Bib sizing - too tight or just right?

I have had a lot of issues with saddle sores as of late and I am starting to wonder if my some of my bibs aren’t actually far too tight in the legs.

You want bibs to fit like gloves to prevent undue friction between the chamois and the body, but on some of my bibs are so tight on my upper thighs that I have to hike the legs up so the chamois will be in the right position. Perhaps this is what is giving me saddle sores?

How tight is too tight? I suspect that if I went from XL to XXL, they’ll be far too tall or too long/loose at the knees.

For the record I am very careful about chamois-zone hygiene and do use chamois creme.

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If you have to hike them up then they are probably too tight. I would say try a different size or a different brand (or both).

I love my bibs from The Black Bibs and they are only $40 so it’s a pretty easy test to see if a different brand or size is better. I found the size guide didn’t fit my proportions at all so I emailed them to get a suggestion before my first purchase and then just ordered what they told me to get. They’re perfect…

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How do the black bibs hold up? I’ve heard of them but haven’t heard about their longevity.

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Mine are still going strong after a year of 3-5 times a week…

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Does no one else have a problem with upper thighs being relative thick for your height and waist size?

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We’re all cyclists in here, I think we all have that problem! But it’s just like anything else, you have to find something that fits and not all products will be designed exactly the same.

I’m finding the quadzilla issue to be a much bigger problem with bathing suits (jammers) than bibs, but maybe your quads are even bigger than mine…

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My upper thighs are one of the last places my body seems to hold onto fat and rubbing right at the top on the left side has been a constant issue for me whether cycling or running.

For running I wear Under Armour boxers, sort of like an unpadded cycling short. On a bike I can get rubbing from either skin touching where bibs do not form fit or there is excess material from pulling loose bibs up too tightly. Solution for me has been picking the tightest shorts I can pull up properly with the softest pad and stretchiest material. I usually run some Chamois Butter from Paceline on the shorts themselves and for long rides a layer on shorts and skin. For biggest rides a layer of sudocreme on skin before the butter.

Some saddles make it worse for me, the more padding generally the less comfort. That said a rock hard saddle does fatigue my sitbones over time and I have never found perfection, not sure it exists.

Some bibs definately make it worse, anything with a thick pad like B’Twin / Decathlon stuff is great on my gooch but makes rubbing far worse.

Some bibs make skin rub a non-issue like Howie’s which have super stretchy woven fabric, however their pad positioning has been inconsistent. Castelli aero bibs are excellent with a very soft Flexi pad that for me is perfectly positioned If I put on any weight at all though the Castelli medium doesn’t fit and if go to large there is too much material.

For reference I run narrowish saddles (143 romin, the carbon minimal padded version and a stock Cannondale 143 which has a touch too much padding for my liking). I also run a narrow Q factor (preference is Cannondale Spiderring on Shimano pedals with cleats set so shoes run near crank arms, trainer bike is Shimano 105 with same pedal setup - tiny bit wider but still within my bodies tolerance if not preference).

In terms of build I am 5’10", waist ranges from 32" at 73kg to 34" at 80kg. At the moment I am at the top end and unfortunately the excess is more fat than muscle. That alone makes it worse as there is more to rub!

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I guess I need to buy them based more on hip size than anything else.

I am just so sick of saddle sores.

Indeed, my current saddle (ISM PN3.0) gives me saddle sores in different places from my old saddle (Romin Expert), but it is miles better in terms of numbness.

But the fact that I am getting saddle sores despite the fact that the saddle is comfortable and I have only been using my best bibs lately makes me wonder if it’s not a bib fit issue. And all of best bibs are at least a little bit too tight around the top of my thighs. I might actually give some older, stretchier bibs a try again.

I am seriously considering buying $200+ bibs just for the softness of the pads.

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I honestly don’t think that price is necessarily a direct factor here. If they don’t fit right they don’t fit right regardless of price. I think you really need to just experiment with some different brands, or maybe even go to the complete custom route. Custom would be more expensive, but at least they would be built for you… Once again I can’t recommend the black bibs highly enough. They are super comfortable, tight, and yet stretchy at the same time. And they’re only $40, you can hardly go wrong by trying.

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How is the chamois on these? What level would they compare to, say a common brand such as Voler.

Personally, I would compare the Black Bibs chamois to sitting on large rocks. That’s the problem here. What works great for one guy is horrible for another. Unfortunately, you just have to keep trying until you find the right saddle/bibs combination that works for you.

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I buy cheap/used equipment everywhere I can, but I’ll spend $200 on Castelli Free Aero Race bibs. They are so worth it.

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The chamois is primarily the reason I opt for more expensive bibs for outdoor rides…though for indoor training in 1hr blocks Black Bibs sound perfect. I’m definitely going to take a look as I have some Performance Bike Ultra bibs that the chamois are starting to bunch up and not work at all.

@BT-7274 for bibs, one other thing I look at is the shoulder fit. I’m 5’11" I find M bibs to pinch and L bibs to fit properly. When I was 195lbs, L was it. Now that I’m 160-165lb, I can fit M or L, but M is tight around the thighs and I have to pull up, but M also has a bit too much pressure on the shoulders for my liking. Because of that I pretty much use L bibs only. My thighs are not huge though, they’ve shrunk when I dropped weight.

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Not to derail this topic, however, if you are still experiencing saddle soars after numerous bibs, you may need to check your bike fit. You can check this thread, or check with a local fitter who uses ReTUL, GURU, etc. for the fit process. Not knowing your background, maybe the fit and/or dynamic positioning on the bike is the issue.

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I think my left leg might be short.

All the more reason to get a fit. It takes all the guesswork out of the process and sets you up for better days in the saddle.

I actually wear my nice bibs indoors rather than out. I find the mostly stationary body position on a 90 minutes indoor ride is more likely to lead to soreness than a 3+ hour outdoor ride where I’m in and out of the saddle and shifting body weight through turns.

On the days before it’s kit wash day I use my nicer ones indoors and save the less nice as a reserve for an outdoor ride.

But whatever works for you!

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I just measured myself and according to the size chart I was indeed one size too small.

I’m going to use my older, looser bibs for a while and see whether my sores heal or at least don’t get worse.

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Hey @timmah

For what it’s worth, I wear a 32/32 pant but Castelli Free Aero is XL along with the jersey. Rapha (XL bibs, M top) and Assos (XL bibs).