The Le Col Pro bib shorts are a high-quality garment designed for racing with a long, sleek cut and a super-comfortable chamois.
Mat tested the previous version of Le Col's Pro bib shorts in 2018 and called the Dolomiti Pro Gel pad 'supremely comfortable.' While Le Col has updated the design of the shorts and the bib section, the British brand has sensibly not fixed what ain't broke and has kept the same pad – and 'supremely comfortable' is how I would describe it too.
Of course the pad is bound to place itself slightly differently depending on the individual anatomy of the wearer, and I found that it was at its best in an aggressive position and not quite so plush-feeling for sitting up on the back of the saddle. You can see from the photos that it's tucked underneath directly on the sit bones rather than behind them. This is as it should be for shorts designed for racing.
The legs are cut very long, with cuffs wider than the previous version's, which made me happy. I have longish femurs for my height, meaning many bib shorts either come up hotpants-short on me, or I have to rely on very sticky silicone grippers and/or sweat to keep the legs down. It's not me in the photo, by the way.
With the legs a decent length, grippers that are as grippy as tub tape are not necessary any more. I found that when I pedalled, the Le Col shorts settled into the perfect position above the kneecap. Having said that, there is a silicone hexagon pattern inside the cuffs that would do a great job if if it was called upon.
The Lycra reaches higher over the waist than in many shorts – again, something that gives them away as racing shorts to be worn with a short jersey. Here comes my only criticism: I found them a bit sweaty on the lower back because of this and would have preferred the mesh to start a bit lower down. However, in the shorts' defence, I have been wearing the Le Col Sport jersey with them, which sits slightly lower than a pure race jersey, creating more of an overlap that results in a double layer.
The Lycra itself is breathable, as polyamide is, but there are lighter-weight shorts for summer riding. However, as Le Col says, these shorts are versatile in a wide temperature range. I would say they could be worn with leg warmers in late autumn and early spring.
The bib straps are nice and wide, looping over the shoulders and supporting the shorts almost unfelt, and the perforated mesh they're made from is cool and breathable.
You can tell instantly that these are high-quality bib shorts, and this is underlined by the details. An embroidered logo rather than one that peels off or cracks after a few washes is one of these. The smart flatlocked stitching is another, outlining the panels elegantly.
With the Le Col Pros you're paying for top quality, heavy duty, bona fide pro-level racing shorts from a British brand with a lot of well-deserved cachet that knows what it's doing.
Great pair of racing shorts with a businesslike chamois and an elegant cut – good quality and worth the investment
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Pro Bib Shorts 2020
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Le Col says:
"Le Col's fastest bib shorts, the Pro Bib Shorts have been developed and proven at the highest level. Using a lycra sport fibre for a metered, supportive fit, these shorts are breathable and versatile in wide temperature ranges.
"Cut for racing, these shorts offer an aerodynamic profile, whilst mesh bib straps and low-key blackout silicone leg grippers hold them steadfastly in place.
"Using the Pro Dolomiti Chamois for a trim outline and a core comfort, this thinner pad has a highly effective silicone treatment, providing comfort and removing excess bulk. Finished with embroidered logos, these shorts are for the fastest rides going."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Le Col's website:
Lycra Sport Fibre
Mesh bib straps
Dolomiti Pro Gel Chamois
Flat locked seams
Silicon leg gripper
Embroidered Le Col logo
Very nicely constructed and neatly stitched.
A genuine pair of racing shorts, perfect for fast, aggressive riding.
Looking perfect after a month of washes.
I loved the long legs and the smooth shape.
The medium fitted me (178cm, 68kg) perfectly.
They're not the lightest but they're aimed at year-round riding.
Very comfortable indeed.
For a great-quality, well-designed pair of shorts from a premium brand like Le Col, which has a lot of kudos, £150 is a fair price. It's not cheap, but you can pay a lot more.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems at all with washing – they still look new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For fast, aggressive riding in a low position the Le Cols have to be some of the best shorts out there.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Everything has a really high-quality feel about it, from the very supportive gel pad to the embroidered logo. I loved the cut with the long legs that never needed pulling back down and the shorts just look pro – the clue is in the name.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There was nothing I particularly disliked, but I did discovered that because of the high Lycra waist you stay cooler in that area if you wear a shorter jersey.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Le Col positions itself at the top end of the market alongside the likes of Assos and Rapha. The high-end shorts from those brands are more expensive, like the Assos Equipe RS at £200 and the Rapha Classic Bib Shorts II at £170. Adam really liked the £189.99 Pearl Izumi Pro bibs. The Le Cols cost the same as the excellent Castelli Free Race Aero shorts, which have gone up to £150 since our 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
Le Col has got everything right with the Pro bib shorts. Lots of things are called 'pro' but few are actually deserving of the name. It's only when you wear a pair of shorts like this that you realise how wrong some manufacturers have got it with theirs. The price is competitive too. I would have given them a perfect 10 and it might be nitpicky not to, but I'd like a little less Lycra and a little more mesh in the waist section at the jersey/shorts overlap. But in the main, a superb pair of shorts.
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