As your wallet is most likely well aware, cycling is a very equipment-dependent sport. From the bike itself, to the individual components, it’s easy to make a dent in your paycheck every month. To make matters even more stressful on your finances, your bike is only part of the equation. Apparel can be just as important in its ability to make or break your riding experience.
A poor-quality kit can make a ride miserable, while the proper threads can make the miles feel almost effortless. But, notice we use the words ‘poor-quality’ rather than ‘affordable.’ While cycling apparel can definitely get a bit pricey, there are certainly options out there that enable any rider to maximize the bang for their buck.
We’re not going to go into why a good set of bib shorts with a well-tailored chamois is the single most-important foundation of any good cycling kit—it would involve too many horror stories involving some pretty sensitive areas, and some horrible metaphors involving sandpaper and bleach. Long story short, the bib short is the interface between your most sensitive contact point on the bike, and you’d better make sure it’s a comfortable one.
So first off, a well-tailored chamois is of paramount importance. While some might think padding takes precedence, padding is the last thing you’ll be thinking about when you’re wearing what feels like the adult equivalent of a diaper. A properly tailored chamois is designed to meld seamlessly with the shorts, making for a pair that fits—and moves-with the contours of your body instead of just providing a saddle-specific equivalent of a memory-foam mattress pad.
Secondly, bib shorts are a must as opposed to bib-less shorts as the straps do a much better job at keeping the chamois in place, limiting the chance of chafing.
After these two requirements, fabric performance is your main concern. What we’re looking for here primarily is moisture management. A good pair of bib shorts will wick away sweat to keep you dry on all but the hottest days.
All that said, it’s definitely worth budgeting a bit more cash for a good pair of bibshorts. Spending money in this category will earn you the biggest dividends when it comes to improving your riding experience. However, there are still options that provide plenty of comfort and performance and don’t require dipping into savings. Case in point: the Capo Pursuit Bib Short. Featuring Capo’s Anatomic-L HD Carbon chamois, it incorporates varying thickness densities to provide an exceptional amount of padding with minimal bulk. Several years ago, the chamois featured in the Pursuit bibs would have been comparable to some of the most high-end chamois on the market.
Another pair of shorts we’d like are Pearl Izumi’s Elite In-R-Cool Bibs. Mineral-infused In-R-Cool fabric lowers body temperature by five degrees, along with speeding moisture transfer and dry time. The anatomic P.R.O. Seamless 1:1 Chamois is light and thin while providing ample comfort and blood flow.