BibShorts - Elastic Free Waists - Men's Bib Shorts are designed for comfort and performance - No waist elastic means superior comfort on the bicycle. Aero Tech Designs Bib Shorts have superior fit and proven durability. Unconditionally Guaranteed - Tested and proven for performance. Aero Tech Designs Bib Shorts are designed to match our cycling jerseys. Also available in Tall Bib Shorts. Once you ride in Aero Tech Designs bibs, you'll never go back!
Choosing to switch to bib shorts always comes with a bit of hesitancy for cyclists. This seems to be true whether a rider is new to the sport of if they have logged thousands of miles in road shorts. Most cyclists begin like you would expect: padded bike shorts. And switching to bib shorts is a big change. But what causes this hesitancy? Sure, bib shorts harken back to the look of wrestling singlets and leotards, but there’s more to it than that. For some riders, wearing a skin-tight garment with suspenders is hard to imagine, let alone feel comfortable in. But wearing is believing and oftentimes when a cyclist makes the switch they don’t go back.
Historically speaking, bib shorts date back to the beginning of men’s cycling apparel. Knitted wool composed the first know pair of bib shorts and they included a leather chamois to cover the seams and protect a rider’s legs from irritating and painful abrasion. With use over time, wool shorts would grow baggy and loose-fitting, losing their usefulness so riders began holding them in place with suspenders and elastic straps. Racers in the United Kingdom referred to this newly adapted garment as “braces” and in the United States they were called “suspenders.” Eventually, these wool shorts would become hot and heavy in the summer heat and many cyclists adapted the shorts again by removing waistbands and drawstrings, replacing them with clip-on suspenders to keep the shorts in place during their rides.
Modern padded bib shorts, of course, feature suspenders that are fully integrated into the bottom section of the shorts and they are commonly made from Lycra or a synthetic-based mesh material. This enables them to be lightweight and breathable as well as less stressing on your shoulders. Bib shorts today also feature different fabrics in strategic and specifically-designed areas of the garment to maximize the bib short’s functionality and effectiveness. Specialized fabrics are placed in areas for compression, moisture wicking, promoting air flow and cooling, for example. Similarly, some chamois pads are more designed for road, cyclo-cross, mountain biking and touring. Properly fitting bib shorts can keep the rider comfortable (not to mention, free of saddle sores and muscle soreness) no matter how long their ride lasts. Bib shorts will always look “goofy” to some, but their advantages cannot be denied. And, anyways, once you’re wearing a jersey they just look like regular road shorts below the waist.
Without a waistband there is no drawstring on waist elastic cutting into your abdomen as you’re bent forward in the classic cycling position. Some body types notice this less than others, but it can be an annoyance if you’re in the latter group. Additionally, traditional waistbands can be a little denser than the rest of the synthetic fabric making up your shorts. This means that they’ll retain moisture a little longer, which increases the potential for chafing and discomfort.
Your Chamois Pad Stays Put
Even the best fitting road shorts can tend to slip and slide down a bit over the course of a long ride. This means that your chamois pad will move a bit, too. The shoulder straps of a bib short essentially guarantee that your chamois pad won’t be moving or shifting mid-ride, even during long century rides.
Bib Straps Increase Comfort
Bib shorts employ breathable and lightweight mesh or spandex straps that extend from the midsection (bib shorts tend to have a higher rise, usually past the navel, when compared to road shorts) over the shoulders. The straps provide several advantages, perhaps the largest being the benefit of how comfortably they hold the bib in place as a whole without creating pressure points or binding like you can see with waistbands of traditional shorts. If your bibs are fitting properly, they should essentially disappear when you bend forward into the cycling position, just like a second layer of skin. This creates an articulated profile, perfectly designed for life in the saddle.
What to Look for When Buying Bib Shorts
The essentials are simple: a well-designed short with simple construction, a good chamois pad design and a great fit with no bunching or distracting edges. The legs should feel comfortable and non-restricting and the straps shouldn’t bind or twist unnaturally. The bib should also feel invisible, like a second layer of skin, and it should feel comfortable in all positions.
The Chamois Pad
There are several key aspects of a good chamois pad design: it must be thick enough for your sit bones, dense enough for the length of your rides, the right dimension and size to protect you from chafing and it needs to be sewn in the right position to keep you comfortable. That dreaded “pain in the butt” feeling can come as quickly as 15 minutes into a ride for some cyclists so protecting yourself and staying comfortable is important.
