I've been highly impressed by everything about the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain bib shorts. The name might be a bit long, but they're well made, comfortable and offer good water-resistance, all at a price that seems more than reasonable such a great piece of kit.
I have to admit that before starting to write this review of the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain bib shorts, I hadn’t looked at their price, but I feared the worst. After all, they’re comfortable, well-made bib shorts, with the added bonus of water-resistant protection, from a high-end Italian brand.
So when I found out that they were £80, I have to say that I was slightly taken aback. Yes that’s still a fair bit of money, but if you’re stingy when it comes to bib shorts, then you’ll only regret it at the end of your first long ride.
But let’s rewind to what makes the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain bib shorts so good.
At the heart of the shorts is the Total Comfort Pro pad. This is the same pad that is used in Sportful’s top-end R&D and BodyFit shorts, which means that it’s the same pad that Alberto Contador, Peter Sagan and the rest of the Tinkoff team will be using day in day out.
This means that the pad strikes a good balance between having enough padding to keep you comfortable for long weekend rides, while not being too bulky so that it gets in the way when you’re head down and pounding on the pedals in an aero position.
However probably the star of the show is the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain bib shorts’ wet weather protection. The phrase water-resistant can mean a lot of things in the world of cycling clothing, but more often than not means that a garment, when new, will keep you dry through 10-15 minutes of persistent rain before succumbing to the element. Put it through the wash a few times and it becomes next to useless.
Watch: buyer's guide to cycling bib shorts
Thankfully, that’s not the case with these shorts. Like the Sportful Fiandre Light NoRain SS top that I’ve also been impressed by this spring, the shorts will keep you dry even through a couple of hours of persistent rain. Sportful has also put a second flap of material on the back of the shorts which gives you an extra layer of protection to prevent your bum getting wet and cold with wheel spray. And like me, many Tinkoff riders have also been impressed by this protection, switching to these shorts for wet races such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of the Basque Country.
Moving on from the wet weather protection, these shorts tick every other box that you’d expect from a good pair of bib shorts. The bibs aren’t the sophisticated in the world, with a single mesh material used for the front and rear of the straps, but they’re still wide so give good comfort.
Sportful has also vastly improved the consistency of its fit in recent years. It wasn’t so long ago that I would take a small or medium top and have to combine that with XL bib shorts, which was ridiculous for my fairly slender 6ft frame. However, now the fit of the size medium bib shorts is spot on for both the straps and the length of leg. That said, if you’ve got legs like tree trunks then it might be worth going up a size as the leg gripper is a little on the slender size, but for most it should be fine.
For more details visit the Sportful website (opens in new tab).
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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
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