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review

dhb Aeron Lab XC Bib Short

8
£140.00

VERDICT:

8
10
High-performing bib shorts with added shrubbery resistance
More resilient to snagging than most shorts
Lightweight
They're not cheap
I found the pad better suited to shorter rides
Weight: 
168g

The dhb Aeron Lab XC Bib Shorts are perfect for riders who want a lightweight and performance-orientated pair of bibs that are also resilient for riding off the beaten track. I've found that the Dyneema panels on each leg are not only better at fending off brambles than standard Lycra, but are also breathable enough for summer riding and don't detract from the comfort of the shorts.

At 168g the XC shorts are certainly light, but don't let this fool you into thinking that they're fragile. On both legs a Dyneema fabric has been used which, at first touch, feels a bit like a waterproof liner; it is in fact quite a bit more complex than that and is both far more breathable and far more stretchy than I would have anticipated a material of this durability could ever be.

2020 dhb Aeron LAB XC bibshort - leg.jpg

So, does it work? Having ridden around in these for a little over month on a mix of mountain bike, cyclocross and gravel rides, it would seem the overgrown August trails are no match for the shorts which are still in pristine condition. Normally by now I've snagged the thighs of Lycra bibs on brambles and other overhanging foliage, so it would seem the Dyneema is functionally sound.

2020 dhb Aeron LAB XC bibshort - detail.jpg

dhb also claims that the Dyneema panels help the shorts to have 'remarkable crash protection' although I fortunately I haven't got firsthand experience of this. I have, however, had my fair share of crashes, and what I tend to find happens is a big scuff down the side of the leg and sometimes a hole where the hip bone is. On the Aeron Lab XC shorts the Dyneema panels wrap a generous way around the sides of the legs, which should help to prevent this scuffing, but on me at least the panels do not cover my hip bones, instead it's 'standard' Lycra in this area which has limited crash protection properties.

2020 dhb Aeron LAB XC bibshort - back logo.jpg

What this does mean is that mobility in the shorts is excellent. In a blind test I can honestly say I don't think I'd notice the panels are there at all. Despite being 'rustly' to touch, out on the trails the shorts are silent – unless of course something drags across them, at which point you can be confident they're doing their job.

Silicone grippers around the bottom of the seamless hems keep the shorts in position and comfortable…

2020 dhb Aeron LAB XC bibshort - gripper.jpg

…and the lightweight mesh bib straps are nice and wide and lie flat against the body. I much prefer these bib straps to the ones that dhb has used on the similarly priced Aeron Raceline shorts, which can pucker under a jersey and not provide as much support.

2020 dhb Aeron LAB XC bibshort - strap.jpg

 

2020 dhb Aeron LAB XC bibshort - strap 2.jpg

The pad comes courtesy of Elastic Interface and is doubtless high quality but it's never been my favourite pad for long distance rides, though I know plenty of others who swear by it. Multiple thicknesses of foam allow you to hold an aggressive position comfortably on a cross bike, and it also performs well when you're sat more upright on a mountain bike.

2020 dhb Aeron LAB XC bibshort - chamois.jpg

At £140 the shorts are not cheap, but at the time of writing they are on sale for £112 in all sizes. It's hard to judge these against other off-road specific bibs as there simply aren't that many about. One alternative if you're looking for a pair of rugged bibs is the Assos XC bib shorts that off.road.cc have tested, but they come in a fair bit more expensive at £175.

> 4 reasons to try mountain biking

There are a lot more options when it comes to standard bib shorts, but these are going to be a bit more fragile. For example, we've recently tested the Rapha Pro Team Training bib shorts (£140) and the Chapeau Club 2 bib shorts (£139.99), which are of comparable price and both also scored well.

> Buyer’s Guide: 42 of the best cycling bib shorts

Overall, I've been impressed with the Aeron Lab XC shorts. The Dyneema panels certainly aid durability, particularly from brambles and thorns on overgrown trails that would ordinarily nick or pucker your standard bibs, and the added durability comes with no sacrifice to comfort or weight. I'd recommend these to anyone regularly hitting the trails.

Verdict

High-performing bib shorts with added shrubbery resistance

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: dhb Aeron Lab XC Bib Short

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for

dhb says: "Transform your off-road riding with the dhb Aeron LAB XC Bib Shorts. Exceptionally comfortable and boasting the unrivalled ripstop technology of Dyneema®, these lightweight shorts will give you the confidence to hit top speed on trails and gravel."

The Dyneema panels make them stronger than most bib shorts, so ideal for off-road riding.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

dhb lists:

Dyneema® outer panels for resistance to abrasion

High gauge and highly durable main fabric

Ultralight mesh bibstraps

Seamless hem with silicone gripper

Elastic Interface® seat pad

Inserts: 58% Polyamide(Nylon), 32% Elastane(Spandex), 10% Polyester

Main: 80% Polyamide(Nylon), 20% Elastane(Spandex)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

You wouldn't even realise the panels were there if you had your eyes closed; it's nice to have a pair of shorts that look brand new after a month of riding overgrown trails that would usually snag shorts.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

I haven't used any bibs that are more durable.

Rate the product for fit:
 
9/10

They fit me well, nice and tight but not restrictive, and shorter in the leg than some road shorts.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
8/10

Accurate.

Rate the product for weight:
 
9/10

They're really light especially considering the durability.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
8/10

Shorts themselves are very comfortable and the bib straps too, as they're wide and sit nice and flat. I found the bib really comfortable on shorter rides but noticeable on mountain bike rides over three hours.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

They're not cheap but they should last a lot longer than your standard bib shorts.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Fine.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Performed well, breathability was much much better than I expected. Dyneema panels do not restrict mobility or comfort and they have resisted scagging so I'd say that was very successful.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

They still look brand new after a month of hard testing.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

They've got an annoying label in which you can cut out but then it leaves sharp corners.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

We haven't tested many 'similar' products on road.cc; the Assos XC bib shorts on off.road.cc cost £175 so a fair bit more expensive. Compared to road shorts, they also don't stack up badly.

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

They achieve their aim of being a set of premium bib shorts with excellent durability and abrasion protection, without sacrificing weight or comfort. They're very good but could do without having a label in, and I have found other pads more comfortable on long rides.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 22  Height: 6ft  Weight: 74kg

I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

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