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What are bib shorts?

Cycling bibs, kegs, knicks, whatever you like to call them, are about as essential an item of cycling clothing as there is. When starting out in cycling, they may seem unusual: a pair of tight-fitting shorts, suspended by two straps, with padding stitched into the bum. Once upon a time, they’d have been made of knitted black wool, but these days, they are generally made from a much more comfortable synthetic Lycra.

Although as a fashion statement, they are often derided by the uninitiated, there’s a myriad of reasons why bibs are chosen by cyclists the world over. Compared to ‘regular’ shorts, and even cycling shorts, bib shorts offer improvements in efficiency and comfort.

Why should you wear bib shorts?

When cycling, there are a number of benefits to cycling bib shorts instead of regular shorts: they are more efficient, more aerodynamic, will be cooler (both in temperature and in looks), and more comfortable. Generally, they’re advantageous, as the material has been optimised for strenuous exercise.

Compared to regular shorts, the tighter-fitting and purpose-made material reduces chafing. The material is sweat wicking, so works to draw sweat away from skin, which increases cooling and reduces friction. Having a strap to hold the lower part of the shorts in place reduces friction and irritation that can be caused by a waistband, since—of course—there is nothing protruding to rub against. Additionally, the straps reduce the likelihood of your shorts and chamois slipping down while riding, meaning your all-important padding stays in place throughout. For these comfort factors alone, it’s easy to understand why cycling bibs are the preferred means of Lycra on which to perch among experienced cyclists.

If added comfort wasn’t a good enough reason to wear bib shorts, then how about considering that they could make you faster. It’s been widely demonstrated that tighter-fitting clothing is more aerodynamic than looser-fitting clothing, and therefore … faster; in fact, tightening up your clothing is one of easiest and cheapest ways to dramatically increase your speed on a bike. Professional teams have been known to spend thousands of pounds on one skin suit if it proves to be faster than another. At the pro-level, these might be “marginal gains”, but if you’re just starting out on your cycling journey, going from loose-fitting clothing to tight, these differences can be vast.

What are the best bib shorts?

Unfortunately, there is a no single answer to this question. A set of Castelli Aero Race bibs might be the perfect option for one rider, while for another the Castelli Endurance 3 could be the most effective. It could even vary from ride to ride. Generally, a pair of bib shorts made for endurance will offer more comfort over longer periods, as you will spend the time in a more upright position; racing bibs, on the other hand, are cut to be at their optimum in an aggressive, racing position.

Fortunately, at ProBikeKit, we have a wide range of bib shorts to choose from, regardless of what type of cyclist you are.