The La Passione Minimal bib shorts offer a very high level of comfort, performance, build quality and style for a lower price than many comparable shorts.
I've been really impressed with everything about the La Passione Minimal shorts. I can't say I tested them over the seven-hour rides for which La Passione claims you can stay comfortably in the saddle, but I did do a pacy, hilly, 70-mile group ride in them and my undercarriage could easily have withstood the same again – though my legs would have flatly refused.
The fabric of the body is very lightweight with an unusual matt surface that looks very stylish. With a high percentage of elastane it grips firmly, holding the pad perfectly in place and supplying a compressive fit, according to La Passione. It's hard to measure the effect of compression in cycling – there's more data relating to running and recovery – but there's certainly a comfort benefit if it's done well, and in this case it is.
The Elastic Interface pad is neither too spartan nor too mattress-like and importantly it settles into exactly the right place under the sit bones without any need for prior positioning. With some shorts, such as the Le Col Pro Bib Shorts, you can find that the pad is more suited to aggressive riding than sitting up. I found the pad in the La Passione shorts was really comfortable whether chewing the stem or sitting back chatting. It also wicks well and has an almost brushed surface that never felt clammy. And black is a much more sensible colour for a chamois than some of the pastel hues we see.
Probably the reason for the pad being so well placed is because the La Passione shorts fit so well. I'm 68kg and 178cm with a 32in waist and the medium size was absolutely spot on. (It's not me in the photos.)
There is a wide silicone band under the raw-cut legs but it just wasn't needed. However, although the shorts didn't ride up, I would have preferred a tiny bit more leg length – but admittedly I do have long femurs for my height.
I imagine the 'Minimal' name refers to the low-cut front and the white bib straps that recall old-school real braces. Made from a piece of perforated, elasticated fabric that only stretches one way, the straps work effectively with the grippy fabric of the body and most importantly didn't dig in or bunch.
The La Passione Minimal shorts are nudging the premium price bracket but are priced lower than the £140 Santini Tono Puros that I reviewed recently and also the £150 Le Col Pro Bib Shorts mentioned earlier. I liked both of those shorts a lot and gave them positive reviews, but I would say the La Passione shorts match them both for build quality, comfort and style but have a lower price tag.
La Passione says its shorts have the same production cost as other high-end shorts, but because its online direct-sales model cuts out distributors, traditional marketing and a retail mark-up, its £125 shorts would cost £175 from the 'other guys'.
High-quality, very comfortable, Italian-made bib shorts for a competitive price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: La Passione Minimal Bib Shorts
Size tested: M
Tell us what the product is for
La Passione says: "Made of a matt and soft fabric, characterized by an excellent muscle compression and perfect adherence to the legs and hip bone. Its construction, as suggested by its name, is extremely minimal. The leg finish has a Raw-Cut, with a whole silicone inner band to ensure the maximum hold without constraints. The shoulder strap is made of a single piece of ultra-light, perforated elastic fabric with anatomical shape. The newest Elastic Interface® pad used is optimal for extra-long distance rides: you can stay comfortably in the saddle for more than 7 hours. Its anatomical construction has a central channel which improves blood flow and reduces pressure and numbness. The innovative air-mapping structure and the blend yarn guarantee increased cooling functions and quick dry. The central Hybrid Cell System insert with different foam densities provides breathability and extra protection.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From La Passione's website:
Premium dyed Italian fabric
Highly compressive and matte main body fabric
Super-light sweat-proof mesh braces
The flat stitching are reduced to a minimum for a more comfortable ride
Raw-Cut leg hem
Non-slip silicone leg grippers
On tone reflective understated logo on left leg
On tone reflective Hold the Line logo
Elastic Interface® Pad for extra-long distance rides
Anatomical refined construction
'WORTH THE EFFORT' tag printed on the back of the brace
These Bib Shorts weigh 180g / 6.3oz
Conditions: 7-28°C / 44,6-82,4°F
Main body: 62% Polyamide/38% Elastane
Back braces: 70% Polyester/30% Elastane
Antibacterial and wicking treatment
SPF UV 50+ sun protection factor
Very nicely made in Italy.
As comfortable as La Passione claims on long rides.
As good as new a month on, even the white bib straps have not gone grey.
Size medium was spot on.
Full marks for comfort.
£125 is good value for very comfortable, well-designed bib shorts that are made in Italy – you can pay a lot more.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It went in a 30°C wash with everything else and the crucially the black body didn't bleed into the white straps, but it did lose the 'worth the effort' label on the back of the bib after the second wash. The reflectives are all still there.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Minimal bib shorts performed as well as La Passione said they would. As I say, I didn't manage seven hours but I did do a 70-mile group ride in them and my undercarriage could easily have done the same again.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I liked everything about them, from the super-comfortable pad to the compressive matte fabric to the stretchy, white bibs.
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?
Very well. They are nudging the premium price bracket but are priced lower than the £140 Santini Tono Puros that I reviewed recently and also the £150 Le Col Pro Bib Shorts. I liked both of those shorts a lot and gave them positive reviews, but I would say the La Passione shorts match them both for build quality, comfort and style at a lower price.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Without hesitation.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Exceptional is exactly how I would describe the La Passione Minimal bib shorts. They're close to perfect, especially considering their price compared to similar competitor bib shorts. But if I was being really picky I would have liked a tiny bit more leg length, and it's very trivial but the 'worth the effort' label ought to stay stuck on beyond two washes if it's judged worth the effort to put it there in the first place.
About the tester
I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, School run on a tandem