The Best and Bib Shorts for Road Cycling in 2023

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When it comes to comfort on the bike, it’s important to wear cycling shorts. You’ll be seated on the saddle most of the time and having a good pair will definitely help. 

You’d probably noticed that there are also various types of cycling shorts such as bib shorts, bib tights, and those that are specifically designed for cold and wet season rides.

  • Which type should you get?
  • Are they worth the money?

On this page, we answer all the questions that you have regarding bib shorts.

How We Pick Bib Shorts

To find the best and most comfortable bibs, we focused on the established names such as Castelli, Sportful, Assos, and Giordana among others. We also look at large cycling retailers such as Competitive Cyclist, Wiggle, and Chain Reaction Cycles.

For comparison, we also ask our local bunch on their favorite bibs and read reviews from other cycling websites such as Cycling News, Bike Radar, and Cycling Weekly for their take.

With all this info, we then apply our own set of criteria below to pick our favorites.

  • Comfort. Each bib is designed differently and that affects comfort directly. A flat and wide strap doesn’t dig into your shoulder blades and a good gripper prevents the bib from slipping up.
  • Chamois. The thickness matters most especially for longer rides (30+ miles). A good chamois will have varying thicknesses from front to back, typically between 0.5mm to 1.5mm to provide support where it’s needed most.
  • Fabric material. While the majority of bibs are made from Lycra, the major difference between cheap and premium models is the percentage of Lycra used in the fabric. This will affect the price, comfort, breathability, and water-proofing properties among others.
  • Seams. The more seams there are, the less comfort there is. Generally, premium bibs come with minimal seams, usually around 3-4 panels at most.

We discuss this in detail in our bib shorts buyer’s guide here.

A Quick Glance : Our Favorite Cycling Bib Shorts

Budget Pick

Pearl Izumi Quest Bib Short

Pearl Izumi Quest Bib

Value for Money

Castelli Endurance 2 Bib Shorts

Castelli Endurance 2 Bib

Long Distance Comfort

Gore Wear C7 Vent Bib Shorts

Gore Wear C7 Vent

Budget and Affordable Picks

Pearl Izumi Quest

Pearl Izumi Quest Bib Short
Photo Credit : Pearl Izumi
  • Material : 88% nylon, 12% Lycra elastane, (mesh) 80% polyester, 20% elastane
  • Chamois : Select Escape 1:1
  • Colors : Black
  • Ideal for : Summer

Bib shorts are a necessity, but they aren’t exciting purchases. Bike apparel mainstay Pearl Izumi gets this, which is why they’ve designed these budget bib shorts. 

As it has with its entire line of cycling shorts, Pearl Izumi has placed its new and improved Select Escape 1:1 chamois in the Quest bibs. Features of this new softer pad include a higher grade of foam that eliminates uncomfortable seams. Coupled with its durable fabric, this makes for a simple yet effective pair of shorts. 

  • Pros : Excellent value for money.
  • Cons : Leg grippers tend to lose grip faster than other brands.

Castelli Entrata

Castelli Entrata Bib Shorts
Photo Credit : Castelli
  • Material : Pro Dry Matte Lycra
  • Chamois : KISS Air2
  • Colors : Black, Dark Infinity Blue
  • Ideal for : Summer

Castelli is known for its high-end and high-performance cycling apparel. You may have noticed the Team Ineos pro team sporting their shorts at last year’s Tour. But, just because the pros wear them doesn’t mean you have to pay pro-level prices to own a pair.

The Castelli Entrata offers plenty of performance features without the high price tag. This includes Castelli’s advanced Pro Dry Lycra material and KISS Air2 chamois cushions as well as the 8-panel construction that makes Castelli’s shorts so form-fitting and comfortable.

You also get that extra attention to detail that sets these bib shorts above lower-end models. This includes mesh bib straps for breathability, leg grippers that keep the shorts in place, and stitched logos that ensure everyone on your Sunday morning ride knows your shorts are Castelli. 

  • Pros : Castelli’s mid-range KISS Air2 chamois is very comfortable.
  • Cons : Straps aren’t of the best quality and degrade faster than others.

Sportful Neo

Sportful Neo Bib Shorts
Photo Credit : Sportful
  • Material : Elast-X 210g Lycra
  • Chamois : Comfort Pro
  • Colors : Black
  • Ideal for : Summer

If you’re looking for an excellent value in cycling shorts, then check out the Neo from Sportful, a company that’s been specializing in apparel for cycling and skiing since the 1970s. 

