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The Pearson Stiffen The Sinews Thermal Bib Shorts are a warm pair of shorts with a high-quality Pearson-designed pad, and they're suitable for autumn through to early spring. However, they do have a very high front and I felt the fit was lacking in a few key areas.
I tested these shorts in rides where the temperatures ranged from around freezing point to 12°C and I found the fleecy material warm and comfortable.
I have tested a fair few pairs of thermal shorts recently and I reckon the Pearsons are at the warmer end of the spectrum. I'd still pair them with knee or leg warmers once the temperature falls below around 10°C or so, when shorts-and-warmers combo would be good for most winter days.
The PhD shorts have Pearson's own PhD – or 'Pearson House Design' – pad. This is designed for maximum comfort and breathability, and Pearson says it developed the PhD to be 'comfortable for a wide range of riders, based on the results of over ten years of bike fitting experience'.
It worked well too, and I felt it punched well above its price point, comparable with the pads in some of the much more expensive shorts I've recently tested. I put these to the test on long rides and tough sessions on the turbo, and the pad was comfortable and breathable throughout.
I was bang on Pearson's size guide for a medium and the shorts were in line with the guide. I'd go with your usual size with these shorts, although if you are at the lower end of the size guide, you might want to consider a smaller size.
The shorts come in five sizes from S to XXL, so if you have the physique of a super-light climber, it's possible you might struggle to find a suitable size.
I tested these in navy, but they are also available in black, which would have the benefit of being easier to pair with most knee or leg warmers.
The fit is more relaxed than other shorts I have tested. There is no notable compression in the legs, and as a result I found them more suitable for easier rides than harder efforts.
I found the just-above-the-knee leg length ideal – I like thermal shorts to have longer legs and these were spot on.
Lightweight grippers kept the legs in place well, with no movement.
The mesh straps are good too, and the shorts have a large mesh area at the back. The straps were comfortable on rides regardless of the length, and with minimal stitching at the front where the straps join the front of the shorts, there was no irritation.
The front of the shorts do come up extremely high, however, a few centimetres over my navel. This made for a quite warm midriff on milder rides, when they were perhaps a little too warm. But while I expected the high front to make comfort breaks trickier, the very stretchy material meant there were no problems here.
The flip side of that is that I think there's actually too much stretch overall, and I didn't find the shorts particularly supportive at keeping things in place, especially when climbing out of the saddle.
The result was that I didn't find these shorts as comfortable as others I have tested recently. It's possible that going a size smaller would have prevented this, but I was a medium on the size guide and wear medium in practically every other brand of shorts.
The shorts have good eco-friendly credentials and are made from 78% recycled nylon and 22% recycled elastane. But the material feels good, rather than having that 'synthetic' feel that some recycled materials can have.
There are a few small logos on the legs and lower back as well as some reflective detailing on the backs of the legs.
I have worn and washed these on numerous rides during testing and the stitching still looks perfect, with no peeling on the logos or reflectives.
At £90 the shorts are at the more affordable end of shorts we've tested, and they are currently on offer at just £59.
If you are happy to splash a bit more cash, the Universal Colours Chroma Thermal Merino Plus Bib Short is a high-quality pair of shorts that I was a big fan of when I tested them – but they are priced at £160.
The Pearson Stiffen The Sinews Thermal Bib Shorts are warm and have a high-quality pad. But the front of the shorts was too high at the front for my tastes – and the fit too loose in key areas.
However, if you are looking for a relaxed fit then these are good value shorts.
Warm thermal shorts with a high-quality pad but the fit won't suit everyone
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pearson Stiffen the Sinews Thermal Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
"For cyclists, Shakespeare's call to arms is essentially a plea to legs, to keep riding no matter how tough the conditions. That's why we created our new black thermal Bib Shorts. Responsibly designed to last for years, they are built around a uniquely adapted Pearson PhD pad. Construction for maximum riding comfort, the pad is based on data gathered during a decade of Pearson bike-fitting expertise. The shorts themselves use a fully recycled thermal fabric, with a slick, matt outer for superior aerodynamics; the inside features a brushed finish for comfort.
The fabric is fractionally heavier than our standard shorts, so keeps out the wind that can penetrate regular Lycra. Cut longer to keep knees and muscles warm, a lightweight gripper pairs seamlessly with our Cold Start leg warmers. A high-cut, thermal waist protects the abdomen and kidney area, while the bib section, also 100% recycled, is made from a breathable, high-wicking mesh. A smooth elastic edge eliminates discomfort."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
"Exclusive 'ride all day' Pearson House Design ventilating comfort pad.
Thermal aerodynamic external surface and soft-touch internal fabric.
Main fabric: 78% recycled nylon; 22% recycled Lycra.
Mesh bib section: 73% recycled nylon 27% recycled Lycra.
Merrow ACTIVESEAM® technology.
'Pearson House Design' half moon breathable layered pad.
Reflective detailing throughout"
The fit felt loose in places, particularly the front.
In line with size guide.
The fit meant these weren't as comfortable as I'd have liked.
These are reasonably priced, especially at the current sale price on the Pearson website
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I washed them at 30°C without issue.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They did a good job keeping me warm but the loose fit meant they weren't the most comfortable shorts I've tested.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
These were warm and the fleecy material was comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fit wasn't ideal, and the front was extremely high.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
These are cheaper than a lot of the thermal shorts that we have tested recently – they are much less expensive than the Assos Millie GTS Spring/Fall C2 and the Universal Colours Chroma Thermal Plus shorts.
Did you enjoy using the product? Not really – I found the fit a bit uncomfortable.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe – if they were looking for a more relaxed fit.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Thanks to their comfortable fleecy fabric the shorts did a good job of keeping me warm – but I found the fit to be a bit loose in some key places.
The front of the shorts is extremely high, which may not be to everyone's tastes.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Roubaix My best bike is: Cervelo S3
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Indoor