Very comfortable bib shorts that perform well on the long rides and have very few downsides
It is probably because when I was a kid I was riding a red-and-black Specialized Rock Hopper MTB, but even nowadays, when I see any piece of apparel with the ‘Spesh’ logo, I immediately think it has been made for mountain biking. And the Specialized SL Pro bib shorts make no exception. The French philosopher Marcel Proust would call it the involuntary memory.
These shorts (which aren’t for mountain biking) are the top-end of the American brand’s category and it comes with a price. And even though £140 is not even close to Assos’ or Castelli’s most expensive shorts on the market, it is certainly not affordable for everyone.
Watch: buyer’s guide to cycling bib shorts (video)
However, the quality held in the 209g of the Specialized SL Pro bib shorts is indisputable. The first feeling on your body is that of a great compression and comfort, as the cut of the shorts (particularly on my quads) felt really good from the very first miles. The cuffs on the bottom of the short are quite wide and feature small silicon inserts to keep them in place.
The fabric used for this short is the same used for Specialized SL Pro Jersey: a soft and breathable VaporRize material for the optimisation of moisture management, combined with a Cold Fabric which is claimed to reduce the surface temperatures of the dark textiles. In a medium-long ride (100 km) the Specialized kit performed very well and it was never too hot, even on a very warm day.
But probably the best feature of the Specialized SL Pro bib shorts is the pad. Specialized says that the Body Geometry SL Pro Chamois features multi-density padding to reduce pressure on soft tissue and nerves. And the feeling after three hours spent in the saddle (a Specialized S-Works Power, a very hard saddle built for racing and long time spent on the drops), has always been of great comfort.
However, even though the welded upper bib was designed to reduce friction between seams and skin, I noticed that it can become knotted and a little uncomfortable. A very small downside of an otherwise excellent pair of shorts.
For more details, visit the Specialized website.
Apart from a small problem with the bib straps, I found the Specialized SL Pro bib shorts to be an excellent pair of bib shorts, giving a comfort even on long rides and a really good fit.