The classic black Craft Essence bib shorts are a great addition to any women's cycling wardrobe. Add to this the eco and environmental credentials and you have an exceptional pair for the price.
Environmentally friendly and socially responsible manufacturing
Short bib straps
When we were first introduced to Craft's Essence range via the Essence jersey, we were impressed by how the Swedish brand had managed to blend eco credentials and beautifully constructed cycling attire. It looks like it has done it again with the Craft Essence bib shorts.
The unique selling point of the Craft Essence bib shorts is how they are made, and this is what makes them stand out from a very busy crowd.
While polyamide isn't a particularly exciting topic, the fact that it's recycled is. Craft uses Econyl, a 100 per cent regenerated polyamide fibre (nylon) from post-consumer materials. Recycled polyamide is used for the chamois too. The women's-specific C3 Infinity pad is aimed at all levels of riders and uses layers of laser-cut foam with side wings.
In fact, the whole lifecycle of Craft's production indicates exceptional corporate social responsibility towards the environment and sustainable profit – it won't turn one at the expense of others, whether human or animal. For me personally, this supply chain and lifecycle transparency is to be hugely applauded, especially as there's no apparent downside to the consumer in terms of cost or quality.
The other big deal with the fabric is that as well as being super stretchy and moisture wicking, it also provides sun protection in the form of UPF 50+.
Up on top Craft has opted for a stretchy mesh bib upper which uses a traditional up-and-over shoulder design, but with a single central Y strap at the front, an approach shared with Assos.
Out of the box, it's clear that the Craft Essence bib shorts live up to the brand's high-quality manufacturing that we've become accustomed too. Their construction is faultless.
The size XS certainly is that. Add to this the slim fit and compression design and the shorts fit tiger tight. It creates a great fit on the legs: with the generous cuff that measures 10cm at its widest and which isn't that dissimilar to the Ale Ibisco Women's bib shorts, plus the silicone grippers on the inside, the shorts aren't going anywhere. The well balanced, comfortable chamois stays firmly in place too.
This small fit does, however, also mean that the bib elements come up extra small. I am 5ft 7in, but it's all in my legs and even with a short torso I found the straps a tad too short. It was better when on the bike and crunched up, but ideally I'd have a centimetre or so extra length.
The central strap design of the Craft Essence bib shorts is a bit Marmite for most female riders. Out on the open road in standard British summer, between 18-20°C, it works really well, especially as personally I'm not particularly bothered about the lack of quick comfort-break access. However, as a time-poor working mum, I do still have to spend time on the indoor trainer. So when the temperature and sweat builds up, I found that the strap design made me feel hotter due to the higher front end.
At £80, the Craft Essence bib shorts are fairly priced in terms of performance, they're excellently made and if the fit is right for you, a brilliant pair of classic black shorts. When you also factor in their eco credentials and the company ethos then they are fantastic value. Buying these positively feels like a good environmental investment, making the price tag feel like a bargain.
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