We're generally big fans of finely woven natural wool fibers in cycling apparel for their extraordinary comfort range, ability to ward off odor and overall coziness. But for more form-fitting apparel like bib shorts, wool still isn't the best tool for the job. Icebreaker's Circuit Bib is just the latest example of that.
Icebreaker take a sort of hybrid approach to the concept, augmenting the merino wool with a synthetic content (11% nylon, 6% spandex) and using full-synthetic panels in more critical areas like the inner thighs, chamois region and upper back in an effort to get more of a prototypically compressive fit, but it just doesn't work.
We found the Circuit Bib shorts to be disappointingly loose – especially around the front of the hips – resulting in an annoying amount of bunched-up material and too much movement against the skin in general when ideally there should be none. The sloppy fit doesn't pull the multi-density, multi-thickness Cytech stretch chamois up into your body as much as it should, either, leaving it to flop about when you pedal out of the saddle.
The wool material also feels several times thicker than more common synthetics, lending a heavy feel while pedaling along with a less-than-flattering appearance that just doesn't seem to work as well as Icebreaker's matching SS Circuit jersey – which is actually quite nice. The extra warmth might otherwise be welcome in cooler conditions but given the poor fit, we can't find much appeal in that situation, either. Dyed-in-the-wool (ha!) retrogrouches might find the Circuit Bib shorts to be a comforting throwback to yesteryear but for US$200, we'd rather put our money elsewhere.