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The dhb Trace bib shorts are a good medium-range option for summer cycling: breathable, very comfortable, with a nice fit, although the stitching could be better and the printed colour panels may not suit everyone.
The dhb Trace shorts are designed to go with the Trace jersey, billed on the website of online cycle superstore Wiggle as 'dhb team kit' (dhb is Wiggle's in-house brand). The male version of these shorts is mainly black with a white panel and blue or red stripe around the thigh. The female version has a purple stripe.
If you've already got a Trace jersey, then these shorts are undoubtedly a nice match, and they may also look good with other jerseys with similar colour schemes. On the other hand, some riders may prefer to steer away from too many different coloured panels or too much white on their shorts.
It's not all about colour though. These shorts are made up of several panels of fabric to produce an anatomic cut, designed to fit your body when in a cycling position, and they're close-fitting all round without being too tight anywhere.
The fabric itself is Lycra, while the bib is mesh. Further adding to comfort, on the inside of each hem is a silicone strip; this holds the shorts nicely in place against your skin, and avoids any fabric creasing or rucking on the inner leg, which in turn avoids any nasty chafing.
The pad (or 'chamois') is made by specialist manufacturer CyTech. It's a Giro Air in the male version, and a Speed Air in the female version. Both are medium density. We're testing the male version and it was perfectly comfortable on test rides of several hours duration in hot conditions. It stretches in all directions and has 'valleys' between the padded areas to improve airflow and cooling.
So far, so comfy. On the downside, a lot of panels means a lot of seams, and these are not flatlocked, so the thread is exposed on the outside of the shorts, especially over the top of the thigh, when the panels stretch a little (which they're supposed to as the shorts are meant to be close-fitting). This has no ill effect on the comfort levels, but it simply doesn't look very nice.
This issue is further emphasised as the three colours around the leg are printed on a single panel (rather than being three separate panels, each of a different colour), and this is all white on the inside, which is visible when the seams are stretched. In addition, when the panel itself is stretched, the white 'shows through' and turns the black to grey.
To be fair, stretched stitching can be an issue on any brand of shorts where the seams are not flatlocked. And if you choose shorts with flat-locked seams, that usually means a step up in cost.
he Trace Bib Shorts retail at a penny under £55, currently reduced on the Wiggle website to £41.24. This is a good price; entry-level shorts from some other manufacturers cost double that. But given the issues with the stitching and colour panels, you might be better off spending the same kind of money on another pair of shorts that are just as comfortable as the Trace but with a more straightforward design and more pleasing appearance.
Comfortable shorts for summer cycling. Breathable, with a good fit, but stitching could be better and colour panels may not suit everyone.
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Make and model: dhb Trace bib shorts
Size tested: Size: M Black/Blue
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
These bib-shorts are desigfned for summer cycling. The Wiggle website says "Complement the Trace Jersey with these matching Trace sublimated Bibshorts to complete your outfit."
The website also lists the shorts' key features:
Lycra Sport fabric
Mesh bib braces
CyTech Elastic Interface 'Giro Air', cycling pad
Elasticated leg openings with silicone gripper
Sublimated Trace graphic – matching jersey available
dhb logo on right thigh and rear backside
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Wiggle website goes on to say: "The Trace bib shorts use the CyTech Elastic Interface 'Giro Air'. The pad is the same as that used in the dhb Aeron Race range. The multi-height, contour design has been engineered to add extra foam where you need to eliminate pressure points. The pad is laminated with an ultra smooth, lycra top fabric to keep you comfortable. To improve climate control on this summer garment we have used the 'air' version, which allows hot air to escape easily and fresh cool air to circulate inward. Lycra sport body fabric offers freedom of movement and provides exceptional muscle support. Mesh bib braces further help to keep you at the right temperature. Leg loops are elasticated with silicone grippers to keep them firmly in place."
The construction of these shorts is OK, but nothing special. Seams are not flatlocked, so the thread is exposed on the outside of the shorts, especially over the top of the thigh, when the panels stretch a little.
Performance is very good, in that the shorts are a good fit, the pad is very comfortable for long rides, and the breathable fabric copes with warm conditions.
Comfort is very good. As mentioned above, the shorts are a good fit with no loose fabric, the pad is very comfortable for long rides, and the breathable fabric copes with warm conditions.
Compared to shorts of similar price, these Trace shorts are very comfortable, and on that level represent good value, but the issues with the stitching and colour panels might mean some cyclists will prefer to spend a similar amount, or a bit more, on another pair of shorts that are just as comfortable as the Trace but with a more straightforward design and more pleasing appearance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These Trace shorts performed well on comfort, the key feature of any cycling clothing, but the stitching and printed colour panels let it all down for me, meaning overall they're a bit of a disappointment.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
close fit, comfortable pad
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Exposed stitching on seams, 'black-to-grey' printed panels
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, I enjoyed riding in these shorts, but not looking at them
Would you consider buying the product? no
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
On some levels, these Trace bib shorts are excellent - good fit, comfortable pad, breathable fabric, fair price – which would earn a score of 9. But the printed panels and exposed stitching on the seams are disappointing, knocking a couple of points off, giving an overall score of 7.
Age: 51 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,