Comfortable shorts carrying trickle down features from the top end creations. The high waistband works well, whilst the chamois is a little bit marmite and leg grippers need some work.
High quality fabric
Tight leg cuffs
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Le Col's women's waist shorts cost come in at £80 - which is a full ton less than the brand's flagship Hors Categorie bib shorts (£180). The dream scenario would be that Le Col has provided heaps of trickle down tech from its more expensive range, making minimal adjustments to achieve the lower price - and in many ways that's the case, though there are some sacrifices.
Personally, I am typically a bib short wearer, I would much rather cycle in shorts with a mesh upper guaranteed to keep it all in place without any digging in at the waist band. However, I've yet to speak to a clothing brand that says its women's bib shorts outsell waist shorts, so Le Col's decision to offer a half short (not available in the men's range) simply represents the greater market's preferences.
The waist band sits very high - easily an inch above my belly button and coming half way up my back. I think this is a job well done. All too often, waist shorts sit too low and the result is pressure at the stomach or a worrying sensation of slipping and visions of showing far too much to the world.
Despite their lack of bib, I've picked these shorts from my kit draw on many rides without viewing them as a compromise.
The fabric used is a 210g 'Lycra fibre sport', with 14 per cent Elastane which provides a close fit. I found the material dried quickly, and was comfortable enough even during sweaty turbo sessions. Whilst soft to the touch, this isn't the most compressive of choices. This is great if you want tons of stretch, but less suited to those used to a little muscle support.
After many washes, these shorts show no signs of wear - and they're available in black or blue, with sizes from XS-XXL - I opted for a small and the fit was as expected.
The chamois in question is Dolomiti Female specific chamois, this will be slightly cheaper to produce than the Dolomiti Gel Chamois within the Hors Categorie bibs. However, there's a lot of crossover - notably in the high density of this pad. I've yet to try a pair of Le Col shorts that doesn't use a notably thick pad, comparative to the competition. This provides tons of comfort on long rides, but creates a bit of a nappy-waddle when walking around. It'll suit those planning massive endurance adventures.
At the cuffs, Le Col has gone with a 5cm (just shy of two inch) finishing band. This is narrower than found elsewhere in the range. I found it stayed put well, but was quite tight when compared with the rest of the short, creating a little bit of an indent.
Back to my opening feature: price. If value for money is your key concern, this isn't really your go-to brand; but at £80, Le Col has offered the quality soft fabrics and intensely padded chamois we've come to expect from this marque, for a much lower price tag. I'd suggest these shorts would suit a newer rider who was happy to stump up a bit more than is necessary for a little extra quality and longevity, or a serious mile muncher who intends to crack out some big daily distances and wants to use these as the mid-week casual wear to their Sunday best.
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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.
Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor.
Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.
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