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Café du Cycliste Adèle thermal bib shorts review

8 Apr 2022

Top notch bib shorts to keep you riding comfortably into cooler weather

Cyclist Rating: 
Warm and comfortable • Water resistant • Top notch pad • Not black
Leg grippers can cut into knee tendons if not positioned well

The Café du Cycliste Adèle bib shorts are designed for that time of year when shorts are still a viable option, but you do need a bit more warmth. As their full name implies, they’re made of an insulated fabric with a thickly fleeced back.

They’re also DWR surface treated so if the roads are damp or it’s drizzling you’re a bit more protected.

Café du Cycliste Adèle bib shorts: Design and features

Let's get to the colour first – it’s quite a strong green and will probably offend the purists. But I actually rather like it.

Having seen innumerable pairs of black bib shorts in my testing career, it’s nice to have a change and green somehow works well in the fading natural colours of autumn. There are navy blue and black options available as well if you’re not convinced.

Like the Chapeau Club Thermal bib shorts, the Café du Cycliste Adèle bib shorts have a longer leg to keep your thighs a bit warmer.

In principle, that’s a smart idea, but with both the Café du Cycliste and Chapeau shorts, I’ve found that the grippers cut into the tendons on the back of my thighs above the knee joints, if not adjusted carefully.

In contrast, the Le Col Pro Therma bib shorts, which follow the same idea, have shorter legs which means that the grippers sit over muscle rather than tendons. This does make them noticeably less warm though.

The grippers on the Café du Cycliste Adèle bib shorts are quite broad and made of a thick single layer of elastic with silicone dots on the inside.

It’s possible that they will relax over time with use and washing, but they do feel built for the long haul, so don’t expect too much additional stretch too quickly. Reflective darts at the rear of the grippers and a reflective logo on the right leg up your visibility.

With their price tag, you’d expect a quality pad in the Adèle bib shorts and won’t be disappointed. It comes from Elastic Interface and Café du Cycliste describes it as top of the line.

It feels it, with saddle comfort and pad position never an issue on my rides, so it’s a great option for cool weather base miles or just going long and enjoying the ride.

As tends to be the case with thermal bib shorts, the body of the Café du Cycliste Adèle shorts is built a bit longer than with summer shorts, to give a little more overlap and coverage of the lower torso.

That’s not taken to extremes though and with the stretchy fabric, rest stops aren’t an ordeal.

The bibs are all-mesh rather than also being made of thicker fabric, which seems a smart idea, as you’re usually layered up enough not to need more insulation here, particularly over your back.

They’re hemmed rather than being lay-flat, but I didn’t find that a problem.

The Cafe du Cycliste Adèle bib shorts are expensive, but they’re not out of line with the equivalent offering from Rapha, although the Castelli Nano Flex Pro Race bib shorts are significantly cheaper and offer a similar combination of thermal fabric, water repellence and longer legs, in their case without grippers.

Café du Cyclist Lili leg warmers

The nice thing about thermal bib shorts is that they’re a lot more versatile than tights. Pair them up with leg warmers and you’ve got a lower half set-up that can take you right through winter.

Café du Cycliste has the answer here too – in the same fabric and in matching colours. The Lili leg warmers are a bit different to the normal fare. Whereas leg warmers usually stop mid-thigh, the Lili leg warmers keep on going and the top seam sits at the groin.

The outside edge goes further still with a flap that extends up the outside of the thigh almost to the hip bone.

It looks a little odd when you’re not wearing them and even more so once you’ve put them on, before you don your bib shorts, as the outer edge tends to flap down to the sides.

But once you’ve pulled on your shorts over the Lili leg warmers, that flap sits flat and gives you yet more insulation around the top of your thighs and the outer side of your glutes, with a double layer of fabric covering your entire thigh muscles to keep them warm.

The design not only ensures more coverage but that the Lili leg warmers won’t fall down, without resorting to leg grippers, which are another potential source of discomfort when wearing warmers.

The single seam down the inner side is flatlocked, they’re DWR treated to help repel wheelspray, and they have a reflective logo, this time on the left leg.

Like the Adèle bib shorts, the Lili leg warmers aren’t cheap, costing £59. But the combination gives you a comfortable, quality option which is good for the six months before you can break out the summer shorts again.

Products reviewed by Cyclist are independently selected and tested by our editorial team. Cyclist may earn an affiliate commission if you make a purchase through a retailer link. Read our reviews policy.


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