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Chapeau's Club Thermal Bibshorts work well across a huge range of conditions, offering plenty of warmth, breathability, and, above all else, loads of comfort. They are a good price too, considering the high quality.
Like many of us, my cycling wardrobe has built up steadily over the years and I have specific kit for certain conditions, especially for the lower half of my body. Tights for the winter, 3/4s for the spring and the autumn, and shorts for the summer, with a bit of blending in line with the weather.
The Club Thermal shorts do away with needing a lot of that apparel, though, as when paired with a set of knee or arm warmers they'll cover three-quarters of your cycling year.
The Roubaix-style, fleece-backed material used in the majority of their construction is soft against the skin and keeps you surprisingly warm. I've been wearing them a lot through December and into the new year, which has seen a fair change in conditions: up to the low-teens Celsius on the milder days, with a prolonged colder spell as we've moved into January, and the Chapeaus have delivered right across the board.
I'd say up to around 15°C is the top limit, higher than that and I'd find them a little too warm, especially if riding hard, but on the colder days I was perfectly comfortable in them at just a degree or so above freezing.
For added warmth, the front panel rises higher than typical on bib shorts, which gives some extra protection from cold winds. Chapeau has included a zip to aid toilet breaks, which is a nice touch.
These are performance bib shorts and are tailored to fit close, using multiple panels rather than just relying on the stretch of the fabric. Size-wise I'd say they are realistic to the UK market, coming up a little larger than equivalent sized European offerings. Just follow Chapeau's guide and you'll be fine.
I found them a pleasure to wear on long road and gravel rides and suffered no discomfort anywhere – well, mostly. The only slight niggle I had is that the small tab of material used to create the seam on each leg gripper is quite large and firm. On a couple of longer rides they did dig into my thighs a bit, although after quite a lot of wears and washes they have softened.
Elastic Interface chamois pads are used by a fair few brands, and that's because its products are very good. The one Chapeau has chosen for the Thermal Bibshorts offers great levels of padding, which take out the worst of the road buzz without isolating you from the saddle. I suffered no bunching of the foam or material anywhere and was really impressed with just how comfortable I remained even after a four-and-a-half-hour gravel ride.
The top half of the shorts is also a joy to wear. The wide bib straps offer a free range of movement without digging in, and seams have been kept to a minimum to minimise irritation.
The overall quality is very high throughout, from the stitching all the way through to the durability of the fabric.
This goes a long way to justifying their £129.99 price tag, which, though double that of some bib shorts on the market, is easier to swallow when you consider how versatile they are, meaning it doesn't equate to much in terms of £s per mile.
They're a little cheaper than some: the Sanremo Thermal bib shorts from Shutt VR cost £139, for example, and the Le Col Pro Blackouts that Liam loved are £170. But you can find very good pairs for less: Mike was very impressed with the Lusso 2-Zero Thermal bib shorts, which are not only warm and comfortable but also come with a decent amount of water resistance, for £79.99.
I can definitely see these becoming a staple of an autumn to spring wardrobe. The performance cut makes you feel like you are wearing your best summer shorts but with the added benefits of the extra warmth afforded from the fabric. Overall quality is top notch and so are the comfort levels.
Top quality three-season bib shorts that are very comfortable to wear no matter how long your ride
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chapeau Club Thermal Bibshorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
According to Chapeau, 'Our Thermal bib-shorts are designed to be versatile and to be worn in all but the chilliest of conditions.
'They're as suited to cool-summer evenings as they are to all-dayers in the autumn. Wear them with your knees out or team them up with our knee or leg-warmers when the mercury dips. Just don't forget, warmers go on the inside!'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
They feature a wicking, comfortable and breathable material with a new and updated gripper for extra comfort and style. The front panel has been designed to sit higher than on your summer bibs to add a bit of extra warmth on chilly days.
The pad is a real work of art, built for us by industry experts Elastic Interface. It uses layers of perforated foams, each with their own densities, to provide excellent breathability and freedom of movement.
It is also engineered to support the rotation of the pelvic bone on the saddle while pedaling with a totally flush top surface providing close and continuous skin contact. Shaped according to specific anthropometrical measurements the pad offers perfect fit, saddle stability and most importantly pressure relief to aid blood flow.
Sizing is in line with Chapeau's guide.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues with repeated washing.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They cover an impressive range of temperatures.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pad is both supportive and comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Only a small niggle was caused by the seams on the leg grippers, especially when they were new.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are a touch cheaper than those offered from Shutt VR, but the Lusso options mentioned in the review are a very good price.
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
There is very little to pick fault with here. The Chapeaus are very well made, nicely tailored and the pad provides excellent levels of comfort.
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!