We’ve talked about RedWhite earlier this year with our review of their newest & thinner The Race bib shorts, but we wanted to take a closer look at how they actually compared over the long-term to the ultra endurance The Bib on which the company was built. We’ve worn both shorts through all types of on & off-road riding since the start of summer and through to when they ultimately had to get covered over by insulated tights. They’ve been through amateur road races, fast-paced road riding, lazy summer rides in the forests, all-day long base miles, and a touch of cyclocross. Generally both shorts have been quite similar and have treated us well, but come past the break and we’ll get into the details of both versions, their specs, and what sets their performance apart…
For a little refresher, while RedWhite is based in Singapore, the shorts are actually made in the EU from Italian & Hungarian fabric and Croatian chamois before going out direct to consumers worldwide. The company is unique in that it only produces bib shorts and for now just two premium models. That said, they are in the latter stages of developing a women’s version of The Bib, and we have it on good authority that there are some other specialist bib shorts in the pipeline as well, one of which should cater to cold weather riding.
Back in the middle of 2016 we took possession of Medium sizes of both “The Race” and “The Bib”. Besides the color of the straps, both shorts look identical at first glance. The original The Bib gets red bib straps that made it easy to keep them straight in our closet, and a couple of small logos on one strap and on the right gripper. The more recent The Race, gets white straps, the logos, plus their name printed on the left leg. Otherwise both are primarily black as shorts should be, and the little bits of red didn’t seem to cause any color coordination faux-pas issues no matter what other kit we paired them with. Both also get smooth flatlock stitching and clean edges that looked good straight out of their packaging.
Beside the slightly different graphics, there isn’t much of a difference in the look or feel of either shorts that might betray their individual function. The Race shorts do feel a bit lighter, probably due to the different chamois, and maybe also that the white straps trick our eyes into thinking they are lighter too (they are the same material, though.)
Materials, Design & Cut
It seems RedWhite has found a good balance of the lycra:nylon ratio in the fabric to get a nice amount of compression while keeping a soft comfortable feel. They also say that this provides a good bit of freedom in sizing and that many people can get away with one size bigger or smaller than that determined by their fitting guide (which is a helpful feature for buying bibs over the internet!)
Both shorts fit snugly (and have stayed that way over time), and there is no difference in the main body material that they share (besides the chamois of course) or between their design & shaping besides the graphics. The cut of the bibs’ front panel in particular is rather forgiving, allowing your belly enough space to ‘work’ in every riding position, whether you look like an emaciated Froomey or a gut-out Ullrich on the bike.
They each get the identical wide, flat raw-cut leg grippers that have kept the shorts in place and seem to have allowed our skin to breathe normally. While sometimes we’ve felt clammy from overly rubbery silicone grippers, this one hasn’t been a problem for our testers.
The chamois is really what sets the bibs apart here. The difference is visible at a first glance and you can feel it the moment you try them on. The chamois in The Bib (above left) is 3-layers, the middle one being made of super-high-density foam. That gives it structure and keeps it from getting compressed over long rides to support your sit bones, but is topped by lighter foam for more comfort against the skin and to transition more smoothly to the fabric of the shorts. Its outer surface appears more smooth but actually has a subtle waffled pattern to wick moisture away from the skin.
The Race (above right) short gets a similar construction and the same shape, but a thinner and less dense middle layer with perforations for more breathability. On this one’s surface it looks more textured, but is really a smooth fabric covering the perforated foam underneath which takes care of breathability.
The difference of the two is what you feel from even before the first pedal stroke. When you wear The Race shorts it feels pretty normal, but immediately after putting The Bib on you feel the extra thickness. At first we were concerned about such a thick pad, but the second you sit on the bike that goes away. Once sitting on the saddle we quickly forgot about the thicker chamois, and after hours on the bike our rear was still happy. It is only when you get off and start to walk again that you feel the added bulk of the pad.
We have done long and intense rides with both versions, and they both do their job well. The Bib simply gives more protection and began to show its benefit after 2 or 3 hours out on the road. The Race would be our choice for riding in hot weather, as the thicker pad just doesn’t move moisture away as well, but it probably would make sense to balance time above 25°C and length of time in the saddle beyond 3 hours to really figure out which better fits to each individual’s riding needs.
Even after a full season, there is no significant trace of any kind of defect or imperfection of the material or manufacturing. The seams stayed flawless, colors bright and like new. The whole shorts looks brand new to the day, what shows really good endurance and quality of the product.
After a full summer and fall of riding in both versions of RedWhite shorts, we’d say they work well in a wide range of riding styles. And in that same time, they’ve not really shown any outward signs of wear or losing their form.
There is really no difference between the shorts themselves, so it all comes down to which chamois suits your style of riding. Either one can really handle all day road riding, but The Bib is the obvious choice if you regularly spend 4 or 5 hours or more in the saddle. We also rode both at high intensity and in high heat, but The Race does really outperform if you are going to be sweating heavily for a long time. If we had to pick from the shorts for our style of riding The Race would win out. While I’d like to be able to get out on more all-day adventures, we tend to only get a few rides a year that put us over the 5 hour mark where The Bib comes into its own.
A last note that we would add is RedWhites’ Crash Replacement policy. We didn’t have any issues, but it is always reassuring when you buy either of these bib shorts at $160 a pair, that a single crash won’t be the end of the world. While RedWhite won’t repair your kit like some other companies do, on a case-by-case basis (which they use essentially to avoid fraudsters) they will offer up to 50% off of a replacement pair of shorts to those who bought them through regular channels, so you can get back to riding as soon as you heal.