For any cyclist, bib shorts are an essential piece of kit and arguably the most important to get right. We pick out the best and tell you what you need to look for

As cycling grows in popularity, so does the range of brands and kit available to anyone from beginner to pro. Cycling bib shorts come in a huge range of options for cyclists of all shapes and sizes.

>>> Not what you’re looking for? Check out: Best women’s bib shorts buying guide

Choosing the right pair of bib shorts can be difficult, especially as you can’t really try before you buy – for obvious reasons. However, finding the best pair is essential for comfort and to keep you riding.

Bib shorts are the most important part of any cyclist’s wardrobe, and the discomfort of getting the wrong pair can end a ride and put you off getting back in the saddle for quite some time.

>>> Endura launch new custom bib short PadFit system

Below we have detailed what to look for when buying bib shorts, and also offered some options for where to start when buying. Remember though, everyone’s different so use this as a guide to help you find the best pair for you and get you riding in comfort in no time.

When it came to testing these bib shorts, we took the business very seriously. The good news is that none of those tested was considered a duff pair of shorts. Some are always better than others, but it’s good to report that, from the brands on test, without spending a fortune, it’s possible to buy an extremely comfortable and stylish pair of bib shorts that will last you many seasons of riding.

>>> Best cheap cycling shorts under £70

Our pick of the best cycling bib shorts

Lusso Active Aero bib shorts – 10/10

Read more: Lusso Active Aero Bib Short review 

Coming in at £99, just under the magic round number, these bib shorts proved to be comfortable across all forms of riding and came with some additional aero advantages, such as striped fabric designed to funnel air flow.

Buy now: Lusso Active Aero Bib shorts for £89.99 at Merlin Cycles 

Endura Pro SL II bibshorts – 10/10

Endura Pro SL II bibshorts

Endura Pro SL II bibshorts

Read more: Endura Pro SL II bibshort review 

Endura offers these shorts with a choice of three different pad widths, meaning you can tailor them to your riding style and anatomy. The leg grippers have been improved, and Coldback treatment plus SPF50 treatment have you sorted in hot weather.

Buy now: Enura Pro SL II bibshorts at Chain Reaction Cycles for £113.99

Rapha Classic bib short II – 9/10

Read more: Rapha Classic bib short II review

The Rapha Classic bib short II shorts are the text book example of how a chamois should be made. It’s slim but for this reason unobtrusive and wicks really well.

The lycra is soft and supportive, while the detailing and looks are really on point.

Buy now: Rapha Classic bib tight II from Rapha for £165

 

Fizik Link R1 Snake shorts – 9/10

Fizik Link R1 Snake

Fizik has three different categories of short depending on how flexible you are

Read more: Fizik Link R1 Snake shorts review

For a first attempt, Fizik has really hit the nail on the head with the Link R1 shorts.

These are seriously technical shorts, and they come in three options depending on how flexible you are.

Castelli Endurance X2 bib short – 9/10

castelli-endurance-x2-bib-shorts

The Castelli Endurance X2 is possibly one of the most comfortable bib shorts we’ve tested

Read more: Castelli Endurance X2 bib short review

Comfortable and supportive is how we found Castelli’s £100 bib shorts. They use the same Progretto X2 Air seatpad as found on their Mondiale bib shorts and Inferno bib-shorts.

Buy now: Castelli Endurance X2 bib short from Evans Cycles for £87.99

Specialized SL Pro bib shorts – 9/10

specialized sl pro bib shorts

Spesh’s SL Pro bib shorts sit snug and comfortable

Read more: Specialized SL Pro bib shorts review

The comfort and support of the SL Pro bib short material is excellent, as is the pad.

It managed to keep things comfortable despite riding a hard, racing saddle for long hours at a time.

Buy now: Specialized SL Pro bib shorts from Leisure Lakes for £99.99

Sportful Super Total Comfort bib shorts – 9/10

sportful super total comfort bib shorts

Does exactly what it says on the tin

Read more: Sportful Super Total Comfort bib shorts review

With a name like that you’d be right to expect a lot from these bib shorts.

Thankfully, they come through and are super comfortable. There’s no chafing or rubbing and they’re supportive enough for multiple days in the saddle.

