The Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts aim to keep you warm and dry no matter what the conditions throw at you. Italian for Flanders, the Fiandre have a lot to live up to, and after a month or so of testing, it would appear that the NoRain Pros are just as impressive in the UK's unpredictable weather as they are in Belgium and have been my shorts of choice for the majority of conditions.
We've already tested a few of Sportful's bib shorts on road.cc this year, and after reading several reviews I was keen to get my hands on these, the top of the range pair. Weighing in at 209g, they would seem to offer similar protection to the Fiandre NoRain 2 pair that Liam tested, but with a different bib construction and added reflective accents.
For one reason or another, waterproof/showerproof bib shorts are few and far between, but after using the NoRain Pros for a month I'm certainly a fan. The material lives up to the claims, resisting showers, road spray and puddles, with only the heaviest of downpours penetrating the surprisingly breathable fabric. If, like me, mudguards aren't your thing, the NoRain fabric is your friend, persistently keeping the posterior dry despite a good soaking of spray off the rear wheel.
When first pulling them on they felt noticeably tight, more so than other shorts; whether this is down to the thicker, less stretchy material I do not know, but any doubts about comfort were soon dismissed out on the road. The fit is impressive, and although slightly compressive they felt in no way restrictive or uncomfortable, instead offering a level of support. Beware that they do come up small, or 'Italian'; with many bib shorts I'm left wondering whether I should have tried to squeeze into a small, whereas with these I was wondering whether I needed a large.
Like the NoRain 2s, the legs are cut particularly long, something I like, especially in the colder months of the year. I was also impressed by the no-nonsense silicone grippers adorning each leg, which are excellent at keeping the shorts firmly in place both against the skin and against knee warmers.
The 'Perforated Ltd lie-flat bib' is claimed to offer superior comfort and ventilation. These bib shorts felt so breathable that I'd happily wear them on rides up to 16 degrees.
At the other end of the scale, the thin thermal fleece lining and semi-windproof material give reasonable protection in the cold – plenty good enough for those early spring or late autumn rides; I found that these shorts were particularly useful when heading out early when the temperature hadn't yet picked up.
I'm not normally a fan of wide seat pads and so was sceptical of Sportful's one-size-fits-all approach. Some manufacturers, such as Endura and Rapha, offer a fair few widths to suit a plethora of body shapes. However, having completed several metric centuries clad in the NoRain Pros I can happily report no chafing and that they live up to Sportful's 'will not only keep you warm and dry but also keep you comfortable' claim.
To further aid comfort, Sportful has managed to keep the number of seams to a minimum, with the added benefit of removing places where water is likely to creep in. I've been so impressed by the quality and comfort of the shorts, in fact, that they've become my bibs of choice throughout the autumn, opting to wear them whether rain was forecast or not.
After a month's solid riding and machine washing, they show no signs of deterioration, with road spray and drizzle still beading on the surface.
In terms of value they're pretty good – a tenner more than Stolen Goat's £115 Orkaan (Jez tested the summer-weight Ibex back in 2015 and was very impressed) but £20 less than Castelli's Nano Flex Pro 2 RoS Omloops.
More of an issue is that they're £25 more than probably their biggest rival, the nearly-as-brilliant non-Pro 2s. If you can do without the pro-level bib design you can save yourself some cash, but if you want the best breathability Sportful offers, you won't be disappointed.
Perfect shorts for imperfect weather – hugely versatile and admirable performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Sportful says: "The same great NoRain Thermal fabric combined with pro-level features that will not only keep you warm and dry but also keep you comfortable as you cruise across the cobbles, no matter what the weather."
Although I didn't see many cobbles, they did do everything else they claimed to
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Sportful lists these features:
NoRain Thermal fabric: nanotechnology water-repellent outside, brushed fleece inside
Minimal seaming for additional water protection
Elastic leg band with raw-cut edge and silicone dot gripper
TC Pro seat pad
Perforated Ltd lie-flat bibs for superior comfort and ventilation
Weight: 221 g
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
Perfectly! Keeps everything but the heaviest of showers out, and even then much warmer than standard bibs.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
They're the perfect bib shorts to wear 90% of the time (in the UK).
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?
They're £25 more than their closest rival, the non-pro version, and £10 more than Stolen Goat's Orkaan water-resistant bibs at £115, but £20 less than Castelli's Nano Flex Pro 2 RoS Omloops.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're comfortable, breathable, well made and look good – there's not much to not like. They're a really versatile item of cycle clothing, at a good price for the amount of use you can get out of them.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking