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Rather than simply offering a weight advantage over standard designs, the Van Rysel Racer Ultralight bib shorts are designed for comfort in hot weather – or indoor turbo sessions. Their heavily perforated panels work very well in the heat, but the shorts also regulate temperature well when the mercury's lingering around 13-14 degrees.
The shorts are an eight-panel design, and, as you can see from the photos, alongside the perforated panels there's plenty of modesty around the seat and crotch areas. The perforated panelling is actually less revealing than the photos suggest, but they do compromise UV protection, so you'd be advised to apply a good sunscreen.
I've worn these in temperatures ranging from 12 to 25°C, and on rides of up to six hours, and found the perforated panels ensure a subtle, cooling airflow, rather than ramming it in, resulting in you feeling cold.
I was also somewhat surprised by the shorts' ability to retain some warmth around the thighs and lower back – useful on cool early morning rides. They also dry quickly if you're caught out in a shower.
The Endurance HD 2.5 pad is high-density foam, designed to retain support and comfort for up to seven hours, with a central channel for improved blood flow and reduced pressure. I found it to offer just the right amount of compression and support, with no hint of numbness, chafing or soreness. I did experience some clamminess, but the pad kept this in check.
The fabrics – a mix of 65% polyamide, 35% elastane for the main part; the bib 95% polyester, 5% elastane – offer some welcome compression but without being intrusive or leaving unsightly marks. They also hit the sweet spot with all my saddles, offering easy tenure without impairing subtle shifts in position.
Silicone leg grippers hold everything in position unobtrusively and without tell-tale branding.
Testing my usual medium size, these fitted well with no gathering or bunching. I'm proportionally long in the leg and they sat particularly well here.
The bib straps are a little stretchier than most, which is another plus on the freedom and comfort fronts. Aside from helping with the usual shifts in riding position, this makes roadside comfort stops easier too.
Though the shorts are primarily designed for road rides, I've been unable to resist the odd green lane and bridleway deviation. Aside from being snagged by a passing bramble, they show no signs of bobbling or other deterioration.
I have been a little more diligent in sticking to 30 degree washing cycles, which they respond to very well. They have also been on the odd 40-degree wash, too, with the household load, with no obvious issues.
My experience with Decathlon is that its brands offer excellent specification for the money. These are no exception.
Altura's £60 Progel Plus bib shorts feature a gel-infused pad and mesh bib straps, and are nice staples, but I found the Van Rysel's cut, leg-wise, suited me better.
Lusso's Pro Gel Bib Shorts are a little more at £75, but perhaps a more obvious choice for general summer duties here in the UK.
Overall, I've been impressed with the balance of comfort and price here. Some might consider the perforated panels unnecessary for the UK, but they're great for really hot days – and will no doubt be very welcome for turbo trainer slavery during the colder months. They do also retain some warmth when temperatures fall, which is welcome on cooler mornings and evenings.
Very capable bib shorts that are particularly good in hot weather
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Van Rysel Shorts Racer Ultralight
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Van Rysel says: "Our Racer Ultralight shorts are dedicated to demanding cyclists who want an effective pair of shorts for very warm weather or for hard Turbo Training sessions.
Dreading the hellish heat of midsummer? Is your turbo trainer ready and raring to go? Your summer rides and virtual winter rides will have never been so refreshing.
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR!
With their perforated fabric, you get an amazing feeling of freshness. Whether you're facing the stifling heat of summer, taking on a serious climb, or planning a series of turbo trainer sessions, this ultralight version of our Racer shorts will help you forget the sweat, even when you really up the intensity.
The well-ventilated design and openwork fabric mean that we recommend using sun cream to avoid sunburn when cycling."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Decathlon lists the material composition as:
Main fabric 65% Polyamide, 35% Elasthane Padding 95% Foamed Polyurethane, 3% Polyamide, 1% Polyester, 1% Elasthane Yoke 95% Polyester, 5% Elasthane
Seem well made throughout.
Performed very well; pleasingly, the perforated panels retain some useful warmth on cooler mornings and when the temperature slides.
Seem very rugged thus far, used off and on-road.
Fitted well. Snug, though not restrictive in the legs; bib section is similarly supportive and compliant.
Right for me, across the board.
Not the lightest, but bodes well for longevity.
Consistently good. Pad offers a decent amount of support. No issues with chafing or other discomfort on longer rides.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very straightforward: wash at 30 degrees and line dry. No issues or obvious signs of deterioration to date.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They have proven themselves excellent all-rounders. I've worn them on rides of up to six hours and temperatures between 12 and 25°C. At the lower temperatures the perforated panels have retained some useful warmth, while they've purged unwanted heat on warmer days. There's plenty of give in the fabric, and the pad offers excellent support.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Hard to pinpoint a specific, since everything works very harmoniously.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing really; there's less UV protection offered at the perforated leg panels, so don't forget to add sunscreen to your thighs.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's competitive: Lusso's Pro Gel Bib Shorts are £75, while Altura's Progel Plus Men's Bib Shorts are slightly cheaper at £60.
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
They're very good: well executed and great value, primarily but not exclusively for hot conditions.
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)