Road-Test: dhb Aeron Women's Clip Bib Shorts
Danielle Welton takes dhb’s Women's Clip Bib Shorts for a squat and a spin at home and abroad...
When it comes to a woman’s bib shorts, there are a few basic requirements - protect your undercarriage; prevent saddle sore, and fit so darn well that you forget you’re wearing them. So far, so simple, right? But the dream is for your bibs to do all these things while allowing you to go for a pacy pee, without having to perform a striptease in the bushes….
With its innovative magnetic clip design, dhb’s Women’s Clip bib shorts promise to do it all. But do they deliver? We find out on a tough South Downs sportive and an 85-mile Sri Lanka spin.
When you first try them on, the material feels well made and of decent quality, the padding feels good (not too nappy-like and not too thin) and the dhb branding is nicely understated. But it’s the magnetic hook fastening at the centre of the braces that’s of real interest.
The idea is that the over-the-head braces design combined with the magnetic buttons mean you can quickly pop them open under your jersey, loop them over your head, then thread them through the back of your jersey. This means that you don’t have to go through the palaver of taking off your jersey, then pulling down your bibs, so there's no need to squat in the woods practically naked or spend an eternity on your loo stops.
I get the science behind it, but at first touch the clasp feels a little cheap and there’s a worry you’ll get garroted on a long ride. On my first try-on, I did manage to ping the clasp back in my face, which provided much hilarity for my ride companion.
My first ride out was the South Downs 70-mile sportive in October and I was amazed by how comfortable they were throughout. The padding in particular is really comfy and I kept marvelling at how great they felt straight away (normally it takes me a few rides to feel at one with my bibs).
The halter top was unnoticeable while riding and my fear of garrotting was happily unfounded. Even when my lungs were exploding at the top of Butser Hill (which tops out at 21 per cent), my undercarriage was unbothered.
Now for the science bit: this comfort is apparently due to The ‘CyTech Tour HP Super Air chamois’ (heavens knows why they give it such a high-tech name); soft polyamide and quick-drying polyester threads to ensure breathability, and ultra-high density foam inserts that have been designed to support the pelvic rotation movement while cycling. All of which, according to Wiggle’s site, “ensures maximum comfort for rides of up to 5 hours in the saddle.” I rolled in at 5 hours 31, so I can corroborate that stat.
When it came to extricating myself from my bibs for toilet stops, I still found it easier on this ride to fully remove my jersey, but the whole experience was much quicker than usual and I was done and back on the bike in minutes. Judging by the size of the women’s toilet queue and my non-scientific appraisal of how long I was waiting for other ladies to do their business, I’d say the dhb’s were definitely scoring highly on toilet turnaround time.
One word of warning: because the neck dangles down, you do need to hold it or tuck it into your bottoms or you risk dropping it in the toilet (yes, dear readers, I did this).
My next big spin with the dhb bibs was day one of a Sri Lankan cycle trip - 85 miles in the heat, greasy sporadic rain, dust and humidity from Negombo to Dambulla.
Yet again, I loved how comfortable they felt straight on and on the ride, with no chaffing and no bother 70-odd miles – despite being doused by rain, going up and down hills and repeatedly sprayed by vans (and in the face by the rider in front of me - no Ass Saver). For me, that’s exactly what you want from your bibs. Basically, to forget that you are wearing them.
At 30-degrees plus, this was one seriously hot, humid and sweaty ride, but the mesh-back panel with its ventilation and breathability must have gone some way to stopping me from overheating, and I felt pretty comfortable despite sweating buckets.
Now for the squat science. This is where things get interesting. The road from Negombo to Dambulla isn’t exactly endowed with glistening porcelain toilet facilities, so my first squat was by the side of the road in foliage that wasn’t quite dense enough or high enough for my liking. But 33 miles in, I had to go...
I unclipped the magnetic clasp, pulled the bibs over my head and threaded them down under my jersey. Then, all I needed to do was pull my shorts down enough to pee (remembering to tuck the neck into the shorts so that I didn’t pee on them).
Because I still had my jersey on, this meant I was only exposing a relatively small amount of flesh to Sri Lankan drivers that had the misfortune to glance my way, and I was done in no time.
Threading the neck bit back up and over your head is a challenge on your own, but my riding buddy assisted and marvelled at how efficient the whole process was. Being in more conventional bibs, she elected not to pee, even though she needed to. Ouch!
My second pee stop of that day was in some Sri Lanka roadside jungle. I had to trip through cloying clay mud in my cleats to get to a spot that felt private enough and, yet again, I was thankful for the quick release and fact I wasn’t naked in the jungle.
Yet again, my ride buddy was envious of my gear. By this point she couldn’t hold it in, so had to perform a private striptease for the fruit bats and monkeys.
All in all, these are great summer bibs for the price and perfect for peeing with pace. My only suggestion would be that the mesh material should be in black. After a suncream-slathered, dirt and dust-splattered ride, the white looked pretty grim, and black looks cooler anyway.
I was massively surprised by how comfortable these bibs shorts are and relieved (pun intended) by how effective that quick-release top is. When it comes to comfort on a ride, I am happy to pay good money for kit that will see me right, but at £70 these offer excellent value, great performance and cunning quick-release science that actually works.
Scores on the doors
dhb Aeron Women's Clip Bib Shorts, £70
- Fit = 4/5
- Performance = 5/5
- Style = 4/5