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Verdict: 
Long-distance comfort for the tenderest of posteriors
Weight: 
176g

For true martyrs to saddle discomfort, the combination of Orro's Bibshorts and GreenLime's Unico pad may be the answer to your prayers.

  • Pros: Lovely fit and comfort
  • Cons: Umm...

Sixty miles into this year's Cyclone event from Newcastle, I got talking to a fellow competitor. 'All that research and development that's gone into bib shorts,' he mused, 'and my bum still hurts!' Well, if you're reading this, temporary friend, I may have a ray of hope for you.

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Orro is known for its high-end, British-built bikes but the company also does a small range of clothing and accessories. The economically named 'Orro Bibshorts' are one such garment, and are in fact the only pair it does, which is simple for everyone. And by golly, it's a blinder.

orro_bikes_bibshort_-_side.jpg

My word, I've suffered over the years. On any ride over 30 miles, if I haven't got something right, either in bike position, nutrition or perhaps the fact that I'm completely average in all respects, it's my bum that lets me know about it first. To describe it as numbness would be to overlook the fact that it includes numbness's antithesis: acute pain. Many a bib short has come and gone, and while many pads look the part it's a rare one that earns praise from me.

Italian company YBC GreenLime produces two pad ranges in its Croatian factory: the Nudo (and women's equivalent Nuda) and the Unico (Unica) which Orro has chosen for these shorts. This incorporates two foam layers of different densities: a softer layer (50kg/m3) under the top fabric, and a higher-density layer underneath (80kg/m3 – the lowest density of three higher-density layers that the Unico is available with).

orro_bikes_bibshort_-_pad.jpg

As soon as I sat in the saddle I knew this was something special. (I'm really looking forward to trying some shorts with the 120kg foam lower layer!)

Hidden away, there's also a perforated backing cover for breathability. The top fabric is called Respiro, unsurprisingly aimed at better ventilation, though GreenLime produces five other top-layer fabrics for different applications.

There's plenty of high-tech stuff on GreenLime's website if you want to know more. This review isn't just about the pad, though. The Orro Bibshorts are fashioned in the main from something that resembles upmarket J-cloth fabric, which it calls 'Boost'. It has excellent stretch in all directions and achieves the trick of being both lightweight and warm, as well as allowing plenty of airflow and moisture transfer. I've worn them in a variety of conditions from hot summer to cold autumn rain (with kneewarmers) and they've been up to it all.

orro_bikes_bibshort.jpg

Orro reckons the compression effect of the fabric is 'good for circulation and muscle performance, whilst reducing recovery time'. This is difficult for me to test scientifically. Anecdotally, the legs were feeling fresher for longer, which could equally be down to the general good design and fit of the shorts and pad.

orro_bikes_bibshort_-_rear.jpg

Over the shoulders, the waffle-like fabric on the front of the straps and the semi-mesh back panel are stretchy and comfortable.

orro_bikes_bibshort_-_straps_front.jpg
orro_bikes_bibshort_-_straps_back.jpg

The leg grippers are 7cm deep, only stretching width-wise, and are backed with a fine rubberised web that grips well without irritating. They are attached with flatlocked seams to the other panels. I have complained in the past about garments lacking flatlocked seams, but there are hardly any in these shorts and, honestly, I couldn't tell the difference, so I'm going to shut up about this, I promise.

orro_bikes_bibshort_-_gripper.jpg

In terms of value, £110 isn't to be sneezed at, but it's pretty much mid-market when you can pay way beyond £150. The Nalini AHS Marmottes reviewed well and are the same price, but we also liked the Alé Corsas, which offer similar weight, comfort and compression for £65. Mike also raved about the Lusso Carbon bibs at £89.99.

> Buyer's Guide: 22 of the best cycling bib shorts

Price is the main thing holding these back from scoring full marks – it's hard to see how they could be improved upon – but in performance terms they deserve a 10. And if Orro were to produce them with the even thicker Unico pad I'd probably give them 11...

