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Best women's bibshorts: A buyer's guide to the best bibs for cycling

Emma Cole
31 Mar 2020

The rundown of the best women's bibshorts on the market

Women’s bibshorts tend to solve one problem, whilst creating another. Shoulder straps keep the shorts securely in place without putting any pressure on your stomach – but they often mean that pitstops become a time-consuming striptease, as you remove jersey, gilet and waterproof to get the straps down and drop your shorts to pee.

Several of the big brands have now addressed this issue, but there’s a lot more to bibshorts than just getting them on and off.

A good pair of bibs will fit well – which means the cuffs will sit in a comfortable (and flattering) position on your thigh, and be snug enough to grip without friction, yet not so tight that they affect circulation or produce the dreaded ‘sausage legs’ effect.

Some riders find that silicone grippers irritate their skin (especially in warmer weather), and will prefer elastic or the inherent gripping properties of lycra itself.

The chamois should fit your anatomy closely, as creases or badly placed seams will cause chafing and lead to saddle sores, and stay securely in position throughout your ride. Designers recommend wearing the smallest size you can get into, as a tight fit will stop the pad moving, especially as the fabric deteriorates over time.

Unlike most male cyclists, women selecting bibshorts will have to take into consideration the way the straps sit on their chest. In some cases you’ll find a particular configuration of straps doesn’t work comfortably with the size or shape of your bust.

To help you make your decision, Cyclist has sorted through what’s on offer and put together this list of old favourites and exciting newcomers, for every budget, every anatomy, and all lengths of ride.

The best women's bibshorts

Assos Dyora RS Spring Fall bibshorts S9

Wiggle | £200 

If you are after a high-quality pair of shorts with phenomenal saddle comfort and don’t mind the defined chamois, then the Assos Dyora RS Spring Fall Bib Shorts S9 are worth a try.

The standout feature is the phenomenal saddle comfort. Assos' three-layer 3D waffle foam offers some serious squishiness, and its 'goldenGate' tech essentially means the chamois doesn’t move around.

Add in the brands A-Lock engineering, whereby the bib straps are attached lower down to the chamois which also prevent movement, and you have a very comfortable and secure pair of bib shorts.

They also have a wide elastane band with silicone leg grippers woven into them which keep the shorts nicely in place.

As is standard with Assos garments, the branding is subtle, meaning you get high performance wear without making a big deal about it.

However, despite all the silky smoothness and longer length, the Assos Dyora RS Spring Fall Bib Shorts S9 aren’t the most flattering.

The defined high waisted pant line look draws the eye into the area and highlights an already stand-out chamois. Something which may not be to everyone's taste.

The bib shorts also do not have a comfort break feature which makes them less convenient than others on the market.

Pactimo Women's Summit Classic bib shorts 

Pactimo £165 

These are a great pair of lightweight shorts with a useful comfort break feature and very comfortable chamois, making them ideal for long distance training.

Made from flat-sheen, double-knit fabric, the shorts have a super soft, sleek feel to them and feel great against the skin.

The chamois is Pactimo's Endurance Anatomic Gem 2, a combination foam insert, which the brand claims is supportive and comfortable. 

Most importantly, the Summit Classic Bib Shorts come with Pactimo's Clip&Pit system which, frankly, is brilliant.

Simply unclip the chest strap and pull down the shorts for a comfort break.

The bib shorts offer a gentle level of compression, on the lower end compared with other bib shorts in this list, and have raw edge cut straps and leg openings, which makes them feel less secure, but that is a preference. 

At £165 they are at the premium end of the market but less than the Assos. 

Endura Women’s Pro SL Bib Shorts 

Endura | £129.99

If you’re looking for a reliable and high-performing pair of shorts that will keep you comfortable through long races and multi-day rides, Endura’s Pro SL bib shorts may well be the ones for you.

The shorts are perhaps best known for their DropSeat feature which is a discreet, zip-free comfort break option and you don’t even have to touch the straps.

Another feature that sets these shorts apart is the  chamois – it is the brand's 800 Series Conform EGM Pad with medical grade Elastomer technology.

ColdBlack-treated fabric, to reduce heat build-up and provides UPF50 protection and the shorts have a  PFC free, non-toxic water repellent finish 

Isadore Climbers Bib Shorts

Isadore | £170

These sleek and stylish bibshorts claim to have the world’s first totally ecological chamois, in keeping with the Slovakian brand’s ethical focus. Instead of foam, the pad is constructed from Airmesh, a 100% recyclable material that is seamless and constructed with four multi-structured levels to optimise impact absorption and maintain comfort over longer rides.

