WHAT MATTERS MOSTfanyuying
There’s a lot of variety in available bike shorts, so it’s important to know what to look for. Before jumping into the reviews, I’ll lay out what I think matters most in evaluating and choosing between them.
First, if you ride several times a week for an hour or more, I’d recommend wearing women’s bib shorts which have shoulder straps that connect to the shorts rather than women’s bike shorts that end at your waist. They’ll be more comfortable, help your performance, and prevent chafing.
Second, buy quality. The best fabrics, straps, and chamois and how they are made into bib shorts don’t come cheap. While you can sometimes spend too much, you generally get what you pay for and your performance and pleasure can suffer if you spend too little.
Of course, each of our bodies is shaped differently and we have different style preferences and budget priorities. These factors can make evaluating and choosing bib shorts more difficult than picking a helmet or pair of bike shoes.
Getting bib shorts cut for your body and preferences is the place to start. Some are cut narrower or wider at the waist and hips. Others reach up well above your waist or cover more or less of your legs.
You can see how I experienced the cut in the comparative chart above.
The chamois pads that go into your bib shorts are also cut differently. Most fall into one of two groups.
– Contact Point Chamois – Those with a chamois that ends at the places or “points” where your bottom and the saddle come into contact, specifically between the legs and just beyond your sit bones.
– Extended Chamois – Those with a chamois that extends somewhat beyond your contact points to the insides of your legs and outsides of your butt and above it beyond your sit bones. The extra chamois pad and material are usually thinner than the part that rests under your contact points.
Contact point chamois are typically best for rides when we want to go our fastest and will be in an aero position. When we do, the extra material in an extended chamois isn’t necessary and can get in the way of your aggressively cranking legs.
An extended chamois is great for longer or more relaxed and endurance rides where the added padding will buffer your butt and legs against the saddle when you are pedaling in a more upright body position.