I have so far used cycling shorts for my road cycling attire, but have noticed that bib shorts are prevalent with many road cyclists including many pros.

What are advantages and disadvantages of using bibs vs cycling shorts?

Any quirks, caveats or major pluses for each?

  • 3
    Bibs are a pain when it's time for a nature break.
    – jimchristie
    Jun 7, 2013 at 1:59
  • 2
    Bibs look even dorkier than regular cycling shorts. (Dunno if that's an advantage or a disadvantage.) Jun 7, 2013 at 3:34
  • 1
    @jimirings I have some bibtights that come complete with zipper!
    – PeteH
    Jun 7, 2013 at 8:23
  • @amcnabb - Agreed. Jun 7, 2013 at 12:24

3 Answers 3



  • Don't move.
  • Looks more pro.


  • Easier to put on.
  • Easier when the you hear the call of nature.
  • 2
    @heltonbiker - What? I can't imagine how that works. Are you wearing a jersey lined with sandpaper? :D Jun 7, 2013 at 12:25
  • @NeilFein take a look at this answer, I think it applies to bibs: "wear something skin tight under my upper layers" (bicycles.stackexchange.com/a/13487/2355) Jun 7, 2013 at 12:40
  • 2
    Shorts can pinch around the waist, bibs don't.
    – Benzo
    Jun 7, 2013 at 15:26
  • I couldn't have imagined this was a problem. Now I'm glad I've always worn athletic tees with smooth fabric. Jun 8, 2013 at 19:11

The construction is different, shorts need to have the elastication around the top to keep them in place around your waist and on your hips, this has an obvious effect on the styling. This isn't totally similar to regular shorts, given that cycling shorts need to be designed for a body that's probably bending over a little more than normal so the top of the shorts at the back will be higher (hence also that cycle shirts have a longer back to help cover the inevitable gap that appears when you bend over).

So the bibs help with not needing loads of elastic that digs into your sides because they're being held up from your shoulders, but also the construction covers your lower back (including added insulation in winter/cold-weather varietals).

Not only are the shorts being held from above, they're being anchored in place so they won't rotate and ride around your sides - which is even more annoying than tight elastic.

It's similar to comparing an open-top car against its roofed equivalent - all that extra strength that comes from the roof has to be pushed into the superstructure around the new top of the vehicle. So it is with shorts.

Yes, the call of nature is trickier, but I'd rather be comfortable for hours and uncomfortable for a few minutes, than put up with shorts.


In addition to what Alex says, in cold weather I will ride in bibtights. They are unpadded so I wear shorts underneath. I prefer shorts to bibs in that scenario because the bibtights themselves already come over my shoulders, and when I tried wearing bibs under them I just felt trussed up.

One other thing - and I don't think I'm imagining this going by manufacturer's web sites - is that shorts appear to be more difficult to get hold of than a few years ago. My preferred clothing brand, Etxeondo, is currently offering six different pairs of bibshorts in its range but only one pair of shorts. I wonder whether they are driving the trend, or whether they have responded to sales figures?

To reinforce what Alex says, the "don't move" aspect of bibs should not be underrated.

  • It would stand to reason that manufacturers will dictate the new style by pulling regular shorts off the market. Just try to find a pair of old style short running shorts, eg. If the kids are wearing them, nothing else matters. Jun 7, 2013 at 11:02

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