Polish brand Podia might not be the best-known marque out there, but its Club bib shorts can hold their own against the very best. They're excellent: one of the best examples of premium bib shorts that I've come across this year.
With their €165 (£148, at time of writing) price tag, they're targeted towards the upper end of the market, and in the performance stakes they are right up there with the £180 Le Col HC bib shorts and Rapha's £195 Pro Team II bib shorts.
They also have a more luxurious feel than the £20-odd cheaper Giant Elevate bib shorts.
It starts with the brilliantly graded Lycra that supports your muscles, with an optimum leg length for summer riding – not troubling the tops of your knees, but encompassing your quads. These are the standard length, but you can also buy a longer-leg version with an additional 2cm at the gripper section.
The fabric is light, too – the entire garment weighs in at a Rapha-matching 177g, which is impressive, especially given that these are a medium versus the small Pro Team IIs David tested. Moreover, the bib section features mesh shoulders so that they feel light and cool against the body too.
Overall, cooling is excellent. Aside from ultra-lightweight bib shorts designed specifically for the purpose, this is as fresh as you're likely to feel on the road, and they performed superbly in the 2018 British summer heat before it deserted us.
Once it had, the fabric was thick enough to cope with cool mornings bordering on the low teens. I was also unfortunate enough to get caught in a heavy rainshower or two too. The fabric may not be water resistant or anything like that, but the chamois is definitely designed to stay light in wet conditions. Podia says that it features a hydrophilic surface that keeps water away from the high-density foam, allowing it to breathe more effectively and stay drier.
I was impressed with it in these conditions, just as I was in the hot and dry. It's textured under the cover, and good at distributing pressure so you don't get a numb rear. There's also a lighter-density section down the middle channel and around the edges. It's not the most intricate design or polished of finishes – the rough edges where you can see the foam itself are a small disappointment – but it nevertheless performs brilliantly over long days in the saddle.
Comfort and optimum fit around the leg is ensured through the use of tiny bobbled grippers over the 4.5cm hems, while the seams are high quality too, well positioned on the skin to avoid potential chafing. The long versions have a 6.5cm hem/gripper section.
Washing on a 40-degree cycle doesn't trouble them, despite Podia recommending a 30 degree setting.
Lastly, I think they look good too – the small tab on top of the right leg and classy Podia logos add enough detail to keep them stylish yet understated, and you can happily wear them with your favourite jersey rather than needing to stick with a Podia one – although you might want to given that the Club Colours one I reviewed is brilliant.
Podia's Club bib shorts can stand up to the biggest players, but without the super-high price tag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Podia Club Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Podia says: "The Club Bib Shorts have been put through extensive testing, with feedback that has helped develop them into some of the most comfortable shorts around. Using high quality matte black Italian compression lycra and a 45mm gripper tape it guarantees performance on even most demanding rides.
"Minimal and long-lasting silicone Podia mountain logos as well as subtle woven labels bearing the Podia tri-colours match them perfectly to the Podia jerseys.
"The pad features a 100kg/m2 high density foam for a comfortable and unrestrictive fit on the longest days in the saddle. It has an anatomical bi-stretch fabric which helps to adapt to the riders body. A hydrophilic surface allows the pad to breath while a bacteriostatic treatment keeps it fresher for longer."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Matte black Italian compression lycra
45mm gripper tape
Reflective inserts on the back for visibility
Flat stitched seams
Subtle Podia design elements
Generally very good, aside from the rough edges of the chamois – it may not make much difference to its longevity, but it looks untidy.
Castelli's Progetto 2 Air pad and Rapha's size-specific Cytech chamois are a cut above in my opinion, but this one is very good too. Elsewhere, these are great.
No flaws after a month of testing.
I'm very impressed with the fit of the Club bib shorts – they're lightly compressive in all the right areas without being restrictive.
It sizes just right – a medium fits me well-to-snugly, as it should and as I like.
177g is very respectable for a summer pair of medium-sized bib shorts that doesn't aim to be super-lightweight.
The most comfortable summer bib shorts out of all I've ever owned or tested are Rapha's Pro Team II bib shorts. These match them.
€165/£148 seems like a good deal given the price of the competition.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very impressively indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Performance feel, high quality, very good chamois comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, to be honest.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes – they're a perfect pairing for the Club Colours jersey, or someone else's.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
There's very little not to like here; they're beautifully comfortable, maybe not quite perfect but not far off, and worth the money.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding