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Verdict: 
Brilliant warm, rain-repellent bib shorts for three-season cycling
Weight: 
248g
Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro Bib Shorts
9 10

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.

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts.jpg

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts.jpg

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. 

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - back.jpg

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - back.jpg

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.

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - cuffs.jpg

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - cuffs.jpg

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.

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - pad.jpg

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - pad.jpg

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.

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - straps back.jpg

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - straps back.jpg

The front of the shorts is quite low, with adequate stretch in the material for easy nature breaks.

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - straps front.jpg

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - straps front.jpg

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.

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - side.jpg

Sportful Fiandre Norain Pro bib shorts - side.jpg

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.

> Buyer's Guide: Essential wet weather cycle clothing and gear

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.

Verdict

Brilliant warm, rain-repellent bib shorts for three-season cycling

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?

From Sportful:

NoRain Thermal fabric: Nanotechnology water-repellent outside, brushed fleece inside.

Minimal seaming for additional water protection.

Anatomic fit.

Raw-cut edge elastic leg band with silicone dot gripper.

TC Pro seat pad.

Perforated Ltd lie-flat bibs for superior comfort and ventilation

Reflective accents

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for fit:
 
8/10
Rate the product for sizing:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

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.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

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.

4 comments

Avatar
Ogi [150 posts] 5 months ago
1 like

I have the non pro version of the shorts (less fancy pad). I can confirm that it is warm, comfortable and a great buy. I've been using it two years for now, quite extensively. I think it might survive this year as well before it's gone.

Avatar
Twowheelsaregreat [99 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Not a big fan of Fiandre stuff. Nice style but misses the target functionally I find.

Firstly, that hem is made from an annoying material that stretches and eventually stays that way, leaving you with shorts that have nice curly, loose hems. I've experienced that with some Hincapie shorts I bought too.

Secondly, the internal fabric retains sweat and feels damp whereas, something like the material in the Assos Tiburu shorts does a great job of moving the sweat away from the body. They feel dry after an intensive workout, which consequently leaves me feeling warmer at standstill or at a gentler pace. Not so with Fiandre in my opinion.

Avatar
cdamian [218 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

This and the version without the "pro" are my favourite bit of kit. I always have two of these and replace them right after they wear out. (with summer bibs I tend to experiment more)

I use them during the colder months and sometimes in the mountains when the weather is unpredictable.

The non-pro version is a bit warmer, but does not have the nice pad and wide straps.

There is also a light version for the summer, but it isn't useful as it has no insulation and isn't much water repellant either.

You can find these cheaper if you Google around a bit.

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [314 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

> The NoRain material isn't 100 per cent waterproof

It's 0 percent waterproof.

What is the hydrostatic head of the fabric? How long will these keep you dry in a full-on rain? 1 minute? How many wash cycles will the DWR last?