Excellent for the transitional seasons when you don’t want to commit to a set of full length bib tights but could do with an extra layer of defence against the cold and wet conditions for your lower half. Great build quality, but do bear in mind that the weatherproof fabric makes it harder to find a perfect fit. Plus the strap length is on the shorter side so won’t suit taller riders.
Waterproof and windproof layer
Not a second skin fit
No easy pee design
Strap length not suitable for riders with longer torsos
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GripGrab’s AquaRepel Water-resistant bib shorts are designed for cool and wet days - the sort where wearing a set of the best bib tights would be overkill and far too warm, but equally a pair of summer bibs would be a little too cold.
GripGrab AquaRepel Water-resistant bib shorts: construction
In selected areas, namely the tops of the thighs, GripGrab has used the same stretchy softshell three-layer fabric that appears on its AquaRepel Leg Warmers. This shell fabric is a 88% Polyester, 12% Elastane blend, and features a membrane that’s said to be 100% waterproof and windproof. It is slightly stretchy in four directions, but it’s worth noting that it’s certainly not as stretchy as the fabrics you’d typically find on bib shorts.
In other areas that are less exposed to the elements, including the underside of the legs and the waist, a soft brushed fleece fabric is used instead. This fabric is still treated with a PFC-free Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment - so as to provide some protection from road spray, but the benefits of using this fabric are that it is more breathable and stretchier, which helps increase overall comfort.
Chamois wise, GripGrab has specced a pad from the highly rated and widely used chamois manufacturer Elastic Interface.
In addition to two wide stretchy shoulder straps, the upper section includes a rear mesh panel, which is said to be breathable and have good wicking capabilities. However, with this construction, GripGrab hasn't included an ‘easy pee’ design. And by that I mean that you can’t have a mid-ride toilet break stop without having to take your top layers off.
Other brands have solutions which make it easier to have a comfort break, by designing the shorts so that you can either pull them down to pee or unclip a clasp. But GripGrab hasn’t included this into its design and so it’s not the most female-friendly option. That being said, other aspects of bib shorts may be more important to you - such as the chamois, weatherpoofing or the price. And in these other areas, GripGrab’s offering does present itself as a great value option.
GripGrab AquaRepel Water-resistant bib shorts: the ride
I find that making the jump to wearing full length bib tights can be a tough commitment to make in the shoulder seasons. I’m much more of a fan of modular layering systems which allow you to change your mind mid-ride, and so a bib short / leg warmer combo is what you’ll often find me wearing.
However, most bib shorts are designed with breathability, cooling and low-weight in mind. Great in the summer, but it does mean that your bib shorts can end up being the weak link if you’ve got a good pair of leg warmers. This is where fleece lined bib shorts or water resistant/windproof types come in. The thermal and weather protection from these options can help with keeping you warm into the wet and colder seasons, whilst also offering the temperature regulating flexibility of being able to remove your leg warmers if the day warms up - rather than being fully committed as with bib tights.
GripGrab’s offering serves this purpose very nicely. I found that the outer membrane easily shrugged off wet conditions and the fleecy lining kept me warm in conditions down to 6°C / 43°F.
Even though there’s some stretch to the weatherproof membrane, it’s not much really. I found that when wearing the bib shorts they didn’t quite provide the figure-hugging fit I’m used to with most bib shorts. With there being less stretch than usual, the fit really depends on the cut. As we’re all slightly different shapes, there’s likely going to be some areas which bunch a little and others where the fabric sits a bit too tightly - at least, that’s my experience of these shorts.
GripGrab AquaRepel Water-resistant bib shorts: value and conclusion
Priced at $159.95/ £124.95, GripGrab’s AquaRepel Water-resistant bib shorts are a good value option for a rider that prefers a modular layering system and wants to ride through the transitional seasons and milder winter conditions in bib shorts and leg warmers. Le Col’s Sport Thermal Cargo Bib Shorts are pricier at $220 / £165, but then you do get the added benefit of cargo pockets for stashing your gear.
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