What are the best cycling bib shorts?
We are frequently asked what are the best bibs – we answer “It depends!!” It depends on what riding is being done, body shape, and the individual knick features such as chamois (style, shape and finish), cut of the bib (waist, straps and grippers), fabric(s) used and much more.
As bicycle clothing specialists we have fitted a large number of cyclists over the years and to generalise from our experience here are some of the candidates for best from what we are familiar with.
One of the most important thing is whether they fit! It is surprising the number of experienced riders who have never tried on a number of different bib knicks back to back to see what actually suits them best!
Here is our (current) view on:
- Best bibs for racing
- Best long distance/touring bib short
- Best all round bib short
- Best bib short for mountain biking
- Best bibs for large men
- Best bibs for rainy conditions
- Best compression bib shorts
Best Bib short for racing?
SMS Santini is a company highly focussed on competitive cycling (they are major sponsors of pro teams, UCI events and name sponsor of the Italian Gran Fondo ). From our experience the Santini sisters who now run it seem to be on first name terms with a lot of the pro riders and do development with a number of them. Santini is well known for their unique Gel chamois – the gel component will not compress even after a long time in the saddle.
A number of their shorts are worn by pro riders their current most popular pro short is the BCOOL. Including dual gel layer chamois, quite cut away to handle aggressive racing positions, and featuring the latest features including wide soft laser cut leg cuffs, and laser cut mesh straps which both sit on the shoulder, don’t constrict and stretch a long way without tension. These straps also mean they fit a wide range of body lengths.
The Giordana FRC bib is a very similar bib to the Gil but with a multi density foam chamois
Assos T. Fi.13-S5
Iconic racing short with an absolutely passionate following. Racing fit medium compressive effect - Not worth talking through the technical features – users simply love them. Really that is it in essence
Assos T.Campionissimo-S7This is probably the fastest commercially available bib-short in the world. It uses technology and approaches Assos developed specifically for the Olympic cycling time trials. This is basically the highest level time trial skinsuit turned into a bib short. This is not for general use - put it on carefully for the events when a fraction of second really matters
Best long distance short
Assos T.Cento-S7 Assos T.FI.Millie-S5
Tailored for more upright (less aggressive) positions in the saddle with a larger chamois and less compression. This makes it more comfortable for extended periods – as with all Assos has a devoted following. The well regarded Millie has now been replaced by the Cento in the recently released S7 range
Santini Nat Smart
This is similar to Assos Millie in the Santini range – thicker gel chamois, heavier duty “touring” fabric.
Best all round bicycle bib short
Sugoi Evolution Bib Short
The best all-rounder is a real challenge but overall the Sugoi Evolution remains a very popular bib short! It is at the cheaper end of the “better” shorts range but a lot of people find it delivers the goods. With good high wicking lycra and a slightly thicker and bigger chamois than average.
Assos all round racing and training short – in terms of features it tends to be between the racing orientated s13 and the long distance Millie. As usual with Assos those who use them just like them
Best bibs for Mountain Biking
The best bibs for mountain biking seem to be the same as for long distance riding even though some of the requirements are different. However elements are the same – suiting a more upright position, thicker padding, robust fabric. Of course mountain bikers spend a lot more time going in and out of the saddle so they must fit well. That said the Santini Nat Smart and the Assos Millie seem popular as is the perennially popular Sugoi Evolution.
Best Bibs for larger men
Assos Mille & Cento are high quality with a more relaxed fit, and the Sugoi Evolutions seem to fit a range of body shapes. Skins Compression also fit a wide range due to the high elasticity and range of motion of the fabric they are woven from
Best Bibs for variable conditions
In winter weight the Santini H20 Long bib knicks are excellent! Comfortable highly water resistant, don’t hold water where it works through the fabric and if they do shed it, dry quickly. They give weather protection without the clumsiness and discomfort of putting on shell over pants . Skins C400 and C200 are also extremely good. They are not water proof but the light weight fabric breaks the weather but holds little water – so they do not get soggy as do thicker fabrics and dry remarkably quickly after the rain stops from your own body heat and wind motion.
Best Compression Bib Knicks
Many bibs have compression elements and a number have compression fabrics. Some are marketed as compression garments. However without a doubt the Skins C400 bib shorts are the best compression cycling shorts in the world. We don’t normally go for absolutes but it is pretty clear in this case. Skins do all the research using tools unavailable to others. We believe the advantages of compression are more felt on longer rides and multi day rides – where the advantages of improved circulation and recovery are more important.
We hope you find this useful in thinking about the different bib shorts suitable for different sorts of riding and riders - as always we would like to hear your views.
David, Louise and the Team