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The Great Bib-Off: My Entirely Subjective Take on 14 Brands

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The Great Bib-Off: My Entirely Subjective Take on 14 Brands

Old 09-18-23, 03:33 PM
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noquarter1
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The Great Bib-Off: My Entirely Subjective Take on 14 Brands

Hey Everyone,

tl;dr I bought a bunch of bibs and ranked them (see image below)

Long Version:

I'm a relatively new cyclist who wants to get deeper into the sport. When I started, I bought a few bibs and jerseys off Amazon which have been just fine for me. However, after my last century I began to wonder if I could increase my comfort with a higher quality bib. Please note that I am under no illusion that a bib will somehow transform my performance or overall cycling experience, but as I'm getting things dialed in (like a bike fit, lighting, bags, etc) on my bike I figured why not look into upgrading my bib as well.

However, the problem is that cycling clothing companies are a dime a dozen. There are tons of brands big and small at every price point. Most don't accept returns of used gear (shout out to Voler who accepts used returns, giving the option to ride it before making a final decision or if you're able to find these at REI), so it's a gamble to know if a given bib will work out or not. And what if you purchase a more expensive bib, how do you know if your money went towards materials or marketing? It's tough to find comparison reviews online so I did what every (in)sane person would do, and I bought 14 bibs from 14 different companies at 14 different price points. I bought from some large companies and some microbrands as well as some in-between. The only common thread is that I bought the best (defined by price) bib each manufacturer has to offer. I was less interested in mid-level bibs as I'm more of a "buy once, cry once" kind of guy, or rather, I have champagne taste on a beer budget. I reviewed each brand's return policy and will keep only one. The rest will be returned as I don't have that kind of money.

So, I bought 14 and ranked them according to fabric hand (how does it feel?), construction (stitching quality), thoughtfulness (seam placement, overall garment design), and chamois quality (based on the ever reliable "squeeze test" to make a judgement call about how much support it'll give over a long day in the saddle). Lower is better as I ranked them in 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, etc. Finally, I averaged the scores to find out which one placed lowest overall. Additionally, I have the MSRP (not necessarily what I paid), country of origin, and the warranty (including if there's a crash clause). I went back and forth on whether or not to include fit, but ultimately decided against it as that's going to vary from person to person. Results are below:




Random thoughts:

Boure's chamois was noticeably the worst of the bunch. Voler, MAAP, Aero Tech, Louis Garneau, Ornot, Cerotipolar, Giordana, La Passione, and Pearl Izumi all felt similar. Eliel, Castelli, Sugoi, and Assos all felt noticeably nicer.

Boure, Cerotipolar, Ornot, Aero Tech, Assos, Voler, Louis Garneau, La Passione, Sugoi, and Pearl Izumi all had the traditional spandex feel and felt very similar. MAAP, Giordana, Castelli, and Eliel felt different with an almost tissue paper feel. Felt thinner, more breathable, and high quality, thus the higher rating.

So, which one is the overall best? Giordana rated first in my ranking despite having an average chamois. MAAP also did very well. If either of them had an above average chamois, they would be the easy winner.

What would I pick for me? Eliel and Castelli would be my top picks as the overall best bibs if money is no object. They both had middling construction scores, but keep in mind that even though their stitching wasn't quite as tight as the leader, it didn't look/feel fragile either. I'd probably lean towards Eliel because I'm biased towards USA made and it has less obnoxious branding on the bib. Actually, if money were no object I'd keep both the Giordana and Assos and then take them to a seamstress to have the Assos chamois put into the Giordana bib. That would be a $735 bib, but oh, what a bib it would be.

Pearl Izumi is a great choice because of good scores and frequent sales. It's possible to get it at up to 50% off, making it a strong contender.

For the budget conscious, Cerotipolar off Amazon is 90% as good as Pearl Izumi at a fraction of the price. Eliel and Castelli are noticeably better but are wildly more expensive.

