$155 and $125 (respectively), Roka.com
The draw: Convenience of shorts, comfort of bibs
As hardcore bib snobs, we were skeptical that a short could rival the supreme comfort of full bibs. Turns out we were totally off base—these shorts were just as comfy (if not comfier) than a lot of bibs we’ve worn. The elastic waistband and silicone grips around the leg openings kept the shorts in place, and the cushy (two-piece) chamois was perfectly supportive without any bulkiness. The sleek jersey felt lightweight yet compressive. Mesh paneling on the back makes it a smart choice for summer rides.
$135 each, Pactimo.com
*Best in Class*
The draw: All-day comfort
This kit scored an “A” in aesthetics and delivered comfort to match. Our new go-to jersey for long rides on the road and dirt, it felt silky soft against the skin and was incredibly lightweight—like tissue paper. It’s packed with thoughtful details, like an internal jersey pocket with a hole for earbud wires, and a reflective rear waist gripper and armbands for added visibility. The bib’s chamois “provided ample padding without overwhelming the boys,” said one tester. The moisture-wicking bibs are available in two inseam lengths: 9 or 9.75 inches.
$215 and $110 (respectively), Searchandstate.com
The draw: Tailored fit
This USA-made kit boasts the sleek styling and tailored fit of a bespoke suit. The entire jersey is made from a mesh-like fabric that is exceptionally breathable and feels buttery soft. Three large pockets across the back easily accommodate long-ride necessities. Available in black or navy, the bibs feature plush mesh panels at the shoulders and upper back for added breathability and comfort. The leg openings, with their wide elastic bands and silicone grippers, offer an ultra-secure fit.
Assos Women’s T.laalalaiShorts_S7 and SS.laalalaiJersey_evo7
$249 and $189 (respectively), Assos.com
The draw: Ultra padded
No, that’s not a typo. The chamois in these crazily-named bibs is so substantial, the shorts stand upright on their own. If padding is your priority, these are a smart choice. The short length is on the longer side, and the bibs are cut to rise high over the mid-section for a slimming effect. The upper straps of the so-called “mono bib” slide over the head from behind, and a magnetic closure mid-torso keeps them snugly in place. Designed in Switzerland and made in Bulgaria, both the shorts and jersey utilize quality performance fabrics that blend elasticity and breathability.
$150 and $100 (respectively), Backcountry.com
*Best in Class*
The draw: Go-to short
These shorts are wildly comfortable. The super-wide waistband made of soft Italian Lycra and the broad, elastic-free leg openings contribute to the superior comfort. The chamois is super supportive without feeling bulky. The all-black color scheme lets you pair these shorts with any jersey in your closet, and Giro offers a 60-day return window to ensure you love them as much as we did. The striped jersey features a slimmer race cut, three large pockets and airy mesh paneling at the back.
$230 and $130 (respectively), Trivillage.com
The draw: The ultimate hot-weather kit
We put this kit through the rigors of a long ride on a hot day, and it performed like a champ. The bib chamois offered substantial protection, especially when the tester was seated on the nose of the saddle. Perforated side panels in the shorts helped with body cooling, and the shoulder straps didn’t dig or tug. The bib’s deeper front cut made for quick bathroom breaks. The ultra-lightweight jersey felt like a second skin (our tester could see his shoulder tattoo through the sleeve) and didn’t ride up, even while tucked over the handlebars.
$119 and $80 (respectively), Backcountry.com
The draw: Quick pit stops
If you prefer the comfort of bib shorts but hate the hassle of multiple bathroom breaks during long rides, these bibs offer a smart solution. Each strap has a buckle closure to get you in and out in a snap. The chamois felt robust but not overwhelming, and the upper straps had a barely there feel. Our size 4/6 tester wore a medium and found the leg grippers to be a little tight. Similarly, the arm openings in the pro fit jersey will feel comfier to riders with thinner arms.
$150 and $115 (respectively), Rapha.cc
The draw: Affordable class and comfort
This kit may be understated in appearance, but there’s nothing basic about it. The chamois performed just as good as bibs triple in price, and the dense knit material in the shorts provided a snug fit and solid front coverage. The bib straps were supremely comfortable, thanks to their broad cut and silky polyester blend fabric. And because this is style-savvy Rapha, these bibs come in all black or with white straps so you can better conceal them under light-colored jerseys. The ultra-soft jersey felt solidly constructed with classy details like a ribbed collar and arm cuffs.
– Cycling kit reviews by Julia Beeson Polloreno