When a Strava challenge pays off, part 2: Le Col Sport bib shorts

A while back, I wrote about Strava’s monthly challenges, and how some of them can actually motivate you by offering discounts on premium cycling gear on completion. Back then, I treated myself to Le Col’s Pro Hex jersey, which has since been de-listed from their website.

Since then, I’ve completed more of Le Col’s Strava challenges – some of which I had failed to redeem before they expired. That was at least a good £100 or so of discounts that had lapsed on me; to be fair, I wasn’t in a hurry to build up a cycling wardrobe as my present one was still good. I decided to put one of these discount vouchers to work so I could retire my very first pair of bib shorts, which had developed some pilling on the Lycra around the inner leg area from years of riding.

Le Col’s packaging prominently features retired British pro cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins, with whom they have a clothing partnership.

As you may have guessed, this time around, I discount-shopped for bib shorts on Le Col. I decided to try their base model Sport bib shorts, to see if their premium was anything to write home about. Normally this pair cost US$160 (PhP7,900); the Strava challenge voucher brought it down to US$95 (PhP4,600) before shipping.

Unusually for me, these bibs are all black, right up to the straps. It isn’t everyday I see all-black bib shorts, and I must admit I got intrigued enough by the color to make me consider them (although they are also available with white straps). Speaking of the straps, even on these base model shorts, they are excellent: good width, gentle but assured tension on the shoulders, and quite sheer for good ventilation.

Out of concern for the well-being of my audience, I’ll leave it up to this very fit gentleman to model the fit of these shorts in my stead. Photo credit: LeCol.cc. Retrieved November 16, 2020.

Also noteworthy is just how high up they sit on my torso. On most of my other bibs the proverbial “belt line” lies just below the navel; on Le Col’s shorts they reach higher up onto my stomach. This does lend a more secure feeling to the shorts, and I’d wager the extra coverage would come in handy for fast descents on windy or overcast days, although there’s a bit more material to push out of the way when nature calls for a pee break.

One side effect of this higher belt line is that the bottom hem of the jersey tends to have a little less grip around the stomach area. You may find your jersey getting dragged left or right slightly as you turn at your waist or move your arm outward. It’s not enough to be annoying, but it’s notable.

Just like the Pro Hex jersey and its very nicely elasticated silicone arm grippers, the Sport bib shorts use a similar gripper around the thighs. Here it’s quite a bit wider, to better spread the retention of the shorts around a larger area and to avoid the unflattering look and feel of “sausage leg.” The one thing I’m not fond of is the loud “LE COL” print on the leg grippers, but at least it’s a little more restrained on these base model shorts.

Le Col also throws in smartly placed reflective tags on the thigh area, front and rear.

Finally we come to the core of the shorts, the chamois. Quite simply, this is an excellent quality pad. I’ve spent many a long training session on these shorts, many of them over the two-hour mark, and the pad kept its position and cushion without feeling like a diaper. I’ve heard many cycling shorts boast about multi-density padding, where the foam is thicker and more dense where more of a rider’s weight is, and I’ve always been inclined to dismiss it as a hoax, but the Le Col shorts are perhaps the closest I’ve felt to such a claim. For all their excellent value for money, Decathlon’s B’Twin cycling shorts need a week or two of wearing in to really feel “right” underneath my butt; these felt ready to go from day one, supporting without getting in the way of my thighs.

Longtime readers will know that when it comes to cycling apparel, I tend to gravitate towards a manufacturer’s entry-level offerings, as it’s usually harder to get this level right. While the price of admission is no doubt higher in this case, these nonetheless basic bib shorts from Le Col pack enough premium touches and construction to put them a league above other makers. These are great bib shorts, in my opinion. If nothing else, these make for a good incentive to complete their Strava challenges and propel you toward your cycling goals.


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