Buy now: Sportful Super Total Comfort bib shorts from Wiggle for £120

 

Le Col Cycling Aqua Zero Thermal bibshorts – 9/10

Le Col Cycling Aqua Zero Thermal bibshorts

Le Col Cycling Aqua Zero Thermal bibshorts

Read more: Le Col Cycling Aqua Zero Thermal Bibshorts reviewed

Thermal bib shorts provide a little extra warmth in spring and autumn, and can be paired with leg warmers to make a perfectly good alternative to full on cycling tights. We wore them up to 15°C in comfort, and found them to be a great insulating layer at lower temperatures.

Buy now: Le Col Cycling Aqua Zero Thermal bibshorts at Le Col for £150

Looking for more bib short reviews?

To find even more bib short reviews click here, and if you’re after women’s bib shorts, check out the best women’s bib shorts buying guide.

Check back throughout the year as we test different shorts for different temperatures and conditions.

If you think we’ve missed any, let us know in the comments below and we’ll aim to expand the list of test products.

Cycling bib shorts: What to look for

Gender matters

Cycling shorts are designed around a chamois created to provide padding and relief to all the right areas. Therefore, men’s and women’s shorts are different – female riders should check out the best women’s shorts here.

Waist shorts vs bib shorts

Bib shorts have straps that sit over the shoulders, fitting a little bit like a large adult babygrow, or a wrestling suit – depending what way you look at it. This does take a little bit of getting used to. However, bib shorts are generally considered much more comfortable – they do away with any cutting in at the waist, it’s impossible for them to fall down (leaving a patch of exposed cold or sunburnt skin) and the chamois stays in place better.

Waist shorts are favoured by riders seeking the simplest, and often cheapest, approach – and are effective enough, if not quite as comfortable.

Materials 

The choice of materials for designers is huge, from thicker leg material for chilly spring conditions to well-ventilated back panels for summer heat. Some make the best choices, while others leave you questioning what was going through their heads. The best idea is to get hands-on. If the shorts feel nice in your hand, they’re at least halfway to feeling good once you get them on.

bibshorts fit

A high back will help with a better fit

Fit

You need to ensure the shoulder straps are comfortable. Some come up short, feeling a little restrictive, even for a tester of average height. Always try on shorts, and adopt a riding position to get a clear idea of how they’d really feel.

bibshorts-pad

Chamois

The other details are important to consider, but the chamois is the absolute key bib short component. Get it right and your shorts will offer years of comfortable miles. Get it wrong and the pad can become uncomfortable. Many brands buy in their chamois from an external company, such as Cytech, and can often use the same pad as a competitor.

The chamois often comes with some additional features, such as perforation to provide breathability, and an antibacterial treatment to keep the shorts fresh.

  • BarryFromEastEnders

    You should have seen Pat when we got her a bib vest. My word, she was spilling out at all angles. My Janine was in hysterics.

  • cyclinginfo

    Shorts
    & Bibs

    I’m new on this community,
    and this is my very first post.

    I really appreciate your hard work .
    Thank you for this
    Information.

  • Bertrude

    190 £ rapha shorts, you have to be joking

  • Sincy

    There are so many choices out there. And so many crap shorts, or maybe they will be good enough for some cyclists on a budget or who do not ride much. The old truth is you get what you pay for is true, but there are some great budget shorts too, like Tenn, dhb etc. but the most important thing for me is the Pad/Chamois.
    Some expensive ones are not thick enough for me, and some are just too much. best to shop around try them on and go with your gut feelings. Do not buy a brand and think it is right for you because it costs.

  • Sincy

    Go onto the Endura website. you can buy them off that. and they are amazing shorts. Also have got Tenn shorts and much the same for less money.

  • Glen Williams

    I want to know please where I can buy the caratti Sport or the Endura Thermolite bib shorts. I live in Oxford.

  • Glen Williams

    where can I order Caratti Sport or Endura Thermolite bib shorts? I live in Oxford.

  • Ady

    I like my Tenn ones but perhaps they are not on here because they reduce their price by not throwing money at marketing via cycling mags.

  • Jonathan Paul Page

    Yep. I don’t care how much the Progetto X2 pad costs. It is not a luxury on a 5 hour ride to have 125 dollar bibs.

  • Steve Hislop

    Agree. The sizing for bibs can differ dramatically from brand to brand. I have a set of Castelli that are medium but similar bibs from Santini are sized as large.

  • Mj Mj

    it’d be helpful for this article to give the model’s sizes/measurements. It would also place comments such as this, into context –

    the size 10 gives a comfortable rather than an athletic fit.