The body of the shorts is made from two different fabrics – Swiss Schoeller Lycra on the side panels, to provide compression and sun protection, and Italian Premium Lycra on the inner panels, to offer a softer interface for areas more prone to friction.

The mesh straps don’t offer a pitstop hack, but you’re more likely to be using these bibs in summer than in winter, which makes stripping off less of a hardship.

The silicone-lined grippers are fairly narrow, so there’s a chance that riders with bulkier thighs might find Isadore’s shorts create the ‘sausage’ effect, but otherwise they are thoughtfully designed, right down to the printed care instructions, to avoid chafing labels.

These are made for hot conditions. 

Rapha Women’s Cargo Bib Shorts

Rapha | £195

Rapha has revolutionised its legwear in recent years, and now offers a number of different chamois/short combinations, to suit different anatomies and riding styles, and even, thanks to its Core range, a greater variety of budgets.

The Cargo bibshorts have been designed with multi-day adventures in mind, and are claimed to excel in extreme conditions. The chamois is lightweight and perforated, for comfort over long distances in hot weather, and the main body features quick-drying fabrics, including water-resistant Shadow panels, ensuring the shorts stand up to bad weather and can be washed and dried overnight.

A favourite feature of the Cargo bibshorts is their multiple pockets.

Two on the legs work well for stashing snacks, lip balms and even your phone when you’re on the go whilst the two on the back are designed to remain accessible if you choose to wear shorts and t-shirt over your bibs.

These bibshorts are a versatile choice that will cover you for many different rides.

The only potential downside is that the front-zip design doesn’t allow for quick pitstops.

Le Col Women’s Pro Bib Shorts

 Le Col | £160

Founder Yanto Barker claims that these are 'the fastest, most comfortable and best performing shorts out there', and the silky Italian Lycra with which they’re constructed certainly gives the impression of luxury.

Some riders may be less taken with the silicone insert that runs the length of the outer thigh, and could cause irritation in hot weather, but for others this will ensure the shorts stay in place over longer distances, and reduce the risk of friction and chafing.

Le Col’s chamois offers something a bit different – a silicone-treated pad with a soft textile covering that minimises friction – and is less bulky than many on the market.

Price-wise these are towards the upper end, but not the most expensive on the market, and the stylish simplicity of their design and detailing is likely to flatter most figures.

Castelli Premio Womens bibshorts

Sigma Sports | £200

Castilli's premio bib shorts are a versatile option, one which the brand says is a good option of all conditions and distances, and designed to provide total comfort on even the longest of rides. 

It is made from gradient stretch woven fabric which, according to Castelli, is 30 per cent lighter than traditional knit fabrics. 

Seams are carefully placed for clean, flattering lines, and in many cases are entirely absent. The straps are seamless and the shorts have integrated gripper elastic which holds the hem in place and stops them riding up. 

The bibshorts feature the women's specific Progetto X2 Air seamless pad which is ideal for long stints in the saddle. 

These are at the higher end of the price spectrum, but offer serious comfort and tech for longer rides.

If you are into long rides or are looking to move up a level, these may be the shorts for you.

dhb Womens Bib Shorts

Wiggle | £35

These good-value bibshorts from Wiggle’s in-house brand are far easier on the wallet than most, but still manage to pack in a host of features.

Made from Italian Miti performance stretch fabric, dhb's womens bibshorts are ideal entry level shorts for leisure riding, commuting, sportives and touring. 

The pad is a Cytech elastic interface 'Veloce' chamois, designed for two or three hour rides, and moulded to offer comfort, breathability and designed to prevent chafing. 

The bib shorts also feature silicone grippers in the legs hems to stop them moving during a ride. 

Although the price bracket positions these shorts in the entry-level market, they are a high quality, high performance and great value pair of shorts which give good comfort for a few hours. 

Sportful Women’s BF Classic W Pro Bib Short

Chain Reaction Cycles | £47.50

The meeting point of pro-level performance and normal-person budget, Sportful’s BF Classic bibshorts offer a technical and supportive pair of shorts for both and long and short rides.

The shorts are made from a combination of AeroFlow Compress fabric and 220g Lycra® which gives the legs a good level of compression and support.

Sportful’s BodyFit Pro Women’s chamois is highly regarded, with its variable thickness and anatomical shape with seamless construction which helps elimate chafing and keep pressure in the right place when riding. 

The bibs feature minmalist mesh bib straps with radio pocket that sit comfortably on most chests, and provide optimal airflow and temperature control. 

The fabric has an aesthetically pleasing textured finish, and while it’s difficult to assess Sportful’s claims that this improves aerodynamics, testers have acknowledged its compression properties.

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