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The Vel Women's Bib Shorts offer an excellent fit and wide leg grippers with a flattering cut, and they perform well in high temperatures too. There's nothing fancy about them, but they're simple, effective and competitively priced – plus the pad is excellent. The early wear inside the leg grippers is a potential concern, though.
This is a basic pair of shorts with no pockets or easy-pee solution, but the price reflects that – and they certainly do the job well. They're great choice for medium to long rides (on my hilly terrain that's two hours or more) on summer days up to around 24-35°C.
Vel describes the fabric as having a 'compressive warp-knit,' and I found it supportive rather than restrictive when riding. They're a bit of a squeeze to get into, but in my recommended size (small) the mesh straps proved comfortable and unrestrictive, while the legs were actually fairly long (reaching to just above my knee). So despite the initial squeeze, I'd say the sizing is accurate.
The elastic leg grippers are large enough to avoid any sausage leg effect, and they're effective too, but they're already showing signs of wear after just two months – the little bobbles inside are wearing away in small patches.
So far their grip isn't affected, but if they carry on disappearing – especially at the edge instead of around the middle as they currently are – it's hard to imagine them continuing to work properly.
Possibly it's just a few loose bits disappearing early, but if you're riding a lot and washing these regularly, it's a concern.
While I found these good up to around 25°C, on days were it went higher they could get a little sweaty. The rear strap covers quite a bit of surface area, and the mesh wasn't as cooling as I'd hoped. While I'm on the details, there's no easy-pee solution either, although that's not unusual at this price. You do get reflectives, though.
These are no-fuss bib shorts and (leg grippers aside) they perform their task well.
The fit of the pad is exceptional and I didn't need to adjust the shorts mid-ride or ever feel like they had moved. Vel says this Elastic Interface pad is 'designed for shock absorption over longer rides,' and while everybody always says that, I certainly felt it was true. Even after a couple of hours of riding, I felt no discomfort.
At £85 these are in the lower midrange overall, with a ride quality that's easily good enough to match. The Cycology Women's Logo Bib Shorts and the Liv Race Day Bib Shorts, for instance, are both £85 and scored similarly to these Vels.
These are an excellent choice for serious rides on warm days, if not the best for the very hottest ones.
The chamois is extremely comfortable and, even after extensive use, I've not noticed any wear in it – it's just a shame I can't say the same about the leg grippers, which may lose grip if their initial high wear rate continues. It's a shame about this fly in the ointment, though; otherwise these are flattering, stylish and comfortable bib shorts.
Comfortable shorts with a flattering fit and excellent pad, though the grippers are questionable
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vel Women's Bib Shorts
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Vel says: 'Utilising recycled fabrics wherever possible, the Vel Women's Bib Short is not only comfortable and supportive, it's also a more environmentally conscious choice. Warp-knit is utilised in the legs to deliver light compression to the muscles, keeping them fresher for longer, and elastic grippers in the legs prevent the short from riding up as you pedal, without over-squeezing the thighs.
'Protecting you in the saddle is an Elastic Interface seat pad, designed for shock absorption over longer rides. Up top, lightweight mesh bib straps hold everything secure and sit smoothly under a jersey. The garment filters harmful UV rays and is finished with subtle black reflective details for additional safety in low light.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Recycled, pre-consumer waste fabrics
* Compressive warp-knit
* Elastic Interface, CyTech approved, women's specific seat pad with recycled face fabric
* Mesh upper
* Elastic leg grippers
* Flatlock seams
* Sun protection
* Black reflective details
Generally great, though the gripper elastic may be an issue.
The elastic leg grippers are already showing noticeable wear – and if it continues at the same rate, their effectiveness will surely drop rather early in the shorts' life. It's possible it's just a few loose bits that go early on, though, so we can't yet say for sure.
A good compressive fit.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The elastic leg grippers have lost a few of their grippy bobbles after a couple of months' worth of washes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Comfortable over many miles and in various temperatures.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pad is exceptionally comfortable, and the fit of the legs is very flattering.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The mesh strap on the back isn't as sweat-wicking as I'd hoped, and the fast-wearing leg grippers are a concern.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £85 they are neither horrifically expensive (think £200+) nor cheap (around £50). Consequently there is plenty of competition at this price, such as the Liv Race Day Bib Shorts which Janine liked for their flattering fit, or the Cycology Women's Logo Bib Shorts (also now £85).
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 Vel Women's Bib Shorts are extremely comfortable, ideal for midlength to long rides. The Elastic Interface pad works well, the fit is flattering and the compressive material doesn't restrict movement. If you're after a basic pair of shorts with no frills, they're good – assuming the wear we suffered on the leg bands doesn't continue far enough to affect grip.
About the tester
I usually ride: Bianchi Oltre XR1 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, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Gravel