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Verdict: 
Perfect shorts for imperfect weather – hugely versatile and admirable performance
Weight: 
209g

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.

  • Pros: Extremely versatile, breathable, comfortable
  • Cons: Come up small

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.

Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts - side.jpg

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.

Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts - rear.jpg

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.

Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts.jpg

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.

Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts - cuff gripper.jpg

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.

Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts - straps front_.jpg

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.

Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts - straps rear.jpg

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.

Sportful Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts - chamois.jpg

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.

> Buyer's Guide: 27 of the best cycling bib shorts

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. 

Verdict

Perfect shorts for imperfect weather – hugely versatile and admirable performance

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

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

Anatomic fit

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

Reflective accents

Weight: 221 g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for fit:
 
8/10
Rate the product for sizing:
 
6/10
Rate the product for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

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

No issues.

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

Nothing.

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.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 22  Height: 6ft  Weight: 70kg

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

12 comments

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [462 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

These aren't even slightly waterproof. If you doubt me, please tell me the hydrostatic head of the fabric, and what membrane the fabric utilizes.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2947 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:

These aren't even slightly waterproof. If you doubt me, please tell me the hydrostatic head of the fabric, and what membrane the fabric utilizes.

Well, to be fair they don't claim to be waterproof, nor does article. I've also read in comments on here that the old No-Rain bib tights don't offer protection against rain for really any length of time either, which is radically at odds with my experience with them, so i'll give the reviewers the benefit as to how effective these might be at holding off the inevitable rather than a numbers game.

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [462 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
fukawitribe wrote:

Well, to be fair they don't claim to be waterproof, nor does article.

The product has the phrase "NoRain" in the name. Perhaps that is not a claim about the material that these bibshorts are constructed of, but a claim that these shorts influence local weather patterns?

The review seems to imply they are waterproof too: "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. "

Since you own a version of these, could you do a simple test for everyone? Can you fold up some toilet paper, and then wrap it up in one of the legs, and then put it under your shower at full blast, and report back to us?

I would like a sample of the material for hydrostatic head testing.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2947 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:

Well, to be fair they don't claim to be waterproof, nor does article.

The product has the phrase "NoRain" in the name. Perhaps that is not a claim about the material that these bibshorts are constructed of, but a claim that these shorts influence local weather patterns?

Yeah, whatever mate - so, no, neither claim they're waterproof.

Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:

The review seems to imply they are waterproof too: "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. "

There's two pertinent words there, and if it implies anything - it might imply that it could be one or both of those. You see the difference I take it.

Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:

Since you own a version of these, could you do a simple test for everyone? Can you fold up some toilet paper, and then wrap it up in one of the legs, and then put it under your shower at full blast, and report back to us?

I will do, not sure what that's got to do with real world showers or rain though.

Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:

I would like a sample of the material for hydrostatic head testing.

Cool - they're in the shops - knock yourself out.

Avatar
TheBillder [73 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Just like short sleeved water resistant jerseys, can someone explain why you'd want to keep some of each limb uncovered? Are there few weather repellent (trying to avoid any controversy!) bib shorts simply because when you want to stay dry you want all of you to stay dry?

Or are we expected to pair this kit with dwr arm and leg warmers? My wet weather kit is all long....

Avatar
philhubbard [208 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:

These aren't even slightly waterproof. If you doubt me, please tell me the hydrostatic head of the fabric, and what membrane the fabric utilizes.

 

They use a DWR coating on the fabric rather than a membrane so they aren't waterproof, merely "showerproof". Hydrostatic heads are particularly useless in describing an item as waterproof as for an item to be waterproof it only has to have a HH of 1000mm which is basically useless. If you consider a fabric such as Goretex, their HH's begin at 20,000mm going up to 28,000mm for their Pro 3-layer fabrics. 

 

Obviously using a DWR does impact the longevity of the product as the coating can wash off after several washes but it can be revitalised with cleaning products such as Nikwax or Grangers. A membrane fabric wouldn't a great solution for shorts as you would need to tape the seams and with current taping solutions it isn't stretchy enough to be comfortable for an item such as cycling shorts

Avatar
Bobbinogs [351 posts] 2 weeks ago
3 likes
TheBillder wrote:

Just like short sleeved water resistant jerseys, can someone explain why you'd want to keep some of each limb uncovered? Are there few weather repellent (trying to avoid any controversy!) bib shorts simply because when you want to stay dry you want all of you to stay dry? Or are we expected to pair this kit with dwr arm and leg warmers? My wet weather kit is all long....

Bib shorts in bad weather are actually very good as they offer a lot of versatility/options. 

First off, my main reason is fit.  I have some well fitting shorts but tights can be very hard to match due to the variances in length/matched with chamois/fit, etc.  However, once you have a decent set of shorts, one just needs to find a good legwarmer to go with them. 

If wet, something like the norain, nanoflex or DHB equivilents work well (although I find many commercial fits to be too restrictive).  Very cold days are helped with some fleece warmers.  Failing that, just standard warmers are good all rounders (personally, my wife makes me custom legwarmers out of running tights).

Either way, if/when the weather improves (let's face it, many days start cool at this time of year but improve during mid-morning), the legwarmers can just come off at the cafe and go in the back pockets.  Sorted.

