The dhb Aeron Raceline Bib Short 3.0s are lightweight and race orientated. I found them comfortable over a short distance when in an aggressive position, but post-ride pictures revealed the rear was a little more see-through than I'd like.
The LAB collection is aimed at 'cyclists at the highest level' and hence has a closer and more compressive fit designed for riding fast. The hexagon pattern on the leg panels are designed to disrupt the airflow resulting in free speed – apparently. If you want the scientific explanation then here goes; if not, then skip a paragraph!
So, you'd be forgiven for thinking that smooth airflow is always faster. It just so happens that this isn't always the case due to surface drag making up a very small part of the overall drag with the majority coming from the wake, in this case behind the rider's legs. The hexagons you see on the shorts disturb the airflow that's close to the shorts, creating what's called a turbulent boundary layer, in a very similar way to dimples on a golf ball. Although this causes a tiny bit more surface drag, the air stays attached to the shorts for longer which greatly reduces the wake created and hence the overall drag is less.
Out in the real world, because of the relatively low speed of even the fastest of cyclists when compared to cars and planes, a few hexagons is realistically not going to save you many watts at all, maybe one or two. Does that mean it's useless? Not in my opinion – I'm happy to take every free watt going! I completely understand that it's a lot to pay for only a marginal gain but if you're a 'cyclist at the highest level' then you've probably already made all the big gains.
Thankfully, the Aeron Racelines don't rely on just aero claims to make them good. The material is extremely comfortable and despite being compressive isn't restrictive in the slightest. It makes the shorts feel like some of the lightest I've tried, and at a measly 151g that's hardly surprising. A benefit of such a lightweight material is that it's quick drying and extremely breathable; this makes the Raceline shorts ideal for hot and hard efforts – although if there's a risk of getting cold then other thicker shorts will be more suitable.
As with the previous generation Raceline 2.0 bibs, which Dave tested last year, the pad comes courtesy of Elastic Interface and features three different densities of foam. The Paris HCS pad is undoubtedly a quality bit of kit but personally I found it better suited to shorter efforts than endurance rides. This is down to the pad being just 3mm thick at the front and my riding position placing more pressure on the perineum than is probably recommended. It should be noted that Dave also thought the Paris HCS pad's 'provides comfort for rides of more than seven hours' claim a little ambitious.
The bib straps are wide, thin and very light, which helps to spread the load and reduce any pressure points. I did find that the laser cut edges meant they would sometimes bunch when putting them on, but once straightened out they were never a problem while riding. For me the bib straps provided adequate support but if you have a shorter torso then the stretchiness of the straps could be a problem. Don't let Wiggle's 'uncompromising second skin' fit convince you into a larger size, put it that way.
So, three weeks in and I was well chuffed with the shorts; they're comfortable – especially on short rides – light, breathable and maybe even a little bit faster than other bibs, but then I got home from a ride and found a picture of me on Strava. Let's just say you could see more of me than most people would want... the rear panel just above the pad is maybe just a tiny bit too lightweight. To be fair to the Racelines, the sun was low, directly behind and very bright, but my brother's Castelli Free Aero Race shorts didn't succumb to the same problem.
The Castelli Free Aero Race 4 bib shorts also integrate some aero claims but will set you back 20 quid more and are also a few grams heavier (172g), although in some areas this could be worth it... The Endura D2Z shorts are another pair of bibs with aero claims and they're £179.99.
Overall, as long as you're not riding in a bright evening sun, I feel that the £130 RRP is reasonable given the technology and features that the shorts offer.
Lightweight and breathable bibs offering marginal gains
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Aeron Raceline Bib Short 3.0
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
dhb says, 'Now in its third season, the Aeron LAB Raceline Bib Short has developed year-on-year thanks to expert feedback from elite riders. Refined to deliver for athletes at the highest level, these shorts will exceed your expectations in both comfort and speed.'
These shorts are for going fast and riding in an aggressive position.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Race ready, second-skin fit
Aerodynamic fabrics wind-tunnel tested for 2020
Refined with feedback from professional riders
Exclusive Elastic Interface® Paris HCS seat pad
Integrated leg gripper
Soft and wide bib straps
Wash at 30 degrees. Do not tumble dry
Bibs: 74% Polyamide(Nylon), 26% Lycra
Inner Panels: 80% Polyamide(Nylon), 20% Elastane(Spandex)
Outer Panels: 58% Polyamide(Nylon), 42% Elastane(Spandex)
No issues so far, and stitching seems robust despite the shorts being very lightweight.
I liked the amount of compression, just enough to know it's there without being uncomfortable.
I'm usually medium and these fitted my tall and skinny build well.
They even shave 1g off last year's version.
I found the pad quite large and thin, which enabled an aggressive position, but I found it better suited to shorter rides (sub 70km). I know lots of people who really rate the Elastic Interface Paris HCS seat pad. Shorts and bib straps themselves were extremely comfortable.
Cheaper than other aero shorts such as the Endura D2Z shorts, which are £180, and Castelli Free Aero Race 4 at £150. There are plenty of bib shorts out there that are cheaper, with little discernible difference in comfort, but these are very light and come with aero claims.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I washed at both 30 and 40 degrees with no issues (30-degree recommended).
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The hexagons are a bit different – so many shorts look the same so this makes a nice change.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
See-through rear panel when light is behind.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
£130 is fairly middling but at the cheaper end of most companies' "top of the line" bib shorts. The dhbs are cheaper than other aero shorts such as the Endura D2Z shorts, which are £180, and Castelli Free Aero Race 4 at £150.
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
I was ready to say these were an exceptional pair of shorts until a photo revealed their see-throughness. I'd still say they're very good, though, and I would consider buying them: they're good value, look a bit different and have excellent breathability and lightweighty-ness!
About the tester
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,