Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bib Shorts: the lowdown ...

CastelliOne of the biggest steps any new, serious bike rider makes is wearing spandex/lycra cycling shorts which look okay so long as you stay on the bike, but are more challenging for most of us off the bike.

Convincing riders to take the next step, bib shorts, is even more difficult. But bib shorts are in another league of comfort and support and well worth the extra expense, and a small amount of inconvenience.

The main consideration, when buying bib shorts is the quality of the fabric and the "chamois".

Less expensive shorts use less stretchy material and, usually, several panels in the construction. More expensive shorts use stretchier fabric and fewer panels and the most expensive use the best lycra and several panels. Watch for the quality of the elastic on legs which in the best shorts, maintains a consistent elasticity as it stretches, rather than becoming tighter as it expands.

PBKIt's been many years since a chamois really was chamois. The newest synthetic chamoises are a marvel of textile and composite construction with variable thickness and resistance cossetting your posterior interface.

I've have three pairs of bib shorts; Castelli Trofeo, PBK RL1000X and Gore Xenons. All are very good and very comfortable with the Castellis feeling as if they're not there and the Gores having a very perceptible feeling of compression. The PBKs are somewhere in between.

The bibs mean the shorts do not ride up or down and maintain a high degree of comfort over a long ride.

GoreThere are disadvantages. Maybe it's just me, but the minute I've put on all my gear ready for a ride I will inevitably need to visit the loo ...

Which brings me on to the topic of women and bibs. Women do come into the bike shop and ask for bibs having heard how comfortable they are. There are significant problems with bib shorts for women, firstly anatomically in the chest area and secondly, popping behind a hedge on a long bike ride involves considerable disrobing you might not want to consider ... know what I'm saying ladies?

However, women's bib shorts do exist. You decide.

But for males the best comfort option is the bib short. Don't mess about, go all the way when it comes to bike shorts.