Why bib shorts?
Why bib shorts?
There are few items of clothing that scream ‘cyclist’ like bib shorts. Yes, other sports may require you to cram yourself into skintight clothing, but very few bits of sports kit come with handy shoulder straps to keep them up.
You can get cycling shorts without the bibs, which are basically lycra shorts with a chamois added. The trouble with these is that they’re much more susceptible to moving around as you move about on the bike, and will require adjusting throughout a ride, plus the waistband can dig in. Bib shorts, however, stay in place nicely due to the bibs that go over the shoulders. You also don’t get that horrible gap between the back of the jersey and the shorts when you lean forward which, being something that you do a lot on the bike, can be a right pain. And rather drafty, too.
Chances are at some point in your time as a cyclist, someone will have asked you why cyclists wear padded shorts. Well, the answer is easy: it’s all about comfort. It’s especially important on a road bike, where the ride tends to lean towards the harsher end of the scale but, to be honest, no matter what sort of bike you’re riding, if you’re planning on being in the saddle for multiple hours at a time, padded shorts are a must.
But bib shorts, just like bike riders, are not all created equal. They vary in price hugely. You can pick up a basic set for £20-£30, or go all the way up to over £300 if you’re after something super fancy from the likes of Assos. The key with bib shorts, as it is with all bike clothing, is figuring out what works for you. I’ve ridden in £50 shorts that fitted superbly and kept me happy over four hours rides, and I’ve ridden in £150 shorts that had me shifting about and stopping to adjust them 5km down the road. Price isn’t necessarily the deciding factor, fit and comfort matters.
That’s not to say that paying more won’t get you a nicer set of shorts. As price increases you’ll get all sorts of improvements: a better pad, fewer (or even no) seams, lighter fabrics, better grippers, Roubaix linings for winter/autumn riding and so on.
Given the options, choosing a pair of bib shorts can be confusing, so with comfy shorts playing such an important role in your happiness on the bike, here’s what you should consider before making the plunge.