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Reckoned to be an evolution of its Nexus and Geo Bib shorts, the Polaris Latitude Bib Shorts are described as being its most complete shorts to date. They're aimed primarily at long-distance road riders, but I've found their qualities are equally suited to gravel and mixed terrain escapes.
They feature a reassuringly sturdy tog weight, but even so, given the season I started by testing these beneath some Lycra tights or pairing them with leg warmers. They have a nice seamless aesthetic, with no gathering or bunching, so I was free to sit back and concentrate on my cadence.
The supportive fabric – an 80% polyester, 20% elastane mix – isn't described as compressive, but my legs felt fresher compared with other mid-price examples on rides exceeding four hours or following an intense session on the indoor trainer.
Leg length and well-executed laser-cut grippers ensure everything stays in situ, and no matter how long I've been out the flatlocked seams have left no unsightly post-ride branding. I'm not generally drawn to arm or leg warmers, since they can shift annoyingly, but no such issues here, which is testament to the silicone gripper's design and quality.
The satin-finish material has offered the right blend of tenure to most saddle coverings, allowing me to make minute adjustments without annoying surf.
Moisture management is good, too. Hammering along at around 20mph for 30 minutes or so and there's some familiar dampness creeping around the lower back and bib sections but this quickly dissipates to a faint misting.
Being a heavier tog weight they feel toastier on the indoor trainer compared with some budget models, which are proportionately thinner. But the thicker fabric bodes well for longevity – and the odd spill.
Pad comfort is very personal, but I've tended to get along with most in recent years. The Latitude's TMF is no exception. It's a relatively low-profile design, with carefully mapped pressure-relieving groove and tailored density foam padding. I've typically gone for two to four hours straight with no issues, no chafing or similar discomfort regardless of saddle, and the pressure-relieving channel has done its thing.
An anti-bacterial component completes the package, banishing nasty niffs and nastier hygiene problems.
The bib section incorporates a 'stash' pocket at the rear which, thanks to sensible positioning, is intuitive to reach for accessing mid-ride, much like reaching into a jersey pocket. I've used it for hosting cash in a resealable freezer bag, weighted down by a spare tube or patch kit.
Polaris is a brand that was traditionally quite generous on the sizing front. However, the medium (my usual size) was absolutely bang on. I found no discrepancy between sizing chart and real world, and the cut is in excellent proportion to my 181cm, 70kg frame.
The shorts are sufficiently long in the leg and hug the contours nicely, flattering without squeezing, and the bib section is similarly accommodating, offering oodles of movement-conducive give and ample room for a baselayer.
These seem a very solid pair of bib shorts, and I've done a fair few rides on the wilder side with no obvious battle scars. Same goes for regular machine washes – most at 30 degrees, but they've also accidentally gone through with the odd household wash at 40 with no issues.
They're well priced at £79.99 (even better at their discounted price of £59.99 at time of writing), though there are a few that deliver similar performance for less.
At £60, Altura's Progel Plus bib shorts have a great pad, and the thinner mesh bib section is a better bet in very warm weather or for sessions on the indoor trainer. However, check the leg length – especially if, like me, you are proportionally long in the leg.
Closer to the Latitudes, price-wise, we have the Lusso Pro Gels, which have gone up to £75 since Jez tested them. He did find the stitching around the bibs a little chunky, though, and the main fabric a little shiny.
At £64.99, Van Rysel's Racer Ultralight shorts are similarly competent, though their extensive mesh panelling is better suited to the height of summer, or extended trainer sessions.
As mid-point shorts go, the Polaris Latitudes deliver a good balance of performance, comfort and practicality. There are similarly competent models, some of which come in a fair bit cheaper, but overall I'd say the Latitudes are a very good option.
Well-designed mid-price shorts that deliver, on and off road
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Polaris Latitude Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Polaris says: "Featuring an antibacterial TMF Italian chamois and an ergonomic cut, the Latitude Bib Shorts are our premium short for road cycling. They are more than just a pair of black cycling bibshorts.
"These road shorts also feature dual reflective tabs on the legs for improved visibility as well as a stash pocket to the rear, perfect for carrying a spare tube or the essential £5 note for coffee and cake.
"With the comfort of a Nexus Short and the performance of our Geo Bib Shorts, the Latitude is our most complete short to date."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Polaris provides this extra information:
Laser cut silicon grippers
Anti-bacterial TMF Endurance Pad
Two rear reflective tabs
Rear stash pocket
Flat locked seams
80/20 polyester/elastane mix, the mesh bib sections 100% polyester
Solidly made throughout.
Very pleasant design for long-distance riding thanks to a great cut, fit, and a very supportive pad.
No signs of bobbling, fraying or similar deterioration thus far, despite constant wearing and washing.
Just right for me. Supportive and yet compliant in all the right places. Plenty of length in the leg, too.
Sizing bang on.
Supportive and comfortable on and off tarmac.
Well priced for the specification and, crucially, real-world performance. However, there are cheaper (at full rrp) that could give them a good run for your hard-earned.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
In the wash at 30 degrees with minimal detergent and they've always emerged looking and smelling fresh.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall performance has lived up to the hype, and to some extent exceeded my expectations. Though compression qualities aren't listed, I've felt these very supportive, the bibs are super stretchy without feeling baggy, perfect for alternating positions and roadside "comfort" stops. The pad has has been great, and I've also ventured off-road with no discernible dip in performance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Well-conceived pocket, lots of support to the legs, excellent grippers, and pad.
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?
Altura's Progel Plus bib shorts are £60 and have a great pad, but check the leg length... Lusso's Pro Gels have gone up to £75 since we tested them, and Jez found the stitching a little chunky, and the fabric a little shiny. Van Rysel's Racer Ultralight shorts are £64.99, but as the name suggests they're better suited to the height of summer, or indoor training.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, although there are similarly competent models costing a little less.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Well-executed bib shorts with some nice detailing – a solid mid-point bet for most contexts. There are similarly capable models for less money, but I'd still say these are very good for the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)