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The Le Col Blackout Therma bib shorts instantly became my go-to shorts, and that says pretty much everything. They are fabulously comfortable with a soft fabric, dense pad, thick feel and a great fit. For colder days, they have been excellent.
Autumn and winter rides generally require some insulation, and thermal bib shorts are a cracking investment in my experience. Their versatility means I'm often reaching for these over full longs as they can either be worn alone, or mated with knee and leg warmers. Consequently, I've been reaching for the Therma bibs nearly every ride over the past two months.
There have only been a few super-cold days where I've gone for my windproof longs – for the rest of that time, these have been perfect.
The material Le Col has used is quite thick. It feels very plush and has a brushed, fleecy inner that's very comfortable against the skin. I really like the weighty feel to these bibs as it's incredibly cosy, and wrapping up in the morning before a cold ride is one of the few things I actually like about winter cycling.
Further comfort is added by the dense Dolomiti Gel Pad. Le Col says it was chosen for its shock absorption, and I'd say the choice was a very good one. I didn't experience any discomfort on longer rides and over broken tarmac, these are noticeably more comfortable that summer bibs with lighter pads.
At the end of the legs, which are very generous in their length, lie wide silicone gripper sections. This part isn't thermal so if you're particularly looking to keep your quads warm, you'll need knee warmers. They do a very good job of keeping the shorts comfortably in place, though.
The Therma bibs have a water-resistant coating that deals with road spray and light rain easily. It doesn't stand up to much rain, but should you ride through the odd puddle or start out on wet roads, at least you won't get soaked through.
Despite this, breathability seems good with harder efforts on the hills finishing without the clammy spots you often feel at the lower back.
I found the fit very comfortable with no unwanted pressure or tight spots.
The long legs are good for coverage of the working muscles, and the straps sit comfortably on the shoulders once you get on the bike. Sizing is accurate and as expected.
The full black design is great. Firstly, it keeps the shorts looking good even after many muddy miles. The plain design also means they easily pair with other kit, and I'd be happy to race in these shorts when it (hopefully) starts up again in February.
The £170 price tag isn't too hefty, but you can get Sportful's Fiandre NoRain Pro bib shorts for £125. Jamie really liked them when he tested them, and I've got a pair I really like too. Then again, the Le Cols are still a fair bit cheaper than the likes of Assos' Equipe RS Spring Fall Bib Shorts S9 at £200.
The Le Col Pro Blackout Therma is an incredibly comfortable pair of warm shorts with a great pad. They have been my go-to so far this winter, and I don't really see that changing and time soon.
Super comfortable winter bib shorts – soft and cosy with brilliant performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Pro Blackout Therma Bib Shorts
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
"The Pro Therma Blackout Bib Shorts are made for colder days in mixed weather conditions. Using a breathable water resistant Aqua Zero fabric, they deal well with spray and showers, whilst thermal lining makes riding on fresh days more comfortable."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Aqua Zero Fabric for water repellency
Thermally backed fabrics
Le Col silicone leg gripper
Dolomiti Stelvio Gel Pad
Made In Italy
Aqua Zero DWR
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy. Wash on cool and hang to dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliantly. They are soft and warm - just what you want on a cold winter's day.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The blend of warmth and breathability made me reach for these constantly.
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?
Heading towards the upper end. You can pick up Sportful's Fiandre for £125 or spend more on Assos (£200).
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
The Therma bibs have been so good I've been reaching for them for pretty much every ride. They are very soft which, combined with the great pad, makes them very comfortable on long rides.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!