“ DHB / Cycling Tights. „
I am not a semi professional racer, nor am I a club racer (come to mention it, I am not even a member of a club) and I am not a commuter. I am your typical leisure rider that likes to have a few hours in the saddle when time permits. Over the last few months I have averaged 7.5 hours a week, consisting of 3 one hour to one and a half hour rides and a longer ride at the weekends, which is generally around 4 hours. During this time, I have come to appreciate that cycling bottoms can make a ride very enjoyable or a living hell. I have purchased many different pairs of shorts and bib sets from many different manufacturers and from many different retail outlets in the quest to find the perfect pair of cycling bottoms and whilst some were better than the others, none of them ever gave the comfort and protection I desired, until I stumbled across the DHB Merston bib.
Unfortunately, I do not have the disposable funds available to purchase the top of the range kit, such as Assos, and judging by what I have read I don't have the correct shape body (I have heard that the Italian sizing is very small and your body needs to be in perfect proportion, which mine most definitely is not), so my requirements were for a half decent pair of ¾ bottoms, that are durable with a thick chamois that would let me ride in comfort for a few hours that were in the mid price range. A session scouring the internet kept bringing up the same name, which was DHB Merston. What's more, these ¾ bib tights got rave reviews (as well as a few bad but then that is to be expected) and scored 9/10 from Road Cycling UK.
The manufacturers description states "Made from wind resistant thermo-stretch fabric. Fleecy lined fabric keeps you warm, even when it's wet. Double layer knee keeps your joints warm. Stretchy bib keeps your kidneys warm". Everything mentioned warm, and being a person that feels the heat and tends to get very warm very quickly I was a bit apprehensive, but a pair was ordered any way.
The first thing I noticed when I put the Merstons on was how comfortable they were. The fleece lining felt nice against the skin, the straps are the perfect width in that they are not too narrow and cut in your shoulders but they are not so wide that they get in the way, the double-layered knees sat just below the knee (this obviously rides up to sit on the knee when astride the cycle), the chamois pad was large enough to cover the important parts and it sat in just the right place. It was the best fitting bib I had ever tried on.
My only criticism is that the legs sit further down the calf than any other ¾ bottoms I have tried, making them longer than ¾ lengths but shorter than full-length tights. I wasn't too sure about this extra length but it does make sure your knees are very warm and it prevents the bottoms riding up during cycling, even though the extra length isn't required for this as the elasticated leg grippers holds them firmly in place, but not so tight that your circulation is cut off. There is a fine line between the two and DHB have nailed it in this respect.
The Merstons cover more of the torso than other bibs I have had in the past, which is great for making sure your lower back and kidneys don't get a draft. I also think the additional fabric makes them look really good and I actually go out in just the Merstons and without a jersey over the top, something I would never do in my other bib sets. DHB have included a zip up front making those all-important comfort breaks very easy and there is no need to remove any straps, unlike other bib sets I have.
Being comfortable off the bike does not always mean being comfortable on the bike, but with the Merstons comfort is maintained throughout. Many bibs are so tight that once in the cycling position they pull on the shoulder straps or around the groin generally leading to discomfort. I do not experience this with the Merstons since there is just enough slack in the material to keep a tight fit but without the problems fore-mentioned. The double-layered knees sit where they are meant to, and more importantly the thick chamois pad stays where it is meant to. I can easily spend four and a half hours in the saddle with no chaffing (although I also use Udderly Smooth) and minimal pain. I should also stress that any excess Udderly Smooth cream that gets on the fleece lining during the process of applying it to the chamois pad (and I do tend to get a bit slap happy at times) easily watches out with no staining whatsoever. Even at 30 degrees there are no visible stains.
Despite being fleece lined, having double layered knees and being longer in the leg I find that I seldom overheat wearing the Mersrtons, unless it is a perfectly still day with blazing sunshine and 30 degree plus temperatures, which is seldom a problem as a result of the UK climate. Maybe my previous overheating issue was a result of being uncomfortable, which doesn't happen anymore.
These tights are only available in black and whilst this does not bother me, since it is the most flattering colour and besides, I have never been in to the whole co-ordinating my cycling wardrobe to my bike thing, I appreciate that this may put some people off. In addition to the one colour scheme, the branding is also understated with DBH written down the right leg in small white writing and the unmistakable DHB badge on the right knee.
Overall DHB merstons are a fantastic pair of ¾ bib tights and I can't recommend them highly enough. They are warm (but no too hot), very comfortable, well padded (in all the right areas), understated and for a meagre £39.99 (unless you are a gold member of Wiggle like me, where you pay £37.99) represent great value for money.
(This review was originally written for Wiggle and can be found on the Wiggle website under the name of Yackers1)