Super comfortable and lightweight bib shorts that fit perfectly, let the skin breathe, come with a first-class chamois and a nature break-friendly rear panel.
- Breathable, moisture-wicking and super-lightweight fabric
- Supportive and comfortable chamois
- FlyFree construction eases mid-ride toilet breaks
- Flat-sitting leg bands prevent 'sausage leg'
- Light compression helps with blood flow
- Fully opaque to keep your dignity intact
- Straps sit flat and stay put
- Fits like a second skin
- Large size range
- Not made from recycled or natural materials (unlike much of Velocio's range)
- Velocio's height-specific sizing means inseam length may not work well if you're over or under the average weight for your height
US-brand Velocio is no stranger to Cyclingnews, and in the past we’ve rated its wares very highly. Will that trend continue as we put its Women's Ultralight Bib Shorts to the test?
According to Velocio, these are its lightest weight bib shorts on offer, and they’re designed for hot and sweaty summer riding. How do they fare when compared to the best women's cycling shorts on the market? To find out, we’ve been giving them a lot of wear over the past six months or so.
We first received the Velocio Women's Ultralight bib shorts back in the spring, when it wasn’t quite shorts weather yet, so the first few months of their testing took place while indulging in some indoor cycling. This gave us the perfect opportunity to see how well they performed in hot and sweaty conditions. Then as soon as summer kicked in, we took them out for some ‘IRL’ cycling. Read on to find out what we think of them.
Design and aesthetic
Velocio’s Ultralight Bib Shorts have a minimalist design, as you’d expect for a garment that’s supposed to fit like a second skin that’s barely there. Doing away with the mesh front panel found on the previous version, these 2021 shorts are claimed to be Velocio’s most lightweight bib shorts ever, and ours tipped the scales at 173g. They’re certainly much lighter than the Velocio Luxe bib shorts, which tip our scales at 201g in the same size, and the brand’s Foundation bib shorts, which weigh 193g.
They’re constructed from five panels of ultra-high gauge stretch woven compression fabric that’s designed to retain full opacity despite only weighing 140g per metre. Having spent a lot of time in these shorts, I can attest to the fact that they offer full coverage (much to my riding companions’ relief) despite the fabric feeling extremely thin and papery between the fingers.
On this note, there’s a definite comparison to be drawn between this fabric and that used in Castelli’s Premio Black bib shorts. As we explained in that review, woven fabrics — compared to knit fabrics, which usually make up bib shorts — feature a higher tension thread, due to the difference in the way the threads are interlocked with each other. The resulting fabric is thinner and more dense than traditional knit fabrics.
The bib straps are seamless and cut from elastic microfibre material, and the point at which they’re sewn to the shorts is doubled over on itself to create a very durable joint that feels like it will withstand a lot of tugging and pulling throughout the garment’s lifetime. With the mesh panel now gone, the design of the straps has been completely overhauled, relinquishing the cross-over back for parallel straps conjoined by a small and extremely thin panel at the shoulders. This, presumably, serves to help everything lay flat while in use, something I’ll comment on in the ‘performance’ section of this review.
The leg grippers are also cut from the same elastic microfibre as the straps, and feature additional small silicone dots on the inside to prevent them from riding up. Using this same fabric for the legs is a smart move, as it doesn’t add a lot of bulk to the overall garment, as some materials can.
Like with all of Velocio’s other women’s shorts offerings, the Ultralight Bib Shorts feature its FlyFree design: a rear panel with ruched stitching that allows it to sit flat against the back as standard but pull freely down when nature calls. I’m personally a huge fan of this design, as it negates the need to fully disrobe when it’s time for some relief, a problem that’s plagued women cyclists for years.
Inside the shorts, you’ll find the brand’s proprietary EIT chamois designed in conjunction with chamois specialists Elastic Interface and CyTech and also uses in its Signature shorts. Just getting your hands around it, it’s luxuriously soft to the touch and has clearly defined zones to provide support where women need it most: slightly more dense at the back, with a softer and more gentle structure up front.
On the exterior of the shorts, there are several reflective details that will be invaluable to those cycling frequently in low light conditions, without resulting in an aesthetic that screams ‘cyclist’ in the daytime. The overall look is subtle and classy.
My only gripe with the design of the Ultralight bib shorts is the length of the inseam, though this is more due to Velocio’s sizing approach. As part of its size guide, it offers suggestions based on height, which makes assumptions about weight that aren’t helpful. At 156cm tall, I should in theory be wearing its XXS size, which presumably would come with a much shorter inseam, however, since I very obviously weigh more than the 50kg assigned to that height in Velocio’s size chart, this doesn’t actually work for me. Instead, I wear a size XL which fits me wonderfully, but does result in a 22cm inseam that has the legs sitting only just above the knee.
When actually in use, the Ultralight Bib Shorts are flawless. The fit is incredibly comfortable, and the thin fabric does an excellent job of breathing and wicking moisture away from the skin. During my many indoor sessions with these earlier in the year, despite building up a lot of sweat and only having one fan for cooling, they didn’t become completely saturated as some of my other shorts have in the past. These are pretty airy for shorts that aren’t marketed as indoor-specific, though of course that latter point does mean that they’re not 100 per cent perfect for that job.
It’s riding outside on a hot day where these shorts really shine. The thin and stretchy woven fabric moves freely with your body, allows your skin to breathe and, combined with cooling airflow and evaporating heat, keeps you feeling dry and fresh.
An interesting side note here: similarly to the Castelli Premio Blacks, the woven, paper-like fabric of the Velocio Ultralight bib shorts cannot hold a lot of moisture, which results in more salt lines against the deep black and opaque fabric, once sweat has evaporated.
The straps lay flat against the body, and provide ample stretch so that there’s no feeling of anything tugging around the neck or shoulders. Meanwhile, flatlock stitching throughout the garment, combined with those silicone dots integrated into the thin, microfibre leg grippers, means that everything sits comfortably without rubbing or shifting, even after many hours in the saddle.
The chamois is excellent as well. According to Velocio, the dual-density pad incorporates a high-density layer that damps vibrations, while the surface is perforated so it can breathe. I can certainly confirm that having spent many hours in these shorts on a variety of saddles, I’ve ridden in complete comfort and experienced no issues or soreness at all. The chamois is first-class.
Velocio’s Ultralight Bib Shorts have a simple and minimalistic design that just works. Everything about them — from the thin and lightweight woven fabric that breathes and wicks away sweat, to the elastic microfibre straps and leg grippers that keep everything comfortably in place, and the incredibly effective EIT chamois that provides superb support for hours at a time, not to mention the FlyFree panel for easy nature breaks — spells out five-star quality to me.
It is worth noting however, that although Velocio is a very eco-conscious brand that uses recycled materials in all its offerings, the Ultralight Bib Shorts are an exception to the rule. In order to achieve such high quality technical performance, the woven fabric that makes all of this possible is created new, so no recycled materials are used in this particular garment.
Tech Specs: Velocio Ultralight Bib Short
- Price: £187 / $249 / AU$309
- Fabric: 78% Polyamide / 22% Elastane
- Weight: 173g (size XL)
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