Should female cyclists wear bib knicks?

Warning: You probably won't look this good in your Assos knicks
These bib knicks are plain & functional

Whether you wear bib knicks or non bib knicks is a personal decision.

However there are two things that I think are non-negotiable if you want to be part of the crowd. One is that you should wear knicks, rather than shorts or gym pants, and secondly you shouldn’t wear any underwear underneath them. They are designed to be worn without undies and as long as they are not see-through it should be fine to do so without causing offence to your fellow riders.

When I started riding three years ago I did what most people do and headed for a bike shop and bought the cheapest plain black knicks I could find. These were comfortable, affordable and served me well. As you would expect they weren’t bib knicks. At the time I probably wasn’t even aware that bib knicks existed and if I was, I thought they were for experienced riders.

My conversion occurred when I had the opportunity to order some bib knicks that were part of my ride uniform in the First Data team to complete my second JDRF ride in January 2010. Phillip suggested I give them a try and I suppose because they didn’t cost me anything I thought, why not?

To my surprise I found them more comfortable than regular knicks and nearly all my knicks are now bib. This is mainly because they don’t cut you around the middle and sort of hold everything firm. Thanks in part to my devotion to cycling, I don’t have a large girth but even for me they are more comfortable than regular ones.

The only detraction is that they are a bit harder to get off when you want to go to the toilet. You have to take your top off first but this isn’t a huge hassle. Just make sure you put your bra, heart rate strap and thermal top (essential if it’s a bit chilly) underneath the bib part of the knicks so it’s only your outer layer top you need to remove.

More and more cycle clothing manufacturers are making women’s bib knicks so it shouldn’t be too hard to track them down. There are the usual online sites but some retailers will also have them available like the Clarence Street Cyclery women’s store. Look out for my review of the new Netti bib knicks in the next couple of weeks on my new products page.

It’s also surprising where a post-ride discussion at the café might lead you when talking about women’s bib knicks. A couple of my male cycling friends (no names here, but you know who you are) find some of the photographs of women’s bib knicks, particularly the Assos ones very appealing. You can draw your own assumptions based on the images I’ve included here. Interestingly the Assos knicks don’t appeal to me because the bib part of the knicks goes up the middle between your breasts whereas most bib knicks go around the outside which I find much more comfortable.

The only other thing that I think is important to note about bib knicks and knicks in general is that they shouldn’t be see-through. I bought some bib knicks last year which were really see-through and I ended up returning them because I was too embarrassed to wear them after a fellow male rider pointed it out to me. I’m now a bit paranoid about having see-through knicks so keep this in mind when you make a purchase. Ask a trusted friend to give you an honest opinion before venturing out on a group ride.

So girls, why not give bib knicks a go? You might be surprised how much you like them.


  1. Cyclist Katherine Bates tweeted about this post and I thoroughly agree “@Womenwhocycle – bib knicks are certainly more comfy, & more flattering. Pair them with a full-zip jersey & the bathroom problem is solved!”

  2. Bib knicks – who knew!!! I’ll keep them in mind for when I get back into cycling proper!
    We went for a family cycle on a rail trail the other day, me, michael and Hayden with Bailey on the back of Michael’s bike. Hayden (6 years old) managed to ride over 17km (some of it uphjill) on his little 16inch wheeler with no gears!! It was so good to be riding and actually getting somewhere again – now we’ve just got to get Bailey going and we’ll be set for some big family rides!

  3. I love wearing bib knicks, converted after only a few months on the bike, the problem that I find is that many bike stores rarely stock a decent range womens styles…I’m slowly find some stores that do stock good brands, but it’s been a process, but totally worth it when I’m at the end of a 100k+ ride!

  4. I’m a bit meh about bib shorts. I have four pairs of them – two for commuting, two for “proper” riding.

    There’s lots to like about bibs, there really is, but I find the whole having-to-get-undressed-when-you-need-to-go-to-the-loo thing a huge inconvenience. The other thing is the sheer difficulty of actually finding women specific bibs. I’m not particularly hippy so I probably could wear men’s bibs if I wanted to. But I’d prefer a chamois that’s female specific. We need padding in different places to men and we need a different cut. It shouldn’t be so hard to find a decent pair of bibs but I’ve given up for this summer. I haven’t been able to find replacement Sugio shorts online and I refuse to pay the astronomically expensive prices here.

    So yes, I’ve given up. Still, I needed new shorts for summers so I’ve just dropped $150 on a pair of Rapha shorts. And this is with a 15% off discount! They better be the most comfortable pair of shorts I’ve ever own!

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