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The Lusso Carbon Bib Shorts are, to my mind, a UK-made classic: highly comfortable, cool and stylish. The 2018 update is even better – they're hard to go past for the money. A classic just got better.
Back in 2016 I gave the previous model of the Carbon shorts 4.5 stars, saying they were 'an excellent choice of bib shorts for all-day rides, and very good value'. Since then I've worn the Carbons many, many times. They've become my go-to shorts for rides long or short. Two years on and probably 100 wash cycles later, they still look like new as well – testament to Lusso's selection of material and build quality.
If you've managed to make a borderline-classic, you don't want to be faffing with it too much. A few years back I came to replace my then go-to rubbish-weather bib shorts. What had fitted me perfectly were now unwearable, due to a change in manufacturing country, process and a few materials. Lusso doesn't seem a brand to change for change's sake, and its kit has occasionally drawn review comments to the effect that it seems a bit staid, and not up-to-date. I say on the contrary, stick to what you're good at, cement a reputation for quality and consistency, and you'll win customers for life who will be your best marketing tool.
Enter the 2018 Carbon bibshort. The fabric on the straps is the same quality material as in the previous Carbon, and also used in its excellent Dryline baselayer, meaning you look co-ordinated. The black shorts material is still the same too.
Construction remains of a high quality, the same flatlocking on the front of the thigh and pad, with normal stitching elsewhere. (In the photos you can see a radio pocket on the rear of the shoulder straps – this doesn't feature on the production models.)
The major update is the triple-density pad, from Italian brand Elastic Interface, owned by cycling short giant Cytec. The pad is designed for long-distance rides, the perineal cutout removing pressure where you don't want it, the triple-density foam providing it where you do.
I must confess to a wee smidge of concern when first sitting atop the new pad, which felt more pronounced and firmer than the previous, but over the following five hours riding in the Highlands my concerns were forgotten, as was the pad and indeed the shorts themselves – the fit, leg placement, straps and fabric all working perfectly to keep me focused on other things, like the stupid 25-tooth gearing of my fast bike in mountains.
Another change is the leg gripper – now longer at 75mm, with subtle reflective trim dotted about it. The previous grippers were fine, but these ones are perfect. The shorts simply don't budge an inch without feeling tight, and the gripper is now breathable to aid cooling and prevent any feeling of sweatiness underneath.
Sartorially, the Carbon is still understated, and with the removal of all red trim now pairs even better with any colour of jersey or jacket. A new feature is a thin strip of reflective piping on the rear of the thigh and now-reflective 'Lusso' branding on the front, pedalling motion aiding driver perception at night.
I'm 6ft tall and 74kg and the medium size was perfect, pretty much bang on Lusso's size chart for waist and chest. It says for my height I should be a large, but the straps have enough give to accommodate the slighter among us to maintain a good leg/waist fit.
Over a month or so's riding, short or long, flat or hilly, in cooler or hotter weather, the Carbon bib shorts were flawless. Once on the bike I ceased to be aware of them, be it straps, around the waist, the pad or thigh. No need to adjust anything, after a period of time or perhaps athletic out-of-the-saddle sessions. Suffering up the oft 20-per cent-plus climb from Kenmore over to Glen Quaich on 34x25 after four and a half hours out, I was alone with my suffering – nothing nethers-related to distract from my feeling of ineptitude at speccing such an idiot's gearing.
This to me is the mark of a great short – one you don't think about until you need to get changed at the end of a long ride. I'm very pleased Lusso has clearly thought long and hard about the updated Carbon shorts, and they have only improved. My 2016's are now second-day backup to these, my new go-to pair.
Excellent performance and value, up-to-date features, great looks
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Lusso Carbon Bib Shorts V2
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
They are for people who want to ride all day in warmer weather, and feel great doing so.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Italian CoolTech Fabric
AirTech Carbon Bib Fabric
Elastic Interface Pad 14mm
75 ml Reflective Leg Grippers
Flat and Overlocked Seams
50+ UV Ray Protection
Made in Manchester
While not 100% flat-stitched, the build quality is flawless. Crawling over every inch, there's not a thing out of place.
Supremely comfortable, can't fault them.
Based on the previous incarnation using the same materials and construction, I'm betting these will last and last.
Like. A. Glove.
At 194g they are pretty light – some shorts costing twice as much weigh more.
I simply can't fault them.
For £90 RRP, these are excellent value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Looks like new. Time will tell.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent – comfort, fit – the works. Stayed cool when working hard in hot sunshine.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit – zero movement, total comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
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 can't fault these. At all. Compared with shorts costing over twice as much, I'd pick these every time. It has to be five stars.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.