Minimal compression, very few seams, and supple fabric make these bibs extremely comfortable. Don't be fooled - they also stand up to the tests of long hours in the saddle and high octane output.
Well-positioned chamois; raw edges instead of leg bands; breathable fabric; flattering cut
Expensive; no pee feature
Although these bibs are pricey and not pee-friendly, they're worth it in every other way: comfort, function, design, and durability.
It’s no surprise that the material of the C7 Women’s Long Distance Bib Shorts is one of its finest features; after all, Gore Wear is part of the same brand family that produced the groundbreaking Gore-tex and Windstopper materials. However, soft and supple fabric does not a bib short make. The C7 has plenty of other desirable characteristics and very few undesirables. Most importantly, these shorts really do stand the test of time, which for me, is measured by long distance.
Soft and supple
You can never judge a pair of bib shorts by its cover. What might look great in the bag can feel ridiculous on and vice versa. My first reaction when pulling the C7 Long Distance shorts out of the bag was ‘yay! Blue!’ (note to industry: the more colors, the better). I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of fit and function, since Gore Wear isn’t necessarily notorious in the spandex set, but I was soon impressed by both.
Pulling these shorts on was a treat in itself. No tight leg bands to manually ratchet over my muscular thighs, no weird paneling to smother my chest – putting the C7’s on was just like pulling up a pair of pants that fit really well. I could instantly feel how luxe and supple the fabric was, and the fit around my legs, butt, and pelvis was just snug enough, not suffocating.
The C7’s four-way stretch fabric is highly breathable. Before it was too nice to ride outside, I wore these shorts on a few insultingly sweaty indoor trainer rides, and they never felt gross and clammy. They dried quickly, too, leaving no salty residue where I’d sweated through. Outside, on dusk to dawn rides where the temperature rises and falls more gradually, I stayed warm enough in the morning and cool when the day got warmer.
Even though these are not the most compressive bib shorts I’ve tested, that doesn’t make the C7 shorts non-technical. They’re loaded with small, high-tech details. One, which puzzled me in the beginning, but made more sense the longer I rode them, is a Windstopper panel inside the front of the short that connects from the tip of the chamois to the waist band. It’s a nice touch that’s useful for some extra weather protection.
The chamois also appears to have been constructed with a woman’s anatomy in mind. It’s amply padded under the sit bones but has significantly less bulk up front. I love this because padding that juts out beyond the mons pubis is both unnecessary and annoying. I really started to notice this design flaw (in other shorts) as I pedaled desperately to keep up with the other avatars on Zwift this winter and would look down to see this useless bunch of fabric just bouncing around. Similarly in real life, the extra material can get caught on the saddle when you stand up and sit down.
The silicone leg grippers on the inside of the C7 shorts are a feature I’m surprised not to see on more shorts. Women’s thighs come in so many shapes and sizes that one size does not fit all when it comes to leg bands on cycling shorts. The inner grips mostly achieve the same goal (holding the edge of the shorts in place) without the whole sausage-in-casing effect. Even though I wear a size small in cycling shorts industry-wide, apparently I need a large in leg bands.
Of course, you don’t have to go long distances to enjoy the features of the C7 shorts, it’s just nice to know that you can if you want to. If you like an uber-tight compressive fit in your bib shorts, these might not be for you. But, that doesn’t make them all loosey-goosey. The front of the shorts sit at a useful height, right below the belly button and well over the hips. Given that, the suspenders don’t need to act as a coat of armor over the entire front of the body and can lay flatly to the sides.
The racer-back style of the back of the C7 shorts is similarly minimal. However, the back of the shorts is where my one beef with them lies….or doesn’t, I should say.
We will have this discussion with every pair of bib shorts I review, so get used to it. To pee while staying fully dressed or to strip down to nothing, that is the question. The C7’s answer: get nekkid. Fortunately, I liked everything else about the shorts, so this issue is forgiven. However, the lack of an easy access feature takes them down a rung on the ladder.
I’m drowning in bibs at the moment (stay tuned), but I kept reaching for the C7 Long Distance shorts for both indoor and outside riders for much of the spring. The soft, supple fabric, comfortable fit, and pro feel of the shorts makes them a winner no matter how, or where, you ride. For long distance rides (my favorite), they failed one very important test (easy pee access), but passed all of the others with flying colors.