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Best men's cycling bibshorts: a buyer's guide to the best bibs for indoor and outdoor cycling

Cyclist magazine
10 Aug 2021

They're probably the most important part of your cycling wardrobe, so make sure you get the right pair for you

A solid pair of cycling bibshorts are indispensable. Given you're destined to spend hours sitting in them, you need to ensure you select the right pair for your particular derriere

To cut through the crud, Cyclist has selected multiple pairs, ranging from the cheap to the quite costly to investigate the options when it comes to what you get for your cash.

As you’d expect, fit is king – your shorts need to be snug without restricting blood flow, long enough to cover around two-thirds of your thigh while not over your knees and have a good hem to keep them in place.

Non-cyclists might be getting hung up on the straps. Bibshorts have straps, normally shorts don't. Like every single racer in the peloton, we’re big fans of strap-sporting bibshorts. Not only do the straps help take pressure off your abdomen, but they'll also stop you sporting a builders bum - just make sure they are broad enough not to cut into your shoulders.

With indoor riding also on the rise for obvious reasons, you will probably want to find a lighter, more breathable pair that have an excellent chamois, too.

The best men's cycling bibshorts

1. Castelli Free Aero Race bibshorts

Developed with Team Ineos (nee Sky), you get the idea that Castelli’s Free Aero Race bibshorts are cut from the highest cloth.

Launched last year, dimpled Vortex fabric on the legs provide crucial aero benefits while the Forza fabric on the leg’s inners helps mould a perfect race fit.

Castelli uses its Progetto X2 Air chamois which is both seamless to prevent irritation on your undercarriage while also being relatively small to also prevent intrusion.

Large Giro4 leg grippers keep the bibshorts in place, regardless of the effort, while a ‘minimalist’ strap construction means you’ll keep cool on even the warmest days.

As is usual with Castelli, its bibshorts do come up small so you may need to consider sizing up.

2. Le Col Sport bibshorts

The Sport range is Le Col’s entry option and the cheapest it offers. It combines lightweight and breathable materials with a ‘high-grade’ foam chamois to produce a bibshort that Le Col claims is perfect for the Sunday club run.

The Sport bibshorts also have small design nods such as hi-vis strips and silicone leg grippers which provides a sense of value for money, too. One for the fashionistas out there. We reckon these will look good with a hooped earring. You can read our full review here.

Buy now from Le Col for £130

3. Assos Equipe RS S9 bibshorts

We say bibshorts, most will say Assos. After all, it’s what the high-end Swiss brand is best known for. At £175, the Equipe RS S9 shorts are mid-range for Assos, which seems insane, but it comes with good reason.

Assos bibshorts are incredibly comfortable, utilising its Type.441 to develop what it calls a ‘second skin’, and have been born out of a six-year development period.

Its superAir mircoshock form is also shock-absorbing while its ergoBox panel construction ensures stability. The legs are also made from one panel of fabric which makes it almost seamless. Expensive but you get your money’s worth.

4. Van Rysel RCR Road bibshorts

Cheap, very cheerful, Decathlon's house-brand Van Rysel is a godsend to anybody new to the cycling game offering good-quality products at very affordable prices and its bibshorts are no exception.

Decathlon claims that the slightly longer leg will provide you with an aero benefit while its high back provides that feeling of support while continuing to wick away sweat from the body.

Coming in black and navy, the shorts are classically designed to match any jersey/sock combination and at less than £50 are quite the steal. Looking for your first-ever set of bibshorts or some cheaper kit for commuting? These could be a good bet. 

Buy now from Decathlon for £60

5. Santini Karma Kite Bib Shorts

Santini’s workhorse short still includes a few elegant touches. Key among these is its GITEVO chamois with gel core. Ideal for comfort on long rides, it aims to help disperse otherwise uncomfortable pressure while also adding a degree of shock-absorbing insulation.

Sandwiched between a pair of legs made from the wonderfully named Thunderbike Power fabric, this compression-type material ensures a tight fit and may help reduce muscle fatigue. Backed by other sections made of lightweight and fast-drying Polartec Delta fabric, the shorts broad straps and upper sections are made of highly breathable mesh.

With reflective tabs on the back of the legs, styling and colours come in both low-key or loud versions. Either way, you should find a pair that will pair well with your existing wardrobe.

Buy now from Santini for £130

6. Gore C5 Bibshorts

While they may lack in style and panache, you are always guaranteed high-quality performance with anything that comes from the Gore stable.

The C5 bibshorts are the brand's mid-level offering but still come jam-packed with excellent tech borrowed from the more expensive C7 range.

Grip elastic at the waist of the shorts ensures a close, slim-fit cut that while not obtrusive, helps to minimise air resistance, according to Gore. By comparison, one area wind resistance is deliberately increased is the front of the Advanced Road seat pad where a windproof panel stops your bits from getting chilly.

There are reflective details across the shorts, a big tick for commuters, while flat hems and a high mesh back ensure comfort and security against the body. A very solid option for those who like to tick off big kilometres at the weekend or ride to work day in, day out.

7. DHB Aeron Lab Raceline bibshorts

If we are honest, dhb was once an entry-level brand that was often scoffed at in comparison to its more established rivals. Now, dhb is genuinely a top-notch brand that produces high-quality cycling apparel at very attractive price points.

Take its Aeron Lab range, raced at Continental Pro level but still cheaper than most of its rivals, especially considering its £65 in the sale right now.

It’s close-cut and specially-designed fabrics have made these bibshorts aero-optimised while multi-density chamois guarantees saddle comfort even in the most aggressive of road races/club rides.

Also, the rear strap is pretty wide set which ensures it stays in place all ride long.

Buy now from Wiggle for £105

8. Rapha Classic bibshorts

Criticise Rapha for being pompous all you want, you cannot deny the quality of its product and especially its bibshorts.

The Classic bibshorts are classics by name, classic by nature, Rapha says these bibshorts are for all occasions whether that be your morning commute or evening race.

Rapha's well-loved Classic chamois to keep comfort a premium while also using a slim profile to prove unobtrusive when riding.

Comfort is also paramount with Rapha’s soft leg grippers, flat-lock stitching and labels away from the skin, ensuring little to no irritation. Meshed straps create a breathable back while also wicking away sweat. Recently made over to include more recycled fabric, you can also pick up these classic shorts in less than classic shades of red and navy.

At £170, you may wince at the price but it’s far from extortionate when compared to competitors pricing and the fact Rapha offers a free crash repair service.

Buy now from Rapha for £170

9. Ale Corsa bibshorts

Ale claims that its Corsa bibshorts are for cyclists who are ready to take their bike riding a little more seriously, combining comfort and movement that is suited for long, hard miles in the saddle.

The 2HF pad is anatomically designed to give ultimate cushioned support while remaining completely unobtrusive to the rider's pedal stroke. The high back mesh stability system gives the bibs a secure fit that also aids in wicking away sweat from the body while a race-cut leg offers protection and support.

At £75, the Corsa bibshorts are pretty reasonably priced and with a clean design, are one of the best looking shorts on the market, too.

Buy now from ChainReaction for £75 

10. Cafe du Cycliste Josephine bibshorts

Cafe du Cycliste is a high-end brand that looks to blend performance and style, hence the clean-looking Josephine bibshorts. High mesh straps help keep the bibs secure while sizeable elastic grippers keep the legs in place without causing discomfort.

The foam pad is provided by Cytech while a racing cut on the legs will feel fitted and supportive when riding. Reflective strips are also welcomed. A luxury option for the lover's of luxury among you. The Josephine bibshorts are expensive but worth it.

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