I'm sure I'm going to get comments about "why not x brand or y manufacturer?". The simple answer is that I ran out of money and time, so I missed some big ones like Gore, Le Col, Pedal Mafia, and a bunch more. I ordered Rapha but it's been sitting in customs hell at the LA Port for a week, so it missed the comparison. At the end of the day, there are hundreds if not thousands of options, so my sample size is small.

So, this is entirely based off my opinion and is in no way objective. That being said, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my ratings? Why do you love (or hate) any particular brands?
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Old 09-18-23, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by noquarter1
Hey Everyone,

tl;dr I bought a bunch of bibs and ranked them (see image below)

Long Version:

I'm a relatively new cyclist who wants to get deeper into the sport. When I started, I bought a few bibs and jerseys off Amazon which have been just fine for me. However, after my last century I began to wonder if I could increase my comfort with a higher quality bib. Please note that I am under no illusion that a bib will somehow transform my performance or overall cycling experience, but as I'm getting things dialed in (like a bike fit, lighting, bags, etc) on my bike I figured why not look into upgrading my bib as well.

However, the problem is that cycling clothing companies are a dime a dozen. There are tons of brands big and small at every price point. Most don't accept returns of used gear (shout out to Voler who accepts used returns, giving the option to ride it before making a final decision or if you're able to find these at REI), so it's a gamble to know if a given bib will work out or not. And what if you purchase a more expensive bib, how do you know if your money went towards materials or marketing? It's tough to find comparison reviews online so I did what every (in)sane person would do, and I bought 14 bibs from 14 different companies at 14 different price points. I bought from some large companies and some microbrands as well as some in-between. The only common thread is that I bought the best (defined by price) bib each manufacturer has to offer. I was less interested in mid-level bibs as I'm more of a "buy once, cry once" kind of guy, or rather, I have champagne taste on a beer budget. I reviewed each brand's return policy and will keep only one. The rest will be returned as I don't have that kind of money.

So, I bought 14 and ranked them according to fabric hand (how does it feel?), construction (stitching quality), thoughtfulness (seam placement, overall garment design), and chamois quality (based on the ever reliable "squeeze test" to make a judgement call about how much support it'll give over a long day in the saddle). Lower is better as I ranked them in 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, etc. Finally, I averaged the scores to find out which one placed lowest overall. Additionally, I have the MSRP (not necessarily what I paid), country of origin, and the warranty (including if there's a crash clause). I went back and forth on whether or not to include fit, but ultimately decided against it as that's going to vary from person to person. Results are below:




Random thoughts:

Boure's chamois was noticeably the worst of the bunch. Voler, MAAP, Aero Tech, Louis Garneau, Ornot, Cerotipolar, Giordana, La Passione, and Pearl Izumi all felt similar. Eliel, Castelli, Sugoi, and Assos all felt noticeably nicer.

Boure, Cerotipolar, Ornot, Aero Tech, Assos, Voler, Louis Garneau, La Passione, Sugoi, and Pearl Izumi all had the traditional spandex feel and felt very similar. MAAP, Giordana, Castelli, and Eliel felt different with an almost tissue paper feel. Felt thinner, more breathable, and high quality, thus the higher rating.

So, which one is the overall best? Giordana rated first in my ranking despite having an average chamois. MAAP also did very well. If either of them had an above average chamois, they would be the easy winner.

What would I pick for me? Eliel and Castelli would be my top picks as the overall best bibs if money is no object. They both had middling construction scores, but keep in mind that even though their stitching wasn't quite as tight as the leader, it didn't look/feel fragile either. I'd probably lean towards Eliel because I'm biased towards USA made and it has less obnoxious branding on the bib. Actually, if money were no object I'd keep both the Giordana and Assos and then take them to a seamstress to have the Assos chamois put into the Giordana bib. That would be a $735 bib, but oh, what a bib it would be.

Pearl Izumi is a great choice because of good scores and frequent sales. It's possible to get it at up to 50% off, making it a strong contender.

For the budget conscious, Cerotipolar off Amazon is 90% as good as Pearl Izumi at a fraction of the price. Eliel and Castelli are noticeably better but are wildly more expensive.

