Quarantine and lockdown the world over has seen a rise in the sale of turbo trainers, with more and more people opting (or being forced) to train indoors. But before this, the technology has evolved so much so that we are now riding harder and longer indoors than we ever have before.

Clothing more and more seems to be embracing the indoor-specific technology with a number of brands including dhb, Rapha and Le Col now sporting a range of clothing specifically for the indoor cyclist. The question is, is it really worth it? Is this a cheap marketing ploy or a necessity in optimising your training and gains?

Do I really need dedicated indoor cycling clothing?

If you are anything like me, when training indoors you’ll use an old pair of bib shorts and roll the straps down. So this will be a familiar and possible unnecessary question, particularly if you’ve just shelled out a few hundred pounds on a smart turbo trainer.

When you think about it, you vary your outdoor clothing for the weather and the type of riding you are doing. So, with riding indoors being a different beast, why wouldn’t you vary your clothing for that as well? After all cycling indoors simulates all the great things about an outdoor ride, just with more sweat.

I spoke to the guys at dhb about their turbo specific shorts, to find out more and to decide whether on not to part with my hard earned cash. 

The dhb Aeron Turbo Shorts

Riding at your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or suffering through a long endurance session is hot, sweaty and intense and you are not going to get the natural airflow over your body that you would doing the same session outside. dhb have developed these Aeron Turbo Shorts with all of that in mind, creating a short that keeps you comfortable and cool.

I’m wearing the Aeron bib shorts outside and have been for a couple of years now,  these turbo shorts are designed to be an extension of that successful range, using the same premium Italian fabrics to ensure top-level performance. So, putting the two pairs of shorts side by side, what’s the difference between them?

The dhb Aeron Turbo Shorts

Well first and most obvious difference is that the turbo shorts are, well shorts, without the straps you’d normally expect to see on your outdoor version. What you’ve got instead is an elastic waistband with a scooped panel on the front, made from a breathable mesh to increase their comfort.

This same lightweight mesh appears on the large side panels of the short, allowing for maximum airflow and therefore keeping you cool and the sweat to a minimum.

The chamois pad inside looks identical in both, however there are some subtle, unseen differences. The outdoor shorts use The Paris HP pad from Elastic Interface, with dhb’s ECO X-Mix top sheet, which features ultra-high density foam for all day comfort. Having ridden a number of 200 mile days in the Aeron bib shorts I can attest to that fact, so this was a welcome similarity in the two. The pad in the Aeron Turbo Shorts is the NICE HD Super Air version from Elastic Interface again. According to the team at dhb the Turbo Shorts have a slimmer pad with a more pronounced central channel to give more comfort, on the turbo you are likely to be in the same static position for a greater period of time than you would on the road. The pad in the turbo shorts also boasts excellent moisture management, meaning all that sweat you produce will dry quick. Both pads were tested in the Turbo Shorts and apparently both the Pro’s and the Amateur riders preferred the customised NICE pad to meet the specific needs of a turbo session.

Both shorts are finished with a secure silicone gripper around the hem, keeping the shorts in place on your legs. The grippers is actually slightly wider in the turbo shorts.

The fit? I’m 6ft 4in and I find the Large Aeron bib shorts to be a snug but comfortable fit, so I’ve purchased the same in the Turbo Shorts. The fit almost identical, the only real difference being that the turbo shorts come up a little shorter on the legs, otherwise the exact same quality and fit I’d expect.

Work hard indoors in comfort…apparently, I’ll be putting the men’s shorts to the test

In principal these are great, being able to continue training – whatever that looks like – is as important now as it ever has been, not just for our physical but also our mental wellbeing. So finding ways to make that more comfortable can’t be a bad thing, can it?

So marketing aside, what’s the reality of these shorts? Are they actually any good? Will they make training indoors a more comfortable and less sweaty affair? Well, time to put them to the ultimate test.

The ultimate product test

With COVID-19 decimating mine and many others ultra racing schedule for 2020, the trick now is finding ways to continue training and working toward those long term goals. So, I decided to put dhb’s turbo shorts to the ultimate test – how will they perform in one of the hardest indoor cycling challenges out there?

The challenge – well, come back tomorrow to find out. 

What do you wear?

What are you guys wearing for your indoor sessions? Let me know in the comments below.

All images provided by dhb. For clarity, while I am an ambassador for dhb the Turbo Shorts were not gifted.

3 thoughts on “Indoor-specific cycling clothing, is it worth it?

  1. Turbo-specific clothing, what a con. I guess companies have to come up with inventive new ways of selling more new products and stay on the “cutting edge” of cycling. It’s what brings in the dollars.

    I wear my regular bibs that I use out on the road. I have a zip-up hoody that I put on while warming up, but that comes off pretty quick. No jersey needed on the turbo. Actually my go-to turbo bibs are dhb Aerons most of the time! I really rate them out on the road and they have served me will on the turbo for many, many hours of sweaty indoor training.


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