An all-round decent pair of bib shorts that integrate top-tier tech without the top-tier price tag
- Connected road feel
- Decent value for money
- Good leg length
- Lack of padding plushness
- Straps can be a pain when putting on
A staple in the range, Sportful's Bodyfit Pro Ltd bib shorts have been around seemingly forever, and this specific iteration - the Bodyfit Pro 2.0 LTD shorts - comprise premium technologies in a well-constructed design without the premium price tag.
They're not without a few minor quirks, but at £130.00 / $170.00, they offer better value for money when compared to some of the more expensive competitors. Of course, that's still far from loose change, but when brands such as Assos, Castelli and Rapha are happily asking around twice as much for their top tier bibs, and even Sportful itself offering more expensive bib shorts, the Bodyfit Pro Ltd bibs start to look like a value choice, but how do they compare to the best cycling shorts on the market?
Design and aesthetics
The pair we have here are 'chocolate' in colour from the 2020 range of colour options and, while the brown shorts debate will rage on regardless, I'm going to gloss over the colour in favour of a focus on the features, construction and performance of the shorts.
With that said, I'm personally not much of a fan of the brown shorts look, so I was pleased to see that Sportful ditched it for the 2021 range, which now comprises Black, a navy colour simply known as Blue, a much darker brown called Cacao, and a claret colour they're calling Red Wine.
From afar, it would appear that the entirety of the panelling across the legs and backside are finished in the same colour, but when you look closely, it becomes apparent that the panels covering the backside, the inner and outer legs, there is a super subtle broken criss-cross pattern. Stitching between panels is in a contrasting, yet complementary darker brown.
On the left glute, there is a small reflective Sportful 'S' logo, and the same emblem is also printed on the outside of the right quadricep. Both of these have stood the test of time, although have begun to crack slightly with the stretch of the material.
On the inside of the hem of each leg, rubberised dots provide the grip. Most of these are clear in colour, but five rows of orange dots provide a nice neat finishing touch.
Up top, both the waist section and the straps are finished in a black mesh material, with two radio pockets built into the dual-layer mesh panelling across the back. The first sits centrally at the top of the back panel that joins the two straps, and the second is built into the left side of the lower back panel.
One of the most important parts of any bib short design is the chamois, and the Sportful Bodyfit Pro Evo 2.0 LTD bib shorts are fitted with Sportful's TC (Total Comfort) Pro pad which is given a triple-density design, with 5mm holes dotted throughout for breathability. The size and closeness of these holes does seem to reduce the overall density of the pad and the result is less plush than I'd like, but still ample enough to prevent any sores, chafing or discomfort.
The main panelling of the shorts is made from Sportful's AeroFlow Compress material which is said to offer 'smooth aerodynamics and muscle support'. In the absence of a wind tunnel, I'm unable to comment on the aerodynamic performance of the material, but despite testing a size large where I'd usually opt for a medium, the leg compression remains impressive. It also results in a nice matte effect to the colouring, while retaining a silky feeling to the touch.
Two inches from the bottom of the leg, a seam separates the main panelling from the colour matched hem. On the inside, 28 rows of rubber microdots wrap around the leg, offering a secure hold without even a hint of overcompression. After 12 months of use, a few of these have been worn away, but without counting them, I'd say 95 per cent remain and the security of the hold is still perfectly secure.
At the top of the shorts, the waist area transitions away from the main panelling with a dual-layer black mesh material that is also soft to the touch.
The bib straps are then anchored into both the waistband and the main panel of the shorts for added support. The straps themselves are also a black mesh, but in a single layer designed to lay flat against the skin whilst being breathable. The material used here has a slight increase in rigidity, which means it's a little more scratchy to the touch, but as with the chamois pad, there's no pain, chafing or discomfort.
As mentioned, the comfort of the Sportful Bodyfit Pro 2.0 Ltd bib shorts fall a little short compared to the likes of Rapha's similarly priced Pro Team Training bib shorts, but in no way would I ever describe them as uncomfortable. In fact, where I'd say they excel compared to those Rapha bibs is in offering a balance between a 'connected' feel to the bike, which many riders may actually prefer, without having any of the pain or soreness of a pad that is too thin.
After a few rides of getting used to the padding, I started to realise that the Bodyfit Pro 2.0 Ltd bib shorts retained their comfort over rides of any distance and duration. From short and intense road rides to multi-hour gravel rides.
The perforation holes built into the pad are no doubt designed to aid breathability, and while I trust the theory that they offer a small amount of extra cooling potential, it's not something I've noticed as being obvious or markedly better than any of the competition. In fact, when riding indoors - the true test of sweat-wicking capabilities - I often finish looking as though I've had a toilet-based accident, a problem that is only highlighted by the brown colour.
The only other negative aspect to these shorts comes at the straps. When putting them on, they have a tendency to twist, making it a multi-step process of getting them over the shoulders in the first place, and then untwisting and tidying them up for comfort. A minor issue, of course, but nonetheless it's an issue that competitors such as Rapha, Kalas, and Ale have solved. Fortunately, once fitted they remain perfectly in place, so the slightly abrasive nature of the strap material doesn't result in any chafing.
At £130 / $170, the Sportful Bodyfit Pro Ltd bib shorts are still a reasonable outlay for a single garment, but as I've already mentioned, there are plenty of higher-priced options out there. With that in mind, having used these bib shorts for a year alongside various other competitors, I find it difficult to quantify why you'd want - or need - to spend more.
If you're interested in having all-day comfort but want to retain your connection with the road, then I would happily recommend these to anyone wanting top-tier performance without the top-tier prices.
Tech Specs: Sportful Bodyfit Pro Ltd bib shorts review
- Price: £130.00 / $170.00
- Materials: Polyester, Elastane
- Colours: Black, Blue, Cacao, Red Wine
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
- Weight: 195g
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