Cafe du Cycliste Adeline Fade Women's Bib Shorts review

Unique styling, a superior pad and super soft fabrics suited to more leisurely riding.

Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Adeline Fade Women's Bib Shorts are more about styling and comfort than performance… reaching out to those women who don’t want squeeze into conventional black lycra, but don't want to compromise on a supportive, well-made chamois. The leg grippers are certainly not as effective as they could be and the price is not as inclusive as the design.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Unique design

  • +

    Quality chamois

  • +

    Soft fabrics

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Ineffective leg grippers

  • -

    Mesh upper not so breathable

  • -

    Potential fit issues with full bib

  • -

    Pricey

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Hats off to Cafe du Cycliste for daring to break black cycling shorts mould. The Adeline Shorts are a refreshing change to the norm - a unique design that doesn’t scream ‘lycra-clad-cyclist’. Styling and a lack of compression don’t inspire speed, performance or segment chasing, rather a casual ride to a cafe for coffee, cake and a good natter… Maybe the cycling world needs more shorts like these, they may still need a few refinements though.

Construction

The shorts use a polyamide-elastane fabric developed in partnership with a specialist dye house. The washed demin effect material is designed to fade slightly through the first few wears and washes, going from a flat colour to a unique pattern, rather like a old pair of jeans. Two different colourways are available - Demin Blue and Demin Black.

Colour options

(Image credit: Cafe du Cycliste)

The bib section is constructed from two types of mesh - open and closed. A sturdy zip holds the upper securely in place.

The Adeline shorts boast an Elastic Interface® chamois, engineered by Italian company CyTech. Specifically shaped for women, the insert is cut to deliver thicker, higher density padding where you need it, and cut-outs where you don’t, such as the central tapered channel towards the back of the pad.

Leg ends include a deep section of silicone tabs. Reflective strips have been added to the rear, outer edge of each leg to increase visibility in poor or low light conditions.

The ride

I’ve been testing a medium, exactly what Cafe du Cycliste’s size chart put me in. The shorts offer no compression around the hips or legs whatsoever. It didn't inspire me to go out and ‘train’, ride hard or push the limits. It was more tempting to pull them with a non-cycling specific top and enjoy an easy spin to a cafe. If you want a tighter fit, I’d cautiously recommend sizing down... my caution will be explained...

The leg grippers didn’t anchor the shorts well for me, this was particularly bad with leg warmers. I couldn't physically feel the shorts riding up; the fabrics are exceptionally soft, almost silky against the skin so you barely notice them moving out of place. It’s only when I glanced down that I noted gathering around the groin. Discomfort was never an issue, but it wasn't a great look. The photo below shows the right leg with the shorts in a 'starting position', the left leg with them after 5 minutes of spinning.

While I have advised sizing down for a snug fit around the legs and thigh, the fit of the upper might put a spanner in the works here. For me, there was not enough length to it - on my road bike I was aware of tightness along the length of my back. With a more upright position, on my hybrid e-bike for example, the fit was a little better. In either case, there was a clear discrepancy between the fit around the hips/legs and fit of the upper. 

After a couple of weeks’ testing, the Adeline became my go-to shorts for social rides - easy spins where the only purpose is to find coffee and enjoy company. I would invariably combine them with a casual T-shirt or jersey… It's refreshing to have the comfort of an excellent pad with casual styling and a fit that inspires a leisurely, laid-back ride.

In terms of comfort, the pad is difficult to fault. I’ve used it for rides in excess of 4 hours and been very happy with the support it provided. It’s not overly bulky and moves well with body.

Overall breathability isn’t outstanding. I found the close weave of the mesh upper overbearing. Doing away with a base layer to compensate often left my shoulders and arms feeling chilly. It might be considered a good option if you don't like exposing too much flesh in group spin classes. Be warned though, the demin effect fabric will not conceal sweat as well as black lycra does (see photo below).

Quite obviously, with a full mesh upper, the Adeline’s don’t have any kind of easy-pee system. Indeed, with a non-specific cycling top, a call of nature means a full strip… hardly ideal.

Leg gripper slide and sweat lines

(Image credit: Emma Silversides)

Value and verdict

Pricing is premium, with an RRP £209 / $273 it’s hardly tempting for those who might be tentatively dipping their toes into the sport, exactly the market I'd expect the Adeline's to appeal to. I’ve tested some similarly designed shorts in the past - where silky, soft fabrics take precedence over compression and breathability. Pure Velo (opens in new tab) focus solely on this kind of gear and offer bib shorts for just £80 / $107. If you want to forego the bib element, there are also waist shorts for £75 / $100. Odlo’s £50 / $70 Element Shorts (opens in new tab) that Hannah tested a couple of years ago might be an option. The quality of these may not be up to the standard of the Adeline, but it’s obvious that there are more affordable, inclusive options available.

For me, Cafe du Cycliste would need to address the inadequate leg grippers and discrepancy in upper body fit versus the actual short to justify the price tag. At least they are trying to break the ‘black-lycra-short’ convention, even if there are still some refinements to be made.

Specifications

  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Colour: Denim Black, Denim Navy 
  • Composition: 71% polyamide | 29% elastane

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