When it comes to cycling apparel, nothing beats the indispensability of bib shorts. They are a must-have for any cyclist aiming for the pinnacle of comfort and performance on the bike. But here’s the catch; wearing bib shorts properly is the key to an enjoyable riding experience.
From selecting the right brand and understanding the nuances of fit to layering techniques and care instructions, mastering the art of how to wear bib shorts is essential. In this article, I’ll share practical tips and considerations to guide you in wearing bib shorts correctly.
Tips for wearing cycling bib shorts
Tip 1. Stick with one brand
Based on my own trials and errors, I highly recommend sticking with one brand you know fits you well. For example, Castelli is my favorite bib shorts brand.
Different brands offer varying lengths, chamois shapes, and thicknesses, giving you a unique feel and fit on the bike. Once you find the brand that suits you, you can explore their range, considering low-range models for everyday use and mid to high-range models for longer rides.
More reading : Assos vs Castelli vs Rapha Cycling Clothing Comparison
Tip 2. Flatten the bib straps
Flattening the bib straps is another valuable technique I’ve discovered. From my personal experience, it’s important to make sure that the straps sit flat against your shoulder.
I’ve found that gently using my thumb to pull them up and position them closer to my neck achieves the optimal fit. While the bib straps might feel slightly shorter when standing up, this is completely normal as your upper body tends to shorten when in a riding position. This adjustment is crucial as it helps prevent chafing and discomfort throughout your ride.
Tip 3. Base layer under bib straps
I’ve found that the ideal way is to wear my bib shorts first, followed by a base layer, and then pull up the bib straps over the base layer.
This ensures the base layer is closest to my body, effectively wicks away moisture, and keeps me comfortable. The bib straps, in turn, securely hold everything in place. Finally, I layer my jersey (and jacket if necessary) over the bib straps, creating a seamless and efficient moisture-wicking system. This thoughtful layering technique significantly improves overall comfort during my rides, allowing me to focus on the road ahead.
More reading : Why Wear Cycling-specific Clothing?
Tip 4. Mind the front and back sections
It’s important to note that bib shorts consist of a front and rear section. An easy way to identify them is by examining the chamois, with the thicker and wider part is positioned at the rear to support your sit bones.
Bib shorts can look funny and don’t fold flat like pants if placed flat on the surface.
Tip 5. Make the tan lines consistent
Ensure the bib length is up to exactly where your tan line is on your thigh. You don’t want to have multiple shades of tan lines on your thighs.
This is something to note if you have multiple bibs of different brands. Each brand has a slightly different length and could affect the tan lines on your thigh.
Tip 6. No underwear under the bibs
Now, let’s tackle a common concern; wearing underwear under your bib shorts.
Here’s the truth. Wearing underwear with bib shorts, or as some cyclists call it, going commando, is not recommended.
The reason is simple; underwear tends to absorb your sweat instead of wick it away, resulting in a higher likelihood of chafing. On the other hand, the chamois in your bib shorts are designed to wick sweat and dry rapidly. It sits snugly against your skin to prevent friction and is equipped with padding to ensure a comfortable experience on the saddle.
Remember to wash your bib shorts immediately once you’re home.
Tip 7. Avoid white bibs
White bibs are an absolute no-no as they can be see-through, especially when wet. Even 3x road world champion Peter Sagan failed to pull this off.
Most cyclists prefer to wear black bibs, although variations include anthracite and dark navy blue.
Tip 8. No worn-out bib shorts
Bib shorts have a lifespan, depending on how often you wear them and how you care for them.
As the lycra ages and degrades, it gets thin and becomes see-through. No one wants to stare at your bum crack while riding behind you.
By following the tips and recommendations on how to wear bib shorts shared in this article, you’ll have a better idea of how to improve comfort while cycling.
Remember, sticking with a trusted brand, flattening the bib straps, layering strategically, and minding the front and back sections are all crucial aspects to consider. Additionally, avoiding underwear, selecting appropriate colors, and replacing worn-out bib shorts are essential practices.
What are cycling bib shorts, and why should I wear them?
Cycling bib shorts are a type of cycling-specific garment designed for comfort and performance. They have built-in padding, called a chamois, to provide cushioning for long rides and reduce friction.
The bib straps hold the shorts in place, ensuring they don’t slip down during the ride. They offer better support, moisture-wicking properties, and aerodynamics than regular shorts.
Should I wear underwear with my cycling bib shorts?
No, you should wear cycling bib shorts without underwear. The chamois pad is designed to be in direct contact with your skin to wick away moisture and prevent chafing.
How high should I pull up the bib straps?
The bib straps should be snug but not too tight. When standing upright, they should fit comfortably without digging into your shoulders. When you lean forward in the cycling position, the straps should be taut but not restrict your movement.
Can I wear my cycling bib shorts with a regular jersey?
Yes, you can wear cycling bib shorts with a regular or specific bib-friendly jersey. Just make sure the jersey is long enough in the back to cover the waistband of the shorts.
How do I care for my cycling bib shorts?
To prolong the life of your bib shorts, wash them in cold water with mild detergent on a gentle cycle. Avoid using fabric softeners or bleach. Hang them to dry instead of using a dryer.
How often should I replace the chamois in my bib shorts?
The chamois pad typically lasts as long as the bib shorts themselves. You should replace your bib shorts when the padding becomes thin, compacted, or uncomfortable.
Are there gender-specific bib shorts?
Yes, there are gender-specific bib shorts available. They have different chamois pad shapes and sizes designed to provide optimal comfort for men and women.
Can I wear my bib shorts on an indoor trainer?
Yes, you can wear your bib shorts on an indoor trainer. However, you may want to consider getting a pair specifically designed for indoor cycling, as they often have features like better ventilation and moisture-wicking properties.