Why do we use bib shorts?
Let’s face it: bib shorts don’t have the best reputation, so why should we consider wearing them? Mainly as a matter of comfort. Unlike elasticated waistbands in regular shorts, the integrated suspenders in bibs eliminate pressure around the waist. This means they improve blood flow circulation and are built to stay in place. This also prevents the chamois from shifting around and gets rid of all that pulling and tugging that comes after a few hours on the saddle. In this article, we aim to help you find the best bib shorts for long distance cycling by reviewing what’s available on the market today.
What makes good long distance bib shorts?
- Comfort levels: The main things to keep an eye on include the width and length of the chamois and the shoulder straps, whether the bibs come with leg grippers and ventilation panels, and the seam finish.
- Material: the best fabrics are lycra/nylon mixes or technical fabric combinations (polyamide, polyester, and elastane). If you cycle in colder climates you should look for bib shorts that are lined with thermal fabric and that have a water repellent finish.
- Ergonomic design: multiple panels and an aerodynamic cut suit different body weights and riding styles and make it easier to find the right fit.
- Cost: prices range between £15 and £150, although a higher price tag doesn’t always guarantee a better fit.
The 5 best bib shorts for long distance cycling
Now that you’re ready to switch from regular cycling shorts, here’s a review of the best long-distance cycling bib shorts available in the market today.
Tenn-Outdoors Men’s Bib Front with Moulded Pad Cycling Shorts
Featuring ventilation panels on the back and flat stitched seams, these budget bib shorts are the cheapest in this list. They are a great option if you’ve never worn bib shorts before. The shoulder straps have a decent width, so even first-timers will find it easy to get used to them. With regards to the fabric, these bibs are made with a spandex/nylon fabric mix that makes them breathable and that gives them high wicking power, but they offer the right amount of support too. The moulded pad may appear a bit stiff at first but it will soften with subsequent washes.
Tenn Men’s Viper Padded Bib Front Pro Cycling Shorts
Also manufactured by Tenn-Outdoors (and only a tad more expensive than the Moulded Pad Cycling Shorts described above), these budget bibs incorporate a mesh back panel that keeps you cool and dry. They are made with a high-quality lycra, nylon and spandex fabric that offers 4-way stretch and optimal flexibility and mobility. Silicone leg grippers and wider-than-average straps keep the shorts in place. These bibs are completed by a three-layer-15-mm articulated chamois which tapers to 8mm at the front to ensure comfort during long distance rides. As an added bonus, they come with reflective elements at the back of the leg, which is always a welcome safety feature.
FDX Men’s Quality Cycling Bib Shorts Padded Cycle Tight Shorts
These FDX bib shorts also belong to the budget category and have been specifically designed to be worn and to guarantee comfort during hot summer days or high-intensity training. They also stand out in terms of their anatomical fit, which features well-defined front, back, and side panels topped with flat seams that improve blood circulation and mobility. Unlike the Tenn-Outdoor’s bibs described above, these shorts lack the extra ventilation provided by a mesh back, but their moisture-wicking and fast-drying nylon and lycra mix makes up for it. Moreover, and in addition to the standard anti-bacterial padding, the built-in chamois is made of Coolmax fabric for added comfort and breathability around the crotch area.
FDX Men’s Performance Cycling Bib Shorts Padded Cycle Pants Shorts
The good: Wider-than-average leg grippers and dedicated lower back support
The bad: Grippers don’t come with adhesive gel and tend to ride up
Overall: Training bibs that are good enough to be worn during competitive rides
The characteristics that set these shorts apart from others in this list include extra wide leg grippers and a dedicated panel that provides support and insulation to key muscles in the lower back and to the hip flexors, helping to prevent injury. This is a smart design idea that works by improving rider comfort when sitting forward for long periods of time. Overall, these bibs look a lot more ‘pro’ than the ones reviewed so far. They could easily be worn during competitive events and look the part. Unlike the models listed above, these FDX bib shorts feature a zipped pocket that comes in handy to keep your wallet or mobile phone within easy reach.
GORE BIKE WEAR Men’s ALP-X Pro 2-in1 Shorts+TPALPS
The first thing you will notice about these bib shorts is their innovative design. From the waist up they look like regular bibs and feature two shoulder straps that have been aerodynamically cut to ensure optimal fit and comfort. The unique twist comes with the combination of regular cycling shorts and fixed MTB shorts. Other features worth mentioning include a ventilation mesh around the waist, lower back and hips; side and back pockets, and reflective elements at the sides and back. Price-wise, these shorts fall within the mid-to-upper price range and are the most expensive in this list. They are, however, one of the best bib shorts for long rides.
If you value comfort and take your long-distance training seriously, you don’t lose anything by trying out some of the of the best bib shorts for long distance cycling listed in this article. You won’t need to spend a fortune. Give one of them a try and chances are that you will not want to go back to regular shorts.