Sportful uses a material called Elast-X 210g, which is designed to prevent muscle fatigue by providing support through compression while at the same time offering enough flex for quick movements. 

The Sportful Comfort Pro pad protects your sit bones through long rides on uneven pavement while elastic and silicone grip dots keep the shorts from riding up. The back panel of the bib is made from mesh, keeping you cool on long hot rides. 

Best of all, you get these high-end shorts at a price that won’t break your budget, making the Sportful Neo one of the best values in bib shorts. 

  • Pros : Made with compression materials to prevent muscle fatigue.
  • Cons : Not ideal for those with larger thighs.

Value for Money Picks

Castelli Endurance 3

Castelli Endurance 2 Bib Shorts
Photo Credit : Castelli
  • Material : Endurance Evolution Fabric
  • Chamois : Progetti X2 Air
  • Colors : Black, Dark Steel Blue, Grey
  • Ideal for : Summer, Spring, Fall

When you’re buying cycling apparel from Italian company Castelli, you can expect to be pampered. Such is the case with the Castelli Endurance 2 bib short, which proves that you don’t have to suffer through uncomfortable shorts while suffering over long distances.

Castelli’s Progetto X2 Air Seamless chamois will keep your nether regions dry and comfortable all day long. Soft Endurance Evolution fabric is gentle on your skin while providing muscle-supporting compression.

In true Castelli fashion, the Endurance 2 includes plenty of panels to ensure a snug and contoured fit. Giro3 leg grippers at the openings keep the legs firmly in place without pinching or constricting. The upper straps and back are constructed of mesh to keep you cool in hot weather. 

  • Pros : Best value with top of the line Castelli chamois.
  • Cons : Black color tends to sell out fast.

Sportful Bodyfit Pro Air

Sportful Bodyfit Pro Air Bib Shorts
Photo Credit : Sportful
  • Material : Lycra
  • Chamois : TC Pro Pad
  • Colors : Black, Anthracite
  • Ideal for : Hot Summer Days

There’s nothing worse when riding in the heat of the summer than feeling like your bib shorts are wrapping your body like a rubber suit. Sportful knows this, so they design a set of shorts designed to give you maximum ventilation for those long hot rides. 

The Sportful Bodyfit Pro Air is designed with AeroFlow, the company’s ultra-light synthetic mesh, on the thighs to maximize airflow while at the same time not sacrificing compression. 

It’s also designed with an open back panel to promote airflow as you arch your back into the drops. Sportful’s TC Pro pad serves as the chamois, providing plenty of comfort and support for full-day rides. 

  • Pros : Two hidden pockets in the upper offer hidden storage for a smartphone and gel packs. 
  • Cons : Thin fabrics.

Giordana G-Shield

Giordana G-Shield Bib Shorts
Photo Credit : Giordana
  • Material : Super Roubaix, Acqua Zero Eco (DWR treatment)
  • Chamois : Cirro O.F.
  • Colors : Black
  • Ideal for : Wet Spring and Fall Days

Winter weather riding demands more out of your cycling shorts. No one wants to spend miles in the saddle cold and wet after getting doused by an unexpected squall. 

Avoid the risk when riding in cooler weather and get the Giordana G-Shield bib shorts. They’re designed to keep you warm in spite of the cold and wet. The Giordana G-Shield shorts are constructed from Super Roubaix AZ fabric, which includes a microfiber liner to keep you warm. 

The fabric is also treated with Giordana’s Acqua Zero, a treatment that bonds with the fabric to make it water repellent. You’ll also love the Cirro O.F. chamois, which includes a top layer that is treated with aloe vera, a natural substance that kills bacteria and protects your skin. 

  • Pros : Comfortable, flat, and stretchy bib straps
  • Cons : Water repellent layer is not as good as promoted.

Most Comfortable for Long Distance Rides

Gore Wear C7 Vent

Gore Wear C7 Vent Bib Shorts
Photo Credit : Gore Wear
  • Material : 79% nylon, 21% elastane
  • Chamois : Expert Vent with Gore Windstopper Cup
  • Colors : Black
  • Ideal for : Hot Summer Days

Just a few weeks back Gore unveiled the latest line of products in its running partnership with pro cycling legend Fabian Cancellara. In collaboration with the well-known Swiss, Gore has launched a line of cycling shorts that it claims are revolutionary in its design. 

