Tall Riders: Should You Be Wearing Bib Shorts When Cycling?

Last Updated on April 7, 2021

Should You Be Wearing Bib Shorts When Cycling?

Bib shorts are not just regular shorts with suspenders added. Although, this is how they started. Racers would yank out the drawstrings and use old-fashioned clip-on suspenders to hold their shorts in place instead.

Today, the suspenders are integrated into the short, are not removable, and are designed using Lycra or mesh to be lightweight, breathable, and easy on your shoulders.

Over the years, bib shorts have become way more prominent, providing new levels of comfort and performance for cyclists of all levels. Their versatility and simplicity have seen them adopted across the board.

Why Do Pro Cyclists Wear Bib Shorts?

There are several reasons why bib shorts are as popular as they are, so let’s discuss them.

Chamois Stays In Place

Traditional cycling shorts will end up slipping down over time, and that means the chamois, or pad, will move about too. Keeping the chamois in place will ensure there is less potential for chafing or saddle sores. As a result, bib shorts by nature are designed in a way that guarantees the chamois stays perfectly in place.

Bib Straps Make You More Comfortable

While there are a number of advantages to shoulder straps, the biggest benefit is how they comfortably hold the bib in place without creating pressure or binding points on the body. Properly fitting bib shorts should disappear when you’re in your natural cycling position. You won’t feel anything tugging or chaffing.

No Waistband

Since there’s no waistband, there’s also no drawstring or itchy, uncomfortable elastic cutting into your abdomen. You’re less likely to feel as if your blood flow and oxygen intake through deep diaphragmatic breathing are being restricted.

Another drawback to the traditional waistband is that they collect and retain moisture, which increases the potential for chafing and overall discomfort. So bib shorts will leave you feeling completely free and comfortable in the torso.

Doesn’t Show Skin

The best-designed cycling jerseys are shorter in the front to reduce fabric bunching. For taller riders with traditional shorts, this could mean they’ll be sporting the bare midriff when they’re not actually on their bike.

With bib shorts being obviously cut higher than traditional bike shorts, a seamless transition between shorts and jerseys is maintained at all times. To the onlooker, your bib short and cycling jersey will look just like a jersey and traditional shorts would whereas to you the difference is large.

This is the same from the rear. So, if you had any worries about those behind you getting an unpleasant insight into your rear end you can put those to rest and know that you’ll be cycling in style and comfort.

Does Height Affect Cycling?

Height will always affect performance in most sports. This is particularly true for competitive road cycling.

During cycling, the contraction of muscles supplies the propulsion while wind resistance impacts progress. The former is related to the cross-sectional area while the latter, surface area. Given both are related to a form of area, they would at first appear to offset one another as the body scales.

However, drag scales to a lesser extent due to streamlining, thereby giving you taller cyclists an advantage on flat courses. This is why you see Tour De France competitors tend to be on the taller side

The work done by gravity is more varied as it resists and assists progress on ascending and descending, respectively, while it is minimal on the flats. Given the force of gravity scales more quickly with body height, the taller person will be at a disadvantage when ascending and an advantage when descending.

Of the two, the disadvantage during climbing will be the most beneficial in terms of winning the race or marathon so if you’re taller and plan on a marathon with lots of uphill action you may have to go in knowing you have your work cut out for you.

Pros And Cons Of Bib Shorts

Bib shorts have their upsides and down so here we’re going to lay them all out clearly so you can see the deal breakers and makers.

Pros
  • Bibs keep your shorts up – Non-bib shorts can pull down enough to expose your lower back to the wind.
  • Bibs look better off the bike – The seat won’t be so baggy when wearing bibs. Bike shorts are cut to fit correctly in a forward-leaning position. Stand up straight and the material in the back can and will sag. Bibs pull up the slack and keep riders looking good.
  • Bibs hold your chamois – To reduce the risk of saddle abrasions and sores, the liner of the shorts should be snug against your crotch. If shorts are looser, the liner can move to lead to you getting chafed.
  • No hitching – You don’t have to tug at your waistband to get your shorts back up where they belong.
Cons
  • Bibs are hotter – bibs cover your midsection and can hold in more body heat which is brilliant in the winter but not so good in the heat.
  • Can irritate the skin – Some riders that wear bibs find that they irritate their skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of shorts should I wear for cycling?

As we’ve discussed above, bib shorts are a great choice in comparison to regular cycling shorts, and the type we recommend even if you’re taller.

What is the advantage of bib shorts?

As mentioned above, bib shorts utilize lightweight, breathable mesh or Lycra bib straps over the shoulders. While there are many advantages to shoulder straps, the biggest benefit is how they comfortably hold the bib as a whole in place without creating pressure points anywhere on the body.

Summary

Bib shorts are perfectly viable for those taller riders. with the bib straps to keep everything secure and the chamois to prevent any chafing you should go out and get a pair of these asap.

If you’re tall then you aren’t at a major disadvantage but as with anything height will always affect ones riding performance. Get a pair of bibs and you’ll find your rides to be much more comfortable and less revealing for any individuals you pass on the way.

Happy cycling!

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