I'm sure I'm going to get comments about "why not x brand or y manufacturer?". The simple answer is that I ran out of money and time, so I missed some big ones like Gore, Le Col, Pedal Mafia, and a bunch more. I ordered Rapha but it's been sitting in customs hell at the LA Port for a week, so it missed the comparison. At the end of the day, there are hundreds if not thousands of options, so my sample size is small.

So, this is entirely based off my opinion and is in no way objective. That being said, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my ratings? Why do you love (or hate) any particular brands?
I might have missed this but did you wear these while riding a bike?
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Old 09-18-23, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv
I might have missed this but did you wear these while riding a bike?
Nope, I mention that no brands except Voler allow for returns of bibs that have been ridden. Since I have to return the ones which I don't like for monetary reasons, this is my attempt at ranking according to other factors. I did try them all on but elected to not have a 'fit' column due to it having no semblance of objectivity vs hand feel and chamois, which can be reasonably assumed to be similar across (some) people.
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Old 09-18-23, 04:20 PM
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wear them all for 1000 miles and then it would be a little more meaningful...
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Old 09-18-23, 04:20 PM
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None of this addresses the most important point for me. How carefully do the shorts keep my "junk" where it belongs? In steady state riding, while standing and when sitting down. I have found some but not a lot of correlation between price and that feature. The only shorts I have found (so far) good without a need to try on are the Segois.

I've never quite figured this out. Woman have much more attention paid to their (upper body) appendages in terms of support and comfort by often male clothing designers and those appendages are far less likely to get hurt, cause real pain, suffer long term damage and don't involve men's pride and ego. Just their lust.
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Old 09-18-23, 04:29 PM
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Im going to buy 14 brands of ice cream and rank them. But, Im not going to taste them because then I wouldnt be able to return them.
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Old 09-18-23, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
Im going to buy 14 brands of ice cream and rank them. But, Im not going to taste them because then I wouldnt be able to return them.
and rank them by which one feels the coldest...
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Old 09-18-23, 04:48 PM
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If the OP would incorporate some kind of abrasion test into his non-riding bib evaluation, I'd be interested.

Like, I dunno, get some of that ballistic gel they used on Myth Busters, press the chamois against it with some appropriately calculated number of PSI, vibrate the chamois with an electric sander for an hour, then assess damage to the gel.
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Old 09-18-23, 05:52 PM
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I am still baffled by the non-review reviews?

If you haven't even ridden any of them why bother with the whole thing. I dig the chart to a degree it is a lot of effort but in the end none of it really matters if you don't test anything.

From the yootubes:
Today on Duckem Reviews we take just a look at 10 important clothing items you should be wearing today, we will review them purely and only based on how they look in the package and we will not remove them from the package or put them on for any length of time especially not for their intended purpose. Don't forget to smash that like button and subscribe like a million times and now onto the awesome video. Video length: 100mins
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Old 09-18-23, 05:56 PM
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This guy bought $4000 worth of bibs for ... what?

Dude, if you don't wear them, you don't know if that initial fit will last past the first 100 miles or past the first washing. You don't know anything much more than what you could learn reading their ad copy.

I don't want to say that i kind of doubt yo did all this ... so I won't.
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Old 09-18-23, 06:19 PM
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Come to think of it, I've never read a bib or shorts review that helped me any more that this. They blather on about great piping, seam location, chamois thickness, perceived construction quality, fashionista comments, blah blah.

Here's what I want to know. If I ride a double century on the thing, is it going to rub my taint raw no matter how much buttr I apply? If yes, all the cool piping doesn't matter. If no, I'll sew on my own damn piping if I want piping.
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Old 09-18-23, 06:25 PM
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Wonder if the OP also bought a jacket from Ali Express, or whatever its called, and loves it without ever trying it.

BRWI have ordered 4 items from Rapha. If Im not mistaken, they ship from a U.S. location.

My spidey senses are tingling.

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Old 09-18-23, 06:46 PM
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The OP clearly went to a lot of trouble to accumulate and tabulate the information presented in the opening post. All of the whining in this thread is about factors whose evaluation would have meant he'd have had to keep lots of expensive merchandise.

