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How Tight Should Bib Shorts Be?

How Tight Should Bib Shorts Be

How Tight Should Bib Shorts Be- Overview

Recently, the explosion of innovation and development has made bib shorts an essential item for some riders. Bib shorts can provide new levels of comfort and performance for bikers of any level. Although many tend to change only their saddle once they notice discomfort, investing in bib shorts can be the right way to go. However, it can be hard to find the right bib shorts for you. Read on for everything you need to know about sizing your shorts.

Do I Need Bib Shorts?

Bib shorts may come in especially handy if you’re going to be riding for a reasonably long time. They are suitable for all kinds of bikers, from road cyclists to mountain bikers to adventure riders. You will immediately appreciate how comfortable they can be when compared to using everyday underwear and shorts for biking.

This video provides a helpful walkthrough of how to select the right bib shorts (credit to RoadCyclingUK):

What To Consider When Buying Bib Shorts

When assessing whether bib shorts are too tight for you, there are a few components to take a look at.

The Chamois

Chamois is the first consideration in a good set of bib shorts. A good chamois must mold to your glutes nicely, and you shouldn’t feel it any further when riding. It primarily helps to provide cushion along the area of contact with the saddle.

When choosing a chamois, there are three deciding factors: gender, weight, and riding style.


There is an important difference between male and female chamois. Each chamois is designed to fit the respective gender’s physical anatomy. As women generally have a wider pelvis than men, their chamois is designed to fit accordingly. Men’s chamois features a cutout in the middle for relieving pressure on the perineal region.


Over some time, the chamois will start to lose its cushioning property from the biker’s weight. Heavier riders should opt for bib shorts with a denser foam insert so the chamois can retain its shape and thickness and carry the weight effectively.

However, riders can also choose a thinner and less dense chamois for their riding activity, depending on preference.

Riding Style

Since the different types of bib shorts will cater to different riding styles and disciplines, you will also find that a chamois varies with riding style as well. It is best to choose bib shorts with a thicker chamois if you are going for longer rides, such as endurance races. If you prefer shorter rides, it may be better to select thinner options.


Another important consideration in a pair of bib shorts is the gripper. A good gripper helps to keep your bib shorts in place while riding. The gripper should never extend beyond your kneecaps. If it does, your bib shorts are too long.

Try to avoid a gripper with an elastic hem lined with silicone stripes or dots. These can occasionally cause skin irritation for some bikers. Instead, try to opt for higher tier bib shorts with highly elastic hem as a gripper. They are usually more comfortable and will cause less irritation. However, they may be in a higher price range.

Fabric and Panels

How the bib shorts are stitched together may influence their tightness. If there are many panels, the bib shorts should fit better around your body. However, this requires more stitches to be made, which may result in irritation if you have sensitive skin.

Rigid type fabrics are meant to look tighter around the legs, whereas stretchable fabrics are more suitable for bikers with thicker thighs.

Bottom Line – Does It Fit?

Bib shorts are available in diverse lengths. Some fall to the knee, some stop high on the thigh, and most lie somewhere in the middle. It is up to you to select a pair that fits you best. Regardless of style, the best bib shorts need to feel like another layer of skin. They need to fit snugly to your body, without biting or irritating.

Bib shorts with loose material or gaps often lead to chafing and can end your biking adventure prematurely. If it is too difficult to find a pair of bib shorts that fit, consider getting a set of biking shorts and a jersey instead as a reliable substitute.


Image: skeeze/ Pixabay