Inexpensive bib shorts that punch above their weight in quality and aesthetics, but there is a niggle or two.
RRP – £40
Website – www.caratti.cc
It can sometimes be difficult to spend well into the £100s for the very best bib shorts of the market. Is the difference in quality between these £40 Caratti Sport Bib Shorts and those touted at £150 or more by range-toppers Rapha and Assos really that stark?
On first impressions, no. The difference isn’t that stark. These Caratti bib shorts look far more expensive than their price tag would suggest, sporting the understated aesthetics usually reserved for the dearer examples.
A few gentle mentions of ‘Caratti’ here, a small rubber logo on your right arse cheek there; that’s your lot. Perhaps it’s a lesson to be heeded by other cheaper brands; just because something is inexpensive, doesn’t mean it has to look that way.
Caratti says these bibs are made for ‘everyday riding’. Don’t expect to smash out 120 miles without discomfort here. These are very much designed for rides no longer than 50-60 miles.
“These are very much designed for rides no longer than 50-60 miles.”
The chamois is, for instance, far thinner than that included with the Howies shorts reviewed last year. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Different horses for different courses and all that. But what Caratti has managed to achieve is a well cut and fitted chamois – it may be bordering on insubstantial, but it isn’t uncomfortable for those first 100km.
And the quality of the cut – something surprisingly for such cheap shorts – extends to the remainder of the garment. The quality of the fabric, described as ‘high performance cooldry’, too seems to punch slightly above its weight.
Having said that, I have found my saddle rubbing a little roughly around the chamois, something I expect will eventually result in a hole. How long this will take I don’t know and I suspect it’s got more to do with the size of my unequivocally gigantic legs than the quality of the fabric. Grimpeurs likely needn’t worry.
Caratti says that the fabric used to make these shorts allows for ‘fast sweat wicking to promote quick drying’, and that its high-density fibres ‘promotes circulation’. And so far, I don’t have any evidence to counter that. The performance of these bib shorts is second only to that of my Rapha kit.
“The performance of these bib shorts is second only to that of my Rapha kit.”
These bib shorts are, by far, the best I’ve tried in the £40 price range. In all, I think I prefer my howies shorts, but this could be because I’m slightly on the larger, heavier size and require something a little more… robust.
It’s important to remember that these shorts are ‘Italian influenced’ and therefore small and delicate. Always order a size above what you’re used to – thank God Caratti stocks XX-large and even XXX-large.