New cyclists often ask which is best, bib shorts or bike shorts? Obviously, the straps are an immediately visible difference – until they’re covered by a jersey. But, once you’re fully kitted out, you probably won’t even see the straps so how they look is a minor point when you’re comparing bib shorts with bike shorts, sometimes called waist shorts.
There are a few things to bear in mind so here are the pros and cons of bib shorts for cycling.
Bib shorts are the style with old-fashioned looking suspender straps going over the shoulders, like skin tight, aerodynamic dungarees. The reason for this bygone-era look is that, in the past, fabric technology wasn’t as good as today so suspenders were the only solution for shorts slippage. But even with improvements in bike shorts so they grip the body better, most road cyclists prefer bib shorts to bike shorts.
How are bib shorts more comfortable?
The first thing is bib shorts don’t have an elasticated waistband because the straps hold them firmly in place. That means there’s nothing tight to dig into your stomach or restrict your diaphragm and breathing.
Also, the straps mean the chamois can’t move around and the shorts don’t bunch up at the top of the thigh which is more comfortable. Plus it means the chamois won’t sag into a nappy effect when you get off the bike.
You’re not going to get sunburn if your jersey rides up at the back and no-one behind you has to stare down your bumcrack. Plus the extra fabric will keep you warmer in winter.
This is the biggest downside of bib shorts: you have to half strip to go to the toilet because any layers worn over the straps need to come off before you can pull them down.
Are bib shorts hotter?