Arguably the most important piece of kit any cyclist owns, aside from the bike, is their shorts. Get the wrong pair and even a relatively short ride can be agonising; get a good pair and you feel like you can ride, and ride, and… You get the idea. The thing is it’s a very personal matter; what works for one person might not work for another. So it’s a brave move to start a new business selling just one design of bib shorts, but that’s what RedWhite has done…
RedWhite was started by Yuva and Amreet, a pair of road cyclists based in Singapore, when they saw a gap in the market for high-quality but sensibly priced shorts designed specifically for long-distance rides. The £95 Bibs are the shorts in question, and at the moment are the single product offered by the company.
The first thing I noticed about the RedWhite Bibs sent to me by Yuva was the chamois. There’s no denying it felt quite bulky. Then I found a business card that had the care instructions for the shorts printed on it, which suggested soaking the shorts overnight before using them for the first time. Cue a quick e-mail to Yuva to question this, as I’ve never done anything like that before. It turns out that soaking them overnight is a bit of a shortcut to breaking the chamois in, and it should get comfier over time with use.
Post soaking my initial thoughts about the bulk of the padding were confirmed when I pulled the shorts on. The feeling was reminiscent of the very first pair of cycling shorts I owned more than 20 years ago when a chamois was just that, the same
leather as you’d use for cleaning windows.
First impressions can be deceptive though, once on the bike the bulk became far less apparent. Though simply describing the pad as bulky is to do it a great disservice. Sourced form an Italian manufacturer, it’s thickest in the area directly under the sit bones and then tapers out towards the edges. Another point to note is just how far forward in the shorts the padding goes. So far in fact that RedWhite recommends you don’t wear the Bibs if you’re planning on going time trialling, as the positioning of the pad could cause discomfort with the extreme riding position a time trial requires.
Anyway, back to the thickness of the pad. In order to get the multi-dimensional shape I’m told the various layers are roughly cut to shape and placed together. This package is then put into a carving machine that refines the shape, before the whole lot is fused into a finished chamois in a thermic moulding machine. The heat moulding process is said to help the chamois keep its shape even after hours in the saddle, and makes it possible to be wash the shorts at up to 60 degrees.
After getting used to the density of the chamois, the next thing that caught my attention was the leg grippers. Not for RedWhite silicon strips or printed gripper elastic. Instead, RedWhite use a 7cm wide strip of material made up of thick polyester and elastane fibres with micro dots of silicone on the inside. Okay, the description might not sound inspiring but they are some of the nicest leg grippers I’ve come across. The depth of them spreads the grip across the thigh without creating any tight spots, or pulling of hairs if you don’t shave all the way to the top… There’s also a reflective tab at the back of each leg stitched in between the bottom of the leg and the top of the gripper section, as a nod towards safety.
Careful thought has been given to the material used for the rest of the Bibs. Talking to Yuva about the design of the shorts, he told me that there were 12 prototypes with various combinations of fabrics before the final choice was made. The fabric chosen at the end of the process was 220gsm lycra, which is not normally used for shorts as it cannot be printed on. However, it was chosen by the guys at RedWhite because it’s cooler in use than regular 300gsm lycra and wicks sweat well. Used for the six panels that make up the legs, RedWhite have positioned the lycra pieces so that there are no seams on the inside of the legs. A small detail but one that can make a big difference on a long ride, when what starts as a minor irritation can soon escalate and finish a ride prematurely.
The bib sections of the shorts are made from a mesh material; because the Bibs were designed in Singapore where it gets very hot, keeping trapped heat to a minimum is a priority. However, there is still plenty of material used. The straps are very wide at the front and the back has no funky cut-outs or other detailing. Yuva told me the shorts are cut this way to offer maximum support as well as keeping the shorts in place. What I personally like about the broad straps is that the seams on their edges don’t rub against and irritate my nipples. Normally, I’ll always wear a base layer of some sort to prevent this happening on shorts with narrow bib straps, but I can forgo a layer when I’ve got the RedWhite Bibs on.
Incidentally, the bib section is red because black can get too hot, thanks to it absorbing heat, while white was dismissed as it turns grubby from sweat too easily, not that that has been too much of a problem for me at this time of year.
I’ve been using these shorts for only a few weeks, but for now I’m going to be putting them away as I move over to fleece lined bib longs as the weather worsens. It’s a shame really as I was just starting to bed the Bibs’ pad in. I still can’t get over the initial feeling of bulk when I first pull them on, even though once out on the bike everything just feels right; it’s just that with a pair of longs on over the top the additional thickness keeps bothering me. Roll on the spring when I can ditch the longs and get back to making the most of the comfort of RedWhite’s pad…
RedWhite is currently looking to arrange UK retail outlets, but until those agreements are finalised you can order directly here from their shop.
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