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Katusha Sport Icon bibshorts review

15 Nov 2018
Verdict:

These 'premium' shorts don't come cheap but do just enough to justify their price tag

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
€200
For 
• Comfortable on long ride • Flexible • Generous grippers
Against 
• Price

The name Katusha has been associated for almost a decade now – it was on 22nd December 2008 that the project of Team Katusha, funded by a conglomerate of Russian businesses, was officially announced.

For a long time, the Katusha pro team was a team of mysteries. A collection of steely Russians headed by very non-Russian pair Joaquim Rodriquez and then Alexander Kristoff pulled in a solid stream of results but was never really taken to heart by most cycling fans.

That was until 2017, when the team moved its registeration from Russia to Switzerland, signed a raft of English-speaking talent including Alex Dowsett and Nathan Haas, and launched its cycling clothing range, Katusha Sport, all in an effort to change the team's image.

Buy the Sport Icon bibshorts from Katusha

More than a year on, the team has certainly made waves in the 'fan favourite' ranks but its Sport range has struggled to follow suit, especially in the UK where products are only available online and not through third-party retailers.

Which is a shame as following a summer of testing, it seems as Katusha are hitting all the right notes when it comes to premium cyclewear.

Professionally approved

At €200 for a pair of bibshorts, Katusha has immediately set out its stool as a premium product. That puts its straight into Rapha and Assos territory, established brands that have earned the right to charge prices that are arguably still too high.

But it does this with confidence, relying upon the tagline of 'developed with the pros' to justify the eye-watering price tag.

Where this tagline is used most visibly is with the TM EVO chammy that Katusha has developed with a 'range of professional and amateur athletes' to cushion riders backsides from long hours in the saddle. 

It has flipped the usual construction of a chammy by placing the foam inserts on the bottom of the chammy to decrease that bulky feeling while still having suitable volume, a balance that many bibshorts struggle with.

Having used these bibshorts to scale Mount Teide, the imposing volcano climb of Tenerife, I feel like it has found this balance. The cushioning was never found wanting across the hour or so of climbing while I never found the bulk to become an uncomfortable issue. The chammy felt premium when I was climbing, as Katusha had promised.

The fit of the shorts also feels premium. The fabric is figure hugging and thick which oozes quality not only when first put on but even a few hours into the ride. The shorts stay comfortable however hard you push and never let me down.

The material also wicks away sweat and regulates, which I found particularly useful in Tenerife, as it kept me cool enough to keep riding while also taking the sweat away from my skin.

The shorts are not waterproof though, rain will penetrate and gather in the shorts making them heavy, but arguably Katusha doesn't claim them to resist the train. Regardless, in Britain, this is worth noting as wet weather cannot always be avoided.

Katusha has also gone for a wider elasticated band on the legs to keep the shorts in place, rather than a shorter silicon strip, which is good for those like me who have thicker set legs. It does away with the constrictive feel you sometimes get without letting the short ride up your leg, another mark of a premium product.

Buy the Sport Icon bibshorts from Katusha

Finally, Katusha has also opted for some good looking colourways in the Icon range, which if we are honest, usually accounts for the lion's share of our decision making. I tried the 'teal' tipped shorts which are more of a green, and a good looking green at that, but there is also navy and red that are solid options too and again look premium.

In the Icon bibshorts, Katusha has produced a premium product, as promised, that just about warrants its large price tag yet with no real presence on the UK market could find itself in an uphill battle to challenge its already-established rivals.

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