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The Le Col Women's Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II have a great fit and move well with you as you ride, with supportive wide shoulder straps that are forgettably comfortable and a pad that'll cover you for miles and miles. Just be aware that the length is on the short side, and the new lightweight leg grippers don't stop these riding up a little. The finishing quality also doesn't seem quite on a par with other Le Col kit I've tested, which is an issue considering the high price...
Le Col says it has updated these shorts with a softer and more luxurious material. The main body is now a 62% polyamide, 38% elastane blend. Slipping these on for the first time I was surprised by how wonderfully smooth this fabric feels against bare skin.
It's super stretchy and conforms superbly. There's a gentle amount of compression, so it's comfy without being overboard. The shorts are well cut, with no bunching, instead moving freely with the body while cycling.
The chamois comes courtesy of Dolomiti and it's nicely shaped. It's firmer than some, but feels supportive and it's one I'd trust for longer days in the saddle. On rides of more than four hours there was no hint of any niggles.
For the straps a 75% nylon, 25% elastane blend is used. The wide, flat straps are elastic enough for support without applying any noticeable pressure over your shoulders. There's also plenty of length to them so it doesn't feel as though you're being crushed into the forward riding position when relaxing at the café stop, which helps if you are a taller rider like me.
The straps attach to a mesh panel at the rear that aids sweat wicking and it's effective at doing so.
I quite like short shorts, so my tan line matches my off-the-bike wardrobe. But even for me these Le Cols sit a little too high up my thigh. Unfortunately, this is combined with not the most secure leg gripper.
The grippers are a rather wide 7cm elastic band. With pressure spread over a larger surface area this ensures it sits flush against the skin and doesn't cause any bulging. But the small silicone dots – printed in a pattern that spells out 'Ride Faster' – only extend 3.5cm wide and they aren't the stickiest. As a result, the shorts ride up slightly as the ride goes on.
Given this and the relatively short length, I found these shorts don't play particularly well with leg warmers. Although the legs warmers should have enough grip to hold themselves up, it definitely helps having shorts that also help to secure them in place.
A small reflective tab at the rear on each side is a subtle nod to visibility.
I tested the shorts in black with white straps, but these are also available in full black or a dark navy blue.
Quality-wise, the stitching isn't the neatest – at the side join of the leg gripper there are lots of loose threads – and the fabric underneath the chamois, at the back, is starting to bobble, even though I've been careful to follow the washing instructions (machine wash at 30°C).
That's a bit disappointing given that they're an expensive option at £180. Not that they're alone at this price point – for example, Gore's C7 Women's Bib Shorts are a penny shy at £179.99. They also delivered exceptional comfort with minimal seams and a no-bulk, supportive chamois for the longest days in the saddle, but Emma was also very impressed with their construction.
I've also been testing Velocio's Ultralight Bib Shorts (full review to come), which have impressed with their lightweight and breathable design. As well as being slightly cheaper (£168) but still high performance shorts, the Velocios are also a more practical option with their pull-down 'easy pee' feature, though the material isn't as soft and luxurious as the Le Cols.
Overall, while the chamois and straps are top notch, making the Le Cols an excellent choice for long rides as well as shorter hard days, the grippers aren't very effective and the finishing quality isn't as good as other Le Col kit I've worn. For the price, I'd expect closer to perfection.
Wonderfully comfy pad and supportive wide straps, but finishing quality and lightweight grippers could be better
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Womens Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Le Col says: "Designed for a long time in the saddle. The Women's Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II have been updated with a softer and more luxurious material, ensuring maximal comfort on the body and feel against the skin."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Le Col lists:
Laser cut mesh bib straps for breathability
Designed for long distance comfort.
Premium Dolomiti Gel Chamois
Road tested by our founder and former pro, Yanto Barker
Made in Italy
Supportive, performance oriented fit.
Our finest feeling fabrics for an unbeatable on-bike experience
Refined silicone leg gripper for precision fit
Debossed Logoing over leg grippers
Leg grippers aren't very effective – these shorts ride up a little as you ride, especially with leg warmers.
I've experienced some bobbling on the fabric underneath the chamois and there are lots of loose threads.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The chamois was absolutely brilliant for four-plus-hour rides and the wide straps keep these secure without applying too much pressure, so these remain comfy up top too for long outings. But the leg grippers aren't very effective so these ride up, especially with leg warmers.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfy chamois and supportive straps.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Leg length is a bit short for my liking. Quality is not as good as other Le Col products.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At the premium end: Gore's C7 Women's Bib Shorts are as expensive, but Velocio's Ultralight Bib Shorts are slightly cheaper at £168 and offer top performance as well as being practical thanks to a pull-down easy pee design.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
The chamois and straps are top notch, making these an excellent choice for long rides as well as shorter hard days – but the grippers aren't effective and the finishing quality isn't as good as other Le Col kit I've worn – I've experienced lots of loose threads and bobbing underneath the chamois.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Gravel riding, indoor turbo and rollers, track