Women, rejoice! Bibs and bathroom breaks co-exist with these clever designs.
When it comes to long rides, few things are more comfortable than a pair of bib shorts. But for female riders, few things are more cumbersome than a pair of bib shorts. It’s easy for male riders to take a quick, discreet bathroom break mid-ride, but for women, it’s…complicated. Shorts must be lowered in order to use the restroom, and to lower the shorts, the bib suspenders must come off the shoulders. To yield the suspenders, the bike jersey needs to be removed, and before you know it, a simple potty break requires full-frontal nudity.
“The go-to for women has been to either forego bibs and just wear shorts for convenience, or to wear bibs and deal with the inconvenience at pit stop time,” says Lindsay Piper of KETL Mountain Apparel, “But I think at this point there are a lot of women who are riding at a high level, who don’t want to make sacrifices and are willing to speak up about it, so there’s more of an impetus to solve the problem.”
Kebby Holden, founder of Coeur, a women’s cycling and triathlon apparel company, says bibs have been a man’s domain for so long, that women’s designs were an afterthought derived from the men’s line. But that’s changing, as companies are now creating designs with women in mind, including solutions to “the pee problem” for women’s bib shorts—a task that proves more complicated than one might think:
“It is very difficult to work hardware into soft, stretchy Spandex fabric,” notes Holden. “While most is abrasion resistant, it is still a delicate fabric. Flat lock seams are required stitching for most fabric panels in tri and cycle but integrated hardware and hidden panels often doesn’t allow for it. Add sublimation in across panels and it all gets very tricky.”
But with female participation in cycling and triathlon rapidly increasing, smart apparel companies are investing in new research and design to make bathroom breaks for the female rider quick, easy and—most importantly—discreet.