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Bioracer's Vesper Bibshort Soft is ideal for women looking for performance and comfort without also getting excessive compression around the thighs. Soft fabrics and a quality chamois – combined with the unique BibZip feature – make these great shorts, and ideal for any length of ride.
This is the second pair of Bioracer shorts I've tested recently, and the Vesper feature the same chamois and BipZip as the Epic Bibshorts I reviewed last month. The key differences are the main fabric and the approach to leg grippers, plus the loss of some of the compression and breathability the Epics offer.
These shorts offer little in the way of compression, as the fabric around the hips and thighs is exceptionally soft and giving. They're very well suited to long, lazy rides and touring – partly because they lack the feel or breathability levels of racier designs.
Bioracer calls the fabric in the leg grippers Power Eyelet, and it's the stuff found in some of their skinsuit tops. It's intended to be compressive but not be constrictive, but for me, it wasn't quite enough. The legs ride up – not to the point of discomfort, but enough to form a couple of pleats at the top.
The effect is worse when teamed with leg warmers; this fabric is silky smooth, and doesn't grip well against other materials.
As always with Bioracer, check the size charts carefully as every collection has its own chart. Your size in the Epic collection may be different to the Vesper collection (or your usual sizes).
BibZip, Bioracer's comfort break solution, is a zip up the back, and it's easily accessible. Once unzipped, the shorts can be pulled down and under your bottom.
I've being using this system for over two months now and, I have to admit, it's grown on me. In short (no pun intended), you squat as low as possible, grab each side of the zip and yank the shorts down and under your bum. Holding your torso as close to your thighs as you possibly can makes getting them down (and back up again) easier.
I still need to lower the zip on my jersey post-pee as the straps need repositioning, but I've got it down to a fine art and it's now super quick.
Bioracer hasn't neglected to reinforce the fabrics around the zip, and adds a generous zip guard to protect your lower back. There's a downside though – all the extra fabric means the back is a lot sweatier than regular designs. It's covered by your jersey pockets, too.
Our test shorts featured Bioracer's Vapor Uni Pad (designed for high mileages), though they can also be purchased with a 3D Race pad. The Vapour is more durable than the Race, but offers lower breathability and weighs more.
In hot weather the pad doesn't draw moisture as efficiently as some performance pads, for example the Gore C7 Long Distance bibs, but even so, after five solid hours in the saddle I found no discomfort or irritation.
Instead of being sewn into the shorts, the Vapor pad is pressed onto a 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.
Systems for comfort breaks are quite personal – what suits one doesn't necessarily suit another – but generally come with losses either in performance or comfort.
Lara really rated the system in Iris's Signature Bibs, which are £19 more than the Vespers. Rapha's Souplesse Detachable bibs are also an option but the price – £195 – is likely to put many off. Gore's C5 Women's bib shorts, meanwhile, offer a zip and squat approach for £120. I'd say all of these make the Vespers look very attractively priced.
On the other hand, Polaris's E-motion bibs are evidence that a quick pee doesn't have to cost the Earth – they're £54.99, though I can't comment on their quality.
The Vesper Shorts will appeal to women wanting to avoid their thighs being squeezed like sausages, and they're high-quality bibs that enable super-quick, hassle-free comfort breaks. You'll be back on your bike enjoying their comfort and excellent chamois in no time... albeit with a slightly sweaty lower back.
Well-made, comfortable shorts for long, lazy days with a unique approach to comfort breaks
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bioracer Vesper Bibshort Soft
Size tested: X Large
Tell us what the product is for
Bioracer tells us, "The Vesper Bibshort Soft is a nice example of the way we work with existing materials. We rethink the whole concept of a short until it fits the needs of the rider. It is the short of choice for every woman looking for comfort, wearability and good looks."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
-Pre-shaped and sculpted around the body in a cycling position
-Seamless integration of grippers
-Reduced amount of seams and materials
-Lightweight, minimalist construction
-Vapor Uni pad
Plenty of attention to detail where the BibZip is concerned, in order to strengthen surrounding fabrics.
Reinforcing fabrics around the zip means heat can build up around the lower back and is slow to dissipate. The leg grippers are not as effective as those on the Epic Bibshorts.
Appear very well made.
Perfect when you get on your bike.
Be sure to check the charts.
Had concerns the zip might irritate my rather bony lower spine, but it didn't!
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Comfortable with decent breathability, and not limited to hot weather riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit and cut is just right.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are cheaper than many equivalents with comfort break systems, such as Iris's Signature Bibs (£119) Gore's C5s (£120) or Rapha's Souplesse Detachable bibs at £195. They undercut Bioracer's own Epics too, which are £40 more, but you lose some compression and breathability for that. Polaris's E-motions put them all to shame at only £54.99, though...
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
Superb construction, a durable, quality chamois, soft and giving fabrics for zero-bulge, plus a quick comfort break solution... despite the overheating consequence of the latter, they're still very good for under £100.
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…