Initial frustration. Redemption in familiarity.
RRP – £99
Website – www.chapeau.cc
Chapeau is a brand I’ve long admired. Clearly influenced in many ways by cycling history, it is a brand that – in its own words – brings a ‘touch of class’ to an increasingly classless world of apparel design.
Having said that, until recently I’d not sampled Chapeau’s range beyond a rather brilliant cycling cap. A cap that unfortunately met its end the day I unceremoniously – and accidentally – ripped its peak from its delicate cotton body.
But that’s enough of love lost.
I felt little love for Chapeau’s Club Bib Shorts on our first ride together. Featuring a chamois unlike any my nether regions had before experienced, they offered a somewhat alien and initially frustrating feel.
Frankly, after 10 miles they were downright uncomfortable. But, knowing better than to judge a book by its cover (figuratively speaking, you understand), I persisted. Two rides. Five rides. Eight rides. The strange, green, onepiece chamois still troubling me, whether I was greased up or not.
And then, some ten rides or so into our relationship, things suddenly clicked. The only explanation I can offer is that I finally got used to the strange chamois. Since then, I’ve been given little to complain about.
Ok, I’ll admit these still aren’t the most comfortable bib shorts I own, and likely wouldn’t don them for a ride of over 50-60 miles. But as a pair of relatively inexpensive bibs, they’re currently doing the job admirably.
Here’s where the love affair really begins. I absolutely love the look of these bib shorts; perfect for coffee shop skirmishes and Sunday morning caffeine hijinks.
With ‘Chapeau’ emblazoned down each leg, on-brand elastic and a small bowler-hat logo, they are finished particularly well for bibs in their price bracket (on sale for £79 at the time of writing). Rapha they may not be, but you won’t be splashing out over twice the price either.
But perhaps it’s time we got a little more technical.
Described by Chapeau themselves as ‘for the all rounder’, the club bib shorts do absolutely deliver. You may even find their ‘ultra-high density foams’ comfortable from the get go if you weigh a little less than this particular beast.
As with any apparel company, Chapeau makes claims that would raise even the heaviest of eyebrows – ‘muscle control reduces lactic acid formation’ – but they do appear to perform well.
Featuring a good, British fit and full-mesh back, these shorts perform particularly well on hot days, offering considerable ventilation. And if you do find yourself working up a sweat, the fabric does an excellent job of wicking away any moisture.
Frankly, these shorts ultimately performed well, and looked good from the get-go.
There’s a small amount of uncertainty about absolute comfort here, but if I’ve eventually become used to the somewhat different chamois, then there’s no reason you won’t too, especially if you’re on the lighter, skinnier end of the cycling spectrum.