The Specialized RBX Adventure Bib Short W/ SWAT are a great value set of cargo bib shorts, offering a huge range of additional storage options with a total of seven pockets – four of which are very generously sized. They proved to be very comfy when riding, but the short bib straps don’t offer much stretch, meaning they cut in a little when standing up, off the bike.
Lots of large pockets
Zippered valuables pocket
Very comfy chamois
Reasonable leg length
Wide leg grippers
Short bib straps without much stretch to them
By Stefan Abram
The Specialized RBX Adventure Bib Short W/ SWAT is designed for just that: adventuring. Intended to be comfortable over long distances, they also offer additional features – which mainly take the shape of pockets. Many, many pockets.
These might be a necessity because you’ve swapped your Lycra jersey for a plaid shirt sans rear pockets and now need somewhere else to store your stuff about your person. But even with a traditional cycling jersey, a little extra storage space never goes amiss.
SWAT stands for ‘Storage, Water, Air, Tools’ and it’s a design principle Specialized expands throughout its range – including bikes. Those with the technology feature neat compartments inside the frame which provide additional carrying capacity.
Specialized RBX Adventure Bib Short W/ SWAT: construction
Starting with the RBX Adventure Bib Shorts’ party piece, let’s talk pockets. Two large, mesh pockets can be found on each thigh. These are more than capable of swallowing a phone, wallet, and various other things thanks to the high degree of stretch in the material and the degree to which it wraps around the legs.
Up around the lower back, there are two more large pockets, with these ones having a proper base to their design – expanding the volume that they’re able to carry. Further round on each side there’s a couple more modestly sized ones, with the one on the right also incorporating a zipped compartment for valuables.
As regards the rest of the bib shorts’ construction, the chamois is an Elastic Interface item, which are used by a number of brands to great effect. The Lyra has a gently compressive action and feels a little more robust than what you get on some other more race-oriented shorts.
The legs follow the current fashion of being a little longer in length, but thankfully they aren’t so long as to start interfering with the knees. A wide elasticated leg gripper is used with a silicone backing to hold them in place.
Keeping the shorts pulled up are a pair of mesh bib straps, but these don’t offer much stretch and seem a little on the short side for the size.
Popping on the RBX Adventure Bib Shorts, the short and un-stretchy straps were instantly noticeable, cutting into my shoulders when stood up straight.
But I wouldn’t want to size up with them as they do fit so perfectly everywhere else. The Lycra provides just the right compression, the chamois stays in place very nicely, and the leg length is just about right — any longer certainly wouldn’t be.
But that said, when hunched over in the riding position, the issue of the straps largely abates. It is only when stood up straight that the straps do dig in.
Now, if this were a set of aero shorts, this would make the length and stretch of the straps essentially a moot point. But as the purpose of these shorts is for adventure and exploration – activities which tend to involve a lot more time off the bike than you’d typically spend in a set of bib shorts – I did find this an issue.
Although I can’t complain too much because as I touched on, in all other respects the shorts are absolutely wonderful, with the thigh pockets being particular highlights. Their size and support make them so useful in countless moments – far more than just being a handy place to store your phone.
If you’re anything like me, your jersey pockets end up being quite full of layers and nutrition in a pretty complex arrangement – not lending themselves to quick and easy access. Although I prefer to keep the thigh pockets empty when riding, it means I have a blank canvas to pop in the most important things that I’ll need immediate access to when off the bike.
I can definitely see the application of the large rear pockets if riding with a baggy top, offering the same stable storage as a traditional cycling jersey. But I didn’t end up using these much, as I generally prefer a tighter fitting jersey and using the jersey’s pockets and the shorts’ pockets simultaneously doesn’t work so well.
But when they are used, the rear pockets of the shorts offer a large carrying capacity and the zippered pocket is great too for keeping things safe.
For the actual activity of riding, I was most impressed by the comfort of the RBX Adventure Bib Shorts. The chamois did a good job at filtering out some of the road buzz and caused no chafing at any point. There were also no awkward seams or stiches causing hotspots or irritations.
At £100 the Specialized RBX Adventure Bib Short W/ SWAT are actually quite reasonably for a set of cargo bib shorts. The Cuore Pioneer Cargo Bib Shorts cost £185 but we weren’t overly impressed with the comfort.
For just £10 more than the Specialized shorts, at £110, are the Rapha Core Cargo Bib shorts. We found these to be perfect in terms of comfort – so impressed were we that they earnt a place in our 2019 Editor’s Choice awards.
However, the Rapha shorts don’t offer quite as much storage as these Specialized ones do, so if you are smaller than 177cm but still take a size small and want some additional pockets, well, the choice is clear!
Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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