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These Café du Cycliste Marinette Bib Shorts join a few others in my collection that are just really hard to fault. The material is fantastic against the skin and the pad is basically unnoticeable. It's a fair outlay for a piece of kit, but it's backed up by some excellent craftsmanship and if you want to get away from black they come in a whole range of colours including this Anthracite grey.
Okay, £179 of your hard-earned cash on a pair of bib shorts is a big investment, but if you spend a lot of time in the saddle it'll be money well spent.
The Marinettes are up there with the most comfortable shorts I've worn – the likes of the 7mesh RK1 and Endura Pro SL bib shorts. They all follow the same theme: excellent fabric which feels great against the skin and an awesome chamois.
The only thing that differs really is the price. The RK1s are a cool £200, while the Enduras manage to achieve this level of luxury at just £119.99.
So, what do you get from Café du Cycliste for the money?
Let's kick off with the pad. Like many, Café du Cycliste has used a chamois from CyTech's Elastic Interface Technology range. It's a good choice – pad comfort is subjective, but I've never used an uncomfortable CyTech pad.
This one has three varying densities of foam covering the saddle shape, with a single central groove running from back to front to relieve a little pressure.
It's a little bulkier than some but not overly so. One thing I do like is that the foam is relatively firm, so it's supportive when you are in the saddle and soaks up the rough surfaces beneath your tyres, but not so thick that it separates you from the bike in terms of feedback.
I did some big rides on both road and gravel wearing these shorts and I was impressed with how they coped with both terrains.
According to the label, the main section of the shorts is made up from 52% polyamide, 32% polyester and 16% elastane. It feels smoother and softer than that used for the majority of bib shorts costing £100 or less, and they are very nice to wear. The material offers good breathability, too, especially on really hot days.
There is plenty of stretch in all directions, so the shorts move with you completely, whether riding steady or out of the saddle and sprinting hard. There's no bunching or anything anywhere.
They don't have quite as many panels used in their construction as the Enduras I mentioned above, so you don't really get that 'shaped' (or 'pre-shaped' if you prefer) riding position from them; they aren't quite as race-orientated as the SL Pros when crouched in the drops, but not so much that you'd notice unless you were wearing them back to back.
Quite wide leg grippers combined with small silicone dots spread the pressure while keeping the bottom of the shorts in place whatever your riding position.
Continuing the theme of breathability, Café du Cycliste has gone for a lightweight fabric for the bib section, which includes a wide mesh pattern for the central section that covers your spine. It works well, and with a baselayer beneath and a summer jersey on top I never felt any major build-up of sweat when riding hard in the summer sun.
These are manufactured in Albania and the overall quality of the stitching is very good. Everything is neat and tidy, and tugging at the different panels shows no sign that the seams are likely to fail.
As well as this anthracite grey, you can get the Marinettes in navy blue, Limoges (a kind of royal blue), deep red and electric raspberry if you like to jazz up your kit a bit.
Overall, I'd say the Marinettes are very good and worth the outlay. Yes, the performance is similar to the much cheaper Enduras, but they do compete well against the more expensive 7mesh RK1s. If you buy them, you won't be disappointed – especially if you want a bit more colour in your kit.
//301 from 2017//
Impressive quality and comfort from a top notch pair of bib shorts
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cafe du Cycliste Marinette Bib Shorts
Size tested: M
Tell us what the product is for
Cafe du Cycliste says, "The litmus test for any bib shorts is the chamois. Marinette, along with all of our other shorts, use the very best available, a top of the range Cytech pad. Designed for ultimate comfort, the shorts are constructed using the latest technology and materials to ensure maximum performance across any type of ride.
'Marinette match the premium chamois with equally premium fabrics to strike exactly the right balance between stretch and support. The bib section is constructed from two variable types of mesh, open and closed, to provide a constantly stable fit, aid core temperature control and ensure the exceptional comfort continues across every touch point.
'The laser cut grippers are constructed from the same core fabric to continue the modern contemporary styling while silicon beads ensure that the legs stay firmly in place, no matter how great the pace. Reflective elements add visibility in poor or low light conditions."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
71% polyamide | 29% elastomere
colour bib shorts
balanced stretch & support
mesh bib section
silicon beaded grippers
made in europe
The fit isn't as restrictive as some high-end race shorts, so follow the guide and you'll be fine with a little bit of wiggle room thrown in.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Cafe du Cycliste recommends a 30 degree wash and I had no issues with that.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A great pair of shorts however far you are riding.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Excellent pad and fabric feel.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There is nothing to really dislike, unless you want a pair of black shorts...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Comparing them to excellent shorts like those from Endura and 7mesh in the review, the Marinettes sit towards the upper end of the price bracket.
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
The Marinettes are a quality pair of bib shorts, offering superb comfort, exceptional performance and an excellent cut. Some brands can do it a touch cheaper, but overall I'd say these are very good.
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!