These are comfortable shorts with a lovely supportive and compressive feel to them, as well as a chamois that provided comfort on long rides. But they weren’t quite perfect, with a bulky front portion of the chamois that I found distracting during hard efforts and silicone grippers in the bib straps which didn’t add much benefit but did make the shorts more of a faff to put on. Not fatal flaws, but at £270 – and with there being so many cheaper shorts which don’t have these issues – it’s hard to recommend POC Aero VPDS bib shorts against the competition.
Compressive and supportive material
Wide leg grippers
Silicone grippers on the bib straps
Chamois quite bulky at the front
Very, very expensive
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The Aero VPDS bib shorts sit at the top of POC’s tree, promising maximum performance – and with a price tag of £270, you wouldn’t expect anything less.
Founded in 2005, this Swedish brand has built of a reputation in producing high quality helmets, eyewear and appeal.
The construction: POC Aero VPDS bib shorts
The fit of these shorts has been optimised around an aggressive race position, with a low cut at the front to minimise bunching when hunched over the handlebars. For better muscular support, a strong and stretchy fabric has been utilised to provide compression.
At 8cm wide, the leg grippers are larger than most – but unlike the overwhelming majority of grippers, they don’t feature any silicone inserts on the inside to help keep the shorts in place. For those with sensitive skin, this could be a very welcome feature.
Although the chamois is made by Elastic Interface, POC has customised some of its elements. 3D moulded VPDS silicone inserts are added to the main body of the chamois, with the intention of providing greater comfort on long rides, while the chamois material itself extends much further up the front of the shorts than in other designs.
A stretchy mesh back combined with wide and flat elasticated bib straps hold the shorts in place and nicely distribute the forces to minimize any feelings of the straps cutting in. Although the leg grippers might not be silicone back, the bib straps are – which somewhat mitigates how good these shorts might be for those with sensitive skin, although the use of a baselayer would solve this.
The compressive element of POC Aero VPDS bib shorts was really quite nice. They feel more secure than what you get from most other brands, and you really get the sense that you’re being held in. Just how much this helps from a performance perspective is a little more ambiguous, but the feeling is at least good.
I found the silicone grippers on the inside of the bib straps a little more trouble than they were worth. Pulling on the shorts, they tended to get stuck wrapped around on themselves, requiring a couple of second each to straighten them out. This wouldn’t be too bad if there were a tangible benefit, but I didn’t really notice any difference between these and a normal set of straps when out on the road.
On the other hand, the absence of silicone grippers from the legs was really quite great. The very wide elasticated bands held the shorts in place without a problem, while still not being so tight as to cut in. On long rides, I never got any feelings of tugging from the legs and I didn’t have the same experience of an imprint being left as other shorts can do.
Also on long rides, the chamois did a great job at cushioning and isolating me from the road buzz. But the chamois material stretches very far up the front of the shorts – much further than I would ever wish to sit – and I found this resulted in a rather cramped feeling that I found quite distracting during hard efforts.
At £270, the POC Aero VPDS bib shorts were never going to stack up well in terms of value.
We loved the Assos Cento Evo Bib Shorts (opens in new tab) awarding them a 9/10 and crediting them with being one of the best bib shorts on the market today, with one of the only criticisms being that the price is rather high. But that £225 looks a veritable bargain compared to the price of the POC’s.
Even Le Col – a brand which no one would say pitches itself as a budget option – tops out at only £180 for its most expensive set of shorts, the Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II (opens in new tab), which also received a 9/10 in our review.
But even both of those options aren’t incredible value compared to the flawless Endura Pro SL Bib Shorts (opens in new tab), which at just £119.99 earnt themselves a 10/10 and a place our 2020 Editor’s Choice awards.
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After winning the 2019 National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships and claiming the plushie unicorn (true story), Stefan swapped the flat-bars for drop-bars and has never looked back.
But his favourite rides are multiday bikepacking trips, with all the huge amount of cycling tech and long days spent exploring new roads and trails - as well as histories and cultures. Most recently, he’s spent two weeks riding from Budapest into the mountains of Slovakia.
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