More than any other piece of cycling kit, bib-shorts have to be practical; they have more impact on your comfort on the bike than anything else.
If you ride for a couple of hours, you can only suffer so much.
If you ride for four, or five, or more, a poor pair of shorts can not only ruin your fun, but damage parts of your body that you’d really rather not damage.
Buy good bib-shorts, is what I’m saying.
And good bib-shorts is what this offering from Californian brand Catella are. With bells on.
They are fantastic.
Before we get to the important practical bit, I would like to share the fact that while riding in these shorts I have had occasional compliments on the view of my rear end. From both genders.
Which is slightly unnerving, but welcome nonetheless.
I am forty years old, and I can never get enough compliments regarding my rear end. Whatever else these shorts do, there’s your money’s worth, right there.
Talking of money’s worth, these bibs are not cheap. At $239 (approx.. £185) they are luxury items. They are also very, very good.
So you pay your money, and take your choice.
As with the Montrose jersey I reviewed recently, the fit (around the legs, at least) is compression tight, and I love the razor sharp line as it grips just above the knee; there are no seams, no stitching, and nothing to break the satisfying way it clings to the leg.
The material on the legs also has the kind of silky smoothness that you’d expect from a pair of high-end shorts.
Around the seating area, however, the material offers a very slightly looser feel, which is one of these reasons these are so comfortable; you get compression around the legs, but not necessarily elsewhere.
First time out I couldn’t quite figure out if I was wearing the right size, but once I bedded in to them they felt faultless.
The chamois adds to this.
The chaps at Catella explain that it’s welded into the bibs – again, no stitching – and has antibacterial properties.
A chamois – or Carbonium pad, as they describe it – is a very personal thing, but I found this to offer comfort on a par with Assos, which is the recognised seal of approval.
Effective for seven hours plus, the website suggests.
If I were being really picky, I found the slightly rubbery feel of the shoulder straps a tad uncomfortable directly against the skin in sweaty conditions. But that’s me looking for fault, for the sake of balance, with an exceptional piece of kit.
Size wise, I’m a 32 inch waist, and the Catella size chart suggests a Medium might also work for me, rather than the Large I tested.
I think that’s probably right, as the bit of give around the seat offered some room for manoeuvre, but I’m very happy with the Large; they’re super-comfy, and I prefer my shorts to err on the long side.
All in all, if you’re looking to buy one of the best pairs of bib-shorts you’re ever likely to own, you need to consider these from Catella.
They comfortable, they’re clever, they feel great, and they make you look a bit more like a pro-cyclist.
What more do you want?