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Bioracer's Spitfire Bibshort offers a great fit and plenty of comfort, thanks especially to the Smooth Vapor pad and its minimalistic design. They're good shorts, but the pad elevates them to one of the best pairs of sub-£100 shorts I've worn.
The heart of any good pair of bib shorts is the pad; if that isn't right then nothing else matters. As I've pointed out in a number of reviews over the last year or so, a lot of companies are switching from the multi-density, multi-channelled pads to smooth designs like the one we have here.
As Bioracer says on its website, a flat surface reduces friction, and there are no hard edges thanks to the smooth transition. Bioracer develops its pads in-house and there are many different options in the Smooth range, but it is the Smooth Vapor Men that you'll find in the Spitfire shorts.
The pad is made of a friction-reducing top layer, two middle layers to provide breathability, and then the main layer which is Evapore. According to Bioracer, Evapore is a 3D webbing which, when put under stress, changes into a rubberised state and delivers impressive damping properties when it is fully compressed.
In use it really does feel different to many other foams out there. It feels quite firm while damping and rebounding very quickly, almost like a tiny suspension system.
When in the saddle the material never bunches, and it feels very breathable too – I never felt overly warm or damp when riding hard on hot days.
As for the rest of the shorts, I got on with them very well too.
The cut is designed for when you're on the bike – the shorts feel great when you are stretched out on the hoods or drops.
The Lycra material is reasonably soft to the touch, but it is also quite supportive – not quite in a compressive way, but you can feel that your muscles aren't bouncing around all over the place when on rough roads.
The legs are held in place with wide elastic cuffs and they do a good job. It's not always my favourite way of keeping things in position but these aren't overly tight, and even on long rides you don't feel like the band or seams above are cutting into your thighs.
The breathable Netz bib section follows the same sort of theme, keeping the shorts in place without being overly constrictive. The only thing I will say is that the stitching is quite coarse against the skin, so if you are not one for wearing a baselayer underneath your straps then you might find it a little irritating.
The Spitfires' price of £84 puts them up against the likes of dhb's Aerons, a very good pair of bib shorts that are £75 at rrp (although you are never likely to pay that on Wiggle or Chain Reaction Cycles), but I'd say the Bioracers win when it comes to pad comfort.
Overall, apart from that slightly rough edge to the stitching on the bib straps – which shouldn't affect you if you wear a baselayer – there is very little to dislike here: a good quality pair of shorts with an excellent pad.
The Smooth Vapor pad makes these an excellent choice for those who want comfort without spending a fortune
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BioRacer Spitfire Bibshorts
Size tested: M
Tell us what the product is for
Bioracer says, "The Spitfire Race Proven Bibshort is part of our core collection. Its shape and form is derived from our Race Proven bibshorts out of our teamwear range.
'Don't let the mimimalistic looks fool you. This pair of shorts is as good as it gets. It's made of a very supportive blend of Lycra and its cut is tailored to provide extra support while riding in an aero position.
'The Netz bibs, together with the wide elastic Powerband leg cuffs keep the bibshort nicely positioned.
'The integrated Vapor Men pad is the latest in terms of insert technology."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Bioracer gives these details:
Sizes: S to XXL
Colours: Blue or Black
Pad: Smooth Vapour Men
SMOOTH VAPOR MEN
The Vapor pad is part of our newest generation of pads, and it's a big step forward in terms of breathability and damping. Main research question during development was: how can we improve the damping needed to cope with the stiffness of carbon bikes without adding more material to the pad? The result: Vapor Technology.
The pad materials consist of a friction reducing, breathable top layer. 2 middle layers provide breathability and moisture transport. The main layer is where the magic happens. 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.
The benefits are obvious.
The pad remains compact.
Lower center of gravity on the saddle, more control of your bike.
Stability on the saddle is improved.
Better power transfer, less bulk.
More support with only 30% of the material.
The quality is very good throughout, with neat and tidy stitching.
Sizing is spot on to Bioracer's guide.
Slightly irritating stitching on the straps if you don't wear a baselayer, but balanced out by the excellent pad.
Impressive qualities for the money.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues with putting them through a 30 degree wash cycle.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A good pair of shorts with an excellent pad considering the sub-£100 price.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pad is brilliant.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slightly coarse stitching on the underside of the bib straps.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are priced competitively compared to many others like the La Passione and the Primals mentioned in the review. The dhbs are a bit cheaper but the Bioracers have a better pad.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A good quality pair of bib shorts that are elevated in performance by the excellent pad.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!