HOW TO CHOOSE CYCLING SHORTS / BIB SHORTS – BUYERS GUIDE

Shaun George BOTS Guides, E-commerce, Racing, Tips & Tricks

Hi there! If you’re reading this article you’re probably new to cycling or are considering buying a pair of cycling shorts/bib shorts. You’ve probably seen cyclists fully clad in spandex zipping past you in the city – wondering why they wear these silly outfits. While cycling in your jeans or cargos is “okay”, the longer rides will have your bottom aching. That’s where cycling shorts and bib shorts are the solutions.

WHAT ARE CYCLING SHORTS/BIB SHORTS?

The primary purpose of cycling shorts/bib shorts is to provide comfort. Designed specifically for men and women, cycling shorts provide the right kind of padding in the right places.

Seams and stitches are strategically placed to reduce chaffing, especially on rides in excess of 10 miles. Tight-fitting, flexible materials like Lycra and spandex are used to decrease air resistance and allow a full range of motion on your bike.

Higher-end cycling shorts use complex, technical sports materials that increase breathability, reduce heat absorption and help block the rays of the sun and the chilling effect of the wind.

Bib shorts are slightly more different than your normal cycling shorts. To put it simply, they’re cycling shorts with suspenders – there’s more to it than that but we’ll get into that a little later.

FEATURES

FIT – Tight-fitting shorts are best if you are primarily cycling on a road bike and for long distances. They offer the most comfort and aerodynamic fit.

If you spend time off the bike or commuting by bicycle, need pockets, or are more concerned with the look of the shorts than your speed on the bike, then more loose-fitting MTB style shorts/sports shorts with an inner liner may be your best choice. This will not be ideal for longer rides though.

PADDING – Padding ranges from thick to thin. Spending a few extra bucks for a higher quality chamois is never a waste of money, since the difference in quality, durability, and comfort may increase exponentially with each additional rupee spent.

Properly designed cycling shorts will always have chamois that is designed specifically for men and women, so you should avoid unisex cycling shorts even if they are cheaper.

PANEL CONSTRUCTION – Less expensive shorts usually have fewer panels of fabric, while the more technically designed snug-fitting bike shorts can have multiple panels. More panels allow fro different textures, properties, different levels of comfort and stretchability.

INSEAM LENGTH – Cycling shorts come in a variety of inseam lengths, from full length trouser style gear all the way to above the knee styles. Longer inseams stay in place better and prevent chaffing of the inner thigh on the saddle. 

DO I NEED BIB SHORTS OR CYCLING SHORTS?

This is a personal preference amongst cyclists but there’s no right or wrong. It’s usually a set trend that riders start of with normal shorts and then shift to bib shorts. Usually, because bib shorts can look a bit intimidating. They’re basically super snug fitting suspenders. Anyone would be slightly weary the first time around. Here’s a few reasons as to why many cyclists choose bib shorts:

  • No waistband – more comfortable
  • Chamois stays in place
  • Can wear race fit jerseys without showing skin
  • Bib straps increase support and comfort

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE SHORTS

As male and female body structures are anatomically different, certain differences and variations exist in cycling shorts.

Female cycling shorts have a differently contoured chamois to provide more appropriate support for the female form. A different approach to the shoulder straps in bib shorts is also becoming increasingly common to limit chaffing using a more centrally positioned brace. Sizes are also catered to women-specific fits.


Whether you choose bib shorts or normal cycling shorts is up to you. Remember that it’s always better to head out for a ride in full apparel rather than just normal casual clothes. Cycling shorts are purpose built to provide you with the best kind of comfort and fit for cycling.

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