Bibs are great for riding—they don’t slip down or cut into your stomach like shorts.
But, until just recently, they weren’t really designed for women. We’d have to strip helmet, jacket, and jersey every time nature called in order to get the suspender straps off our shoulders. Men have a bit more, uh, built-in flexibility.
Finally cycling apparel companies are getting creative when it comes to women’s bibs. Here are six manufactures we applaud for their efforts—even if some of the products need to go back to the drawing board.
#1 Gore Bikewear POWER 2.0 LADY Bibtights short+
Gore’s bibs have two hip zips that, when opened, let you pull down the back of the shorts. I found that the zippers didn't rub, while the broad, mesh shoulder straps are very breathable, and have a clip mid-chest so you can roll with them open or closed. Gore Bikewear also builds this zip system into its Windstopper winter tights. It’s a much improved design over the previous iteration.
#2 Velocio Superfly Bib Shorts
Velocio modified its Signature Bib Short 2.0 with a simple rear zip that makes it possible to slide these bibs off without a striptease. You can’t feel the zip when you’re pedaling, and it’s easy to operate, albeit with both hands.
I had reservations about the full mesh front of this bib, but riding, it felt like wearing a baselayer—only better. And thanks to the breathable fabric, it didn’t make me extra sweaty. Bonus: Velocio’s Signature Guarantee lets you try the Superfly for 30 days and send it back for a full refund if you don’t love it.
#3 Giro Halter Bib
Giro ditched traditional shoulder straps in favor of a single halter that easily slips over your head. The stretchy fabric keeps the band from digging into your neck, while the full-front mesh fabric was breathable enough even on days when the mercury hit 80.
#4 Pearl Izumi Elite Drop Tail Cycling Bib
Pearl Izumi was first company to acknowledge that bibs didn’t play well with the female anatomy. While the company’s Elite Drop Tail isn’t the most elegant solution to this problem, it is a comfortable and effective one.
The back of the shorts has a flap of fabric that tucks into a scooped drop seat when you’re riding. When you need to go, just grab and drop—there are no zips, clips or snaps to deal with. When you’re done, re-tuck the back flap, which stays secure while riding.
Of all the shorts we tested, these are the easiest to get down and back up again fast. And the Coldblack treated fabric makes dark Lycra heat reflective not absorbing. Testers were mixed on the 8-inch inseam, which was an inch shorter than that on the other brands’ bibs.
#5 Specialized Hookup Bibs
Specialized created the Hookup Bibs to speed up bathroom breaks. A magnetic clip on the lower back releases the shorts from the shoulder straps so that you can drop ‘em fast.
The system takes a bit of practice (you have to attach and detach the clip blind), but after a few initial attempts, I got the hang of it and was able to escape the bibs with Houdini-like finesse. That said, the Hookup does require some upper body flexibility. A cold fabric treatment kept the black Lycra from getting too hot.
$180, specialized. com
#6 Louis Garneau Women’s Course Race 2 Bib
If I was riding a time trial or long road race, these would be the bibs I’d reach for. In designing them, LG eliminated seams to improve aerodynamics, and used stretchy, compressive material (more like a softshell than Lycra), to keep you legs feeling fresh.
These bibs uses a broad, above-the-belly button plastic clip to secure the shoulder straps. To pee, unclip this device, then unhook the yoke from your neck and take care of business. I didn’t love the collared feeling of the straps, which had a tendency to cut into my neck, though otherwise they rode comfortably and required less gymnastics than blind clips.