Le Col is a bespoke brand created by ex-GB rider Yanto Barker – does this professional focus pay off in the world of clothing?
Thermal shorts are something of a funny one. Many cyclists would say that there’s no need for such a product. Surely, if you don’t want to wear longs, you’d simply wear bibshorts with warmers underneath?
Well, that is partly true, but here in the UK at least, there’s something to be said for having a slightly thicker pair of shorts for those chillier mornings – not just in spring but throughout the year.
The Le Col Cycling Aqua Zero thermal bibshorts are slightly thicker than normal cycling shorts, but are also designed to repel water and maintain breathability.
On rides between 5-10°C, I found they held up admirably. In these brisk conditions of course you feel the wind on unexposed knees but for what they do cover, the Le Col bibshorts are very insulating, and when paired with leg warmers, a baselayer, jersey and gilet are every bit the match for the colder weather.
There are more benefits to thermal shorts than just warmth, though. Their fleecy lining also makes them more comfortable than standard bibshorts.
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This certainly proved true with the Le Col Cycling Aqua Zero thermal bibshorts. There was no rubbing or discomfort and they felt good against skin.
They were comfortable to sit in, too. Two large cushions protect the sit bones whilst extra padding supports the undercarriage. I never experienced any chafing or rubbing.
That said, the pad did seem to struggle when wicking away sweat. Happily, it never caused discomfort when sitting down but on out-of-the-saddle efforts, it was certainly possible to feel moisture that wasn’t wicked away.
Despite being insulated, the Le Col bibshorts weren’t overbearing. When temperatures rose above 15°C they remained comfortable, and never become stifling or too warm. The material proved able to wick away most of the sweat.
Sure, you probably wouldn’t want them on the hottest days, but they’d serve well throughout the majority of the UK calendar.
Insulating on colder days but still not overbearing when the temperature rises, there's a lot be said for having a slightly thicker pair of bib shorts in the wardrobe. These Le Col options are warm, with a supportive pad, which could do with better wicking properties but which will ultimately keep you comfortable.