The Kostüme Signature Bib Short is an incredibly well thought out and subtly detailed garment, constructed with the most supple, soft and beautiful Lycra I've ever put between my thighs, and while it doesn't look much, the chamois is incredibly comfortable and can be relied upon for very long rides. A pair of shorts to prove that it's worth spending the money.
If you're in the market for a new pair, check out our guide to the best cycling bib shorts to help you decide.
Kostüme says its Signature bib shorts have been developed with the single-minded proposition of being the most comfortable on the market, and it's obvious that a lot of time and effort has been spent creating these shorts because they're full of knowledgable details that aren't in every pair of cycling bibs.
> Buy now: Kostüme Signature Bib Short for £180 from Kostüme
It's easy to scoff at pricier cycling shorts and say that the ones you fished out of the middle aisle in that continental supermarket's bicycle week are just as good for a fraction of the price. And that's fine – the comments are just down there if you want to do that – but the quality of the fabric and level of detailing in the Kostüme shorts do a very good job of justifying their price, and that's before you're even put them on and are five hours into a ride.
Kostüme has a very strong 'planet first' ethos. Its clothing is made from recycled fabrics where possible and practical, and its limited edition pre-order system means only the products ordered by customers get made, which ensures no waste, no unwanted stock, no damaging sales, and no unsold products destroyed or sent to landfill. The company also only works with socially and environmentally responsible nearshore manufacturers (currently in Italy and Romania) which also applies to material sourcing wherever possible, and the shorts come to you in a biodegradable bag.
Sizing & fit
When it came to sizing I was right between the small and medium on the chart, and taking heed of Kostüme's guideline that its sizes are fractionally larger than most brands, with the focus on comfort over aero performance, and that if you prefer a race fit you might benefit from sizing down, I plumped for the small and it was a very race fit, which I prefer.
The shorts were very snug in the bottom half with a firm compression in the legs, the chamois hugging where it needed to be, and the straps a bit tight when stood upright but perfect on the bike. They fit about as tight as I'd dare, feeling quite restrictive when on, but once in the saddle they completely disappear.
I don't know what Kostüme has done with the Lycra but – oh my – it's the nicest thing I've ever put next to my skin. It doesn't really feel like Lycra, it's both soft and supportive at the same time and has a very pleasing matt finish. Let me just slip them on again to check... yup, absolutely gorgeous.
There's not much information on the Lycra and why it feels so damn luxurious. It's a 65% recycled polyamide, 35% elastane mix, OEKO-TEX-certified, ECONYL regenerated nylon main fabric with UV protection, which doesn't sound too sexy… The only other information Kostüme offers up is that it's a high-modulus fabric giving class-leading performance and shape retention. Kostüme probably wants to keep it a secret from everyone else.
Wearing it is an absolute joy. Try not to let anyone see you rubbing your thighs fondly...
This sensual fit is helped by there being only one flatlocked seam within the main body of the shorts. It starts on the outside of one thigh, runs up the leg, high across the top of your bottom and then down the other leg, so any rubbing or chafing that might occur with other shorts, with seams being on the inside of the thigh, is totally removed.
The hem of the shorts is raw cut, so no elasticated hem to dig in and cause the dreaded sausage leg; there is, instead, the subtlest of silicone grippers on the inner 50mm at the bottom of the leg that's so fine it looks like it's been sprayed on and you can't even feel it's there.
The straps are stretchy, wide, comfortable and made from a mesh material that keeps them airy so they don't hold onto perspiration and dry quickly. They're connected to the legs via a 50mm waistband that runs all the way round the shorts, which prevents them from digging in. This waistband also has a thin strip of silicone circumnavigating the inside upper edge for added support.
The bibs are joined up towards the top of the back via a Lycra yoke that Kostüme calls a racer back.
The straps on this pair are coloured to match the rest of the Kostüme #edit001 that features exclusive artwork by Kai & Sunny in a strictly limited edition of 350 pieces. If you want to go all matchy matchy you can wear a jersey, baselayer, cap and neck warmer in the same blueygreenyellow wavy pattern and, when your ride's finished, relax on the sofa and look at the limited edition print on your wall.
