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Verdict: 
Competent shorts with some lovely touches, but check the sizing chart carefully
Weight: 
152g

The Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain 2 bib shorts are a lightweight design, developed for changeable conditions. Water-repellency is a relative term, but on balance I'd say Sportful has got it right here – after all, it's senseless to have a waterproof membrane if it leaves you feeling wet and clammy, which some can. My one note of caution would be to check Sportful's sizing chart carefully before purchasing. I generally slip effortlessly into mediums, to the point where it's become my default. These come up a touch smaller, which left me feeling a little 'trussed up' around the crotch after 35 miles or so.

  • Pros: Rain repelling, thin but rugged fabric
  • Cons: Size up smaller than your 'usual'

The first thing that struck me about these shorts was just how thin the fabric felt, yet it's still rugged and dependable. It's essentially a polyamide/elastane mix (80/20%), and the weather-cheating texture is also quite apparent.

Thankfully, this extends to the buttocks and lower back. The absence of stitching reduces the risk of discomfort and, ultimately, chill should you get caught sans guards along wet roads.

Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain 2 BibShort - rear.jpg

Interestingly, the fabric has a much higher rating for windproofing than waterproofing, but I needn't have worried. As expected, light to moderate showery rain tended to bead up on the surface and roll away before it got a chance to seep inside.

How long it can hold out depends to some extent on the intensity of rainfall (and as folks will point out, legs will get wet in any case), but I’ve had 35 minutes of persistent, moderate rain before the shorts have turned damp. By that point and with a moderate breeze, bargain on 30 minutes before they’re nigh-on dry; faster when the temperature hits the low 20s.

Pad

The Bodyfit Pro Seat Pad is apparently designed in partnership with professional riders and reckoned Sportful's most comfortable long-distance model. Variable density, Coolmax for breathability/odour management and a silver anti-bacterial treatment fit the bill nicely on paper.

Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain 2 BibShort - chamois.jpg

In common with several others I've tested, fresh from the packet it felt like the proverbial loaf of bread, but within a few miles the padding density and shape aligned very nicely with my own contours, at least riding my fixed gear winter/trainer and traditional road bikes.

Switching over to my tubby tourer, which has a more upright stance, revealed a slight tendency for the pad to bunch up within the saddle's cutaway. This was something I noticed when shuffling about, but it wasn't overly irritating or problematic.

Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain 2 BibShort - front.jpg

That aside, comfort was uniformly good, on and off road, to around the 35-mile mark. Much further and the thought that I would probably have been better with a large than my default medium became rather apparent around the crotch. I've done a couple of 50-mile outings, but by the close it's been a relief to get home... That said, there's been no hint of chafing or nastiness, suggesting everything else added up nicely.

Elsewhere, detailing is what I'd expect from any decent bib shorts: mesh bibs for breathability, flat seams, lazer-cut legs and silicone grippers.

Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain 2 BibShort - rear full.jpg

Overall, everything behaves harmoniously and has lived up to the hype. I've done 400 miles, over varying distances and conditions. The thin fabric and generous leg grippers have kept everything perfectly aligned, allowing me to drum out 95rpm on the fixed for as long as I cared to.

Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain 2 BibShort - cuff.jpg

Sizing/fit

According to the size chart, the medium looked the closest fit in all but the leg. I have a 33.5in inseam, the mediums are 32.5in. This resulted in a slightly shorter, almost '80s style look, but otherwise I didn't feel constrained. The bibs have plenty of give and movement generally, unrestricted, with no hint of gathering/bunching.

Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain 2 BibShort - straps.jpg

Nonetheless, as I said above, after 35 miles or so I was feeling a little 'constricted', and I'm convinced large would have been a better choice. My fault not Sportful's, but a reminder to scrutinise the chart rather than simply 'adding to cart'.

Washing/durability

Sticking to the 30-degree machine cycles, they've emerged pretty much packet fresh, with no hint of fraying, bobbling of similar deterioration. Not that I'd expect that at this stage, or of a garment of this calibre.

Nonetheless, I've been indulging in a fair bit of mixed terrain fun, often through overgrown bridleways. Thorns and similarly prickly foliage have latched on but failed to make any impression on the fabric's integrity, which bodes well for the long term.

Value

Okay, it's not outrageous, but £90 is still a lot to part with. For that I could have two pairs of B'Twin 900 Cycling Bib Shorts, if I could get hold of a pair... (We tested the 700s a couple of years ago.)

At the other extreme, though, there are models twice the price, such as Pearl Izumi's Pro-bib shorts at £189.99.

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

Crucially, I wouldn't describe the Sportfuls as a bargain, but I wouldn't suggest you're being short-changed either. They are very competent, and – provided you've got the sizing nailed – will deliver in every respect.

Verdict

Competent shorts with some lovely touches, but check the sizing chart carefully

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain 2 Bib Short

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for

Sportful says, "CHANGING CONDITIONS WILL BECOME YOUR BEST FRIENDS

"The water repellency of this bibshort clears every doubt on which bib to wear in a cloudy day."

My feelings are that they're decent lightweight bib shorts for changeable mid spring and summer riding.

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

From Sportful:

PRODUCT FEATURES

* Light NoRain fabric

* Laser-cut leg opening with silicone inserts

* No stitches in the back for better water protection

* Light mesh bibs

* Bodyfit Pro seat pad

* Weight:165 g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10

Well made.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

Fabric repels light to moderate showery rain and behaves to the standards I'd expect from this price point.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

Appears to be washing and wearing well.

Rate the product for fit:
 
7/10

Fit is generally good, though consult the sizing chart carefully rather than plumping for your typical default.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
6/10

Came up smaller than I was expecting. However, there shouldn't be any unpleasant surprises if you've scrutinised the sizing chart first.

Rate the product for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
7/10

Generally good. That said, given the sizing discrepancy, I felt constrained around the crotch area, which became very apparent after 35 miles or so.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

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

Machine washes very well at 30 degrees.

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

Overall, a capable lightweight spring/summer model well suited to the UK's changeable climate. Sizing aside, everything has performed and behaved in good proportion. Pads are very difficult to get universally compatible, but I've had no issues with chafing or similar discomfort. The anti-bacterial component also delivers.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Shower-resistant coating, thin but rugged construction, tactile but very effective silicone grippers.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

They come up smaller than other brands, but the sizing system seems accurate so consult that and you should be fine.

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

For £90 I could have two pairs of B'Twin 900 Cycling Bib Shorts (if they were in stock). At the other extreme there are models twice the price.

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

Competent and well-conceived shorts, with performance I would expect for their £90 price tag.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 45  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

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: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)