Merlin Wear Elite bib shorts review

Merlin's clothing range is very reasonably priced, but how do its top-of-the-range bibshorts at £55 match up to the competition?

Merlin Wear Elite bib shorts
Cycling Weekly Verdict

The Merlin Wear Elite bib shorts are a nice technical pair of bibs with really good pad and a closer fit than many UK brands’ offerings and at a great price

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Comfortable pad

  • +

    Close fit

  • +

    Light fabrics good for warm conditions

  • +

    Single layer leg grippers

  • +

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Seams not all flatlocked

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Merlin Cycles has steadily expanded its own brand range in recent years. It has quite a range of bikes and now offers clothing too. And these Merlin Wear Elite bib shorts are really very good.

Often UK brands’ own brand kit comes up quite generous, but that isn’t the case with these bibs. They fit closely, particularly off the bike, but feel just right once out riding. The close fit also ensures that the pad stays in place very well, so I did not experience any discomfort – or really notice it at all – even on longer rides.

The pad on the Merlin Wear Elite bib shorts is excellent quality too. It’s a Cytech unit and has enough density to be comfortable, but it isn’t so thick that it becomes hot and sweaty during the ride. There’s a central pressure relief channel, a very smooth facing and it’s flatlock stitched into the shorts.

SIngle layer grippers are quite tight off the bike but comfortable once you get riding

Single layer grippers are quite tight off the bike but comfortable once you get riding

The Merlin Wear Elite bib shorts are made out of two different fabrics: the bits which are in contact with the saddle and likely to get the most wear are a fairly standard lycra, while the outer sides and upper back are a lighter, textured fabric for better breathability and elasticity. It’s an approach which works well, with the shorts staying comfortable even in hot conditions.

>>> Merlin Cycles launches budget clothing range

The bibs are a lightweight mesh fabric with rolled seams, although I did not find the latter noticeable. The leg bands are single layered with silicone microdot grippers which cover their entire inner face. They’re not quite as stretchy as some, so I had a bit of sausage leg off the bike, although I didn’t feel them once I got riding.

Watch: buyer's guide to cycling bib shorts

There’s a mix of flatlocked and raised seams too and the seams in the legs are not displaced from where your legs rub against the saddle. But again I did not find this uncomfortable due to the really good fit. Reflectives are limited to the two Merlin logos: one on the back of the shorts and one on the right leg. It’s not much, but enough to add a bit of extra visibility and well positioned for UK riders.

>>> Merlin X2.0 cyclocross bike review

These really are great bib shorts with fit and comfort the equal to the top Italian brands, just at a much more reasonable price, with Merlin often offering discounts to the RRP.

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Paul Norman

Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.

He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.