Cycling shorts are an essential piece of kit for anyone wishing to enjoy a comfortable ride. The all-important chamois is one of just 3 contact points with the bike, meaning it’s extremely important to get the right fit. A great pair of bib shorts coupled with a well fitting saddle can lead to many hours of comfortable riding. Get it wrong & you might experience all kinds of chaffing, discomfort & saddle sores.
Cycling Shorts: Finding A Good Fit
So, how to find the right fit? There are a huge number of shorts & price points to choose from – whilst it would be impossible to cover & test every single short on the market, we’ve selected our favourites to review here.
Cycling Bib Shorts vs Waist Shorts vs Casual Shorts
The first decision to make is what style of shorts you want to ride – bibs, waist shorts or casual? Your perfect cycling shorts starts with the type of riding you want to do.
Casual Cycling Shorts
Chrome Industries – Madrona 5 Pocket Short
Touring cyclists, commuters & some gravel riders might opt for something casual but tailored for the bike. The Chrome Industries Madrona short is nothing short of awesome. They look like a classic pair of everyday shorts, but are constructed with a quick-dry 4-way cotton/nylon/spandex stretch fabric which makes exploring on the bike super comfortable. Plus, they’re a great option for hitting a coffee shop or taking a stroll around somewhere new mid-ride.
Gender: Men & Women’s available
Best For: City riding, commuting, touring
If you’re planning on spending continuos hours on the bike, shorts with a chamois is a must. Back in the day a chamois was made out of leather and used by endurance cyclists to try to reduce the chafing of wollen shorts on long distance rides. The first synthetic chamois was produced in the 1980’s by Mauritzio Cinelli. The new materials achieved a big improvement on chafing & also dampened vibrations on the road. The battle for the most comfortable chamois had begun.
The key to a good chamois is density. Many cheap shorts have a chamois that is thick & spongy – great for a week but over time the pad compresses & reduces to nothing. A dense pad, between 8 – 13 mm is ideal & after 40 years of chamois development, pads are now also designed to suit different ride positions. For example, a chamois optimized for a time trial will have less padding at the back & more the front, as this is where the rider comes into more contact with the saddle in an aero position. A chamois designed for a long Gran Fondo or sportive will have more thickness around the sit bones and add extra comfort to a more upright, leisurely riding position.
A good chamois will also be made out of breathable, anti-microbial materials which eliminate moisture & friction – the two biggest causes of chafing.
Once you’ve got an idea about your ride style & ideal chamois thickness, it’s time to decide – to bib, or not to bib?
Waist Cycling Shorts
Assos of Switzerland – GT Half Short
Assos have built their reputation around the cycling short. They are known for their best-in-class award winning chamois & their shorts are tough to beat for comfort & performance. Unlike most high end cycling clothing brands Assos have inlcuded the half short in their range, and with good reason. The half-short is a great option for riders getting starting in cycling who are not ready to make the jump to bibs. For women in particular, taking a comfort break becomes much easier. The Assos half short is contructed around a great chamois, has soft grippers & a wide waist band to hold the shorts in place.
Best For: Getting started in road cycling
Cycling Bib Shorts
Bib shorts are by far the most widely used by cycling aficionados. The straps remove the need for a waist band (which can cut in & be uncomfortable), and the chamois provides a comfortable contact point with the saddle & the fabrics should wick away sweat & provide temperature control. But how to choose your perfect bib? Finding the absolutley perfect fit is personal – riders are different shapes & sizes & enjoy different styles of riding. Here’s our top pick of cycling bib shorts.
MAAP Pro Bib Short
MAAP is a performance cycling brand from Austrialia, who get all their kit made in Italy. Additional support without unecessary bulk. MAAP have extended its bib short range to include a choice of 3 shorts. The new, premium Pro Bib Short is designed exclusively with performance in mind. They are most definitely a race cut, with wide, comfy straps and material constructed to minimise chafing & maximise compression. These are shorts which last well over time and through multiple washes – maybe something to do with the high-tech, 4D woven fabric. For the price tag you can take your pick of the best shorts on the market – we love these for their simplicity, durability & MAAP style.
The Training Bib & Team Bib short offer nice alternatives at a cheaper price point. The same chamois technology goes into both & MAAP have put the same effort into developing both their mens & womens range.
Pro Bib Short, €235
Best for: Riders looking for a high performance, super stylish short who don’t mind the price tag.
CHPT3 Girona Bib 1.17
Theses are classy bib shorts that are the result of British Ex-Pro David Millar’s collabortation with Castelli. The bibs feature the Castelli Kiss Air chamois & a beautiful, understated design inspired by Girona city. We found the straps to be on the short side, so be sure to check the feel of the bibs in your ride position. The leg gripper is tight, providing a reassuring amount of compression – again, test the fit at your local stockist to ensure you’ve found your perfect match! The price point is spot on – these shorts offer great quality for the price.
Best for: Riders looking for everyday comfort.
Cons: It doesn’t come in women’s fit.
Assos: The Golden Gate
Assos remain the brand to beat when it comes to cycling shorts & chamois construction. They have a short for every rider & once you’ve ridden an Assos bib, it’s extremely hard to appreciate another bib once you’ve found your perfect set of Assos. Assos make shorts that do not move on the rider – the shorts feel like a second skin & chafing is non-existent. The ‘Golden Gate’ is available in the Equipe & Cento short. It’s a clever innovation whereby just the front & the back of the chamois is stitched onto the shorts – any movement happends between two layers of fabric, and not between the fabric & the riders skin – bliss!
Cento Evo Bib, €255 – For long distance riders looking for luxury
Cons: Their women’s shorts are fantastic, but just available in UMA (Mille) & Laalalai (Equipe)
Trade in Trade Up
In the market for some new cycling shorts? Take advatnage of the Assos Trade In Trade Up Campaign. Bring any set of clean bibs to your local Assos dealer & get €20 off any set of Assos shorts.
What’s your favourite bib?
We’d love to hear from you! Tell us about your best bibs or ask us if you’d like some advice with purchasing your next set of bibs – get in touch!
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