Le Col makes some really impressive clothing and the Pro bib shorts, constructed around an excellent seatpad, are another high-quality option.
The key feature of any cycling shorts is the seatpad – if that's no good you can forget about everything else – so let's start there. Le Col uses a Dolomiti Pro Gel pad that's superbly comfortable without being ridiculously bulky. I mean, yes, it's reasonably thick but not so much that it gets in the way.
You get the deepest, densest padding underneath your ischial sit bones with enough in the perineum area to keep you feeling comfy whether you're sitting up in the saddle or hunkered down over the drops. The padding is sectionalised, with deep channels between that aid both movement and airflow, and perforations help with breathability. All in all, it's a really good pad.
The shorts are made in Italy from an 80% polyamide, 20% elastane fabric, and most of the seams are double stitched which bodes well for durability. The multi-panel design results in very little bunching as you pedal. I'm between a medium and a large according to Le Col's size chart so I opted for the medium to be on the safe side, and I'd have actually preferred a slightly more compressive fit, if I'm being picky.
The legs are pretty long; I measured the inseam at 25cm. Once on and a little stretched out, that meant they covered my quads fully. (It's not me in the photos, but we're a similar size.)
The legs are held in place by wide grippers that bear the Le Col name. These have a honeycomb of silicone on the inside that sticks even to damp, sweaty skin. I certainly haven't had any issues with the legs riding up in use. The white writing has stayed white through repeated washing.
Le Col does the details very well. You also get a small reflective tab sewn into the side seam of each leg that's noticeable at night because it's constantly moving, and you get a subtle black-on-black embroidered logo on the back. It's not immediately visible but it'll impress whoever's riding behind you in a paceline.
The lower (Lycra) panels extend higher than those of many others shorts at the sides and rear – well up on to your torso – while the bib section is made from a lightweight, perforated mesh. I found the wide shoulder straps to be spot on, holding the shorts securely in place without being particularly noticeable in use.
You can pick up a pair of bib shorts for £50 – or cheaper if you get them at discount – but £100+ price tags aren't unusual these days. The Castelli Free Aero Race Bibshorts that we reviewed recently are £140, for instance, while Sportful's Total Comfort Bibshorts are £130.
It's up to you how much you want to spend, of course, but I'd advise investing in good shorts like the Le Col Pros if you can because they can be the difference between enjoying a ride and enduring it. These are also built to last; it's unlikely that you'll need to replace them for ages whereas cheaper options are sometimes a false economy. (If your budget is limited, check out the guide below.)
Overall, these are impressive shorts. As mentioned, I'd have preferred a slightly more supportive fit but the materials are high quality, the construction is good and so is the attention to detail.
Very good shorts built around a really comfortable seatpad
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Pro Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Le Col says:
Le Col's fastest pro shorts. Developed and proven in the pro peloton this is a race ready garment focused on performance without foregoing comfort.
The Pro Bibs use a lycra sport fibre, engineered to provide exceptional fit and recovery power to deliver dependable form season after season. The updated fabric on the upper section of the bibs ensure that the shorts stay in place while keeping fabric to a minimum. The trademark oversized Le Col gripper with intermittent silicone tabs ensure the shorts hold firmly in place with less pull.
A Pro Dolomiti Chamois has been chosen specifically for cyclists focused on performance and looking for dependable comfort and quality on long rides or competitive races. The thinner pad has a highly effective silicone treatment and provides comfort without sacrificing performance by removing the excess bulk of larger chamois. A special thread and stitch shape down the outside edges of the pad reduces rubbing to an absolute minimum.
In addition, the seams have been flat locked to eliminate irritation and the logos are embroidered to last the lifetime of the product.
This Pro Bib Short is Pro Racewear available to all. Most suitable for races or competitive club rides.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Le Col:
Lycra Sport Fibre
Mesh bib straps
Dolomiti Pro Gel Chamois
Flat locked seams
Silicone leg gripper
Embroidered Le Col logo
There was certainly no bagginess but my preference would be for a slightly more supportive fit.
Le Col's size chart worked for me.
£100+ isn't unusual for bib shorts and there are some out there priced at £300; £150 is a significant investment but you are getting high quality here.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They go into the machine at 30 degrees. The white writing on the leg grippers hasn't gone a horrible grey and there are no plasticky decals to slowly flake off.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These are really good shorts that provide plenty of comfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The seatpad is a high point.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
As mentioned, I'd have liked a slightly more compressive fit.
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
I reckon these are a solid 8. The performance is definitely an 8 and the workmanship means that these should last well.
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.