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Finding the right pair of bibs or cycling shorts is very similar to discovering a favorite pair of jeans. Considering it’s a clothing item that you’ll wear on a weekly basis, investing in a quality pair of bottoms will make your rides more enjoyable—and your training better.
Some Features To Consider While Shopping:
– Inseam: Longer, full coverage or shorter?
– Leg opening: Silicone grippers, compressive band or none?
– Chamois: Thick and plush? Thin and dense?
– Fit: Compressive or relaxed?
– (Women) Waist: Elastic or yoga-band?
– (Women) Style: Bibs or shorts?
Women’s Giro Rider Halter Bib
We not only put these bibs to the riding test, we also made sure their comfort held up at post-ride coffee stops. (They passed, easily!) The brilliant—and shockingly simple—design of the halter bib means you don’t have to take off your jersey for a bathroom break, and they are seriously as comfortable as sweatpants throughout the entire fit. We might opt for a thicker chamois on epic Saturday rides, but for everyday comfort, these are a new favorite.
Highlights: Super comfortable, clever design, terrific fit on multiple body types
Women’s Endura FS260-PRO Bibshort DS
When we first saw these bibs debut at Interbike last year, we thought, “How has no one already thought of this?” Check this out: A zipper in the back gives the shorts a dropout function so you can keep your full kit on during pit stops. Although skin pinching was an initial fear, the zipper goes back up with ease. The white piping on the shorts adds a flattering element, and the bib straps hit a comfortable place on the sides of the chest so there’s no smushing effect.
Highlights: Long-ride ready with a smart drop-out zipper, durable chamois
Women’s Pearl Izumi Symphony Cut Short
Not a fan of the long shorts look? Pearl Izumi offers this five-inch inseam for women who prefer a shorter cut. One of the best features of this short is the waistband—instead of elastic around your belly (hey there, muffin top), the soft material forms an overlapping V in front, which is breathable and more comfortable when leaning over in the aerobars. The chamois is plush, but the shorts may be best suited for shorter rides and spin class (and reasonable for the gym at only $60).
Highlights: Breathable waistband, feminine cut
Women’s Assos H.laalalaishorts_S7
If anyone knows how to make shorts with a “like buttah” feel, it’s Swiss brand Assos. The company’s bibs have always been a highly coveted (and luxury priced) item for male cyclists, and Assos recently further developed its women’s line. These lightweight shorts offer some of the benefits of bibs without the straps, including a high back to prevent any short jerseys from accidentally showing skin, and a forgiving waistline for mid-ride belly bloat. The Assos quality shows in the waffle-textured, breathable chamois and the overall compressive, soft material.
Highlights: High-quality chamois, compressive and smooth material, forgiving waistline
Men’s Louis Garneau Course Race 2 Bib
With aerodynamics as a focus, Louis Garneau created a performance-oriented bib that is free of any large seams and feels like a second skin while riding. The laser-finished material at the leg opening stays put despite not having any silicone grippers to speak of, and the chamois is flexible for freedom of movement and is mapped out to relieve pressure in important areas. Plus, to ensure comfort for a variety of riders, sizes range from XS–XXL.
Highlights: Smooth yet durable feel, flexible chamois
Men’s POC Contour Aerofoil Bibs
POC designed a 3D-molded chamois with the hope of providing a more custom fit for each rider and added silicone inserts under the sit bones to increase comfort and durability. Testers loved the chamois, especially in the aero position, and the super thin and stretchy mesh straps make it easy to shift between the aerobars and hoods. The material is seamless, with an integrated leg gripper to avoid any too-tight silicone rings around the thigh.
Highlights: Aero-friendly chamois, spot-on fit, stretchy straps
Men’s Castelli Free Aero Race Bibs
Castelli has been perfecting its signature bib since 2007, and the latest edition continues to improve on the comfort of former iterations. Our tester said these bibs are the first ones he grabs out of the closet after laundry. The updated leg gripper is snug but not too tight, and the antibacterial chamois is thin yet dense, providing long ride comfort without excessive bulk. Know before you buy: The cut is classically Italian, so consider sizing up.
Highlights: Ideal chamois thickness, flat-lock seams