products and is one of the best on the market. Underneath the soft dimpled surface, which Sportful says helps reduce pressure and wicks moisture away from the skin, is a multi-density closed-cell urethane foam. The edges are seamless to minimise irritation. It really is impressively comfortable. The shape is perfect, and the foam is supportive enough without feeling at all bulky to keep you pedalling in absolute comfort for many many miles.
The bib straps are a perforated lie-flat design. They are comfortable, with no irritation to detect across the shoulders and they spread the pressure nicely.
The front of the shorts is quite low, with adequate stretch in the material for easy nature breaks.
The NoRain material isn't 100 per cent waterproof, but it goes a long way to keeping you drier for longer than regular bib shorts. The extra thickness of the material also prevents the onset of the chill, so you remain in a warmer and drier place for longer. That helps when you're ticking off the hours on a long Sunday ride.
Worn with leg or knee warmers, they're an ideal accompaniment to milder winter rides and perfect for spring and autumn cycling, so don't pack them away too quickly when the warmer weather finally arrives.
As for value – £120 isn't to be sneezed at, but looking around at similar designs suggests the Sportfuls aren't outrageous: Castelli's Nano Flex Pro Omloop Bibshort and Morvelo's Blaze Stormshields are both £115. If they're too expensive, Sportful's own Fiandre NoRain shorts, with a different pad, are £80, and if you were happy to go longer, Madison's Fjord DWR 3/4 Bib Shorts are £79.99.
Sportful was inspired by Flandrian weather and cycling in developing its Fiandre range, but what works for Belgian cycling also works brilliantly for UK cycling, because our weather isn't all that different: wildly unpredictable and mostly mild and moist. The Fiandre range, and in particular these shorts, are successfully suited to meeting our demands.
In these bib shorts, the slightly thicker fabric and extra length provides more warmth and protection in the cold and wet, and the padded insert and fit contribute to a pair of shorts that are comfortable from the first mile to the last.
Brilliant warm, rain-repellent bib shorts for three-season cycling
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Sportful says: "Tried and trusted by the best in the worst conditions. The same great NoRain Thermal fabric combined with pro level feautres that will not only keep you warm and dry but alslo keep you comfortable as you cruise across the cobbles no matter what the weather."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
NoRain Thermal fabric: Nanotechnology water-repellent outside, brushed fleece inside.
Minimal seaming for additional water protection.
Raw-cut edge elastic leg band with silicone dot gripper.
TC Pro seat pad.
Perforated Ltd lie-flat bibs for superior comfort and ventilation
About the same as other similar designs. If these are too expensive, you can get the regular Fiandre NoRain Bib Shorts for less money but they forgo the excellent TC Pro chamois and posh bib straps.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems washing and looking after them at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliant performance for combatting cold and wet weather.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Really comfortable; so much warmer than regular bib shorts. Makes riding in the spring much more pleasant.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not really a lot to fault.
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 overall score
These shorts are easy to love for bad weather riding especially if you don't get on with bib tights and want the flexibility to pair with knee/leg warmers. They look a bit expensive compared to their little brother, which uses a different chamois and bib straps, but are within a fiver of Castelli's similar offerings. Their performance is good enough to justify the outlay – and my 9/10 score.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.