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The Louison Bobet SaintBrieuc 48 bibs are a heavyweight pair of shorts designed for long-distance and day-on-day cycling. Made from a Lycra that's noticeably burlier than any other pair of bib-shorts in the wardrobe and with a fat pad, they could be perfect for anyone who does big rides, and for those who like to venture away from the road where the shorts' substantial construction can cope with a harsher way of life.
Construction of the shorts is top notch, as you'd hope from the hefty price. All seams are flatlock sewn and, as is the theme with the shorts, pretty chunkily done so, but they're comfortable nevertheless.
The leg grippers are also on the bulky side, feeling especially so in these days of thin-but-wide leg-grippers, as they're finger wide and old-school thick with a silicone Louison Bobet logo on the inside to help with stiction.
Out the back is a small stowage pocket, no way in the same capacity league as the current on-trend cargo shorts, but there's enough room to carry some keys, or an inner tube, or a mini-tool or an emergency energy bar/Snickers.
Logos and graphics are kept to a minimum with 'Louison Bobet' hidden from view under a jersey on the back of the shorts above the pocket and a large 'B' on each leg that manages to be both subtle and reflective at the same time. There's also a tiny reflective tag on the rear of the right leg to complement this.
As mentioned, the Lycra of the shorts is appreciably heavier weight than your normal bib shorts. This can make them pretty toasty on warm days when you'd like to be wearing shorts, but on the plus side means their use can be extended further than a lighter pair into the cooler months with the addition of knee-warmers, and if you're a shorts-under-longs rider, a certain amount of marginal thermal gains come winter.
The bib straps of the SaintBrieucs (the name recalls Louison Bobet's favourite place for training, a town in the Côtes-d'Armor region, if you were wondering) are a lighter mesh fabric, but still weighty and of substance, albeit airy, and neatly edged with fabric. They're specially chosen to be white so as not show beneath lighter cycling tops. No VBL then.
The Tornado 3X Sat Man de La Fonte pad is very bulky, considerably thicker and firmer than your average insert. In any other shorts it might feel overkill, but thanks to the general heft of these Louison Bobet shorts it feels at home. The rear of the pad is divided by a channel while the cheeks have dimples in, and the front of the chamois is barely padded at all.
Although it looks like it could feel cumbersome between you and the saddle and something in the style of a nappy, it's one of the most comfortable pads I've ever nestled on, to the point of not even feeling it's there despite its size, for the whole day. For those who log a lot of miles in the saddle it's well worth a try.
Living up to their name, the SaintBrieuc 48 - Long Distance Bib-Shorts do feel reassuringly robust for big days in the saddle, and then for the days after those. They're encouragingly old fashioned in their solidity as other cycling shorts seem to be developing more and more svelte characteristics, and if you're after long-distance comfort or shorts that might survive the rough and tumble of multi-day adventures or rides that venture off tarmac then these are worth investigating over those more highly-strung and delicate designs.
But, and it's quite a big but, you'll want to check the fit. I'm a medium in most every other pair of bib shorts and have never had any major fit issues over the years. While the Louison Bobet shorts fitted fine everywhere else and were true to size, they were unnecessarily loose to the point of being really quite baggy around the midriff, and to a lesser extent saggy around the rear too. The area above the pad around the groin was slack enough to become a mild annoyance, with the heavy weight of the Lycra seeming to exacerbate the issue as it has little figure-hugging tautness. Maybe a redesign of the panel layout or more panels with better tailoring would help.
While this sagginess around the front had little impact on the comfort of the shorts, as the pad and everything else stayed pretty much where they should be, the whole situation felt unsupportive at all times and also looked inelegant. Standing up on the pedals in particular was a bit, um, uncontained. If you're in possession of a more Medium Plus tummy then you might not find this an issue. Louison Bobet offers a 30-day free trial if things don't work out for you.
The price of the SaintBrieuc bibs puts them in the upper echelon of shorts, and while the quality of the bibs really is top drawer, with construction, standard of Lycra and detailing all being excellent, and the most important element – the pad – incredibly comfortable, the fit of the shorts is a massive blow, which is immensely disappointing.
Could be great shorts, with the Lycra satisfyingly heavy and the pad excellent, but only if they fit...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Louison Bobet SaintBrieuc 48 Long Distance Bib-Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Louison Bobet says, "The Louison Bobet SAINTBRIEUC 48 Long Distance Bib-Shorts are the essential all-weather, all-round bib-shorts for cycling. Their dynamic and fluid cut recall their proud history, and the sober black, classic lines, refined with the latest technology, will be the perfect match for all jerseys. Confort, confort and confort."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Louison Bobet:
TORNADO 3X SAT MAN de LA FONTE skin
Non-run breathable hard-wearing mesh with 4/5 sweat resistance
Soft finish to straps
Resists chafing even when wet
Super stretch support fabric for legs
Reflective logos on thighs
Made in Italy
Materials - Torso : 83% polyester - 17% elastane. Legs: 80% polyamide - 20% elastane
Really very well made, and chunky bib shorts.
These are a very good pair of shorts in terms of both ruggedness and comfort, but the fit issues bring the score down.
Heavyweight Lycra and stout construction mean they should last a long time even under harsh conditions.
Despite fitting well everywhere else, these shorts were baggy around the midriff in a mildly distressing way.
For a medium they sized up about right, apart from that baggy middle bit issue, if you're a slightly more generous medium in the tummy area this might not be an issue.
They're robust shorts, and depending on your kind of riding that can be a good thing.
This could have been a 9 or a 10 because they're very good shorts with an excellent pad, but that loose midriff thing... It doesn't make them uncomfortable, it just feels and looks 'unfortunate'.
That's a lot of money for a pair of bib shorts that might not fit perfectly.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy, throw in the 30 degree wash with everything else.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These Louison Bobet bibs were very good heavyweight shorts with a thick yet excellent pad that would be great for long and consecutive days in the saddle, and for rides where the going gets rough – if they fit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Heavyweight Lycra and excellent pad.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a pricey pair of shorts, well expensive. While the quality of construction, weight of Lycra and comfort of the pad might make them worth all that, especially for those of a long-distance persuasion, the fact that they might not fit as well as a pair of bib-shorts at a fraction of the price is a more than massive drawback.
Did you enjoy using the product? While they were comfortable, and suitable for a good deal of long and/or rufty-tufty riding, the bagginess of the fit was a dealbreaker.
Would you consider buying the product? They show immense promise but I'd have to send them back because of the fit.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd caveat a try before you buy.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Potentially a very good pair of shorts if you wanted something heavyweight and extremely comfortable for long days in the saddle, but the fit around the middle could compromise that.
About the tester
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I'm on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo-cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.