Typically, cycling shorts are constructed and then the chamois has attached afterward. With the C7, the name is a reference to Cancellara’s 7 career Spring Classics wins, the chamois is actually integrated into the bib shorts material. Gore says this ensures that the chamois will stay in place regardless of how hard your riding. 

In addition to this design, Gore also incorporates other cooling technology into the C7 Vent bibs including its ventilated Expert Vent chamois, breathable lightweight lycra, and mesh paneling on the bib straps and back panel. 

  • Pros : High-quality overall construction from materials used to chamois and straps.
  • Cons : Premium pricing.

Castelli Premio 2

Castelli Premio 2 Bib Shorts
Photo Credit : Castelli
  • Material : Forza fabric with 38% Lycra
  • Chamois : Progetti X2 Air
  • Colors : Black, Dark Steel Blue
  • Ideal for : Long Rides

Sometimes only the best will do. And when you want the best, you can usually count on Italian bike apparel manufacturer Castelli to deliver. 

And that’s exactly what the company does with its Castelli Premio 2 bib shorts. With these shorts, you get the benefit of the many hours Castelli has spent working with pros to perfect them. 

The result is a high-stretch Forza fabric that feels great on your skin but also supplies plenty of stretch for compression. Protecting your sit bones is the Progetto X2 Air Seamless chamois, which now features a special soft skin care layer. 

In addition to the critical areas, Castelli has also given attention to the details with such features as double-layer bib straps and lumbar support for your back. 

  • Pros : Very comfortable fit and overall feel.
  • Cons : Expect to pay a premium price.

Assos T.equipe_s7

Assos T.equipe_s7 Bib Shorts
Photo Credit : Assos
  • Material : 70% polyurethane, 18% elastane, 12% polyester
  • Chamois : Equipe s7 Insers
  • Colors : Black
  • Ideal for : Long Rides

The Assos T.equipe_s7 bib shorts are exactly what you would expect from the Swiss brand. It has taken 6 years of fine-tuning and reworking the design for them to release this pair of bib shorts.

These award-winning bib shorts deliver on comfort, fit, support, and style. A combination of intelligent Golden Gate stitching and multiple laser cut panels ensures comfort while feeling comfortable and supportive at the same time.

These shorts are light but don’t feel flimsy. The new stitching system removes chafing altogether while the chamois is just enough to offer comfort without being bulky. 

Ask any cyclist who regularly rides more than 100 miles for their favorite bib shorts, chances are you’ll hear them saying the Assos T.equipe_s7.

  • Pros : Great comfort, fit, and support.
  • Cons : Very expensive.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I really need bib shorts?

If you’re riding anything more than an hour, bib shorts would be ideal. Having a good pair of bib shorts will provide you with plenty of support, ensuring you’re comfortable on the bike for long periods.

But if you’re riding casually, bib shorts are optional.

2. What are the differences between male and female bib shorts?

The main difference lies in the chamois contour to provide the necessary support for the female body. The straps are designed to provide upper body comfort while also accommodating the breasts. 

Some newer models also allow for the straps to be easily removed during a toilet break without stripping off the entire bib shorts.

3. How to tell if a cycling bib short is men’s or women’s?

Look at the product name or description. 

In most cases, the manufacturer will explicitly differentiate them with wordings like men, women, donna (women in Italian), or using initials such as W.

4. What do you wear under bib shorts?

Wear nothing under the bib shorts, for both males and females. Some could call this, going commando. You don’t want to end up looking like a cycling Hubbard with your underwear!

Look, the chamois is specifically designed to be in contact with your skin and minimize chafing. If you introduce an additional layer between your skin and the chamois, in this case, your underwear, you will increase the chances of chaffing.

5. How should a cycling bib fits?

It should fit snug. Tight, but not too tight that you feel uncomfortable that it’s hindering you during every pedal stroke.

6. How to minimise chafing?

Make sure you wear the right size of bib shorts and try to use chamois cream, especially if you’re going for a long ride. 

Chamois creams help minimize the chances of chafing and help prevent inflammation, soothe the skin, and prevent saddle sores.

Chris Ireland

Chris Ireland is a staff writer covering everything road cycling. He has been writing about cycling as a freelance journalist since 2017. In his spare time, Chris loves to ride his gravel and mountain bikes.