Avatar
Kendalred [421 posts] 2 weeks ago
1 like
Bobbinogs wrote:
TheBillder wrote:

Just like short sleeved water resistant jerseys, can someone explain why you'd want to keep some of each limb uncovered? Are there few weather repellent (trying to avoid any controversy!) bib shorts simply because when you want to stay dry you want all of you to stay dry? Or are we expected to pair this kit with dwr arm and leg warmers? My wet weather kit is all long....

Bib shorts in bad weather are actually very good as they offer a lot of versatility/options. 

First off, my main reason is fit.  I have some well fitting shorts but tights can be very hard to match due to the variances in length/matched with chamois/fit, etc.  However, once you have a decent set of shorts, one just needs to find a good legwarmer to go with them. 

If wet, something like the norain, nanoflex or DHB equivilents work well (although I find many commercial fits to be too restrictive).  Very cold days are helped with some fleece warmers.  Failing that, just standard warmers are good all rounders (personally, my wife makes me custom legwarmers out of running tights).

Either way, if/when the weather improves (let's face it, many days start cool at this time of year but improve during mid-morning), the legwarmers can just come off at the cafe and go in the back pockets.  Sorted.

Yup, this is my modus operandi as well. The summer-weight bibs have been relegated to the back of the drawer, and the thermal bibs promoted to the front. Paired with knee warmers or full leg warmers will see me through to next spring. If you think about it, you'll have double the material on your thighs (if you pull the warmers right up -  I do as I have short legs!), which should be warmer than tights. Any DWR on any of my kit has long since worn off.

I have just bought a pair of tights, having not had any for years, and they are good for the cold-but-not-freezing mornings.

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [462 posts] 2 weeks ago
2 likes
TheBillder wrote:

Just like short sleeved water resistant jerseys, can someone explain why you'd want to keep some of each limb uncovered?

When it's reasonably warm and raining, or you are generating a lot of heat for the temperature which you are riding in.

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [462 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
philhubbard wrote:

Hydrostatic heads are particularly useless in describing an item as waterproof as for an item to be waterproof it only has to have a HH of 1000mm which is basically useless. If you consider a fabric such as Goretex, their HH's begin at 20,000mm going up to 28,000mm for their Pro 3-layer fabrics. 

Sorry, but no. Hydrostatic head basically defines waterproofness. An actual hydrostatic head of 1,000 mm is waterproof under very mild conditions for a period.

In wind-driven rain, the pressure of the water droplets hitting the fabric can be considerably more, so 1,000 mm of hydrostatic head is not nearly enough for harsh conditions. Also when the DWR degrades after several hours of rain, the hydrostatic of the fabric will decrease significantly.

Also keep in mind the hydrostatic heads of waterproof fabrics degrade with use (including washing), even if the membrane is not compromised by any holes. So after a year of use, the hydrostatic head of your jacket will be considerably less than when it was new.

Also localized pressure, such as kneeling on the ground can require substantially higher hydrostatic head to prevent the ingress of water.

Now these bib short don't even have a membrane. The hydrostatic head of the fabric is perhaps 100 mm when the DWR is intact.

Avatar
TheBillder [73 posts] 2 weeks ago
0 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:
TheBillder wrote:

Just like short sleeved water resistant jerseys, can someone explain why you'd want to keep some of each limb uncovered?

When it's reasonably warm and raining, or you are generating a lot of heat for the temperature which you are riding in.

Thanks for the responses; I totally get (and use) arm and leg warmers in the coldish dry situation, finding the adjustability very handy. And I now get the thermal shorts idea, having both slightly ill-fitting longs and experience of chilled pelvis when in regular shorts and leg warmers. So might be time to change the better tights search into looking at a thermal version of my favourite shorts.

I suppose this warm but raining idea is difficult to compute in eastern Scotland (it's drier here than you might think but chilly a lot).

Avatar
cdamian [267 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
TheBillder wrote:
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:
TheBillder wrote:

Just like short sleeved water resistant jerseys, can someone explain why you'd want to keep some of each limb uncovered?

When it's reasonably warm and raining, or you are generating a lot of heat for the temperature which you are riding in.

Thanks for the responses; I totally get (and use) arm and leg warmers in the coldish dry situation, finding the adjustability very handy. And I now get the thermal shorts idea, having both slightly ill-fitting longs and experience of chilled pelvis when in regular shorts and leg warmers. So might be time to change the better tights search into looking at a thermal version of my favourite shorts. I suppose this warm but raining idea is difficult to compute in eastern Scotland (it's drier here than you might think but chilly a lot).

Another reason for me is that I really don't like to have stuff over my knee when cycling.
I find the chaffing or compression somehow hurts my knee on longer rides.
I only get my knee warmers or tights out when it is really cold.

I have been using various versions of the Sportful Norain Shorts for a while.
It is true that they are not waterproofed, after between half and one hour you will get a wet behind.
But they keep water out longer than other shorts and they are also warmer then them.
In this respects they are similar to Gabba style jerseys.

I have to confess that I live in the warmer and dryer areas of Europe, but I use these all the time when I expect rain and during most of autumn and winter.