The Kostüme logo on the right leg is in the same colours, while there's a reflective ü on the left leg. That colour scheme might not match the one you currently employ on your bike, and that's about the only downside I can find with these shorts. You may not find this a downside.
For a pricey set of shorts, the chamois looks nothing special as it doesn't feature all the contours, cutouts and fancy anatomical lumps that other premium chamois like to show off. On the surface it looks a simple affair, with the central saddle-shaped area being thickly and firmly padded, but looks can be deceiving as the Italian-made pad has a four-layer construction combining three types of memory foam. It also has an aloe-infused microfibre top surface, designed to be used without chamois cream.
On the bike you can feel the depth of that padding, but not in a negative way, as it seems to form around what it needs to form around and settle into where you need the comfort to be, rather than your bits being told where they need padding as you get with more specifically lumped chamois.
I used the Kostüme shorts on short road blasts, longer multi-hour rides, all-dayers and then on gravel rides to see if the constant weight shifting with added grit could unseat the shorts, and they remained comfy throughout.
> Spring cycling clothing guide: how to choose and use the best gear to ride through the most unpredictable season
The aloe-infused chamois is a new one on me and I was skeptical. Kostüme says it was too, but explains that a chamois is designed to function as a second skin, not a slippery mess. Your views on the need for chamois cream or not on any pair of shorts will vary. I weaned myself off the arse lard a while back, but for longer rides have reverted to putting a teeny dab on the bits I know will rub; without giving too much information, that's nowhere near anywhere that actually touches the chamois. So I'm unsure about the efficacy of this top-surface treatment, and without an aloe testing probe to hand, it's hard to say how much wash and wear this treatment will stand before fading away.
In terms of pricing, the Kostüme bibs could be seen as top of mid-range or low high-end. Its low product run and environmental sustainability stance is another thing to factor in and might sway you into spending a little bit more, or choose these over others.
Their price puts them right alongside shorts from better known premium brands such as Rapha, Assos, Pas Normal Studios, MAAP and Universal Colours, even if it doesn't come close to those brands' top-tier items.
It does seem to be a price point where everyone loves the shorts and thinks they're worth the money, though.
For example, the Assos Mille GTS Spring Fall Bib Shorts C2 cost the same, and are made with a Lycra that's also incredibly soft against the skin, though as it's a bit thicker they might be a bit warm for some. The pad looks a lot fancier, made up of multiple layers of varying materials and densities, and is only stitched at the front and rear as part of Assos' GoldenGate design, which allows it to move separately from the rest of the shorts. All of that and a two-year warranty and a crash replacement policy mean Stu thought that, despite a large outlay, they are worth every penny for their incredible comfort, fit and performance.
The Rapha Classic Bib Shorts are the same price as well, although Rapha's frequent sales might help you out here. They, too, have a recycled fabric content and got a similar 'worth it for the money' review to the Assos.
The MAAP Team Bib Evos are a little more cash but also firm and supportive, and have the edge over the Rapha shorts according to Stu, who tested both.
There are some that buck the trend: Matt wasn't impressed with Le Col's now-£185 Pro Bib Shorts; while comfortable, they lacked the build quality and look that the high price might suggest.
I have a disgustingly large collection of bib shorts accrued over the years, from better-than-they-should-be entry-level ones and lots of day-to-day pairs that are a satisfactory combination of quality, comfort and cost, to special-day-only very expensive ones that are quite good really, and the Kostüme bib shorts trump all of them.
They're next-level comfortable, that soft yet firm Lycra of the legs is absolutely amazing, like nothing else I've put on. The straps are wide and comfortable, the leg gripper invisibly good, and the chamois well padded, cosseting and niggle-free for whatever length of ride you might want.
The only complaint I have, and it's the smallest, vain, stylistic whinge, is that the straps and leg logo don't match anything I have; limited edition exclusive artwork be damned, can they come in black?
