Mesh bib straps; high mesh back; 37.5 materials for thermoregulation; 3D chamois
Excellent stability; comfortable bib straps; very cool color; comfortable and supple chamois; eco-friendly materials
Seam between shorts and thigh gripper panel is noticeable; extra room in the crotch can be a bit too generous, leading to unwanted movement
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Let’s get it out of the way right off the bat: Katusha’s Arabian Spice color scheme alone on the Icon bibshorts (and the matching jersey) makes them worth wearing. It’s such a great color, and so different from the sea of black and blue bibs currently inhabiting my closet, that Katusha has played nicely to a rider’s vanity here. Fortunately, the Icon bibshorts also fit wonderfully, feature laser-cut bib straps, and are equipped with a comfortable yet not bulky chamois.
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Icon bibshorts construction
If you’ve read any of my other bib reviews, you know I’m a bit precious about my bib straps. For my liking, they need to lay flat, with no obtrusive seams or bulk, and they absolutely cannot collapse in on themselves and bunch over my collarbone. The mesh straps on the Icon bibshorts lay flat and comfortable, and they ventilate wonderfully since they’re, well, mesh.
To ensure they don’t move around, Katusha has sewn them into a mesh back panel that extends well up the back, to just below the neck. This helps stabilize the back of the shorts. This is often a place where bib shorts can go horribly awry; the mesh panel up the back can feel stifling, even when it’s thin. But the 37.5 material Katusha uses on the Icon bibshort’s back panel breathes so well it never became a bother, even on the hottest rides of the Colorado summer (where it often reaches up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
I didn’t get any bunching in the shorts themselves either. They fit snugly around the waist, and more importantly, around the thighs. I did get a bit of pinching where the gray panels meet the Arabian Spice-colored leg bands, but it was mostly easy to ignore this once I got going.
I have ridden many jerseys and bibs made with 37.5 materials, and at this point, I can’t say they’re any better or worse than anything else out there. Much is made about such materials’ ability to move moisture, cool you down when you’re warm, and warm you up when you’re cold. From what I can tell, that’s a whole lot of marketing. Yes, the material certainly moves moisture well enough, but you’ll still get sweaty. And I can’t confirm or deny that it warms me when I’m cold or cools me when I’m warm.
The Icon bibshorts are comfortable in a wide variety of conditions, but in the hottest summer weather I was certainly sweat-logged and hot. I didn’t ride these shorts in cold weather, but in cool temperatures, they feel on par with every other pair of bibshorts I’ve tried in terms of insulation.
The TM Evo 3D pad hits a good balance between cushy comfort and low profile. My only complaint with it is the 3D construction — added room at the front of the shorts, which usually would be a great thing. In this case, it offers less pinching and pressure in your crotch, but for some riders it might actually be too much space, which can lead to unwanted fabric movement.
The chamois top sheet is also biodegradable, and the mid-layer is made from an eco-friendly foam, too. It’s always great to see manufacturers and brands taking steps to address the full life cycle of a garment, and this is a step in the right direction.
Icon bibshorts verdict
Have I mentioned I love the colors of the Icon bibshorts and the jersey to go with it? Of course, the color only takes you so far (though it’s a nice starting point…). Fortunately, the bib’s construction, materials, and overall comfort back up the looks with a great fit and feel against the skin. They’re pricey at about $234 (€200), and at that price, I expect any pair of bibs to be near perfect. The Icon bibshorts are indeed near perfect, though some riders may find the extra room in the crotch bothersome, and the leg band tightness slightly annoying. Otherwise, Katusha’s high-end offering lends plenty of comfort and stability for long rides.