Cyclists have a variety of apparel to choose from when outfitting themselves for a ride. Some riders prefer regular cycling shorts, while others like cycling bibs, which feature shoulder straps. Though each has benefits, there is a winner in this debate. Read on to learn more and you might change your mind about which type to wear.
Cycling shorts, or bike shorts, are short legwear that is skin-tight and does not extend higher than the waist. They are designed to reduce wind resistance, compress the legs to combat muscular fatigue, draw sweat away from skin, provide support, and protect skin from friction created during a ride. They are often made from spandex and feature a lining of synthetic chamois. The leg hems are usually lined with silicone or elastic that clings to skin. These shorts are designed to be worn without undergarments.
Bib shorts are made from the same or similar materials but do not have an elastic waistband. A bib, which is an integrated suspender system, holds up the shorts, keeping them in place during a ride. The straps can even be used to hold a small MP3 player. Cyclists normally do not wear undergarments with these shorts. A cycling jersey is usually worn on top of the suspenders.
The elastic waistband on cycling shorts can dig into the skin, creating discomfort and leading to chafing. For this reason, serious and professional riders usually prefer bib shorts. The bib area of the apparel is typically made from polyester and spandex and features netting that keeps the cyclist cool. Tall riders and those with protruding stomachs may prefer bib shorts because the back of regular cycling shorts can fall down during a ride.
Many cyclists comment that they do not notice the shoulder straps after wearing bib shorts a few times. In addition, they spend less time pulling down their jerseys since these shorts cover more of the body. Aside from the price tag, the main drawback to bib shorts is those occasions when nature makes a call. You will either need to do some magical contortions or completely undress in order to go to the bathroom.
The best way to determine whether cycling bibs or regular bike shorts are right for you is to buy a pair of each. Try each pair on both a long and short ride and see which you find more comfortable. Many of you will join the majority of professional riders and make bibs your shorts of choice for future cycling journeys.