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The 7mesh WK3 bib shorts pack in a lot of positives: a super-plush chamois, a second-skin feel and an 'easy pee' function that is, in fact, genuinely easy – never again will you have to de-layer to have that final wee before leaving the house. And while they also come with the £160 price tag to match, they could be the only pair you need, with their endurance-focused comfort and sleek, lightweight design covering everything from laid-back days to racing. If you're a stickler for a flush finish, though, the hem has the potential to irritate over time.
When we tested the men's third iteration of these shorts in 2019, our reviewer said they were the best he'd ever worn, owing in part to the male-specific engineering. I'm happy to report that 7mesh has evidently paid just as much attention to the needs of female cyclists in creating the WK3s. The upshot: I found these bib shorts seriously comfortable in all the right places.
First up, the WK3's packaging features a series of 'it's all about the ride'-type statements. The shorts themselves continue this function-focused philosophy with an aesthetic of cleancut minimalism – forget fancy graphics, these shorts don't even have a gripper band or horizontal leg seam.
Indeed, the overall range screams simplicity: these are the only bib shorts in 7mesh's road collection. But who needs 10 pairs to choose from if these are, as the makers hail, 'the world's comfiest' shorts? Quite a claim, but I can attest that, from first wear, comfort is indeed immediately apparent. I've tested a lot of bib shorts and these do feel a cut above in the comfort stakes.
The silky smooth fabric (78% nylon, 22% elastane) twinned with the absence of horizontal leg seams and the stretchiest straps make for a true second-skin feeling. This is further bolstered by the (partially recycled) 'Space' chamois that 7mesh co-developed with Elastic Interface in answer, says 7mesh, to a previous lack of performance chamois to equal the men's.
The chamois actually has the largest footprint of all the shorts I've tested, cradling my undercarriage all the way from lower abdomen to coccyx. Off the bike, this feels somewhat excessive, with a waddle-inducing thickness present around my inner thighs. However, I've tested shorts before that make me feel like I'm smuggling a massive sanitary pad and this is definitely not that, thanks to three densities of foam and a tapering towards the outermost pad. Pleasingly, there is also no 'shelf' feeling toward the rear when seated.
If you're a rider who finds forward-focused pads frustrating in terms of rear comfort, these could be the shorts for you; the pad is designed to support upright riding for over seven hours. Having tested it on road and gravel, I'm seriously impressed; my sit bones hurt a lot less than usual after a long ride.
Add to all this comfort the 'Pull2P' technology and the WK3s could well be a game-changer. This functionality – first introduced in 7mesh's 2017 WK2s – is featured only on the women's version, in answer to the need to quickly squat for a comfort break without having to hang your jersey on a gatepost.
There are other options out there, like drop seat and halter neck designs, but the WK3s win on speed. All you have to do is pull them down at the back thanks to a cleverly crafted combination of a wide, yoga-style waistband and Go Go Gadget-esque bib straps (which I tested to the max by successfully putting the straps on first before stepping into the shorts). The straps are made of 30mm-wide soft elastic – wide enough to last the test of time, but narrow enough to forget about them.
The downside of Pull2P? There's little wiggle room, so to speak, when it comes to the fit – too snug and it won't be so easy pee. I only just snuck into the upper end of a size small on 7mesh's guide (I am a size 10 for shorts) and they do take a wriggle to get on, but feel perfect once in place and not too tricky at all to pull down. I am long in the body and can find some bib straps too tight, but had no issues with that here.
Now, you might think all this stretching would spell sagging once in position, but the waist panel is extremely stretchy and cut higher to the front, which delivers a contoured feel. And despite the hugging fit, after wearing them for nine hours straight I was impressed to find they left barely an imprint on my skin. Meanwhile the waist's double layered microfibre construction – new for this version – adds to the overall comfort of these shorts.
Hidden under the seam-free base of the legs are the silicone printed grippers, which are about an inch wide. So far they stay put while riding, and although off.road.cc reviewer Rachael found that the WK2s rolled up due to friction against shorts worn over the top, 7mesh says the WK3s have been updated to avert rolling.
While some might think the finish looks a bit cheap – a lack of seams is something common on budget options – with the WK3s I think it adds to the overall slick aesthetic. And it's fine – if it works. So far, after a month's worth of rides and washes, they still look good bar a rogue thread-end from the vertical seam at the base of the shorts (which is minor, but obviously it wouldn't happen if there was an additional gripper panel).
Finally, the 7mesh logo is in keeping with the overall feel of the shorts – very minimal. So much so that, while it's reflective, it doesn't add too much to the function.
You're paying near full whack for all this tech, although at £160 they're still £20 cheaper than the recently tested Le Col Hors Categorie bib shorts. The WK3s trump the Le Cols on silky comfort and the chamois, but could come unstuck with the barely-there grippers over time. That said, the latest update to address this alongside the easy Pull2P design and versatile nature of these shorts could mean that they are your go-tos for endurance days and racing alike for years to come.
As for me, I'm sold – sign me up for the TK1 bib tights for winter, if my wallet can handle the dent. Because, simply put, the WK3s are the comfiest shorts I have worn. Not just for seated comfort but the overall feel, too.
Supremely comfortable bib shorts with an 'easy pee' design – and although they aren't cheap, they are very versatile
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road.cc test report
Make and model: 7mesh WK3 Bib Short
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Training rides and race day, says 7mesh: 'The WK3 is...designed for training rides and race day. Features Pull2P side-positioned bib straps for pull and go nature breaks, without undressing.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
7mesh lists these features:
Pull2P configuration for no-fuss rest stops
Clean Finish Construction
Silky microfiber waist with open mesh top
Women's Performance Space chamois with increased foam density
30mm soft elastic bib straps
Clean cut hem with silicon gripper
Inseam - 9in / 22.5cm
Minimal look – some riders may feel more confident with a more constructed leg seam – but the Pull2P design is brilliant.
Comfort was outstanding. Some may find the pad somewhat bulky.
A small thread has appeared but it's tiny. Over time this could worsen. Otherwise, all good so far.
Sizes up a touch on the small side.
Pricey, but made using partially recycled materials and they're versatile – and not the most expensive out there...
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed very well at 40°C even though the label says cold wash only...
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The WK3s excel on comfort, as promised.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The easy pee design is a game-changer for me, not just on the road but when getting ready to head out, too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The finish at the base of the leg doesn't give me confidence that it won't roll (although it hasn't yet).
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Similar to other high-end brands, but not the most expensive out there.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Simply put, the WK3s are the comfiest shorts I have worn. Not just for seated comfort but the overall feel of the body and straps, too. I would definitely use them for long distance events and multi-days (and look forward to reporting back). I haven't scored them full marks as they're a bit pricey, and the leg seam still needs to prove itself.
About the tester
I usually ride: My Scott Foil My best bike is: Oldie but the goldie, CAAD 8
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Triathlon, Audax