Last year I tested the Bontrager Race Thermal bib shorts and I liked them so much, they became one of my favourite pieces of riding kit. As I said at the time, I still think these are the best shorts I’ve ridden for less than £100. In fairness, I’ve now worn them so much that the lycra on the chamois where it meets the saddle has “bubbled” a bit but I’m still happily riding them – they’ve worked hard.
After testing the Race Thermal’s I couldn’t help but wonder what the next model up the range would be like? So with that in mind I arranged for a pair of the £100 Bontrager RXL bib shorts to try.
Now after a few months of regularly riding in them, I think what you get is an excellent and higher performance bib shorts option over the Race Thermal. For those of us, who struggle to pay into three figures for a pair of bibshorts, I reckon you can buy these and be very happy.
Compared to the more affordable Race Thermal bib shorts there are a number of upgrades for your extra money. These include a higher spec chamois pad, the Inform RXL, which Bontrager describe as multi-density, 3D seamless, with 4 way stretch and an anti-microbial top sheet. In practice, I’ve been very pleased with the pad, it’s a sensible thickness, giving a firm and comfortable ride. I’ve happily spent 3-4 hours out in these shorts without any discomfort. The colouring of the pad is a touch “unusual” with a red and white colour, but out on the bike – it works very well. If you can ride without even thinking about your shorts or comfort, as I did with these, then things are as they should be.
As with the Race Thermal bib shorts, Bontrager describe the fit as “fitted – streamlined for all round cycling performance” and I think this is a good and fair description. They are fitted and streamlined for performance but they’re very comfortable on.
The RXL do feel more like a “race” short than the thermal as they have more of a compression (higher performance) fit (including leg grippers) thanks the combination of Profila Power(compression) and Profila cool fabrics work well for warmer riding conditions and hold their position well when you’re riding. The seamless lightweight straps also work very well and add to the feeling of comfort. In fact you’ll probably not even notice them whilst riding. The Profila fabrics seem to wick well and also dry quickly after rain showers when you’re out riding.
The shorts are topped off with reflective elements for greater visibility. Additionally there are two colour choices available black (whichI have and has some white elements on the straps) and white, which is still largely black apart from bands at the base/gripper ends of the shorts and straps for greater contrast … or to match your other riding gear.
Last but not least, Bontrager offer a 30 unconditional guarantee, so if you buy some and you don’t like them, you’ve got 30 days to return them for exchange or store credit. I think it’s unlikely you’ll want to do that – but it’s great to have the option.
The RXL bib shorts are another winner from Bontrager, making it two out of two for my experiences with the company’s bib shorts in the last year. I happily recommend these if you’re in the market. They’re a higher performance short than the also excellent Race Thermal’s and are perfect for long or short rides and are excellent for days where the temperature is high enough that you don’t need a thermal element.
More information on them here: http://www.bontrager.com/model/11505
Thanks for reading