dhb has long been known for its value for money clothing and nothing has changed here. Yes, they're £130 – but bear with me: these dhb Aeron Lab Raceline bib shorts are phenomenal and even with that price tag they knock the spots off others that cost much, much more.
- Pros: Amazingly soft fabrics, very comfortable pad, great fit
- Cons: You've got to be happy to show a bit of skin, mesh material isn't the strongest
Lab is dhb's latest range that focuses purely on speed and performance – but without sacrificing comfort. The fabrics used for the legs are just so impressive. Often when I wear a pair a shorts and I don't notice them then that is a success – no irritating seams or tight leg cuffs for instance – but with the dhbs you notice them constantly purely because they are so comfortable.
The fit is close – these are designed for elite cyclists after all – but the material is so soft they never feel restrictive at all.
The outside of each leg is made from a lightweight mesh which gives them a huge amount of stretch so you get a supportive fit without it being overly compressive. It is quite see-through though so if you're modest they might not be for you.
The rest of the material is a heavier knit which resists any abrasion from the saddle and preserves your modesty. Just like the mesh, it fits snugly without being tight so is very comfortable to wear.
With the material being so closely cut there's no real need for leg grippers. There are some light silicone sections around the front but they are so minimal they are completely unobtrusive.
All of this is great, but if the chamois isn't up to the job then everything else is immaterial. dhb has been a long-time user of Elastic Interface, one of the biggest pad manufacturers in the business.
The Lab shorts use its Road Performance Pad which dhb claims can give committed riders comfort for over seven hours. It's a really thin pad and I really couldn't see how it would be comfortable over the distance.
When I first started riding, one of the old boys in the club told me that the harder and faster you ride, the narrower and less padded your saddle needs to be because you are putting less weight on it. True or not, it's done me right over the years and it pretty much sums up this pad.
The harder you ride, the more comfortable it gets. There is so little material there, even with its three different densities of foam, that there is no bunching of the material or any pressure points after hours in the saddle.
The bib straps are wide and thin, which spread the load so you don't get any pressure points; in fact you don't feel them at all.
The cut, as I said earlier, is all about performance and so the fit is, as dhb calls it, 'Uncompromising second-skin.'
Don't be put off if you aren't whippet thin, though, as there is a good spread of sizes and I found the shorts to have a little more give than expected. If you stick with the size guide on the Wiggle website you'll be fine.
So, has dhb overdone it on the price front?
The quality is absolutely spot on and even with such lightweight materials I've had no issues at all with durability, although I could imagine they might not stand up so well to crashing or catching them on something compared to shorts with a thicker material.
One of the most comfortable pair of bib shorts I've ever worn are the Assos TFF.1 and these dhbs are on another level. Those Assos cost £210 – which makes the Labs look extremely good value for money.
I could go through various shorts I've worn that are cheaper, but none of them even come close to these, they are truly sublime and I'm going to wear them until they fall apart. If you've got a Wiggle Platinum account they'll set you back just £114 too.
Some of the best race shorts money can buy, with great fabrics, an awesome pad and a great fit
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Aeron Lab Raceline Bib Short
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
dhb says, "If speed is the aim, the all new Aeron LAB Raceline bib shorts from dhb are the answer. Constructed from innovative fabrics, with an exceptional all-day chamois pad and a race ready fit, these are bib shorts that won't hold you back."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Aeron LAB. Engineered in the best laboratory we know: out on the road.
Over two years in the making, the all new Aeron LAB collection combines rigorous real-world testing with the best components available, resulting in a collection tuned to the needs of demanding riders reaching for new levels of performance. Because when you're pushing yourself, you need kit that exceeds your expectations.
Aeron LAB Raceline: tuned for speed.
Raceline has been designed around one thing: speed. Using fabrics specifically selected to disrupt air flow and help you cut through the air more efficiently, Aeron LAB Raceline feels fast, looks fast and is fast.
Elastic Interface® Road Performance Pad
A high-performance pair of shorts need a high-performance pad. For this dhb have turned to the Italian experts Elastic Interface®, renowned for producing the most technically advanced and comfortable cycling chamois pads in the world.
The Road Performance Pad is constructed with 3 different densities of high-density foam, which combine to give committed riders comfort on rides of over 7 hours length. Key to this all-day comfort are high density inserts, purposely engineered and positioned with the help of university research, to give optimum support at key pressure points when riding in an aggressive road bike position.
Race ready, second skin fit
Made for top level road cyclists with a cyclist's physique, Aeron LAB has a close, uncompromising second-skin fit. It's built for riding fast.
Designed to sit extremely close to the body with no excess fabric to slow you down, Aeron LAB has a closer fit than the dhb Aeron collection. It will feel different: compressive and close. Once on the bike, Aeron LAB comes into its own.
By using fabrics that offer the perfect balance between supportive compression and flexibility, the Aeron LAB Raceline bibs have an exceptionally close fit without feeling at all restrictive.
Premium Aerodynamic Fabrics
With speed the as the mission, dhb have made no compromises in constructing these bibs, working with world-leading fabric mills to build a special pair of shorts.
The main body of the shorts is made from a lightweight and high-wicking stretch fabric from Schoeller®, one of the world's leading innovators in creating high performance fabrics. Offering the perfect level of compression and breathability, this helps you to stay comfortable, no matter how hard the effort.
The side panel of the shorts is made from a lightweight mesh fabric, specifically chosen for its exceptional breathability and airflow disruption characteristics.
An integrated gripper stitched into this fabric eliminates the need for an extra seamline, and wide, soft bib straps keep the bibs in position without feeling restrictive.
dhb recommends going up a size if you aren't of a performance cyclist build but I found the shorts to have a bit more give than expected.
They could be considered expensive, but when you compare them with others offering similar performance and fit they are really good value.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
dhb provides a mesh bag to wash the shorts in because of the mesh fabric, which isn't unheard of for this type of shorts, although I've washed them without it plenty of times without issue.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For riders who really like to ride on the rivet they are hard to fault.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Just how good they feel when you are wearing them.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fabrics could be a little fragile if you snag them.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Absolutely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are really excellent performance bib shorts – I'm thinking dhb has pretty much set the benchmark here.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.