How to pick the right pair of cycling shorts.
Choosing the proper cycling short or bib is the most critical decision to improve your overall riding experience. Our shorts and bib buying guide is here to help you make the right choice and keep you on the pedals as long as you want.
To start, we will give you the chamois breakdown.
What is a chamois?
It is the pad inside a pair of cycling bibs or shorts that cushions your ride and protects your bum from abrasions, bacteria, etc. Not every chamois is equal, and not every chamois is suitable for every occasion.
What should I look for in a chamois? The novice rider will check a chamois quality by the squeeze test and the thickness of a chamois. The thickness of a chamois only tells half the story. So what should you check?
1. Chamois Maker -
TMF®, TEO®, and EIT® are all great chamois manufacturers out of Italy. They are the top of the line and should be the starting point for great shorts. If the chamois manufacturer is not listed, the pad will likely be a lower-grade product and will not use the best materials available.
2. Multi-Density -
Different densities of material provide various levels of protection. Lower density promotes blood flow, higher density protects from vibration, and medium-density foam layered in the right area provides anatomical protection from numbness. Without the differentiated padding levels, your chamois may not protect you fully.
3. Fabric -
The chamois surface is critical, and the best shorts have anti-bacterial and anti-microbial fabrics. They also wick sweat and provide a smooth contact area with your skin. Cycling shorts are meant to be worn without underwear, in direct contact with your body. Our chamois feature advanced Carbon, Silver Ion, and special anti-bacterial, anti-microbial fabrics.
Here is a list of our chamois:
F130- The F130 Landscape is the top performance pad ideal for cycling under extreme conditions for up to 10 hrs and beyond. It has a unique ergonomic shape thanks to TMF "Skyving" technology applied to multi-density foam layers. The Carbon Face promotes blood flow with anti-static and anti-microbial properties. Rated 10+ Hours
HX8 Carbon - The HX8 Carbon Italian Chamois is engineered for progressive reduction of foam thickness, using a fusion technology that seamlessly bonds materials without chemical fixates. The 4-density, 4-way stretch premium chamois is designed to form to the body, providing superior comfort, while the Resistex® Anti-Static Carbon fabric prevents abrasion and promotes blood flow. All fabrics used are anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. Rated 8+ Hours
E6 Carbon - The E6 Carbon chamois is a revolutionary leap in chamois technology with Resistex anti-static carbon fabric, which promotes blood flow and the reduction of lactic acid, as well as being anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. This 4-layer, 4-way stretch chamois also incorporates an Airmesh insert for increased shock absorption and moisture management. The E6 Carbon is ideal for road or mountain bike competition and long-distance touring. Rated 6+ Hours
APX - The APX chamois is ideal for teams and competitive road cyclists. Three layers of density foam, a 4-way stretch, and an anatomical shape allow for optimum comfort while maintaining a free range of motion. Anti-bacterial Silver Ion and Visigrid fabrics offer superior moisture transport and will not break down over time. Rated 4+ Hours
Now that you know the chamois is essential. We can go to the other features.
Not all compression is equal. And people react differently to various levels of compression. We've seen riders wearing shorts and bibs two sizes too big that are loose and have wrinkles to riders wearing bibs two sizes smaller because they like the compression. As a general rule, a more compressive fit is better for higher-end athletic activity. Compression has multiple benefits, including improving blood circulation, delivering more oxygen to the muscles, providing increased accuracy in muscle movement, increasing power output, and reducing fatigue. However, if a product feels too tight, the mental strain can produce more fatigue than the compression provides value.
We advise using our size guide as a base for finding the right product size, and if you have any questions, you can always call us at 800.275.6953, and we can talk you through it.
Compression is created by the fabric and the pattern of the garment. When combined with a 3D pattern, the short or bib may feel uncomfortable when standing because it has been created for the bicycling position. Also, the sublimated version of the fabric contains a higher level of polyester which can change the material's flexibility. Here is a list of our shorts and bibs fabric rated by compression.
REVOLUTIONAL® ENERGY by Carvico
ATLANTA Plus by Carvico
VERO - SOLID
VERO - SUBLIMATED
PriFlex - SOLID
PriFlex - SUBLIMATED
VITA - SOLID
VITA - SUBLIMATED
What else matters?
Several elements on a short can provide additional comfort, performance, or utility, depending on where you are riding and how long you are riding.
Shorts & Bib Features:
There are several different finishes on the leg opening of cycling shorts and bibs. Grippers can provide compression, keep everything in place, and look cool. Generally, grippers fall into 5 categories - Sewn-in, Woven, Laser Cut, Integrated, and Gripper-less. They also have different treatments for grip - Silicone, Rubberized, and Textured Fabric.
