La Passione Prestige bib shorts
The Prestige bib shorts are La Passione’s top model and are intended to provide the highest performance and comfort, rivalling the top end shorts from brands – many of which cost more than half as much again than these Italian-made bibs.
La Passione are a relatively new Italian brand with a direct to consumer model, which makes their apparel relatively cheap. It’s not by any means a budget brand – the prices don’t rival those of Decathlon or Altura and these shorts come in at £145 – rather the intention is to produce similarly top quality kit compared to the likes of Castelli and Assos, but at a price which significantly undercuts these more established brands.
The construction: La Passione Prestige bib shorts
The main fabric of these shorts is a particular highlight. It feels soft to the touch and has a high degree of stretch to it – but still offers enough resistance to remain both compressive and supportive.
This material stretches all the way down to the end of the legs, finishing with a very stylish looking raw-cut hem at the bottom – rather than an elasticated band, as most shorts tend to use. Inside, there’s a swathe of silicone dots on the front portion to keep the legs from creeping up while riding.
Although some performance-oriented bib shorts can neglect reflective detailing a bit, that isn’t the case here. Perhaps a little self servingly, La Passione’s branding down the sides of the legs has been made reflective, and there are also some little tabs at the back of the legs.
For some reason, the material connecting the bib straps between the shoulder blades also gets four reflective stripes – even though you would very much expect this part of the shorts to be covered by a jersey.
The chamois comes from fellow Italian brand, Elastic Interface, with the model chosen featuring some reassuring dense padding and smooth construction that eliminates the risk of irritation that some rather more ‘ribbed’ chamois can impart.
Most brands at this price point and up will use wide and flat elasticated bib straps, and the Prestige shorts are no different here. These attach to a relatively narrow mesh section, intended to maximise cooling around the back and sides.
It was an utter delight to ride in these shorts. They had just the right amount of stretch to them that I never felt restricted in my movements, but yet still always felt reassuringly supported. While some items are best when you notice them least, the awareness I felt of the Prestige bib shorts was nothing but good.
I got on really well with the chamois too, incorporating Elastic Interface’s “Hybrid Cell System”, the padding is a lot denser that in many other designs and I found this particularly good for sounding out the road buzz on longer rides.
The chamois also manages to incorporate great moisture management – even when used in a long-distance Zwift race (over two hours long), it never felt clammy or saturated. The same was true for the material of the legs, although it isolated me from the wind of my fan a little more than a dedicated set of lightweight shorts, I had no complaints regarding the breathability.
The reflective detailing also seems to be holding up very well, I’ve lost track of the number of washes these shorts have been through as I write this (I think it’s around eight), but there’s been no peeling and they logos look just as good as when they first arrived.
This is where the Prestige shorts really stand out. If we’re splitting hairs, the Assos Cento Evo Bib Shorts are slightly better for more aggressive riding and efforts, with its unique ‘kukuPenthouse’ chamois design. But then again, the highly dense construction of the Prestige chamois does have a little bit of an edge for long distance efforts. Although it might be a very close match in terms of construction, it really isn’t regarding the price, with the Assos shorts costing £225 compared to La Passione’s £145.
Another competitor in terms of performance is Le Col, with their range-toping Hors Categorie Bib Shorts II. Again, the differences between these shorts and the Prestige are marginal, with La Passione perhaps having a slightly better leg gripper construction. But while the price gap is closer with Le Col’s shorts costing £180, that’s still £35 more than the Italian brand’s.