Skinny road bikers are all praising their Castelli/Assos bibs. Specially long distance riders.

I'm 188cm/106kg and my normal ride is something like 100-120km, 2500m gain, 8-9hours in saddle almost not-stop.

I'm quite happy with cheap fake Castelli bibs from China (17 euros or so). I was that happy with some lower level components until I replaced them with upper levels. More joy actually.

Its easy to get reviews for components but not that easy for clothing. Specially clothing dedicated for long distance XC.

For example I can get Castelli Soprasso tights for around 125euros w/ discount which is not much higher then wiggle's dhb brand.

  • 1
    Why would your weight matter? Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 22:45
  • Because fat is a natural pad. At least it protects bones a bit.
    – a29er
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 8:25

2 Answers 2


You'll only benefit from better bibs, insofar as they fit as they should. Given that you seem content with your current set, start with the same size when making a new purchase.

For the differences...

Start by checking the stitching all the way around on the new ones that you're interested in and compare it to those that you already know. Quite a bit of the new school stuff really has really improved stitching, or even eliminated it altogether, by moving seams around and flattening things out to mitigate chafing potential (nipples, inner thighs, top of your shoulder, chamois edges).

The rubber, or rubber-like, sticky gel that is inside the bottom of the shorts that will be at the bottom of your thigh, just above your knee, will keep your shorts from riding up. The effectiveness and durability of this gel is important because nice shorts that creep up into a wrinkled mess at the top of your leg can wear a hole in your shorts, or your skin. Some shorts have dots or segmented lines of this discreet help while the most effective ones have a solid band that is not woven into the stitching.

Newer, higher-cost, bibs might even have little pockets on your thighs for making food super easy to access while you maintain your riding position. Similarly, there might even be a strategically placed headphone cable pass-through sewn in.

The most significant difference, however, is likely the chamois, or the pad that you'll be relying on for those long rides. Turn each pair that you like inside-out to get the best look and then feel for the differences between the brands and the models. The higher quality padding tends to be more dense while also being more comfortable against your skin. It is likely perforated (lines, slivers, or small sections of slightly less material) to properly fold at the very top of your inner thigh where your seat can rub quite a bit. The padding can consist of multiple densities to accommodate the different pressures that you exert on your seat. Your "sit-bones", or the two bones that ALL of us, regardless or sex, weight, riding style, or skill, expose when we sit down and lean forward to hold on to the handlebars will hopefully line up well with the strongest part of the chamois. There may be an unbelievably discreet layer of gel within the pad that can really help out. Those with the gooey, thick gel will have you sliding around on your saddle and add bulk.

Good bibs are a must. Everyone has a budget, so find the models that are within yours and get some that are nice and tight since they'll stretch out a little over a couple of years. Always hang them up inside out so the chamois can breathe and wash them with a light amount of soap. Don't allow them to host any bacteria or gross out whomever is on the bike behind you! Quality bibs will easily last a couple of years of daily use if you care for them well.

  • I live on a small island and no upper level bibshorts are sold here. I cannot try bib shorts in shops. I've just watched some multi stage races (Cape Epic) videos. Some riders do wear castelli/assos. So I decided to give it a try.
    – a29er
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 18:17

I had the same question a few years ago. The answer is I think subjective but I came to the conclusion that the same thing goes with clothing as with components. I reached that conclusion by the "suck it and see" approach.

I basically started off along the thought process that winter clothing was more important than summer clothing. By that I mean that you can get away with riding a $20 jersey from China in the middle of summer, and the benefits of a $150 Assos jersey would be less obvious. That's probably not the case, say, with a thermal vest.

On that basis I decided to try some of the more renowned brands with smaller/cheaper winter clothes. For example, gloves and socks. Sure, a pair of Assos gloves will set you back more than a pair of gloves from China, but in absolute terms they're still only a few tens of dollars. So still pretty much affordable, and in particular not $$$s down the drain if they turned out to be no better.

I was very impressed with the quality of these accessories, so much so that since then I have gradually built up a collection of more substantial clothing such as tights and jackets. This stuff is so expensive that it was, like, one garment per year at first. But in every case I have been impressed with the quality. The Assos 851 tights and jackets, for example, are absolutely superb as outer winter layers. Again, I started off with winter clothing.

Back to my initial premise: having been impressed with winter clothing, last year I bought a couple of pieces of top-end summer clothing. Again I was impressed. In particular the chamois in the bibshorts made a lot of difference to the kit I had been wearing, in terms of comfort in the saddle. For an hour or two the difference is acceptable, but over 8-9 hours you would notice a difference I'm sure.

So that's basically how I came to my conclusion. But its also worth saying that you don't necessarily need to buy Assos to get quality goods. Personally I rate Etxeondo as every bit as good, if not better (in terms of quality) as Assos, but cheaper (unfortunately more difficult to get hold of). And you mention Castelli, I have one of their kits which is very comfortable. Also Agu, Santini, Nalini, Moa etc. (Conversely I wouldn't rate replica team kit unless I knew who the manufacturer was.) But a little research will yield results.

I have deliberately ignored the value for money aspect here since it is so subjective. Is a $150 jersey 10 times more comfortable than a $15 jersey? Who's to say?

Lastly, longevity is also an issue here. A mate of mine has just replaced a 10-year-old Assos jacket, and even then only because he tore it. If this stuff is going to last that length of time, it doesn't seem quite so expensive an initial outlay.

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