As the primary weight-bearing contact point between you and your bike, a saddle can be an uncomfortable perch without the right padded shorts to provide cushioning and wick away sweat. A good pair of padded bibshorts will help you pass hours in peace on the bike; but a bad pair can lead to such discomfort that they strip the pleasure from cycling and end up confining your bike to the shed.
Bibshorts have a basic anatomy: the ‘chamois’ pad provides the cushioning, while the bib straps make sure the pad stays in place. Stretchy Lycra bibshorts move with your body and are much more comfortable than shorts, preventing a bare patch of your back from being exposed to the elements, and avoiding the need for a high waistband that might dig in to your stomach.
Among other features to look for, bibshorts will ideally have a gripper around the hem to stop them riding up your thighs. And, like Henry Ford’s famous Model T, they come in any colour you want so long as it’s black.
Finally, remember not to wear underwear below your bibshorts – the chamois is designed to be comfortable next to your skin.
The price of bibshorts varies widely, based on materials and brand. Here are three pairs from Altura that caught our eye.
These competitively-priced bibshorts are your ideal companions for rides of up to four hours. The dual-density foam chamois pad has gel inserts to maximise comfort, while its high-wicking, microbial top-sheet will help to keep you feeling dry and fresh. Stretchy, fast-wicking fabric allows the shorts to move with your body, and an internal silicone print grips your legs to stop the shorts from riding up. When the going gets hot, you’ll be glad of the mesh back that lets heat and sweat escape.
Spending a little extra on bibshorts accesses higher quality materials and even greater comfort to support longer rides. Altura partnered with chamois pad expert Elastic Interface to create the exclusive Icon pad used in these bibshorts. The pad is tailored to your bodyweight: higher density 120kg/m3 foam used in XL and XXL sizes, and 80kg/m3 foam deployed in S to L sizes. Both chamois are 11mm thick, minimising their bulk but maximising comfort on lengthy rides of up to six hours.
Clever fabric technology sees carbon thread woven into the back panel to boost its sweat wicking qualities and combat the build-up of bacteria, while the soft bib straps are comfortable over your shoulders as they hold everything in place.
Neat reflective detailing adds extra value to this pair of bibshorts that offers excellent bang for your buck.
For keen and committed cyclists planning to spend long days in the saddle, every tiny detail of these premium bibshorts has been designed for the ultimate in comfort. Developed between Altura and world-record breaking long-distance cyclist Mark Beaumont, the fastest person to have cycled around the planet, the Endurance is centred on the Elastic Interface’s superb Endurance pad. Ideal for rides of eight hours and longer, the 11mm deep chamois features a high wicking anti-microbial top layer, above dual density foam that moves with you, pedal stroke after pedal stroke, delivering flexibility without adding bulk.
The bibshorts’ highly breathable mesh front and back panels are reinforced by a tougher, abrasion-resistant Schoeller ceramic fabric in the sides to offer a degree of protection in the event of a fall. Generously wide bib straps keep the shorts securely in place from the top, while silicone grips inside the end of deep, raw-cut cuffs prevent the shorts from riding up, no matter how far you ride.
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