Developing chafing between the legs will not go unnoticed for a cyclist and it can cause lasting pain that can put you out of commission for a few days. Finding a chamois pad that prevents chafing between your legs while also cushioning the ischial bones is extremely important. For this reason, chamois pads are designed to protect your sit bones (the ischium) and soft tissue area (the perineum). These boundaries of these areas are gender-specific so most chamois pads are available in men’s and women’s versions so that each need is addressed properly. Men’s chamois pads usually have a lineal “valley” through the middle from the sit bones through the crotch to the nose of the pad to relieve pressure on the perineum. They will also usually have a modesty panel attached to the front to provide coverage. Everyone carries their weight different and has varying sit bone measurements so it is best to do a little research to find a chamois pad that can fit your needs the best.
Comfort during long rides is paramount so to meet this need chamois pads have highly engineered densities and layers with extra, more substantial padding in the sit bone area. The chamois pad is often the first thing cyclists look for in a new pair of shorts or bibs and for this reason it is one of the most important aspects of a cycling-specific garment. It provides the support that your body will need to enjoy your ride and this extra layer of support and comfort between you and your saddle cannot be overlooked. Density as well as type of padding material (foam and/or gel) are major factors that determine the chamois pad’s comfort for your body, posture and riding style.
Chamois pad placement is critical because this determines where the pad will support you. If your sit bones do not line up with the correct area on the pad then your comfort and support will be affected. Additionally, your posture and positioning in the saddle will be changing as you shift from cruising on flat terrain to climbing up a hill to gliding down a descent. Look for a bib short that protects and supports all of your core target areas from chafing and soreness. Aero Tech Designs only uses chamois pads that we have tested and believe in.
Most upper torso fabrics on bib shorts will be designed to promote air flow since you will have a jersey on over your bibs. Mesh is a popular synthetic style for shoulder straps because it wicks moisture and its open weave promotes air flow to keep you cool. The straps need to be stretchy and a proper length since they are essentially holding up the shorts without bunching up in the rear. If you are a tall cyclist, check out Aero Tech Designs’ tall bib shorts and apparel. Shoulder straps also usually have wider fabric at the tops of the shoulders to spread out pressure evenly.
Breathability is always essential in cycling clothes and this is even more important on long, hot rides. Sweat and perspiration (as well as rain) always needs to have an exit route so that it properly moves away from the skin to evaporate and keep you dry. Fortunately for cyclists, we have a built-in cooling mechanism in the shape of airflow by pedaling forward. However, this benefit is lost without properly breathable apparel, including cycling jerseys and shorts. If your clothes are wet and soggy, look at some of Aero Tech Designs apparel that use Coolmax and WickAway fabrics that really work to wick moisture and keep you dry. Proper breathability also helps you keep your body’s temperature regulated, which helps to keep you on track to build strength and endurance. The efficiency of your body’s aerobic system can be altered by just a few degrees difference in body temperature. Aero Tech Designs only uses proven synthetic materials like nylon and polyester in our garments, which are renowned for their stretch, wicking and breathability.
How to Care for Bib Shorts
Cycling shorts should be washed after each use and we recommend machine washing so that you can properly remove all bacteria from the chamois pad. We do not recommend using a heated dryer because this may react negatively with synthetic fabrics used in cycling apparel. Synthetic fabrics are designed to wick moisture so they will dry quickly in a well-ventilated area. Maintaining clean shorts is important to prevent bacteria buildup, which may lead to saddle sores and air drying your bib shorts also helps the rubber spandex fibers last longer.
Padded Bike Shorts are Designed to be Worn Without Underwear
Cycling bib shorts are designed to be worn without underwear, right against the skin. Underwear can introduce a layer between your skin and your shorts that chafes, retains sweat and breeds bacteria. You might try some anti-chafe cream between the chamois padding and your skin. Spread the anti chafe cream liberally on the pad in a thick layer. Wear the lubricated pad next to your skin for a full day's comfort.
Avoiding a Critical Big Shorts Downside – How to Pee While Wearing Bib Shorts
There is no way to sugarcoat it, answering nature’s call can be a little tricky while wearing bib shorts. But don’t worry because there are two popular options and one less popular solution. First, the stretchy nature of the fabric usually allows enough “give” to enable you to pull the waist section down far enough to take care of business without fussing with the straps or your jersey. If that won’t cut it for you, just take one arm out of your jersey, pull that arm out of the shoulder strap and then you’ll have plenty of room to maneuver the shorts down enough. The third option is to pull a pant leg up far enough to access a good space for relief. The second option is the only one that requires you to partially get out of your jersey.