The dhb Aeron Lab Raceline bib shorts are about all-out speed. There is an unusual texture for better aerodynamics and the fit is as tight as you will ever find. The chamois is better than you might expect for such a focused product but the straps do let the rest of the design down just a bit
Excellent Elastic Interface chamois
No seam at the top of the inner thighs
Straps lack structure and tend to roll up
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UK clothing company, dhb, has forged a solid and well-deserved reputation over the years. As part of the WiggleCRC group there's the weight of the two largest companies in the UK online cycle retail market, Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles, behind every dhb product. Over 800 employees spread out across three countries is a lot of resources and expertise and it shows in the products.
All those resources and buying power help keep costs down for dhb clothing but that's not at the expense of technical prowess. If you want to see the best of what dhb can do then your eyes should be on the Aeron Lab collection. It's a collection "designed and developed for elite athletes." The Aeron Lab collection is where dhb pushes the boundaries of what is possible with current fabric technologies and builds the fastest clothing they can.
The Raceline bib shorts are what dhb refers to as the “fastest shorts we've ever designed.” Unusual fabrics and cutting-edge technology makes the bottom half of the fastest two-piece kit that dhb offers (with the Aeron Lab Raceline jersey forming the top half). We spent some time with them to see if all that race day performance was worth a look. These bib shorts stand out as completely different to anything else in our list of the best cycling shorts. Keep reading to see if we think different is good.
Design and aesthetics
The dhb Aeron Labs Raceline bib shorts use a pattern where each leg consists of two pieces of fabric. The fabric at the outside of the hip has a texture similar to a tennis ball arranged into hexagonal cells. Putting texture at the outside of the hip is a strategy designed to keep the air better attached in that location. It's a popular aero optimisation but dhb has gone with a particularly noticeable texture and it continues all the way to the bottom of the leg before wrapping to the inner thigh.
Beyond any aero advantage there's a fit benefit as well. Having the hip panel wrap the lower section of the leg means the lack of a seam at the top of the inner thigh. The fabric used for the groin and seat pad area is denser with less stretch and the seams happen in the center of the garment as well as low down the thigh. Those are locations where you aren't going to get chafing.
At the top of the hip panels there's an extra piece of fabric on the inside. It's a subtle detail but it really helps the fit. With just the small addition of that extra piece there's a ton of added compression. Being aero means being as smooth as possible and the extra compression and smoothing above the hip helps further that.
The inseam length is on the long side for summer bib shorts. This is another aero optimisation that also affects fit. dhb has built the grippers from elastic threads and the effect is a lot more subtle than the normal silicone gripper. At the other end of the garment the waist ends on the low side with a folded hem. There's not a lot of stretch at the waist so despite being low it does a good job of keeping the lower abdomen flat.
In the rear there's an additional panel of the subtly lined fabric used for the groin area. At the bottom of the panel is an Aeron Labs word mark that is only visible because of a contrasting sheen. Keep moving up and you'll find the straps. The entire strap structure including the front, the top of the shoulders, and through the back is all one piece.
The fabric is similar to what most bib shorts use for the construction of the thighs. As a single layer it's thin and breathable with plenty of stretch to keep the rest of the bibs where they should be. The back section of the straps is narrow and covered with small holes for extra ventilation. The same design is on the lower section of the front straps as well.
There are lots of bib shorts on the market that claim to have a design optimised for speed. Some of them truly and some don't but the dhb Aeron Raceline is among the most focused kits I've worn. A longer inseam length and little details that help smooth the figure are there for aerodynamics. At the same time, they help the fit as well. The focus is on going fast but there ends up being the pleasant side benefit of an excellent fit. That is as long as you like your fit tight.
Along with all the race-focused details there are some details you wouldn't expect in a piece like this. The chamois is excellent and wouldn't be unwelcome in a pair of bibs designed for the longest rides. Under all the contact points the chamois is extremely dense and at the groin area there's extra ventilation. The length will work just as well in an aggressive race position as it will if you sit up and shift your weight back.
When you pull the dhb Aeron Raceline bibs on they are a joy even from the beginning. Silicone grippers are not something I find necessary and they can be a hassle to get on. dhb has used a design that holds well enough but is also really easy to slide on. That's important in a pair of bib shorts with a race fit.
The only part of the design that isn't ideal is the shoulder straps. There is almost no structure to them and getting them onto your shoulders leaves them rolled into a thin band of fabric every time. Even getting them unrolled can take a bit of work given how little structure there is. Once you do get them situated though, there are no complaints. That same lack of structure that makes them hard to get on does make them very comfortable.
Given the price and the focus the dhb Aeron Lab Raceline bib shorts are better than you would expect. Aerodynamic clothing can sometimes be a little bit odd. In some ways that's the case here. The texture on the outside of the hip isn't what you expect to find on bib shorts. Between the hexagonal cells the fabric is also extremely thin and, of course, the fit is very tight. Despite those oddities these are a collection of features that ends up coming together and working.
Without having to spend big you can find a pair of race day bib shorts that will be fast and comfortable. If you find yourself trying to stretch your money and use them for more than just racing, they should work for that as well. There are endurance-focused bib shorts out there that miss on some of the features dhb has nailed in the Raceline bib shorts. As long as the fit works for you these bib shorts are a good buy.
Tech Specs: dhb Aeron Lab Raceline Bib Shorts
- Materials: Outer panels: 58% nylon, 42% elastane; Inner panels: 80% nylon, 20% elastane; Bibs: 74% nylon, 26% Lycra
- Size availability: XS-XXL
- Price: £130 / $190 / €150
- Temperature: 16°-28°C
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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutiae of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Weight: 140 lb.
Rides: Salsa Warbird, Cannondale CAAD9, Enve Melee, Look 795 Blade RS, Priority Continuum Onyx