Biking Tips

How Should Cycling Bibs Fit?

Cycling bibs are getting popular. All professional bike events have most professional athletes wearing bib shorts. Bib shorts have certain advantages over regular bike shorts. Of course, the hype has persuaded you to try a pair of bib shorts for yourself as well. But how should cycling bibs fit? Cycling bibs are just like bike shorts except that the waistband is replaced by shoulder bands. Bib shorts should fit like a glove but shouldn’t be too tight. The shoulder bands shouldn’t dig in but they shouldn’t be loose enough to fall off. If you know how to choose bike shorts, then choosing cycling bibs with the right fit shouldn’t be a problem. This article discusses how cycling bibs should fit for you to stay comfortable on your bike for long periods.

Why should you choose bibs over shorts?

Cycling bibs have some very notable advantages over bike shorts which is why they have captured the higher-end performance market. Almost all high-performance shorts are bib shorts now. All the best bike shorts lists are dominated by bib shorts. Endura Pro SL and Castelli Cycling Free Aero Race 4 are some examples of the best performance bib shorts.

The waistband is the main difference between shorts and bibs which also influences performance. With no waistband, bibs cause no restriction in diaphragmatic breathing. In regular bike shorts, the waistband digs into the stomach which not only restricts diaphragmatic movement during breathing but also causes pain around the waist. Of course, limited breathing capacity also means less stamina and the fatigue will catch up to you fairly quickly.

Bib shorts eliminate the problem of a waistband by getting rid of it altogether and introducing shoulder straps. Bib shorts also provide more coverage so you don’t have to worry about your butt being exposed as you lean forward to go faster. Another advantage of shoulder straps is that they keep the chamois firmly in place regardless of whether you are sitting, standing, or riding. The feature is most helpful during long rides.

But all is not good with bib shorts. As with everything, there are also disadvantages to bib shorts. The first is that the shoulder straps are non-adjustable which makes them less suitable for larger riders. The straps dig into their shoulders. The straps especially cause problems for women because of their bras. Bra straps along with the straps of the bib shorts make the ride extremely uncomfortable. Thankfully, there are sports bras that work well with bib shorts.

The most notable disadvantage of bib shorts over regular shorts is when you have to go to the toilet. It takes longer to take off bib shorts so you need to be mindful of your toilet breaks before they turn into an emergency. However, bib manufacturers have put special thought to make bib shorts more toilet friendly for women. Women’s bib shorts are now available with contraptions like hooks, zips, clips, and halter necks to aid them in the toilet. For men, unfortunately, it’s a damnation without relief and they have to go through the whole process.

Bib Shorts Fit

If you are a bike rider and you own a pair of bike shorts then you have already gone through the process of finding the right fit. In this case, half of your work is already done because choosing bib shorts is almost the same process. Your bib shorts should fit like your bike shorts. The only thing you have to consider is the fitting of the shoulder straps. Most bike shorts have bib versions as well. It is recommended that you start there if you are getting bib shorts for the first time. It won’t feel too awkward as the fitting and chamois would be the same which you are already comfortable with.

Shoulder Straps

It is recommended that the shoulder straps of your bib shorts should be a little tight when standing. When you tuck forward on your bike, your back becomes curved which loosens the straps a bit. If the straps are too loose, they would come off or at least bother you. But at the same time, the straps shouldn’t be tight enough to dig into your shoulders. When trying out bib shorts, sit on your bike in your riding position to determine the fit of the straps.


Bib shorts have the same inseam length as bike shorts. The inseam length is somewhere between 5 to 11 inches. 7-9 inches is the regular inseam. Women’s bibs have shorter inseams. While leg length is a personal preference, you should go for longer inseams if you have thicker thighs like athletes so that the legs don’t creep up. If you think the inseams of your bib shorts are longer and the shorts fit right, then you can fold up or even cut the legs. Folding up is a better option because cutting the legs would mean cutting the leg grippers as well.


Chamois is the defining part of regular or bib shorts. They have varying thickness and shape and they are gender specific. It takes some trial and error to find the right shape that suits you. When you try on the shorts, make sure that it stays in place. A chamois that bounces about between the legs is annoying during the ride. Plus, it isn’t able to perform its function as well. Similarly, a chamois too thick would also cause chaffing while a chamois too thin won’t provide the protection and support needed.

Do bib shorts stretch over time?

Bib shorts and bike shorts don’t stretch over time. They stretch only a bit in the beginning to adjust to the body of the rider but that stretch is almost negligible. In bibs, the stretch happens between the legs and the straps. If your bib shorts stretch too much in the beginning, then something is wrong with them and you should get them changed. Too much stretch happens to bibs and bike shorts after years of use and wash as the fabric starts to deteriorate. When that happens, you need to change your bib shorts.

Final Thoughts

Bib shorts are getting very popular among bike riders because they have advantages over conventional bike shorts. Due to their advantages, bib shorts have quickly captured the high-end performance market. By replacing the waistband with shoulder straps, bib shorts are more comfortable and provide better hold to the chamois. If you already have a pair of bike shorts, then you would know how bib shorts should fit. Make sure the shoulder straps are a bit tight when you stand which is recommended. All other aspects of fit are the same as in bike shorts. Bib shorts, like bike shorts, only stretch a bit in the beginning. If they stretch too much, get them changed because there is something wrong with them.