Verdict

Long-distance comfort for the tenderest of posteriors

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Orro Bibshorts

Size tested: Large

Tell us what the product is for

From the Orro website: "The Orro Bibshorts perfectly fuse style and function. The semi-perforated Boost lycra is designed to provide moderate compression and outstanding breathability. This combination helps improve blood flow and muscle performance whilst reducing recovery time. They are adorned with two gold reflective logos that improve low light visibility and, more importantly, give a luxurious finish. To complement the elegant exterior, an equally special pad is needed. The Unico pad from GreenLime uses state of the art foam shaping technology to create a pad that provides amazing comfort and whilst producing less waste. It is then covered in a highly breathable Respiro fabric to ensure long lasting comfort."

There are some bold, and not easily tested claims about the benefits of compression in there, but that aside there's no doubt that Orro has produced a very comfortable pair of bib shorts and the pad is great.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From Orro:

Main Body - Boost Fabric (80% Polyamide, 20% Elastane, 210gsm)

Semi-perforated compression fabric for maximum performance and breathability

Level 5 pilling resistance

SPF 40+

Multi-structure bib straps for reduced pressure points

Elasticated grippers

2 gold reflective logos

Designed in Britain label detail

Unico Respiro Pad by GreenLime

Respiro high breathability layer

Medium density comfort foam layer (50kg/m2)

High density performance foam layer (80kg/m2)

Perforated backing to decrease friction without affecting breathability

Elastic mesh cup helps regular blood flow and airflow to improve comfort

In 5 sizes

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

All the stitching and overstitching is strong. None of the seams are flatstitched (with the exception of the shoulder strap junction) but that doesn't seem to impact on comfort one bit.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Really nice in use; very comfortabe throughout, close but not too tight fitting and good on both warm and cooler days.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

A few weeks' use is hardly a stern test of durability but they've given no cause for concern and I haven't been able to pop any stitching by stretching them for "pit stops".

Rate the product for fit:
 
10/10

I'm tall and still quite slim for an old gadgy, and these were spot-on for me.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
7/10

Looking at Orro's size chart I would probably have opted for a medium (32-34 inches) but the Large test pair were perfect, so if like me you are tall, you may want to size up. There are five sizes available.

Rate the product for weight:
 
8/10

Pretty typical for shorts at this price point.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
10/10

"Invisible" against the skin throughout; the wide leg grippers do an excellent job and the pad is really good.

I don't find many bibs that I'm happy to wear over longer distances so I'm happy to recommend these, especially to people who struggle to find comfortable pads.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

What price can you put on a pair of shorts that are comfortable, fit well and perform well? As it happens, at £109.99 these are right in the mid-bracket and represent fair value, though there are cheaper ones that have rated highly.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

They seem rugged for their weight and the aerated fabric didn't seem to mind a bit of contact with rogue bits of Velcro.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Setting aside claims about blood flow and muscle performance, there's no doubt a really well-fitting pair of shorts is a huge boost to your performance over a long ride, and that's what these did.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Great fit and comfort, good looks and an excellent pad.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

At the same price point you might like to look at the Nalini AHS Marmotte shorts. We also liked the Alé Corsas at £65, and the Lusso Carbon bibs at £89.99.

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 thought about how these could be improved and couldn't really come up with much. They could be cheaper, maybe lighter... but other than that, they're pretty near-perfect for me, so I'm giving them a 9.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 52  Height: 6'2  Weight: 73kg and holding steady

I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10   My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking

3 comments

Avatar
StraelGuy [1601 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

I too have an arse that always suffers on longer sportives, although it might be that the pad in my Lussos is old and tired. Will probably pick up a pair of these next spring, they sound fantastic.

Avatar
RobD [682 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

You mention wanting to try the higher density pad in some shorts, is it likely that higher density would equal more comfort, or is it that the chosen mix is actually about right, without becoming too firm? I something think that people get a bit tied up in the 'more is better' philosophy, not that the higher density won't be better, but there has to be a cut off somewhere.

Avatar
huntswheelers [160 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

I wish you'd review some Fat Lad At The Back Bib Shorts.... if the branding isn't to taste then Stealth ones are available.... and I know these have been tested in real conditions by, lets say, respected cyclists.... and still much of the cycling press won't review them and for the price they are a bargain.... and I know they have out lasted so called "brands"....... and no I have no affiliation to the company at all.... I just get fed up of them being ignored...