Anyone who wants to do a similar comparison that includes extended-use info is free to spend the money and update this thread.
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Old 09-18-23, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
All of the whining in this thread ...
Lots of chortling, some ridicule, and maybe some scoffing ... but definitely no whining.
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Old 09-18-23, 07:54 PM
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Wow, no good deed goes unpunished, huh? Here I thought it would be interesting for others to read about my attempt to review bibs against set metrics and all I got was "you should have done it better by spending more money so that you could keep them all and review them over the course of a year by spending hundreds of miles in the saddle of each one". When someone wants to take that on, you let me know. In the meantime, this is as good as anyone will get.

Originally Posted by indyfabz
BRWI have ordered 4 items from Rapha. If Im not mistaken, they ship from a U.S. location.
I'm happy for you. Mine were shipped from the UK.


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Old 09-18-23, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by noquarter1
Wow, no good deed goes unpunished, huh? Here I thought it would be interesting for others to read about my attempt to review bibs against set metrics and all I got was "you should have done it better by spending more money so that you could keep them all and review them over the course of a year by spending hundreds of miles in the saddle of each one". When someone wants to take that on, you let me know. In the meantime, this is as good as anyone will get.
Time for a dose of reality. Your review of bibs based on things like "thoughtfulness" and your "squeeze test" is of little or no value to other cyclists.
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Old 09-18-23, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe
Time for a dose of reality. Your review of bibs based on things like "thoughtfulness" and your "squeeze test" is of little or no value to other cyclists.
Neither does your comment but you still chose to post
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Old 09-18-23, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by noquarter1
Wow, no good deed goes unpunished, huh? Here I thought it would be interesting for others to read about my attempt to review bibs against set metrics and all I got was "you should have done it better by spending more money so that you could keep them all and review them over the course of a year by spending hundreds of miles in the saddle of each one". When someone wants to take that on, you let me know. In the meantime, this is as good as anyone will get.



I'm happy for you. Mine were shipped from the UK.


What sort of review is it for a clothing product if you don't try the clothing on? Again it is like saying the product shipped quickly it is not really a review it is just a statement about the shipper nothing to do with the product. Like I said the chart is interesting but doesn't tell you much about how the products work for you since they are clothing products.
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Old 09-18-23, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes
What sort of review is it for a clothing product if you don't try the clothing on? Again it is like saying the product shipped quickly it is not really a review it is just a statement about the shipper nothing to do with the product. Like I said the chart is interesting but doesn't tell you much about how the products work for you since they are clothing products.
I mean, at the end of day nothing I say will every make you or anyone else think was valuable apparently, but I tried all the clothing on, but what do I say "this one fit well, that one didn't?" that's of equal no value. I had thought that focusing on stuff like "the Assos chamois feels almost identical to the $40 Amazon chamois" was valuable, but I was mistaken.

Signing off this thread. Have a good one everyone.
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Old 09-18-23, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by noquarter1
Neither does your comment but you still chose to post
My comment was not for other cyclists, it was for you. It is irrelevant whether or not it has value to other cyclists.
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Old 09-18-23, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by noquarter1
I mean, at the end of day nothing I say will every make you or anyone else think was valuable apparently, but I tried all the clothing on, but what do I say "this one fit well, that one didn't?" that's of equal no value. I had thought that focusing on stuff like "the Assos chamois feels almost identical to the $40 Amazon chamois" was valuable, but I was mistaken.

Signing off this thread. Have a good one everyone.
Trying on clothing is actually helpful to a point and actually riding in it is even more helpful. That is sort of the point.
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Old 09-18-23, 08:46 PM
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How about a bicycle review?
Don't ride 'em, Just rate 'em.

I hear:
Red is fastest,
aluminum can be stiff,
fat tires look fat,
Does Trek make good bikes?,
Cervlo is a sexy name.
YMMV, subjectively speaking.

edit: might be expensive or every LBS around might be pissed.
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Old 09-18-23, 08:54 PM
  #23  
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