Review: Q36.5’s Unique bib shorts feel like second skin

The Q36.5 Unique bib shorts come in a tall rectangular box. When you remove the lid, all four sides fall down gracefully, revealing your tightly compressed bib shorts, wrapped with a custom elastic band. It’s the kind of presentation you would hope for from a designer brand—subtle touches that justify the price of the product.

One side of the box says that Q36.5 is “an extreme vision of the future of cycling clothing.” I was sceptical of this claim, but, as I held these bibs for the first time, I can honestly say that the fabric was unlike any athletic-wear material I’d ever touched before.

The bibs, or salopette, as the Italian company Q36.5 refers to them, are paper thin. Playing with them in my hands, I could feel that they had elasticity, but somehow (even though they’re so light) they also felt durable. They’re made of 66 per cent polyamide with 8 multiyarn structures and 33 per cent elastane with diverse elastane typologies. They also contain 1 per cent silver fibres as an antibacterial measure. 

Photo: Q36.5

The 165g Unique bib shorts are made as a ‘3D seamless structure’. Essentially what this means is that although different parts of the fabric are optimized for different functions (heat regulation, compression etc.), the bibs are woven without seams and come out as one single piece of fabric. The seamless structure eliminates excess material, unnecessary fabric and wrinkles.

“Feels like I’m wearin’ nothing at all”

The Unique bibs are the type of bibs that give you that freshly-shaved-leg feeling when you run your hands over your quads. They feature different levels of graduated compression, from the greatest at the bottom of the shorts to the least at the top. Q36.5 calls the ‘second skin’ sensation of the Unique bibs a “Peau d’Ange” feeling.

I tried the bibs on once and, after feeling how comfortable they were walking around in my house, I immediately made the risky decision to wear them for the first time on a 300km ride the next day.

I had trouble remembering to think about the bibs on that long ride, as they caused me absolutely no issues. The bibs required no readjusting, the straps stayed in a comfortable position and, despite the heat, I didn’t feel as though they were causing me to sweat any more than I already was.

The chamois was my biggest concern, as an uncomfortable chamois can ruin an otherwise good ride. The Unique’s chamois has three layers of sewn and thermo-moulded padding. It features a variety of foam densities to balance flexibility, breathability and support. Even after more than 10 hours in the saddle I had no pain or saddle sores.

Anecdotally, I also had no back pain, which may have been helped in part from the lumbar and glute support woven into the bibs.

Crisp tan lines and small touches

I cannot overstate how much the Unique bibs don’t move after you put them on. To hold the bibs in place there’s just a very small, slightly adhesive strip on the laser cut bottom of the legs but it feels almost unnecessary as they wouldn’t budge either way. My bib tan is now comically crisp, a testament to the Unique’s quality (and my lack of other hobbies).

A few other design touches are peppered onto the bibs—each leg has a hi-vis square and there’s a small hi-vis logo on the back as well. The straps on the women’s Unique bibs have a faint grey-on-black flower design, which feels slightly unnecessary, but I guess someone in market testing liked the ‘feminine’ touch.

One of the legs has a Q36.5 logo very subtly moulded into the weave, it took me until the second time I wore them to notice. The straps are held together in the back with a chevron in Q36.5’s signature green, another low-key signifier to those who know the brand.

As the Unique bibs come in at a higher price point ($512 CAD) I had high expectations for them. I was pleasantly surprised when those expectations were met. The Uniques became my new go-to bibs for important rides because I knew I could focus on riding without worrying about readjusting my bibs.

The Unique bibs shorts are available at in Men’s and Women’s sizes for $512 CAD.

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