Bontrager's latest iteration of the Race Thermal bib short feels very much like a standard race bib, but with a little fleece lining for added warmth. It's great value for the money, with the good fit and performance of the short only hampered slightly by a mid-range chamois.
For an insulated bib short, the Race Thermal is relatively light at 201g, and the fabric moves more like a standard compression short. Using Bontrager's Profila Thermal fabric, the Race Thermal still does a good job of holding in warmth and wicking moisture from the skin.
Light mesh bib straps keep everything in place without binding or constricting — which is exactly what you want.
The 3D inForm Race chamois provides plenty of stretch, and is on the thinner side of the chamois spectrum. While we like the thickness of the chamois, we prefer a smooth top layer to the segmented design used here, which can introduce unnecessary ridges or wrinkles depending on where each individual sits on the chamois and saddle. The fabric isn't particularly soft the way a top-shelf chamois is.
All that said — the pad is comfortable when out on the road. And the placement — often a challenge for short makers some strange reason — is spot on. At least for this test rider, the thicker parts designed for the sit bones fell exactly where they should, and there was no excess pad riding way up the backside like there often is on bib shorts.
Bontrager's inForm chamois isn't remarkable, but it is comfortable on the road. Note the grip-less compression leg band on the left
The leg bands feature svelte compression bands with the silicone grippers on the outside of the shorts. The silicone adds a little graphic detail, but also can grab grit, hair or other small debris. The compression of the bands provide all you need to keep the legs from riding up, though, and they assist in keeping leg warmers in place.
Reflective panels are sewn into the double-lock stitching towards the rear bottom of the legs. While not as smooth as a reflective logo, this treatment has traditionally proven more durable over the the long haul.
If you like the compressive fit of a race bib with a minimal chamois and you'd like some extra warmth without the extra spend, the Bontrager Race Thermal bib short is a great way to go.
Chamois placement is spot-on, and the thin fleece material provides warmth without overheating or interfering with pedaling