These can either be rubberized or Silicone. It is a strip of elastic that is treated with the gripping material. The installation of gripper needs to be sewn on top and bottom. The out-of-the-box flexibility of the gripper can be reduced by the layering and sewing of material on top of the gripper. The Sewn-in has a lower profile, meaning the surface area is not as large as a wider gripper.
The woven gripper is a high-end elastic that can be treated with or without Silicone. Primal Shorts and Bibs use an Italian MARC® woven material that can be sublimated or dyed colors. The gripper is installed with stitching on the top only and provides the most amount of flexibility.
MARC® Elastic Laser Cut bands are wider, which spreads out the compression over a larger surface area, and by increasing the surface area, the wider band prevents the sausage leg effect. The Laser Cut bands can be treated with or without Silicone backing.
Using High-End Cut-Free fabrics, Integrated grippers are Silicone treatments directly to the shorts and bibs fabrics. This allows the short or bib to be created without a separate gripper, creating a seamless panel and reducing the opportunities for hot spots to form.
A few of our shorts and bibs are created without a gripper or silicone treatment. The leg opening is secured by the pattern design.
Are these just fancy suspenders? Nope. Bib straps remove the elastic at the waist of shorts, providing better comfort, superior fit, and improved blood flow. If you've never worn bibs, we can't recommend them enough. The improvement in overall ride enjoyability is so much more significant with bibs that we almost stopped selling shorts. Almost. But just like chamois, not all bib straps are created equal. Some can be too long, others too short, and some have no flex. Just like the compression of the short, bib straps are a personal preference. We also suggest deciding based on the bicycle riding position, not how the straps feel when standing upright. We provide - Laser Perforated Seamless, AE Elite Mesh, Seamless AirMesh, and Promesh bib straps.
Ok, I know all the technical deets. What products do you recommend?
Beyond Category Bibs:
Alitios Etheros LTD - This product checks every box. And then Creates new boxes and checks those too. The perfection of Etheros bibs starts with the Revolutional Energy Fabric from the Italian fabric mill CARVICO. The compression fabric is lightweight but ultra-durable. It wicks sweat better than any material we make. The dynamic fit profile makes this garment more comfortable on the longest rides and the most strenuous efforts. The F1 chamois is a benchmark achievement in the category, using Skyving technology to provide more protection, comfort, and moisture management than any predecessor. Ultra-wide, LaserCut Max grippers with reflective branding and laser perforated Sublimated Marc bib straps finish out this flagship product.
QX5 - This is our most elite, 3D Fit cycling bib. It comes equipped with a radio pocket and all the high-end features you need to compete at your best. This bib can be purchased as a Primal design or fully customized. The chamois used in the QX5 is the Italian TMF HX8 Carbon. This product is not just the most premium materials.
Helix 2.0 - These bibs have been all over the world. The favorite for extreme distance athletes, Helix has seen the tallest passes in the Annapurna Mt. Range (5416m), races across continents, trans-contents, and UCI pro races. There is no cycling feat that has yet to be accomplished in Helix. Helix has done it all.
Vertos - Conceived for one purpose, to allow riders to push past their limits on a bike. This requires Vertos to be more durable, comfortable, and purposeful than any other cycling bib short. The ALTLANTA® material by Carvico is softer and more dynamic than any bib fabric we've ever used. It will outlast the longest ride you've ever traveled and be ready the next day.
Cargo Bib - Our Cargo Bib was built for gravel, and made for adventure. It has two mesh pockets on the legs and two on the back. The construction provides a secure fit, locking any stored item into place no matter how rough the road gets.
Evo 2.0 - This is the standard for everyday cycling. Need to crush 10 miles in 30 minutes? Or 100 miles in 5 hours? Our Evo 2.0 is ready for any distance or duration. The ultra-soft Vero fabric is compressive with a memory, so it conforms to your body. Making a comfortable, personalized fit. Equipped with the Italian Made TMF® Chamois rated for 6+ hours.
Omni - Lightweight and flexible, the Omni bib thrives in the heat. The laser perforated bib straps and woven Italian MARC® gripper provide superior comfort and moisture wicking. The composition of fabric and materials makes suffering because of hot weather a thing of the past.
If you got to this point of the article, you are really invested in finding the right pair of bibs. Just know that we have a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. If you have additional questions, call us at 800.275.6953 or email us at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you!
The Primal Fam