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Bioracer's Epic Women's Bibshorts are ideal for long days in the saddle thanks to a quality chamois and a comfortable, no-squeeze fit around the thighs. The unique Bibzip feature aids quick comfort breaks, though it might not be to everyone's liking.
Bioracer is known for producing kit that's reliant on a huge amount of research. Much of this is evident in its Epic Bibshorts. They bring together comfort and functionality, but it comes at a cost – both financially and, arguably, performance-wise.
I tested a 3/M, just as Bioracer's size chart recommends for me. The shorts offer a snug fit around the legs and hips, slightly more compressive than Gore's C7 bibs but nowhere near as strong as Assos' Dyora.
Bioracer has moved away from leg grippers, replacing them with graduated compression – marginally tighter at the ends and to hold the shorts in place. The graduated element ensures that there is no unsightly or uncomfortable squeeze going on. They work really well, with or without leg warmers.
The shorts aren't as snug fitting as some. They have plenty of give – needed for the Bibzip to work – but despite this I never felt that they weren't doing their job properly.
Bibzip, Bioracer's quick comfort break solution, involves a zip at the rear of the shorts, accessible without needing the flexibility of a 10-year-old or coordination of a winning Krypton Factor contestant. Once unzipped, the shorts can be pulled down and under your bottom.
It took some time to discover the most efficient way of doing this. In short (no pun intended), you need to squat as low as possible, grab each side of the zip and yank the shorts down and under your bum – the lower you squat, the easier it is. So ideal for pees in the great outdoors but not the easiest on an actual toilet.
Bioracer has created a video demonstrating the shorts' efficiency. I found that undoing the zip of my jersey gave me more leverage. I didn't need to squat quite so low, and definitely felt like I was putting less strain through the fabrics this way. It was also easier to reposition the straps once I was done, which was invariably necessary anyway. The whole system is certainly very quick, even with an unzipped jersey.
Bioracer hasn't neglected to reinforce the fabrics around the zip, which, hopefully, will increase the longevity of the shorts. It has also added a generous zip guard to protect the lower back. There's a downside to this extra layer of material, though – I tended to get a sweatier than normal lower back, particularly in warmer weather; the moisture had nowhere to go since the whole thing is under a jersey pocket.
The fabrics used for the actual leg and hip element of the shorts are exceptionally lightweight and breathable. They go a long way to counter the issues mentioned above. They offer very light compression, look classy and feel soft to the touch.
The shorts I tested featured Bioracer's Vapor Uni Pad, though they can also be purchased with a 3D Race pad. The Vapor is designed for long mileage. It's more durable than the Race pad but offers less breathability and weighs more. As ever, the pad has been created off the back of a whole load of research.
According to Bioracer: 'The materials consist of a friction reducing, breathable top layer. Two middle layers provide breathability and moisture transport....We use Evapore, which is a 3D webbing with better damping qualities. When put under stress, Evapore changes into a rubberized state, so even when it's compressed to the maximum, it still provides damping. Moreover, this material is hydrophobic, meaning it transports perspiration. The pad remains dry at all times.'
What that translates to is that after five solid hours in the saddle, I wasn't experiencing any discomfort or irritation. In hot weather, or during more intense efforts, the pad definitely didn't draw away moisture as efficiently as some performance pads, though, for example the Gore C7's.
Instead of being sewn into the shorts, the Vapor pad is pressed onto the textile panel and then sewn in. This means no extra material, so less mass. The pad and shorts move well with the body and as you move in and out of the saddle.
A bit like saddles, systems for quick comfort breaks are quite personal – what suits one doesn't necessarily suit another. I'd say that you are likely to lose in performance and/or comfort, for the gains.
Lara really rated the system used in Iris's Signature Bibs, which are £20 cheaper than the Epics. Rapha's Souplesse Detachable bibs are also an option but the price – £195 – is likely to put many off. Gore's C5s offer a zip and squat approach for £120.
Polaris's E-motion bibs are evidence that a quick pee system doesn't have to cost the earth – they're £54.99, though I can't comment on their quality.
Overall, the Epics are high-quality bibs that enable super-quick, hassle-free comfort breaks in the great outdoors. You'll be back on your bike benefiting from their excellent chamois in no time, albeit with a possibly sweaty lower back.
Well-made, comfortable shorts with a unique approach to quick comfort breaks – preferably in the great outdoors
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bioracer Epic Bibshort Women
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Bioracer says, 'We spared no costs or effort in the development of the best bib shorts in the world. The BioRacer Epic Women's Bib Shorts reconfigure the way in which bib shorts are constructed and set a new standard for presentation, power output and fit.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
During the past 2 years, we conducted an in-depth study into the improvement of the most critical part of a cycling outfit: the bib shorts.
In this study, we examined the construction of a wide range of bib shorts, with a strong focus on the improvement of comfort, performance and looks.
The basic premise used in this study was a number of problems.
- Carbon bicycles, wheels, seats and shoes keep getting lighter and stiffer; the human body, however, remains soft and therefore has to tolerate a lot of blows. How can we better support the body?
- The leg grippers, which press on the skin, often make cyclists (including trained athletes) look like they have gained a few kilos, especially female cyclists. How can we improve the fit and the look?
- Bathroom breaks are always a problem for ladies who wear cycling pants with suspenders. How can we make this easy?
The result: the Epic Bib Shorts for men and the Epic Women's Bib Shorts for women.
Instead of leg grippers, we use a new material with stages of compression. This makes leg grippers to keep everything in place redundant. Problem solved.
Do you want the benefit of well-fitting cycling shorts with suspenders, but don't want to get completely undressed during every bathroom break? Take a look at the BibZip™ at the back of the cycling shorts. A bathroom break is now possible without taking off your jersey. Problem solved.
The Epic Vapor pads we use integrate many new, exclusive technologies. But the way the pad is applied is even more important. Instead of being sewn into the shorts, the pad is pressed onto the textile panel and then sewn in. This means no extra material, so less mass. The cycling shorts seamlessly follow the contours of the body. Problem solved.
Epic Vapor pad
New material with stages of compression in place of leg grippers
Plenty of attention to detail where the Bibzip is concerned, in order to strengthen surrounding fabrics.
Reinforcing fabrics around the zip means that heat can build up around the lower back and is slow to dissipate. The fabrics around the legs and the hips are exceptionally breathable.
Difficult to say whether the fabric will stand up to being stretched excessively on a regular basis. It appears to be very well made, though.
I'd say stay true to size.
Had initial concerns that the zip might irritate my rather bony lower spine but it didn't!
A hefty investment considering the system may not suit all, but there's no questioning the quality of the garment. Are they bad value though? I'd say not: they're more expensive than several alternatives, for example Iris's Signature Bibs (£119) and Gore's C5s (£120), but still not the priciest – Rapha's will set you back £195. That said, Polaris's E-motions put them all to shame at only £54.99.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine: standard 30 degrees, no problems.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great for long rides and certainly make for quick pee-stops, though I have used better systems.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Graduated compression at lower leg and breathable fabrics around the legs and hips.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Extra fabrics required to support the Bibzip contributing to a sweaty lower back.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
More expensive than several alternatives, for example Iris's Signature Bibs (£119) and Gore's C5's (£120), but still not the priciest: Rapha's will set you back £195. Polaris's E-motions put them all to shame at only £54.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No, there are other systems out there that I prefer.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
Superb construction, a durable, quality chamois, exceptionally breathable around the legs and hips, plus a quick comfort break solution... Despite the overheating consequence of the latter, I'd still say they're very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…