A bike friend had some bib shorts he was no longer using and generously offered them to me. (I trust he washed them first.) I was skeptical, because well, bib sounds like something a baby wears. But he swore by them, so I figured I’d give them a try. For the beginning cyclist or experienced one who’s not tried them, here’s what happened.
I was due for a 25-mile ride and decided I’d wear them instead of my usual shorts. The first thing to know about bib shorts is that they have suspenders and extra material around the waist. This prevents the jersey from riding up and exposing your skin to the elements, or the road should you fall, and may make for a more comfortable fit.
The brand I had is Bontrager, a well-known company that makes apparel, apparently owned by Trek. Here’s a link to their store. Trying them on was a little different; you have to step into them and get the suspenders on correctly. The last thing you want on a long bike ride is a fashion incident, aka chafing. As my friend said, they “lock everything in place nice and tight.” I can confirm that to be the case. They fit snugly.
This blog post is a good summary of the points about bib shorts I found on the Pactimo website. It is a Colorado company that makes high-quality bib shorts and other cycling gear. (I am not being compensated for this mention, but hey, Pactimo and Bonaventure, make me an offer I can’t refuse!)
For me, the first issue was heat. Because it’s summer in Austin, Texas (well, and everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere of Planet Earth), the additional material made me noticeably warmer. So any additional clothing is notiecable. It is designed to be evaporative though, and since it was a night ride, it wasn’t too bad. Still, it gave me pause.
The next concern was the padding. The particular pair I tried did not have a great chamois pad, although it held up better than expected for this fathlete over 25 miles. If I were to go on a longer ride, there might be issues. I’m sure there are stiffer and denser foam pads, though. And A Dude cannot complain about a donation!
Overall, I could see the benefit of not having to adjust one’s shorts or worry about exposure. It wasn’t love at first fit, however. So for me the jury’s out. Come fall with a sturdier bottom, I may have to give them a go. If you haven’t tried out bib shorts, I would recommend giving them a go. You mileage may literally vary.
Thanks again to my bike friend for the donation, and to you for reading. Let me know your experiences and thoughts in the comments below!
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