In the post – Have you considered Cycling to Work? – I went through the things to reflect on when thinking about whether Cycling to Work is for you. If you’ve taken the plunge (or are still thinking) you may be considering whether you need specific items.
Except for a bike and a helmet, nothing else for cycling is essential (discounting locks and lights) but some extras can improve comfort, help efficiency, or keeping you warm and generally just make it a bit nicer. One of those things is a pair of bib shorts.
What are Bib Shorts?
As the photo at the top shows, bib shorts are the lycra cycling shorts that you would associate with cycling but have straps that run from the waist that go over your shoulders.
What about padding?
All cycling shorts have a chamois (cycling pad) in the crotch. They are gender-specific and anatomical shaping to provide comfort, minimise chafing and keep you cool.
If you have not cycled for a while, saddle soreness is a common issue. This can manifest itself as bruising and chafing for men and can be numbness, swelling or even urinary tract infections for women. The chamois helps minimise this and make cycling much more enjoyable.
Do I need the straps?
Bibs shorts or the straps on the shorts keep them in place and the back of the shorts run higher up your back so there’s no gap between them and your top. You don’t have to worry about showing half of your ass! As there is no elastic waistband on bib shorts, so are more comfortable, especially as you are bend over on a bike.
What else should I look for?
I would recommend that if you were looking to purchase a pair of bib shorts that wider straps over the shoulders will be more comfortable. This is not essential but can add comfort.
Look how high the front of the shorts come up. Anything too high can make going to the call of nature (for a man) a little trickier. A toilet stop for ladies in bib shorts requires some undressing to get your shorts down. Some brands such as Pearl Imuzi and Gore have drop-tail or zip systems that reduce the hassle at bathroom breaks. The Wiggle’s best selling ladies bib shorts are shown below.
Should I wear anything under my bib shorts?
Do you go commando? I do. I find it more comfortable. Having anything else underneath just heightens the chance for chafing. The majority of riders will go commando.
Are they not just for proper serious cyclists?
No. Don’t worry about it. As I’ve before “If you have a bicycle, you are a cyclist”. No one is paying attention, so do what’s right for you.
Do I need to wear a lycra jersey with bib shorts?
You don’t, but bib shorts do lend themselves to being combined with a lycra cycling jersey. Jerseys are shorter at the front, so when you’re bent over on the bike they don’t bunch up and lie flat. The bib shorts running higher up the front to make up for the jersey being short, therefore combining well.
Which ones do you wear?
I have two pairs of dhb Classic Bib Shorts from Wiggle (shown below)
They are very comfortable and great value for money. You’ll see a lot of riders out on the road wearing them. I’m 5′ 10″ and and weight 88 kgs and the large fit me well. I also have a pair of dhb Classic Thermal Bib Tights (in large) that I use in the winter and love the fleecy lining.
When is the best time to buy them?
Look out for summer gear on sale in the autumn and winter gear on sale in the spring. Sign up to subscription lists to get extras such as free delivery, money off offers and emails about sales.
Find the Wiggle Bib Shorts range here.
It took me a while to come around to the virtues of bib shorts, but since then I have never looked back. They are more comfortable; they stay in place and maintain your modesty. If you plan to cycle more than 5 miles each way on a commute or take up road cycling, bib shorts are an inexpensive piece of kit that greatly adds to the pleasure of cycling.
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