Le Col’s Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II are absolutely sublime. Every part of their construction, from the soft feel of the high-quality Lycra to the airy and comfortable chamois – it all adds up to an incredibly comfortable pair of shorts that perform just as well on long rides as they do in short and intense all-out efforts.
Really comfy chamois
Lightly compressive legs
Wide leg grippers
Flat and wide bib straps
Bib straps are a little on the long side
By Stefan Abram
The Le Col Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II are uncompromising in their mission to provide a maximally comfortable pair of shorts that won’t hold you back from any effort.
This is clearly apparent in the quality construction and feel of the shorts – but it’s also evident in their RRP, which sits towards the upper end of the price bracket for bib shorts.
Le Col Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II: construction
Immediately when first picking up the Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II, I was struck by how different the Lycra felt compared to most other shorts. It’s a lot softer and a little thicker than you might be used to, imparting a luxurious feel and the impression that these will last and hold their shape for a long time to come.
The Chamois is made by Dolomiti and promises to be fast wicking, quick drying and to dampen vibrations. A wide elastic is used for the leg grippers so as to distribute the force over a greater area and not cut in, with hundreds of tiny silicone dots keeping the legs locked firmly in place.
With the leg length, I felt that a good balance has been struck. They are on the long side as is currently trendy, but they don’t take the fad too far and still sit high up enough above the knee so as not to be irritating.
In terms of fit, I found that the shorts conformed perfectly to my body, being lightly compressive and not digging in at all, but equally nowhere were the shorts baggy at all – absolutely spot on.
The wide elastic of the bib straps felt smooth against my skin and distributed the pressure evenly across my shoulders. Although, I did find them to be a little on the long side – they hardly need to stretch when I put them on.
There are a couple of reflective details for increased visibility and the Le Col logos are quite discreet, making these a very easy set of shorts to pair with other items of kit. Which is a very good thing too – considering their price, you’ll be wanting to get a fair amount of use out of them and wouldn’t want kit choices to limit you on that front.
At first, I was a little sceptical about how comfortable the chamois pad would prove to be. I generally much prefer a smooth design, rather than one where that padding comes in pockets. Those little ridges I find can lead to irritation on longer rides.
I needn’t have worried – I got on brilliantly with the pad and my fears amounted to nothing. On long rides, the pad remained perfectly comfortable with no irritation transpiring at all. The distribution of the padding was excellent as well, being supportive of the sit bones and without excesses of padding coming too far up the front of the shorts. Regarding the wicking and drying, the chamois certainly lived up to its billing. Even in hot and steamy indoor rides, it always felt fresh and airy.
Although the bib straps did feel a little on the loose side when putting on the shorts, this caused no issues when out on the road. Even when putting in some, shall we say, dynamic efforts sprinting up a few short climbs, the shorts stayed firmly in place.
This could have been due to the excellent fit of the shorts themselves necessitating very little extra assistance from the bib straps to keep them in place. Alternatively, the very small amount of stretch the straps were subjected to could have been all that was needed to keep the shorts pulled up. Either way, it worked out fine for me at 177cm in a size small.
In all, there are no criticisms I can make regarding how these shorts feel to wear, the material, the leg grippers, the chamois, they all performed exactly as you would wish.
When compared to some of the competition, the price tag of the Le Col Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II certainly isn’t outlandish. Velocio’s Ultralight Bib Shorts come in at £178 for a similarly high-performance set of shorts which greatly impressed when we had them on review.
And making Le Col’s offering seem a veritable bargain are the Assos Cento Evo Bib Shorts, which we found to have sublime comfort levels, but do cost a wallet-clenching £225.
However, just because there are a few (many) shorts with similarly high prices does not mean the Le Col Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II should get a free pass in terms of value.
There are similarly excellently performing shorts out there for far less money, such as the Endura Pro SL Bib Shorts, which are every bit the match of these pricier shorts, but with a much more palatable price tag of £119.99.
If that still seems a bit steep, our recommendation would be the Van Rysel RR 900 Bib Short, which may not have the brand cachet of other labels, but still had no real cons to speak of.
Both the Endura and Van Rysel shorts were awarded a full 10/10.
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