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GripGrab's Aquarepel Water-Resistant Bib Shorts are designed for riding through the transition from autumn to winter, or for the end of the cold months as we enter spring. With various weatherproof panels and a comfortable chamois, they're ideal for when the weather takes a turn, either on their own or as part of a layering system.
For more ideas on the best kit for these changeable days, check out our guide to what to wear for autumn cycling.
The biggest issue I find the moment a membrane is added to a pair of bib shorts or bib tights is that you lose a fair amount of the natural stretch afforded by just the Lycra-like fabric alone, which means movement can feel restricted, and they can also feel tight around the legs if your thighs are on the large side.
GripGrab has only used waterproof fabric on certain sections, though: the front panels that run around the side, and the lower back – areas likely to be exposed to rain or road spray. This allows the rest of the shorts to stretch, giving a better all-round fit, which doesn't feel all that restrictive. GripGrab does actually say the waterproof panels also have four-way stretch, and I certainly found these much more comfortable than a lot of shorts of this style.
In other areas that are a bit more sheltered, like the inside of the thighs and around the waist, you get the polyester/elastane material backed with a fleece fabric to keep you warm.
The three-layer softshell panels have a fully waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane sandwiched in the middle, and their protection is impressive, with heavy rain struggling to get through for around an hour or so, and holding out much longer in lighter drizzle. It's hard to gauge exactly, as water can enter through the non-waterproof panels, although that is slowed by the fact that the entire garment also has a PFC-free DWR treatment – depending on wind direction, spray from passing traffic and so on.
You'll certainly stay drier than wearing standard shorts, but they aren't infallible. Even when wet, though, they do keep you warm.
With minimal seams they are also very comfortable, and there's plenty of length in the legs, which are held in place by grippers that aren't too compressive.
The straps have plenty of stretch to give a snug fit on your upper body, and are wide, too, which means no pressure points, while a rear mesh section completely covers your back.
The only thing I would like to see is a little more height on the front section, to cover your stomach more when riding in cool conditions.
Inside you get a chamois from Elastic Interface, well known for supplying pads to many clothing manufacturers, and on the whole I tend to get on with them very well. This Liege HP model has two different densities of padding in a shape to suit your saddle, with a central channel for pressure relief.
The padding is thicker than some, but it is designed for long distance riding where a slightly more upright position and therefore more weight on the saddle is likely.
Size-wise, GripGrab's chart is honest and realistic, so just take a look at that before buying, and as for quality I can find no faults with these shorts at all.
At £124.95 I wouldn't expect to, mind.
That said, Stolen Goat sells its Orkaan Weather-Resistant Bib Shorts for just 5p more, £125, and they too are water resistant and come with a fleece lining for warmth. We haven't reviewed them but having worn much of Stolen Goat's winter kit I find the quality and fit to be very good.
And the GripGrabs are certainly well priced against some of the competition, like Gore's Transition bib shorts. They are water resistant and windproof, and Steve was generally impressed even though they have a few niggles, but they cost £169.99.
The GripGrab Aquarepels are a quality pair of bib shorts with well-positioned panels to keep the worst of the weather out, without restricting movement; GripGrab has created a good balance here. It has also gone for a top-notch pad suitable for those slower, longer off-season rides.
A comfortable pad and well-positioned panels make these ideal for the transition to the off-season
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road.cc test report
Make and model: GripGrab AquaRepel Water-Resistant Bib Shorts
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
GripGrab says, "As summer fades, your summer cycling bib shorts become less optimal legwear: designed to offer maximum breathability, they will do little to shield your leg muscles and lower body from the arrival of cold and wet conditions. The GripGrab AquaRepel Water-Resistant Bib Shorts are your solution – a pair of comfortable padded bib shorts that offer waterproof and windproof protection, to keep you riding in comfort through the transition seasons and into winter.
These bib shorts utilise the same high-stretch softshell fabric as the GripGrab AquaRepel Leg Warmers: this three-layer fabric features a 100% waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane to shield your legs from cold weather and rear wheel spray. The protective fabric has a four-way stretch profile to allow for a close and comfortable fit, with maximum freedom of movement.
On areas not using the fully waterproof membrane fabric, such as the underside of the legs and waist, a soft brushed fleece fabric is used to offer added breathability and further body-mapping stretch. This fleece fabric, as with the other fabrics on the shorts, is treated with a PFC-free Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment – so it too effectively shrugs of rain showers and spray.
The seatpad used in the AquaRepel Bib Shorts is from Italian market-leader Elastic Interface. The LIÈGE HP seatpad guarantees superior comfort during long distance rides thanks to the very high-density foam inserts. These are strategically positioned to offer pressure relief on the pelvic track, seat bones and perinea. The perfect combination of perforated foams of different densities ensures exceptional breathability and maximum freedom of movement.
Reflective details have been added to the bib shorts to help enhance your road presence in low light conditions, while silicone grippers on the leg hems and flatlock seams ensure the bib shorts stay firmly and comfortably in place, worn with or without leg warmers.
Designed in Denmark for the unpredictable Scandinavian autumn and winter, these bib shorts will keep you warm, comfortable and protected from the elements as you clock up those winter rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Waterproof and breathable
* High stretch and secure fit
* Elastic Interface seatpad
* Insulating fleece inserts
* PFC-free DWR coating
The sizing is fairly typical, and true to GripGrab's chart.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues with washing after wet and muddy rides, and the DWR coating looks to be holding up well.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Highly resistant to rain and road spray.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Waterproof panels don't restrict movement like some can.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I prefer a higher stomach section to ward off draughts.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are well priced, pretty much the same as those from Stolen Goat, and much cheaper than Gore's option mentioned in the review.
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're very good. They're well made and competitively priced, but the main thing that makes them score 8 is the fact that GripGrab has managed to add the waterproofing without affecting overall movement and 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,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!