Incredibly well thought out and comfortable, and oh, that Lycra...
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Make and model: Kostume Mens Bib Short
Tell us what the product is for
Kostüme says its signature bib short has been developed with a single minded proposition: to be the most comfortable on the market. Its products are made in strictly limited editions, and available for pre-order which cuts down waste, leaves no unwanted stock, leads to no damaging sales, and ensures no unsold products are destroyed or sent to landfill. As part of product testing, a production sample was worn on the inaugural Bristol Glasgow Bristol, covering over 1,600km and 25,000m of elevation both on and off road in less than 90 hours with the direct and to the point feedback of 'the best shorts I have ever worn'.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
OEKO-TEX® certified ECONYL® regenerated Nylon main fabric with UV protection
High modulus fabric gives class leading performance and shape retention
4-layer chamois featuring memory foam and 'permanent' aloe infusion
Fastener-free seat drop for hassle-free toilet breaks
High-stretch recycled straps, perforated for rapid cooling and drying
Raw cut leg hems with printed gripper
Racerback-style strap junction for all-day comfort and support
Minimal flatlock seams to avoid chafing
Reflective transfers to aid night safety
Made in Italy
Product weight: 195g (small)
65% recycled polyamide
93% recycled polyester
Wash at max 30°c
DO NOT bleach, tumble dry, iron, dry clean or use fabric softener
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Incredibly well made and thought out.
Rate the product for performance:
Next level fit, comfort and ride longevity.
Rate the product for durability:
Worn and washed a lot and still look like new.
Rate the product for fit:
Sized down as suggested by the Kostüme website and got a comfortably snug pair of bib shorts.
Rate the product for sizing:
Pay attention to the Kostüme size guide.
Rate the product for weight:
The weight of the high-modulus fabric makes them a little heavy compared with others but that disappears once on.
Rate the product for comfort:
The most comfortable shorts I've worn. The Lycra is supportive and sumptuous and the pad fuss-free cosseting.
Rate the product for value:
They're higher end expensive, although you can spend a lot more, but they're definitely worth it if you tend towards a longer ride. Other brands in the same price bracket look to get similar incredibly comfortable reviews, though.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Threw them in the low temp wash with all the other cycling kit, no issues to report.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very, very good, comfortable bib shorts for any length ride.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
That Lycra, the fit, and the 'doesn't look like much but is pretty damn good' chamois.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing. I'm rubbing my chin at the efficacy of the aloe-infused chamois, though.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It seems that this price point is the one where everyone loves the shorts and they're worth the money.
For the same price you could have the Assos Mille GTS Spring Fall Bib Shorts C2 that come with a Lycra that's also incredibly soft against the skin, but as they come with a thicker Lycra they might be a bit warm for some. The pad looks a lot fancier, made up of multiple layers of varying materials and densities, and is only stitched at the front and rear as part of Assos' GoldenGate design which allows it to move separately from the rest of the shorts. All of that and a two-year warranty and a crash replacement policy mean Stu thought that despite a large outlay they are worth every penny for their incredible comfort, fit and performance.
The Rapha Classic Bib Shorts are the same price as well, although Rapha's frequent sales might help you out here. They too have a recycled fabric content and got a similar 'worth it for the money' review to the Assos.
The MAAP Team Bib Evos are a little more cash but were also firm and supportive and came with the Elastic Interface pad which is used by lots of top manufacturers, and have the edge over the Rapha shorts according to Stu, who tested both.
However, the £185 Le Col Pro Bib Shorts, while comfortable, lacked the build quality and look that the high price might suggest.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much so.
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's a lot to love about Kostüme's Signature Bib Shorts. Get the sizing right and they're comfortably compressive (or not if you size for something more relaxed), the chamois looks different to others in this class but offers excellent cushioning, and the main fabric of the shorts is divine. It's a hard-fought price point for details and comfort, so the environmental credentials of both Kostüme's business practice and use of recycled fabric in the shorts might be the push you need.
Age: 50 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
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