As with most pieces of cycling apparel, when it comes to bib shorts, it's likely you'll have different pairs for different kinds of rides; the ones for longer days in the saddle, the ones that are perfect for the commute to work, and not forgetting the ones that are saved for race day. So can one pair of bib shorts really do all those jobs?
With dhb marking it’s 14th birthday this year, the Wiggle owned clothing brand has, over the years, become a bit of a go to for many female cyclists, known for it’s extensive affordable women’s collection with good size ranges.
The Aeron collection has been around a few years now, and is badged as dhb’s all day performance range for male and female bike riders. The dhb Aeron Speed Women’s bib shorts themselves have gone through a few iterations, with the 2018 model gaining new colour ways that take their design cues from the visualisation of light and fast movement.
Construction and fit
The Revolutional® Energy fabric used for the dhb Aeron Speed Women’s bib shorts promises to provide a high level of muscle compression, and pulling on the shorts they certainly did feel tight, with the additional benefit of the compression fabric providing a second skin like fit.
Although the sorts were skin tight, it was a relief to see that despite the being pulled taught, the short fabric didn’t suffer from colour fade or transparency.
I’m really pleased to see that dhb are another brand to take UV ray safety seriously, having added a Coldblack® treatment to the Aeron Speed Women’s bib shorts. Admittedly dhb were one of the early adopters of the technology, but we’ve now seen a handful of brands using it for their spring/summer 18 collections, such as the Morvelo Classic Nth Series bib shorts and the Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit bib shorts.
Talking of protection, your Gluteus Maximus is one area that certainly requires some and the dhb Aeron Speed Women’s bib shorts do this in the form of a CyTech Elastic Interface Women’s Comp HP Seatpad.
The thermomoulded pad is one of the more slimline and flatter designs that we’ve seen, but it does still provide a fair amount of padding. It’s not quite as comfortable as my new favourite minimalistic chamois in the Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit bib shorts, but the multiple density levels of the foam insert is in keeping with the short size and ideal for longer days in the saddle where a tad more cushioning can be warmly welcomed.
It’s so far so good with the dhb Aeron Speed Women’s bib shorts, but I think my favourite element is the bib upper. Huzzah for the dhb designers in providing us a lesson on how to keep it simple.
The mesh racerback provides perfect short support for minimal fabric, allowing you to decide on what base layer level you need for your ride, while the simple wide and flat braces at the front are A1. As soon as the bib shorts are on, the upper is forgotten – a true demonstration of an excellent design. No faff, no fiddly clips, just a simple, effective and comfortable bib upper. It’s also what enables the shorts to be impressively lightweight, weighing just 150grams for a size small.
However, there is one glitch with the dhb Aeron Speed Women’s bib shorts, and that’s in the leg department. The leg gripper. dhb really need to re-work this.
The 5cm raw cut outer silicon backed panel is getting there, although I’d personally prefer a couple of extra cm’s here to ensure a perfect transition between short to skin. But it’s the inside 3cm of doubled-up fabric that lets these shorts down.
It seems like a minor element, but until then the shorts have provided a champaign finish, and this way of ending the leg seems overly complicated, with several seams all in one area, which although are flat-locked, still un-necessarily bulk the shorts out and also slightly pinch the leg in at the thigh. It’s not majorly uncomfortable, more of a ‘noticeable’, I just honestly can’t work out why dhb didn’t continue the same silicone backed gripper all the way round the circumference of the leg that would have prevented this problem.
Leg gripper issues aside, the dhb Aeron Speed Women’s bib shorts are comfortable and I would say that the marketing team haven’t done too badly in pitching these as a ‘rouler’ pair of shorts. The padding is on the right side of voluptuous, proving to be adequate in the saddle, while not over sized to create over spill issues in terms of friction rubbing or inward folding.
dhb has worked hard to create a high end finish on a slightly smaller budget, but £85 isn’t by any means cheap, so its reasonable to expect shorts verging on perfection for that price. To be fair, the dhb Aeron Speed Women’s bib shorts do tick a lot of best bib short boxes, and lets not forget about that impressively low weight, but the leg design lets the concept down. While there’s probably space in the cycling wardrobe for a pair, it wouldn’t be at the sacrifice of other pairs, so not quite the ultimate bib shorts just yet.
Close to being the perfect riding partner, whatever the ride, there's a lot to like about the dhb Aeron Speed Women's bib shorts. The bib upper is certainly setting the standard for women's specific bib design and we love the inclusion of cold black® technology. However, the leg finish isn't in keeping with the rest of the high end design, and lets the shorts down.