It's a legendary story, but as true as it was once told. Way back, riders had a piece of raw beef between their cycling shorts and their skin. Luckily today we can name this hidden feature; bib shorts. Actually, in the cycling industry it's called "chamois" or "chamois padding" and it's being used it to avoid saddle sores.
Bib Shorts guide for cyclists
As human beings, we all have different body shapes, so just for you to keep in mind; People will always have different opinions about bib shorts.
Most riders only believe in their personal experience and on behalf of that, they can tell you exactly which bib shorts you should buy. The truth is - they cannot!
It should be necessary for all cyclists to have some kind of basic knowledge of bib shorts and chamois' before talking like an expert or even buying a pair!
You will often see most amateur cyclists buying a thicker chamois padding than professionals since they are more comfortable. But they may be more comfortable for a while but that doesn't mean they don't create damage, which you will quickly discover. Sometimes (Not always) a thicker chamois can lead to more rubbing and irritation.
Professional riders will often go for a medium protection since they need some kind of protection, but don't want to waste any WATT (Power to the pedals) with a thick chamois. A thicker chamois can take away some of your WATT's. After all, this is the same reason all cyclists talk about the stiffness of their frames, handlebars - if you have ever heard these talks in your local cycling community.
Triathletes, on the other hand, would prefer a much thinner padding since they are using their tri shorts for running as well.
But, we are all humans and some athletes prefer a thicker padding than others.
On the picture below you can see the chamois padding for some of Figata Ciclismo's shorts for triathlon. This padding is very thin compared to the bib shorts riders use Tour de France for example.
On this picture below you can compare with one of our chamois paddings for cycling. It is a much thicker padding not suitable for running and swimming like the one above for triathlon.
Placement of chamois padding
The placement of the chamois padding it almost as important as the actual padding. If it's placed too much forward and it will feel like the cheapest padding you have ever used. The seams are of very high importance for the overall quality. The fewer seams, the less chance to get irritation on the skin. On the other hand, you want the seaming to be strong enough to withstand the many hours of use.
Figata Ciclismo has used more than 3 years to develop our Darkone bib shorts for cycling.
Another thing about chamois padding is that it should be breathable, and anti-microbial. This will eliminate moisture and friction, the two biggest chafing challenges.
The difference in men's vs. women's chamois padding
Women have larger hipbones which would normally require and wider construction of both chamois padding and bib shorts. While there are differences it's possible for both men to ride women's bib shorts and vice versa. Figata Ciclismo is working with both men's, women's and unisex paddings. Most women actually buy our bib shorts for men because of the wider selection of new bib shorts designs.
How Figata choose the best chamois padding
It's very simple. We asked for the best recommendations from some of our manufactures. Then we bought some samples and used the ones we liked best. We then integrated them into our bib shorts design. Hereafter we used several hours of testing on the bikes with our athletes. We did not look at the costs in this phase of the development since we knew that only the best product could be used by our brand.
Bib shorts are worn without underwear
You DO NOT wear your underwear together with any kind of cycling clothes. It's honestly "not legal" to do so!
How to wash and clean bib shorts
Most of Figata Ciclismo's bib shorts can handle a washing machine. We recommend a maximum of 30 degrees.
We don't recommend a fabric softener since it can damage the functional effect of the bib shorts and chamois padding. However, a lot of riders do actually add substances that can remove the bad smell.
Note: We recommend to handwash your bib shorts to avoid bacteria.
The production of bib shorts
The construction of a piece of clothes is called "pattern design" in industrial language. Bib shorts are developed in several patterns.
Like all other clothes, bib shorts are made of fabric garments. Each piece is called a "panel". Typically bib shorts consists of 6-8 panels.
When you are deciding the length of the bib shorts you are talking about the length of the inseam. The standard inseam os about 20-23 centimeters long. Some prefer them longer and up til 28 centimeters but this also depends on the flexibility of the fabric. Women's bib shorts is typically shorter and goes from only 13 centimeters and up to 20 cm.
Elastic bands and skin grips
Bib shorts normally comes without elastic waistbands but triathlon shorts like these often have them:
Some prefer them only 2 centimeters hight but some of Figata's waistbands are higher; about 5-7 cm.
As you can see below in the picture a leg cuff ending around the leg finishes of the shorts. On Figata's bib shorts for cycling and shorts for Triathlon, we typically place a silicone grip on the inner side. This will give the bib shorts a better looking and more comfortable fit for the body.
The length of bib shorts
The length of bib shorts has become a fashionable "thing". Riders are continuously discussing the right length. Should it be long? Should it be short? And what is exactly "long" or "short"? Let's take a look back to the very beginning of the cycling history again. In the beginning, it was normal to wear shorter cycling short (With a piece of beef between your legs). Today it's more normal to wear longer bib shorts which fits a handful of centimeters above the top of the knee. However, if you would like to look like a pro you should Google this latin muscle name Vastus Lateralis. A fit rider will have an edge on this muscle (Vastus lateralis), where the pants line typically sits a few centimeters above. Please notice this next time you watch the pros on television.
See the length of Figata's pro 2.0 bib shorts 2017 on this picture:
How should a cycling bib fit?
Almost, as tight as possible.
The bib shorts must not flutter at the edge so in cycling it's better to wear it too tight than too loose. A chamois padding needs to sit in place as well. With that said, you must not buy the bib shorts too small since the straps need to feel comfy for you.
Which fabric are bib shorts made of?
Figata's bib shorts are mostly made of polyester which is a synthetic fabric. We are combining our polyester fabrics with a high level of elastane which makes the cycling clothes flexible. Our polyester drys quickly and offer good moisture handling compared to natural fabrics like cotton and wool. But, especially wool has in the recent years become more popular to use in cycling clothes.