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The Iris Signature Bib Short II shows just what a decade of pro cycling combined with a design degree can do in terms of producing a pair of truly excellent cycling shorts. They look good, they perform exceptionally well and they reflect a unique understanding of a female rider's needs.
Iris was started in 2017 by former pro rider Iris Slappendel who has combined her decade-long experience of racing in the pro peloton with a design degree to produce stylish and effective cycling kit primarily for women, but also for men.
Designed by Iris and manufactured in Italy, these really are an exceptionally well-designed pair of shorts. First off, I think they are visually very attractive. It's a refreshing change to be able to get colours other than just plain black.
The colours are designed to coordinate with the company's jerseys, but also to work well with those from other brands. The Cinnamon colour here is a browny burgundy in real life. You can also have Dark Indigo, Blueberry and black.
The soft velvety matt fabric is opaque but pliable, straddling the line between support, comfort and durability; it makes for a flattering fit, and should fit all shapes and sizes well.
The bib section has a nice colour contrast detail for interest, and the bib straps can be worn around the bust and should suit most sizes.
The leg gripper section is broad and extremely grippy, but doesn't squeeze the thighs in an unsightly way. Given how effective it is, it's also surprising that it doesn't irritate, but it doesn't.
The shorts' good looks are backed up with some very real performance too. There are two areas in which these shorts really excel. One is the Cytech pad, which I found comfortable over a variety of distances with a barely-there feel, but great support. The pad contours nicely to the body and moves with you. The fabric wicks moisture quickly and effectively, drying swiftly.
The real magic of these shorts happens at the bib area, though. A clever design means that little strain is put on the straps, with the legs and lower back of the shorts keeping themselves in place without pulling on the straps. The result is that the strap area is super-comfortable, with no pulling on the shoulders or neck, and good levels of flexibility in fit for even the most ample of bosoms.
What's more, a magnetic clip at the rear of the straps does a brilliant job of allowing for easy toilet breaks. Rapha has a similar design in its Souplesse Detachable Bib Shorts, and it has to be the most impressive solution to this problem that I've seen in over two decades of wearing bib shorts. The clip fastens and unfastens easily, with no fumbling or dislocation of the shoulders required.
Thanks to the soft-stretch fabric and the bib and strap design, these are shorts that will fit a range of body types and builds. Both taller and shorter women will find them suitable, as will athletic or curvier women. These are all about the comfort.
Given that Iris is a small independent company based in the Netherlands, and therefore subject to the vagaries of the exchange rate, these are pretty good value for money for technical and design-led bib shorts, particularly when you factor in Italian manufacturing.
They're around a tenner more than the Santini Women's Legend Bib Short (£110) and the Velocio Women's Foundation bib shorts (£109), and cheaper than the Liv Signature Bib Shorts which will set you back £124.99. They're a lot less than the Rapha Detachables that I mentioned above, which are £195.
With their inspired and effective bib design, the quality of manufacture, and their stylish looks, it's hard to find fault with such a well-conceived pair of bib shorts at this price.
Exceptionally well-designed bib shorts combining good looks, performance, quality and decent value for money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Iris Signature Bib Short II
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
For female cyclists who want to look good and feel comfortable when riding at any level.
Iris says, ' Feeling good means looking good. That's why selecting the right bib shorts is the most important choice a rider can make.
'They feature a ergonomic six-panel construction, using Sensitive® Sculpt Light. This is an innovative technical fabric that does not constrain the body but, instead, follows its natural lines, enhancing any body shape. Resilient but light, it is designed for maximum comfort with an amazingly soft touch. The award-winning CyTech Endurance 2.5 HD chamois ensures optimum comfort, and silicone grippers keep the legs in place. The bib uppers feature a secure magnetic closure system which makes getting them on and off a total breeze!
'We have kept the design minimal and stylish, with only a woven tag at the rear, so the shorts will remain timeless and match any jersey.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Iris lists these details:
Six-panel ergonomic construction
Sensitive® Sculpt Light fabric
Anatomical cut: strategically placed seams for comfort and fit in the riding position
CyTech Endurance 2.5 HD women's-specific chamois with Elastic Interface® technology
Laser-cut leg bands with silicone gripper for no-slip, no-pinch comfort and an aerodynamic profile
Mesh back panel for ventilation and breathability
Seamless microfiber bib straps for enhanced comfort and fit
Magnetic clip closure for more comfort and easy bathroom breaks
Machine washable at 30
Beautifully made from excellent quality fabrics and components, and nicely finished.
Comfortable and effective on a variety of rides.
Wash well and the fabric is high quality so should last.
Pliable fabric and well designed, so suitable for a variety of shapes/builds.
Sizing was spot on for that stated on the company's website.
Very lightweight but still opaque performance fabric.
Exceptionally comfortable from fabric to pad, bib straps to creative "comfort break" solution.
A tenner or so more than comparable shorts, but well worth the extra for such a good combination of quality, style and performance – and cheaper than Liv's Signature Bib Shorts.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, washed well and dried quickly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Looks, fit, comfort, magnetic clip "comfort break" solution, quality...
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Around a tenner more than the Santini Women's Legend Bib Short and Velocio Women's Foundation Bib Short, and cheaper than the Liv Signature Bib Shorts at £125.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? In a heartbeat.
Use this box to explain your overall score
I think they're exceptional: excellent quality and design and superb comfort come together in a great-looking and stylish pair of bib shorts at a reasonable price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.