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How to tell if cycling shorts are too big (or too small)?

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How to tell if cycling shorts are too big (or too small)?

Old 08-27-19, 01:32 AM
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How to tell if cycling shorts are too big (or too small)?


I am rather new to cycling and I recently bought two sets of cycling clothes. One medium one large. I'm 5'8 and 190lb

They make a night and day difference! How do I know if one is too large or too small though? The large one feels a bit more loose but doesn't sag. The jersey is too big for the large though (some flapping on the rib cage when riding)

Am I over thinking this? Any input on proper cycling shorts fit would be greatly appreciated.

I use the medium and save the large as a back up.

Last edited by Boldchris; 08-27-19 at 02:03 AM.
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Old 08-27-19, 04:47 AM
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Try the small shorts first. If you can't fit or squeeze into the small, move onto the next size up until it fits.
This applies to the jerseys too.
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Old 08-27-19, 06:20 AM
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might wear 2 different sizes top and bottom. I can wear medium shirt, large pants
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Old 08-27-19, 06:28 AM
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For myself it's been trial and error. You'll also find, just to complicate matters, that some brands are tighter than others - typically those catering for a more professional market. So, for example, my favourite shorts are Castelli, but I had to buy those in extra large where normally I'd be buying large.

Generally speaking you'll be able to find a size guide if you're buying online. I would have thought you'd be nearer medium than large. Obviously if something is too small you'll know right away. Too large, though, and it may take a while for you to realise. Good fitting shorts will be a lot more comfortable in the long run. With jerseys it isn't so important, particularly if you're buying loose fitting garments, so you can be guided purely by comfort.

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Old 08-27-19, 07:23 AM
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I agree with the above comments and want to add that not only do brands have potentially different sizing but different models within that brand feel and ride differently. For example, if the items are defined as compression fit, they frequently have a tighter, more supportive material and feel restrictive. However, they are fitting and feeling the way they were designed to. A lower priced model in the same line may have a less supportive, thinner material and will feel looser. I personally shy away from the bargain pricing since many of those chamois don't seem to stay in position as well as the compression fit models. But the lower quality items work well for short rides or trainer sessions, saving the more pricey items for longer rides. I have one set of bibs that I can't ride more than 40 miles in but other all day comfort models. Many are from the same manufacturer.
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Old 08-27-19, 08:05 AM
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One sign of shorts too big is that they get snagged on the front of the saddle.

Some cheaply made bibs will do this regardless.


Last edited by TimothyH; 08-27-19 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 08-27-19, 08:29 AM
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I have a pair that are a little too big and i notice that the pad bunches up in weird ways. They're also not as compression'y.

I also have an old pair of nice multi-colored bibs from when i was about 15lbs lighter. They are now too tight which is made obvious by the fact that they now stretch into sort of an awkward translucent state. My wife doesn't let me leave the house in those...

I think when they're right, the chamois will not be intrusive and stay put and they'll be compressive, but not stretch so far that the material thins or feels too tight.
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Old 08-27-19, 01:13 PM
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Thank you for all the replies! I appriciate it. These shorts help a lot too. Especially when doing 20 miles
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Old 08-27-19, 01:15 PM
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If it looks like you sat in chewing gum the shorts are probably too small.
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Old 08-27-19, 01:36 PM
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It's hard to really answer this question because there are so many factors at play:

1. What type of body shape do you have? Not only is that important in actual sizing, it will also play a large part in the rise of the top portion of bibs or shorts. In some cases, bibs and shorts have a very low rise, which isn't going to work well if you're slightly overweight. This can also be the case with race fit jerseys, as they tend to run shorter in every size than, say a club fit. Finally, some bibs, shorts, and jerseys tend to vary dramatically in how much give they have or compression. The less give and more compression, the smaller the leeway is in sizing.

2. Also of importance in the chamois pad and how it's stitched. With some shorts and bibs, if you can somehow get them on, smaller is best. However, with others, if you do that, the pad won't hit you right.

In addition to all that, I'll leave you with the following from my years of spending too much money:


They have several different fits in both bibs and jerseys. In anything other than their top of the line offerings, you can typically get away with staying your typical size or moving up one size if you're on the top end of a size. However, with their race fit and any of their lines that have very little give(think their fall line of speed suits....No give at all), it can often be appropriate to move up as much as two sizes, especially if you do not have ideal body lines.


You almost always want to move up a size, outside of their very cheapest jerseys and shorts.


Outside of their upper level line, you can actually order your normal size or even size DOWN. Gore varies wildly. Their cheapest bibs run huge and you can literally size down one or even two sizes. On the other hand, their C7 shorts run more like Castelli race line or Assos.

Pearl Izumi:

In most cases, it runs close to typical American sizing.


Euro sizing, move up one.


Mixed bag, pay very close attention to how they describe the fit. If it's described as relax, order your normal size. If it's described as form fitting move up.

In other words, until you know from experience what works for you for any brand, either go try it on in person, or order two sizes from Amazon or similar and return the one that doesn't fit.
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Old 08-28-19, 02:41 PM
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Gotta try 'em. The Przewalski shorts with 3D pads were perfect at medium when I weighed 165. Now that I'm down to 150 I tried a pair in small. Much better compression support for my thighs and lower back. The medium still fit just fine, but don't offer that compression that helps over the course of fairly higher intensity longer rides. The small size leaves little impressions in the skin along the seams, but it's not uncomfortable and I never notice during rides -- no chafing, no numbness, etc.

In bargain priced bibs, the Black Bibs are pretty good (although I prefer the Przewalski), but don't quite have the compression I want in medium. I might try a set in small with the longer thigh option.

Material varies a lot. Aero Tech Pro shorts in medium fit me, but never snugly. Now I use 'em only as liners in place of regular underwear under shorts or jeans for casual rides.

My Pearl Izumi shorts are good but nothing special. Not much compression and the pad isn't as dense and resilient as I'd like for longer rides. I doubt a pair in small would be any better. It's the material.
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Old 08-28-19, 02:45 PM
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If the shorts fall off, they are too big.

If they stay on, but your voice goes up a few octaves, they are too small.
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Old 08-28-19, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks View Post
If the shorts fall off, they are too big.

If they stay on, but your voice goes up a few octaves, they are too small.
I'm remembering that quote
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