Bib shorts vs regular shorts

It should be pretty straight forward. Get dressed in the proper attire, jump on your bike and go for a ride. But whats 'proper attire' for cycling anyways? I think we can all agree that it includes cycling shorts, jersey and shoes (we will leave the sock debate, especially sock length, for a different post).

There seems to be debate around bibs vs regular shorts and for what it is worth, the EmpowerHer Cycling team is firmly on the bibs bandwagon as a personal preference. I (Noa) purchased a new pair of bibs this week partially because I have been riding more and could probably use another pair, but mostly because all of mine were in the laundry and I really wanted to go riding... Even though I have a few pairs of shorts kicking around as backup. Yep, I prefer bib shorts *that* much!

Regardless if you prefer bib shorts or not, I think we can all agree that the proper shorts can make a world of difference, but can be a bit hard to find... Seams/stitching in the wrong places, feeling a bit like a stuffed sausage, Leg bands that are too tight relative to the hip size or vice versa, shorts that are not tight enough, chamois that is too large/too small/or not right...

Yes, the struggle is real.

We can go on and on about how to pick the right shorts (bibs or not), but we went into detail in our 6 tips to protecting your lady parts guide, so I won't repeat that info here. If you haven't downloaded it already, now is the time! We are biased, but think Its full of all kinds of juicy info.


The pros of bib shorts

  • They will stay in place better because they are held by the straps. Less movement = less chances of unnecessary bunching and uncomfortable chafing. Its important to note that the correct size and fit plays a major role in this also, not just bibs vs shorts. 
  • No more waist bands that are that are either too tight and create the dreaded muffin top as a result, or not tight enough to hold the shorts in place. 
  • Full coverage if your jersey rides up (although jerseys do tend to stay put pretty well, especially the tighter fitting ones)

The cons of bib shorts

  • Probably the biggest drawback: What about going to the bathroom? It definitely adds a layer of complexity. That said, many brands created specific and smart designs for women, such as a zipper at the back and straps with front closure so you don't have to take your jersey off. Almost all cycling jerseys these days have full zippers, so its even easier.
  • Straps that are in the wrong spot or too tight - this comes down to the cut of the bibs and depends on the brand... Some brands have stretchier straps than others and their placing vary brand to brand. 
  • Cost is often higher than shorts
  • While this has come a VERY long way, there is still less selection and availability for women specific bibs


Our favorite brands of bib shorts


If you haven't given bib shorts a go yet and want to try them, here are a few of our favorite brands for innovation, quality and fit. For what it is worth, I personally own several bibs from each of these brands. 

Velocio signature fly - Both mine and Christie's favorite bibs. You can tell they are designed for women by women... The zipper at the back is a game changer for bathroom breaks. For real. 

Machines for Freedom - I personally love these for slightly shorter days in the saddle. They stay put when you ride and are super flattering, especially around the waist / hips. 

Assos - Magnetic front closure for quick release comes in handy and the fit and chamois are amazing. I have always been a fan of Assos as a brand, they do things right and stand by their product. 

We plan on writing more in depth reviews of these and more brands in the future, so stay tuned! 

At the end of the day, wear whatever you feel most comfortable in. If its bibs, awesome. If its shorts, that's awesome too! Try different cuts, brands, chamois designs, etc to find what you like best, then just go ride your bike! Last but not least, never wear underwear of any kind under your bike shorts. Nothing should come between you and your chamois.

Do you ride with bib shorts or regular shorts? Curious minds want to know...

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