Northwave's SS19 Origin bib shorts get just about everything right: sizing, fit and performance are all great, while pricing is competitive even before widespread internet discounting. They even look good, with low-key white detailing and small reflective tabs to aid visibility. There are better options for super-hot days, and the slow-drying pad may be awkward on multi-day rides, but otherwise they're great.
As always, at the heart of these shorts is, uh... your bum. It's extremely well served by the K110 pad, which retains its comforting springiness even after hours in the saddle. Flatlock stitching around its edges mean it stays put without anything to chafe, while the overlocked seams elsewhere cause no issues either.
Wide cuffs with dotty silicone grippers keep the legs securely in place, with a well-judged and comfy tension that's echoed further up in the elasticated braces.
A word about braces. The problems I have with bib shorts sizing might make you think I'm a circus freak, but in reality I'm just at the short leg/long torso end of the spectrum, instead of bang on the central average. The Origins (in Large to suit my 6ft 1in freakbody) are a super-comfy fit because Northwave – hooray! – realise elastic really doesn't need to be strong enough to power a catapult just to keep your shorts up. Radical, I know. These are an excellent choice if you're shaped the same way, and still excellent if you're not.
What they're not is compressive, and while Northwave only claims 'light compression,' they're no tighter than the average bib shorts and feel unlikely to be doing anything meaningful with your lactic acid. Sizing down may help if that's what you're after.
The upper half is mesh, though it's not the thinnest or breeziest ever, and on really hot climbs I found them a little warm and sweaty across the belly. For most of the time and most UK summer days however, they're perfect, and will serve well on milder autumn/spring days too. Despite this (and the chunky foam pad), they're actually pretty light at 184g for this Large pair.
That's assuming they're dry. They aren't the best for multi-day rides with rain and/or regular washing, as that dense pad really holds onto moisture in its centre. It takes noticeably longer to dry (45 minutes more than the Enduras I made them race on the dryer in the sun), and can actually feel dry until you squeeze them and find they aren't. Discover that with your fingers and it's annoying. Discover that with your bum (eww) and it's just kind of gross.
Much of what we've reviewed lately is more expensive by a factor of two or even three, but the Northwave Origins compare very well to the likes of Alé's Corsas at £65, Altura's Race Bib Shorts at £90... or even, say, Attaquer's All Day Bibs at £170. As always, dhb is very competitive on value too, with its excellent Aeron bib shorts technically being £75 but generally always cheaper (£66 at time of writing).
The Northwave's excellent pad, great build and relaxed yet slim and secure fit make them worthy of serious consideration, though – whatever your budget.
Very comfortable bibs for typical UK conditions, with great fit and a tempting price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Northwave Origin bib shorts
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
"Boasting one of the best lightweight pads on the market," says Northwave, "the Origin Bib Shorts get close to pro quality, at a less-than-pro price point."
So that's excellent if, like me, you're a less-than-pro rider.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Northwave list these features:
– Superior-support K110 pad with reverse technology guarantees record-breaking breathability
– Compression fabric reduces muscle vibration thereby decreasing the feeling of fatigue and improving athletic performance
– Mesh braces with matching graphics improve breathability
– The leg cuff construction combines a 4.5 cm microfibre band plus gripper with a raw-cut panel for a perfect firm fit without any constriction
– Reflective details on legs and back
Neat, strong stitching and durable fabrics of usable, middling weights.
Comfy, secure and effective.
Still look like new after a month of miles and washes.
Very well judged, with braces that accommodate people with longer torsos better than most.
Well under 200g even in size Large, making them pretty light.
Very comfy pad and great fit. Slightly cooler mesh would be good on the hottest days, but it's a mere niggle.
As good as many bibs with far bigger price tags, so value is high.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Took regular cool washes without problems, although the pad does take noticeably longer to dry than most.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's a fit-and-forget product of the best kind.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very comfy pad and accommodating (but perfectly secure) straps are a winning combination.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The pad really holds onto water and needs careful post-wash drying: the shorts can seem ready but, once you get them on, prove with a rather gross sensation not to be...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's easy to spend way more, but much harder to spend significantly less and still get something so well sized, shaped and made. They're around £25 more than many 'budget' options, but hold their own against competition at least £25 more.
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
With nothing but a couple of extremely minor niggles – they're a bit too warm across the belly on the hottest days, and the pad takes ages to dry – the 'very good' score of 8 is an easy choice.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mountain biking